This article contains spoilers for “Yellowjackets” season one.
Picture it: it’s your senior year of high school. The girl’s soccer team wins the state finals and gets a chance to travel to Nationals. On the trip to the once-in-a-lifetime competition, the plane crashes. Over a year and a half later, your surviving classmates are rescued and brought back into society after spending 19 months in the wilderness. In a fantasy world, the rescue of this team would have a happy ending, but in the series “Yellowjackets” we watch the traumatic aftermath that follows the survivors generations later.
With a second season already in the works, “Yellowjackets” concluded its first season on Jan. 16. The ensemble series follows characters Shauna (Melanie Lynskey), Taissa (Tawny Cypress), Natalie (Juliette Lewis) and Misty (Christina Ricci), members of the Yellowjackets soccer team in a New Jersey high school. Twenty five years after crashing into the wilderness, the girls struggle with their personal lives while trying to maintain the secrets of their survival. When Taissa begins to campaign in a state senate election and a reporter shows up asking questions, the mystery of the series quickly grows. Additionally, the survivors must deal with a blackmailing issue about what really happened after the crash and the recent suspicious “suicide” of a close friend and fellow survivor. The investigation of this suicide takes a dangerous turn when Natalie is abruptly kidnapped in the closing minutes of the season finale. The show explores themes of trauma, relationship struggles and teamwork versus betrayal.
What makes the “Yellowjackets” series so effective is its use of nonlinear storytelling. Since the audience has the context of the future, we know which characters will survive into the modern day. The opening scene of the show follows the chase of an unidentified young woman in the wilderness in winter. She is caught and killed by a group of masked figures. At the end of the episode, we learn that one of the masked figures is Misty, and we can theorize that the rest of the surviving soccer team has taken to dressing in a similar fashion. After the killing of the unidentified girl, we see the girls eating some suspicious looking meat. With nothing confirmed, the audience can speculate that the soccer team may have had to resort to cannibalism, or is something else happening? Normally, the audience could guess that anyone not seen in the second timeline died in the wilderness, but the season finale took everyone for a surprise with the realization that Lottie (played by Courtney Eaton as a teenager) might still be alive. Now, we can take further guesses about who may have survived the wilderness. Are there other survivors associated with Lottie? Was Lottie responsible for the death of Travis (Kevin Alves)? How will the secrets of the survivors’ pasts come back to haunt them?
While the mystery-thriller aspect of the show keeps the audience on edge, one of the series’ biggest strengths is the memorable relationships formed between characters, particularly the girls on the soccer team. We see the budding romance between teen Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Van (Liv Hewson), the dramatic friendship between teen Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) and Jackie (Ella Purnell), and we get a chance to explore the team dynamics outside of the soccer world. As the audience, we watch the girls deal with high school drama and see if they can manage to put that aside when it comes to survival. As the survivors struggle with each other, we watch them bond, party and grieve together. While it is upsetting to watch characters die in the wilderness, it is even more heart wrenching to see how their loved ones react to the tragedy. When the religious Laura Lee (Jane Widdop) fatally burns while trying to fly a plane to escape, we can’t help but mourn with the rest of the survivors who just watched their friend blow up. When Jackie freezes to death, we are painfully left to see the shock and loss of Shauna whose last memory with her best friend was an argument.
Ultimately, this show will have a lot of questions to answer in season two. What is the truth behind Travis’ death? Who was responsible for Natalie’s kidnapping? Who was that unidentified girl that died in the opening scene? What is going on with the masked group who killed her? This complex show is a must-see for anyone who likes to guess what happens next. If you want to see a mystery unravel in two different timelines, make sure to catch up on this show before season two airs.
“Yellowjackets” is available to stream on Showtime.