Season 2 of the five-season planned “Yellowjackets” drags early on and seems imbalanced between the past and present, but does end on a high note.


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Network Showtime
Season Premiere March 26, 2023
Season Finale May 26, 2023
How Many Episodes 9
Genre(s) Crime, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Young Adult
Noted Characters
1996 Lottie Courtney Eaton
1996 Natalie Sophie Thatcher
Jackie Ella Purnell
1996 Taissa Jasmin Savoy Brown
1996 Shauna Sophie Nélisse
Javi Luciano Leroux
Crystal Nuha Jes Izman
1996 Misty Samantha Hanratty
Adult Misty Christina Ricci
Kevyn Alex Wyndham
Walter Elijah Wood
Adult Taissa Tawny Cypress
Adult Natalie Juliette Lewis
Adult Lottie Simone Kessell
Lisa Nicole Maines
Adult Shauna Melanie Lynskey
Callie Sarah Desjardins
Adult Van Lauren Ambrose
Adult Travis Andres Soto
Akilah Nia Sondaya
Mari Alexa Barajas
Ben Steven Krueger
Jeff Warren Kole
Matt John Reynolds
Simone Rukiya Bernard
Sammy Aiden Stoxx
Ben Steven Krueger
1996 Van Liv Hewson
1996 Travis Kevin Alves

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

Arc Summaries

Below is a summary of the major storylines of the season. For the full episode-by-episode recaps, check out the “Yellowjackets” page.

The Rise Of The First Antler Queen

The Entity talking to Lottie
“The Entity,” Yellowjackets, “Burial,” directed by Anya Adams, 2023, (Showtime)

Due to Lottie’s position as a spiritual leader in the past and her seeing the Antler Queen in the present, you could be led to believe she communed with the entity or the wilderness and was the Antler Queen due to the miracles performed. However, while Lottie could hear the wilderness, and leads ritualistic sacrifices, Natalie ends up the first, and maybe only, Antler Queen.

The reason? Due to her feeding and hunting for food and Lottie having no desire to be a leader, since it was thrust upon her, she hands the reins over to Natalie, who didn’t want the position but seemingly accepted it.

The Death Of A Few For The Benefit Of Many

In the past, Jackie’s death ends up not being in vain as she ends up being the first person eaten by everyone after Taissa discovers her propped up, made up, and coerces Shauna to allow for a funeral. However, with her body being cooked and smoked, and the girls desperate, they end up eating her. This is followed by Javi being eaten, not too long after Taissa discovers him, thanks to her alter.

Now, originally, the person who was supposed to be sacrificed for the betterment of the group and so that Lottie could recover from Shauna beating the hell out of her, was Natalie, as she drew the Queen of Hearts. However, Natalie lets Javi die as he tried to save her, so Van decides that Javi gets to be a substitute by invoking the idea the wilderness chose Javi over Van. Thus setting up Natalie’s rise to become Antler Queen and the trauma that probably triggered her drug addiction.

But those two aren’t the only ones who die this season. A girl named Crystal dies after Misty confesses that she destroyed the black box from the airplane, and Crystal wasn’t receptive to learning this secret. Also, Kevyn dies thanks to an associate of Misty named Walter. Misty and Walter originally were frenemies who shared the amateur detective agency forum, and Misty didn’t like him looking into Adam Martin’s murder. However, with Walter tracking her down and winning her over, Misty begins to open her heart to him – especially after doing some therapy. Ultimately leading to Walter, who is a genius hacker, pinning all the evidence geared towards Adam Martin and Jessica’s death, the private investigator Taissa hired and Misty killed, on Kevyn.

Which leaves one last death: Natalie. Throughout the season, Natalie finds herself seeking ways to lash out at Lottie for saving her, by taking her down. But, with Natalie unable to do so, she finds herself actually following Lottie’s teachings at this self-help compound Lottie started. She even makes a friend out of a young woman named Lisa, who makes Natalie feel redeemable. Yet, in the end, it is partly Lisa’s doing that causes Natalie to die.

You see, Lottie, as all the known living members of the Yellowjackets come to her compound in Cherry Hill, New York, comes to the conclusion that they need to do the hunt. She hears about the Adam murder, Misty murdering people, the chaos of Taissa and Shauna’s marriages, and thinks the only way their lives can return to some sort of normalcy is by one of them being sacrificed. Originally, Shauna drew the Queen of Hearts but Lisa, who was told to stay away from the woods, shows up after Callie shoots Lottie for trying to harm her mom. Lisa has a shotgun, it ends up pointed at Natalie, and Misty decides to take it upon herself to defend her best friend by using a syringe filled with a cocktail that could easily kill Lisa.

Alas, seeing this, Natalie moves Lisa out of the way and ends up getting stabbed with the syringe, and the next thing we know, we’re told she died of a drug overdose.

Addressing The Alter In The Room

Taissa (Tawny Cypress) speaking with her sleep walking persona
“Taissa (Tawny Cypress) speaking with her sleep walking persona,” Yellowjackets, “Digestif,” directed by Jeff W. Byrd, 2023, (Showtime)

It isn’t 100% clear the origin of Taissa’s alter, but what does become clear is that it is back and has some sort of plan. The ultimate goal isn’t revealed, but because of Taissa’s alter, we meet the adult version of Van, who apparently has cancer, and Van and Taissa end up in Cherry Hill. Now, as for Simone and Sammy? These two become afterthoughts, and the only thing we’re left to wonder with them is, where is Sammy, and did Taissa’s alter try to kill Simone because it is still in love with Van?

Shauna’s First Child And The Full Story Behind Travis’ Death

With the discovery of Shauna being pregnant in season 1 but only seeing Callie walking around, there was a need to question what happened to Shauna’s first child. Did it die, was it eaten? Did it survive but was ultimately given up for adoption? Unfortunately, the answer is it died during childbirth.

As for Travis? Like everyone else, he was haunted by what happened in the wilderness, including eating his own brother. So with having a psychotic break, he wanted to commune with the wilderness and get some answers. He reached out to Lottie for help, and it seems she was there when the crane raised him into the air – she even held the button that was supposed to let him down. However, the button didn’t work, and she found herself watching yet another person she was close to dying and her having to be accountable for their death.

Episode Listing

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 6
Episode 7
Episode 8
Episode 9

Review

Our Rating: Mixed (Stick Around)

Who Is This For?

“Yellowjackets” is increasingly becoming the type of show for those with a long attention span and who don’t mind a dragged-out mystery that periodically gives you answers to mid-tier questions but constantly feels like it doesn’t get to the point and omits the meatier things on your radar.

Notable Performances, Moments, or Episodes

Misty

Adult Misty (Christina Ricci)
“Adult Misty (Christina Ricci),” Yellowjackets, “Two Truths and a Lie,” directed by Ben Semanoff, 2023, (Showtime)

Whether you are talking about Christina Ricci or Samantha Hanratty, it is indisputable that Misty is not only the character the writers have invested the most in but is also the best performed. From teen Misty dealing with insecurities, balancing a role as the one who is assumed to be capable of doing what others won’t, and get praise for it, yet at the same time be damned for what gives her a sense of belonging? Hanratty gives a performance that compliments Ricci’s in such a way that allows them to be the most in sync, sans Shauna.

I would specifically call out Episode 7, “Burial,” in which we clearly see Misty via Akilah, Mari, and Ben. She is either the one who does what is necessary to survive or the demented loser who is insane and can’t be trusted. But, what really drives how badly Misty doesn’t want to be seen this way is Ben. For in him having her either bear witness to his suicide or even take part in it, we’re reminded that as much as Misty has grit and can toughen herself up, at the end of the day, she is just a girl who wants to be liked, and the effort required for her to get even a minuscule amount of praise is too much for one person.

Which, in the same episode, we see an adult Misty deal with as Shauna, who likely chopped up every person the girls ate, dares to try to separate herself from Misty, as if Misty is worse than her. The ostracization from Hanratty is passed like a baton to Ricci, who keeps the same energy, but conveys additional years of trying so hard yet seemingly not getting to where she should have by now.

Episodes To Anticipate

  1. Episode 7 “Burial”
  2. Episode 6 “Qui”

Highlights

The 1996 Version Of The Characters

One of the main issues of “Yellowjackets” is there is so much investment and interest in the 1996 version of the characters, that the modern versions are often fighting to keep up. The reason for this is that, the 1996 versions aren’t supporting characters or there to add context – they completely exist independently, and the show could survive and thrive without their adult counterparts.

I’d even submit all the best moments, whether shocking or emotional, primarily come from the 1996 versions, whether it is the cannibalism beginning, Shauna losing her baby, Misty’s aforementioned breakdown, and so many others of which, the modern counterparts have no means to consistently compete. I’d even say the 1996 version of characters carried the show while the adult counterparts took their time to craft something of interest, of which nothing that came didn’t rely on the 1996 versions setting them up.

The Introduction Of Walter

Walter (Elijah Wood)
“Walter (Elijah Wood),” Yellowjackets, “Storytelling,” directed by Karyn Kusama, 2023, (Showtime)

Walter is a male version of Misty but with hacking skills. He is also a potential love interest for Misty, and considering how unrequited love isn’t something she has had, and she has had to manipulate or do the most to receive the least? To have a man like Walter who adapts to her, rather than it be the other way around, and goes as far as she usually does for others? I won’t say it is a match made in heaven, but it certainly does appear to be overdue.

Natalie When Relegated To Being A Supporting Character

While the younger Natalie is much less relevant, the adult version goes through a different shift. One could submit that Natalie, be it because she is a surviving Yellowjacket or because of the actress who plays her, is meant to be seen as a lead. That never really worked. However, when Natalie becomes part of the community at Camp Green Pine, she bonds with Lisa, and rather than Lisa being there to boost her up, it seems to be the other way around. If not, they are given an even playing field as Natalie becomes Lisa’s support, shows how Lisa has grown under Lottie’s tutelage, and then Lisa becomes a redeemer for Natalie.

To me, shifting Natalie’s role to supporting Lisa was the best thing they could have done for the character, including killing her off, since it at least made her more than someone for Misty to obsess over just because she was the first Antler Queen, or her feeling responsible for saving Natalie’s life in the wilderness. If not, to throw a theory in, maybe Natalie sparing or saving Misty’s life when Misty drew the Queen of Hearts in the past.

Growing To Appreciate Shauna

Teen Shauna (Sophie Nelisse)
“Teen Shauna (Sophie Nelisse) ,” Yellowjackets, “Qui,” directed by Liz Garbus, 2023, (Showtime)

Because Shauna is the mousy type, and has all her life made herself small for someone else’s benefit, no matter how talented or intelligent she is, it is easy to overlook her in both the past and even the present. However, Episode 6, “Qui,” caused a tremor which made it so that was no longer possible.

Shauna became more than the trigger for the worst storyline of the show, i.e., Adam Martin and the murder investigation. With the death of her baby, and the reaction, it forced you to see the dismantling of all Shauna built herself up to be. She was supposed to be the good girl, the innocent one, demure and non-threatening. Yet, one step at a time, the wilderness stripped her of this.

Jackie took away any sense that Shauna was a good girl by outing her relationship with Jeff. The baby’s death could be seen as a punishment of sorts, and then nearly everyone seeing her in a vulnerable position, legs up, and vagina exposed? While cutting up meat and eating Jackie definitely caused a shift, losing that baby and the events surrounding it caused a break.

The kind you can see became a border for the adult version of Shauna. She knew what she was capable of, and how easily she could go over the edge. Just killing that rabbit as she did in the first season was a hint of that, but then disarming a carjacker and then how she handled the man who ran the car stripping joint? It pushed you to understand that as much as Shauna has somewhat regained her sense of being that innocent, unsuspecting person, it isn’t necessarily who she wants to be all the time. She needs a release, an escape, and to be able to show that she isn’t boring, it is just safer for everyone, not just her, if she suppresses a lot of what she feels and wants to act on.

But that does come with consequences. As noted in Episode 7, “Burial,” suppressing who she is means also suppressing her feelings in ways that, for Jeff it is one thing, since religion likely brought them and keeps them together, but Callie? It seems Callie and Shauna have had such a weird relationship because Shauna actively kept her at arm’s length. The trauma of losing her firstborn, and hallucinating after, hasn’t left her. In fact, it could be questioned, just like Lottie may have some issues remaining attached to reality, maybe Shauna does to? It’s just, unlike Lottie, Shauna can mask it better?

Overall, if there was an award for most improved, it would have to be handed to Shauna, who makes it so Misty doesn’t have to carry the show.

Low Points

Too Much Feels Dragged Out Or Barely Touched Upon

Per Entertainment Weekly, there is a five-season plan for “Yellowjackets.” To me, the show, as it is, can’t support five seasons. If it was just about or primarily focused on the 1996 versions, maybe it could handle four seasons, but things move at such a sluggish pace in modern times that any luster on this show likely will be gone by the end of season 3.

This season alone allowed Simone to drop off the face of the Earth alongside Sammy. It refused to tap into Taissa’s alter and her family’s history with the occult. The symbol is still random, with no explanation of who came up with it or what it represents. How and why Van and Taissa broke up isn’t dove into. Never mind, we get a tease of when the girls returned from the wilderness, but beyond them stepping off the plane, that’s all we have.

To me, there isn’t a good balance of teasing and hinting with giving answers to top-tier questions thus far. Learning the full details of what happened the night Travis died wasn’t valuable since his death is only impactful for Natalie’s character, who rarely earned her spotlight. Learning the fate of Shauna’s first child was helpful, and the major players in the cannibalism beginning, but again, for all the major movements in 1996, the modern version of the characters barely kept up until the end when they got to benefit from the work of the 1996 storylines.

The Adam Martin Murder Investigation

Matt (John Reynolds) flirting with Callie, who lies about her age
“Matt (John Reynolds),” Yellowjackets, “Edible Complex,” directed by Ben Semanoff, 2023, (Showtime)

Kevyn being killed off and used as a scapegoat to end this storyline was a mercy killing. From Matt seducing Callie to get evidence, Kevyn being a boring good cop, to Matt’s conniving bad cop, the only benefit of this whole storyline was Callie getting closer to her mom. Beyond that? It really pushed the idea the last thing “Yellowjackets” may need is a villain since there is more than enough trauma to face that the last thing it needs is more thinly written male characters to create obstacles.

On The Fence

Ben

It’s lovely that we got to meet Ben’s boyfriend, and he became the sole voice of reason by the season’s end, but a lot of the time, it seemed like he was just there. Never mind, with no signs of him in the present day, often it could feel like you were just waiting for him to be eaten since he is the biggest, meatiest person there, so killing him is just logical.

Javi and Crystal’s Death

While Natalie’s death felt necessary and was a good payoff, I can’t say the same for Javi or Crystal. Yes, Javi’s death serves the purpose of setting up feelings of guilt for Natalie, maybe even being a factor in her drug addiction, but he was a character we barely saw this season, and I feel like him dying in lieu of Natalie should have made Natalie and Travis’ relationship far more complex. Yet, with barely seeing the adult Travis and the two barely being much of a couple this season, Javi saving and being sacrificed for Natalie didn’t elicit much reaction.

Crystal (Nuha Jes Izman) humming to herself
“Crystal (Nuha Jes Izman) humming to herself,” Yellowjackets, “Friends, Romans, and Countrymen,” directed by Daisy von Scherler Mayer, 2023, (Showtime)

As for Crystal? Honestly, her death felt cheap, but in a worse way. Javi’s death could be embellished into something major, thinking long term. Crystal’s death seemed to be about just adding trauma onto Misty’s psyche. Now, did it lead to her break with Ben, when he was trying to kill himself, to be more impactful? Yes. However, it’s like how Lisa was setup to seem like someone who would cause Natalie to relapse. The tone of the show pushes too much that death is made for viral moments than true shocking developments in the story. Which makes it so, even when lead characters like Natalie die, it’s a very ho-hum thing you write off as the writers running out of ideas so they need to buy some time.

Teen Natalie

It was an off-season for 1996 Natalie. Things started off with her and Travis having relationship troubles, her being part of the anti-Lottie force, and then she faded into the background. Which for season 3, it seems she’ll return to prominence as the first Antler Queen and the new leader of the survivors, but as for season 2, she was strangely just a lady in waiting.

What I Hope To See

I hope the writers decide to shave a season off and aim for four seasons. With the only reason for four seasons being that we are about to hit the depths of the 1996 version of characters becoming cannibals, and that deserves a season, just as much as them getting back to civilization, dealing with news stories, and becoming reacclimated to the trajectories they were on before the plane crash.

As for the adults? Honestly, outside of tying their storylines more closely to their younger counterparts, I don’t know what to expect or want from them? Misty having a good relationship? Taissa talking with her mother’s people to address their connection to the spirit world? Maybe Lisa investigating everyone? While there is a clear path forward for the 1996 characters, it is a murky journey for their modern counterparts.

Natalie (Juliette Lewis), Shauna (Melanie Lynskey), Taissa (Tawny Cyrpress), Van (Lauren Ambrose), and Misty (Christina Ricci)
Yellowjackets: Season 2 – Recap and Review (with Spoilers)
Overall
The second season of "Yellowjackets" is no doubt rocky, but you can never forget this is an original production, and with that, there is a need for grace. Even though sometimes the show pushes you to want to rescind it.
Highlights
Growing To Appreciate Shauna
Natalie When Relegated To Being A Supporting Character
The Introduction Of Walter
The 1996 Version Of The Characters
Misty
Disputable
Teen Natalie
Javi and Crystal's Death
Ben
The Adam Martin Murder Investigation
Too Much Feels Dragged Out Or Barely Touched Upon
77

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