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Yellowjackets’ Season 2 Reviewed: Beauty and Horror Will Consume You

“Yellowjackets” has a certain something that simply gnaws at you. Even when you’re not watching, Showtime’s drama about a group of high school girls who were left stranded in the remote Canadian wilderness after an aircraft crash, and their adult lives 25 years later nag at the edges of your consciousness. Its characters are so deliciously complex, and its puzzles are enticing. You want more after every episode.

Despite the puns, “Yellowjackets” (Sundays, 9 EDT/PDT, streaming Fridays on Paramount+ with Showtime, 1 out of 4) is one of the most captivating TV programs out there. And with a minor hiccup here and there, the second season matches the first’s high points. The new episodes are jam-packed with more of what fans desire, including cannibalism, lengthy Melanie Lynskey monologues, and maybe mysterious secrets. After all, those are the three essential elements of any great television program.

Yellowjacket is a critical darling and internet obsession, but it’s not just because of how sensational the subject matter is; it’s also because of how well it portrays the universality of feminine wrath and despair. You’re completely floored by the directors’ ability to transform brutal violence into moving set pieces. It’s how the top actors, young people, and adults consistently provide ground-breaking performances. And having it all back for Round 2 is delectable.

The second season builds on the first season’s basis by introducing new characters, dangers, and ambitious new plots. With a scattering of enlightening episodes set elsewhere in history, the story bounces back and forth in time between the girls’ first winter in the forest in 1996 and the present. In the past, the cold Canadian winter is sweeping over their tiny camp, leaving the survivors exhausted, filthy, and extremely hungry.

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Tensions are high and the psychological repercussions of famine and isolation are beginning to manifest as they are surviving off of a bear that Lottie (Courtney Eaton) killed in Season 1. Nobody’s fine. And sure, the brutality promised in the season premiere will indeed arrive, but not at the time you anticipate.

No one is actually Alright right now either. After killing her partner Adam, Shauna (Lynskey) is coping with the family and legal ramifications (Peter Gadiot). When Taissa (Tawny Cypress), a Yellowjacket, reaches her lowest point, she turns to her ex-girlfriend Van (Lauren Ambrose), another Yellowjacket, for assistance.

Taissa’s sleepwalking alternate personality is taking control of her psyche. Natalie is also staying with a former teammate named Lottie (Simone Kessell), who now manages a bizarre “wellness center” and dragged Natalie there against her will. In order to conduct a rudimentary investigation into Natalie’s abduction, Misty (Christina Ricci) befriends Walter (Elijah Wood), a fellow “citizen detective” from her true-crime forum.

“Yellowjackets” excels at juggling a slew of plots and people, and it does it without faltering under the weight of the several fresh additions and subplots. Sadly, adult Shauna’s narrative is the poorest because she is one of the team’s most aggressive members, making her attempts to elude the police seem ridiculous. It’s unfortunate and wasteful of Lynskey’s passionate performance.

But aside from a few dull sections, practically every scene in “Yellowjackets” is alive with excitement. The new cast members are all excellent, but Ambrose is especially wonderful as Van, a more mature version of her younger co-star Liv Hewson, whose performance outperforms everyone else’s. At least in the first six episodes that were made available for review, every scene she is in is a must-watch, and there aren’t nearly enough of them.

The work of their younger counterparts, Sophie Nélisse, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Sophie Thatcher, and Samantha Hanratty, who play the four main characters, cannot be disregarded because their material becomes more challenging with each passing trauma. Adult actresses receive the majority of attention.

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Fans of “Yellowjackets” will go crazy over a sequence in Episode 2 where the youthful ensemble cast pulls off one of the most emotional, moving, and all-consuming TV scenes I’ve ever seen. It’s a good thing that this series airs and streams once a week because fans would benefit from some downtime in between episodes.

Many TV shows, films, and books illustrate the darkest aspects of people, but “Yellowjackets” seems to be trying to communicate more than just how vile we are at our core. There is nothing quite like it, despite its inspiration coming from shows like “Lost” and literature like “Lord of the Flies.” And we are unable to turn away.


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