‘Yellowjackets’ Season 2 Episode 1 Review: ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen’
Winter is coming for the “Yellowjackets” teens, while the adults are caught up in the events of Season 1.
(Editor’s note: Included in the following review spoilers for “Yellowjackets” Season 2 Episode 2, “Friends, Romans, Countrymen”.)
As another prestige drama once said: winter is coming.
That was the threat that loomed ever closer in Season 1 of “Yellowjackets,” where the screwed-up high school girls soccer team faced unforgiving weather, food shortages and the constant possibility that they would never be saved. Swimming in the lake and celebrating “Doomcoming,” he wasn’t real, but he became invincible after Team Captain Jackie (Ella Purnell) froze to death outside in the Season 1 finale.
In the Season 2 premiere, Winter is loud, proud, and mean; the Yellowjackets spend their days indoors, with multiple fires burning and sharing routine tasks such as cooking, fetching water, and disposing of waste. There’s a casual yet poignant domesticity to these scenes as they unfold, with Lottie (Courtney Eaton) making herself a hot drink and sitting by the window, or Natalie (Sophie Thatcher) and Travis (Kevin Alves) stuffing their clothes with magazines before heading out. to hunt outside; it is no longer a waste of time, but a way of life. It has become routine in the wild.
Routine and healing would be a welcome respite for the other grown-up yellowjackets. Nat (Juliette Lewis) has just been kidnapped, Misty (Christina Ricci) is in hot pursuit, Taissa (Tawny Cypress) is estranged from her family after her wife finds the body of their beheaded dog at some altar in the basement (fair!), Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) is trying to get away with murder.
The past and present storylines both deal with Taissa’s sleepwalking, but there are stark differences in how she first deals with it as a teenager (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and how she now suppresses it as an adult, as well as everything else in the wild. Young Tai sleeps next to his girlfriend in the loft, holding their hands so that Van (Liv Hewson) will wake up if Tai wants to leave. There is an openness between them – not only from love, but also from this shared experience, which no future partner will ever relate to.
In contrast, newly elected adult state senator Taissa Turner finds herself isolated, barred from seeing her son, while her wife pleads with her for help (again: fair!). Tai has always been a problem solver, whether it’s lightly injuring a cocky freshman in a yellow coat, trekking up north to rescue him, or buying a new dog to replace the decapitated one; but sleepwalking and what he gets out of it, what he brings back – not easy to fix.
The creepiest scene in the season 2 premiere (including the final seconds) is the unceremonious introduction of the new cast of 1996 — characters who were always on the periphery in season 1 but now get names and faces, higher billing, and close-ups . There’s nothing wrong with the cast, especially when there are clearly more than seven survivors of the plane crash, but there are more elegant ways to do it than sit around a table in an otherwise minimally useful scene. Fortunately, there is no quiz; The only relevant new addition to this episode is Crystal (Nuha Jes Izman), a bit of a weirdo who likes musicals – like Misty in the present, but decidedly not Misty in 1996.
As the search for Adam (Peter Gadiot) continues, the grown-up Shauna and Jeff (Warren Kole) visit the artist’s studio, which is filled with artwork depicting Shauna. This upsets Jeff, who seemingly made peace with the case as soon as he found out about it, focusing instead on helping Shauna cover up the murder and blackmail (and recover from missing the book club). In Adam’s creations, Jeff sees the Shauna that Adam saw—that Adam gotand what Jeff himself knew all those years ago, and feels himself discouraged by his choice of a quiet life.
Episode 201 doesn’t do anything about who Shauna Sadecki is in case anyone, including those closest to her, loses sight of it. He’s still a bad liar, even lying during Misty’s mock interrogation, but he’s always been more than meets the eye since high school and probably before that. This is a woman we have never seen more at ease than when she cut a rabbit out of her garden, bled it, and put it in a stew in a bad mood. When she sees that Jeff is uncomfortable with the art, she doesn’t apologize, not once, for the affair. He manipulates her masterfully (but not maliciously), showing her the other Shauna who avoids her and telling her that the thought of him being with someone else turns her on—and she likes it. As usual, Lynskey nails every beat, commanding the scene and her character and setting the stage for the rest of the season.
“Yellowjackets” doesn’t pull any spooky and horror punches, but nothing really prepares the viewer for teenage Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) spending her days in a frozen meat chamber with the corpse of her best friend. Purnell’s guest appearance is intentionally withheld because it’s not Jackie; it’s a projection of her, as rotten as the body she puppets Shauna’s imagination with. She spends most of her time grieving Jackie in a way that the other girls find as terrifying as it is part of their bleak reality. By the end of the episode, it’s almost as routine as Lottie’s morning tea blood sacrifice and Nat and Travis’ expeditions. So much time passes between scenes that the viewer might forget that Shauna has a human ear in her pocket until she pulls it out to stare at as she walks. We all know what’s coming – and so does he.
Book club discussion
- I try to mention the word “Lost” as little as possible in these reviews, but I love “Lost” and I love as the “Yellowjackets” pay homage and also dial it up to 1000.
- The opening of this episode is the first time we see a timeline that isn’t immediately after the crash or the present: the immediate aftermath of the rescue. Gives Oceanic Six!
- (Now I have failed to refer to the term “Lost”.)
- Nia Sondaya replaced Keeya King in the role of Akilah, who we met in season 1
- More on Lottie later, but it’s creepy that she’s basically catatonic after being rescued and seeing how well she thrives when she returns to her role in the wild.
- WHERE IS JAVI? The lingering worry over her whereabouts takes a heavy toll on Travis and drives a clear wedge between Nat and Lottie – reason and faith.
- (I failed twice.)
- Jeff blasts Papa Roach in the car… no comments
- In MASH’s imaginary game, “Jackie” gets almost everything right about Shauna’s future, except for one thing: Does a grown-up Shauna secretly have a million dollars? Will you get it this season? Win for this woman!
- Natalie actually stabbed a girl in the face through her hand
- As Nat breaks free from his cabin, screeching music and nighttime forest scenery give us a rare moment where the past and present of “Yellowjackets” don’t seem so separate, a character runs scared through the woods, away from danger, and the towards the unknown.
- This is the second time in 2023 that a TV character has put a human ear in his pocket. It’s not exactly a trend yet, but it’s double the previous one, folks.
- Lottie’s altar is the only thing not frozen in the wilderness. Weird – but is it good weird or bad weird?
- I swear if anything happens to Steve the kid
New episodes of “Yellowjackets” air Fridays on streaming and Sundays on air.
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