Yellowjackets Season 2 Review: The Show Is Angrier, More Unhinged, And As Good As Ever

The first season of Showtime's "Yellowjackets" enthralled a lot of viewers for good reason. The series, which could be inadequately summed up as "The Lord of the Flies" but with a 1990s high school girls' soccer team, successfully blended "Lost"-like mystery (with a hint of potential cannibalism) with the angst, anger, and trauma of often comes with being a teenage girl.

The "Yellowjackets" season 1 finale answered a few of the questions viewers spent weeks on subReddits trying to parse out. It mostly, however, left a slew of things unanswered. (What the hell, for example, is up with that Antler Queen?!) Back in 1996, those who are still alive after the plane crash are facing an ominous winter, while the four survivors we know about in the present day have come together to try to cover up an accidental murder. Season 1, in what has become expected "Yellowjackets" fashion, also ended on more than one cliffhanger. And even though we know from casting announcements that we'd see some more adult survivors in the upcoming episodes, we don't know how they would fit into the series' overarching story or how the adult or teenaged versions of the characters we've followed will fare.

Without getting into spoilers, season 2 dives into these dangling threads, and things get grislier and even more unhinged as the show's multiple storylines untangle. Winter 1996 in the Ontario mountains is taking its toll, and the four adult survivors we followed in season 1 ​​— Shauna (Melanie Lynskey), Taissa (Tawny Cypress), Misty (Christina Ricci), and Natalie (Juliette Lewis) — have separated again and are on their own respective, f*****-up journeys. All of them, however, can't escape the trauma of those 19 months in the woods, and the show jumps instantaneously between the present and past as the characters — young and older — try to survive.

Like season 1, but more f***** up

Surviving, however, ain't easy. And at both points in time, the Yellowjackets are losing their grip on reality, with more than one seeing things that aren't there. (Or are they? The potential for a supernatural element at play is amped way up this season.) The tension slowly winds up in the four episodes I saw as well, and in such a way that hints there will be a major comeuppance in both timeframes. I can't wait.

Viewers, however, will still be fully captivated as they watch each week for that eventual, inevitably comeuppance, and I have no doubt that more than a few episodes will blow up the Internet with discourse, memes, and too many hot takes. We get some revelations in the first half of the season, and also spend time with some characters we saw little of in season 1. There's also some worldbuilding going on, and the new people we meet and the new places we're introduced to not only make the story richer but that much more twisted in an utterly f****d up way. 

The second season of "Yellowjackets" also keeps some of the key things that made the first episodes so compelling, from the choice '90s soundtrack (and references to musicals), to the development of its characters, both within themselves and with those around them. Adult Shauna, for example, has a lot to work out with her husband and daughter, while adult Taissa's family situation is in even more dire straits. Ricci's Misty, who teams up with the high-socks and short-wearing Elijah Wood as a kindred true crime sleuth, also injects the show with some much-needed levity. We also get more than an inkling as to what the heck is going on with adult Lottie (Simone Kessell) and the apparent cult that she's formed.

A sophomore slam dunk

"Yellowjackets" hasn't stumbled in its sophomore season — it's still gripping, still disturbing, still keeps the characters front and center, and still doesn't get too bogged down by the mystery enshrouding it all. Take all of this and set it against the juxtaposing backgrounds of the Canadian wilderness and suburban New Jersey (two places that the show impressively cuts back and forth from seamlessly), add in a healthy serving of morbid humor each episode, and you've got a compelling hour of television.

I've mentioned that I've only seen the first four episodes of the second season, and I can't help but wonder how much more unhinged things will get in the later episodes and whether (or when) the adult survivors' paths cross once more. There's a danger of the story going too much over the top, I suppose, but I can't speak to what I haven't seen. And there's a better chance, I think, that this season will leave us once again with a lot of unanswered questions — the "Yellowjackets" showrunners have a planned five-season arc, after all. Whatever happens, the show still works and will continue to work if it focuses on how or why things happened to our characters — both in the woods and in present day, though I still want to know what the hell is the deal with the Antler Queen.

Showtime has already greenlit the third season, which means we'll get more thrills, more mystery, and more metaphors about the horror and absurdity of growing up in additional future episodes. In the meantime, we've got this unsettling season to feast on and enjoy.

Yellowjackets" season 2 begins streaming on Friday, March 24, and airs on Showtime Sunday, March 26.