Yellowjackets Has Inherited One Of Lost's Most Awkward Character Problems

This article contains spoilers for "Yellowjackets" season 2. 

Of every character in season 2 of "Yellowjackets," the bubbly, eccentric Crystal (Nuha Jes Izman) is perhaps the strangest. She pops up in the middle of the season 2 premiere and unexpectedly develops a connection with Misty (Samantha Hanratty), and it's immediately clear the two are destined to be BFFs.

When Crystal confides in Misty how she "ate" her twin sister in the womb, Misty's riveted, and she's never seemed happier than when Crystal encouraged her to try acting. The two are perfect for one another, which only further raises the question: where's Crystal been this whole time? Why are they only now hitting it off, when they've been stuck in the same cabin together for months? Both the character of Crystal and the actress playing her are completely new, but she's hardly alone. A handful of other background characters have technically been there the whole time, but are only now starting to get full scenes focused on them. 

You can't blame the show for trying to do this — as the group dwindles over their 19 months in the wilderness, these minor characters must be fleshed out eventually — but it's unavoidably awkward. Every time Mari, Akilah, Gen, or Melissa get a moment to shine, it just reminds audiences of how irrelevant they were throughout season 1. For someone as weird and outgoing as Crystal, it's particularly jarring for the season 2 premiere to try to trick us into thinking she's been there the whole time. 

It's the same problem that impacted another beloved puzzle box mystery show.

A familiar problem

"Yellowjackets" isn't the only show to awkwardly introduce new characters who the rest of the cast is supposedly already familiar with. Multiple seasons of "The Sopranos" featured major storylines around the introduction of someone that everyone in Tony's crew supposedly already knew from years before, and "Scrubs" once snarkily insisted that Kim (Elizabeth Banks) had actually been working alongside JD for five years already; he just didn't notice her because she wore a wedding ring. However, it's a lot harder to pull this off when you're dealing with a small group of isolated people. Just ask the writers of "Lost."

In season 1 of "Lost," there were 48 survivors in the main group, and "Lost" focused on 15 of them. That meant that there were nearly 30 survivors just kind of hanging out at the beach, staying away from all the drama. Season 1 took advantage of this dynamic with the reveal that Ethan (William Mapother) was not actually one of the survivors, but a member of a mysterious hostile group from another section of the island. The writers knew we couldn't keep track of those background characters either, so they were able to hide the enemy from us in plain sight. 

The first background survivor to suddenly step into the spotlight was Leslie Arzt (Daniel Roebuck), a high school science teacher who almost immediately blows himself up with dynamite. His death is shocking but mostly played for laughs, as he was lecturing the group about handling dynamite safely when he accidentally sets it off. The writers seemed to understand that the audience was not going to care about this guy who barely existed throughout the first 20 episodes, so they didn't spend much time on the other characters grieving his death. 

Lost's big misstep

It's with the third episode of season 3, "Further Instructions," that "Lost" attempted to introduce Nikki and Paulo, two survivors who've never done anything of note for the first two seasons. The two characters kept offering to help the main group, even acknowledging a few times how strange it is that they've been around for so long without ever helping with anything. 

But even with the meta winks, fans simply couldn't get over how these characters popped up out of thin air, so after a half-season's worth of backlash the writers decided to bail on Nikki and Paulo entirely. They gave us "Exposé," an episode that dives into the two lovers' pasts as murderous diamond thieves. It's a "Twilight Zone"-inspired tale about two people consumed by greed, who are then punished for their sins thanks to an absurdly dark, not-particularly-plausible plot twist that results in them accidentally being buried alive.

There's also a fun little "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern" vibe to the episode, as it reveals that the two have been having their own little soap opera storyline that constantly weaves in and out of past "Lost" storylines we've already seen. While Jack and Locke were having intense arguments about the nature of free will, Nikki and Paulo were apparently just out of screen, going through their own equally dramatic conflicts. The only difference is that Jack and Locke are main characters, and Nikki and Paulo aren't. Just like with the famous play, Nikki and Paulo's lives are casually thrown away by the more familiar characters we already know and love. It's a dark, meta reflection on how much perspective matters, and how the most important things in your world could just be a footnote in somebody else's.

Crystal, we hardly knew you

"Exposé" was a bizarre episode, one that frustrated millions of fans who just wanted "Lost" to address its dozens of other more pressing plot lines, but it was also sort of brilliant. Did it retroactively condemn every Nikki/Paulo scene into clear-cut filler material? Yes. But it still gave that filler storyline one hell of a farewell. It's also a delightfully mean-spirited episode, one that would bode poorly for Crystal 16 years later, who exists on a show that's basically "Lost" but way darker. From the moment she was introduced, the question was raised: would Crystal get her own "Exposé"-inspired episode? It wasn't clear. All we knew was that present-day Misty had no friends, and a present-day Crystal had never been mentioned. We didn't know how or when, but Crystal's tragic fate still seemed sealed. 

In the end, Crystal did not get an entire episode dedicated to her backstory. "Yellowjackets" has always been far more sprawling of a show than "Lost," spreading itself a little thin with at least four or five different major stories going on at once. In Crystal's farewell episode, we only get a handful of scenes with her, and they're all from Misty's perspective. That might sound disappointing, but at least "Yellowjackets" made the most of the little time it had with her. (And of course, considering how much backlash "Exposé" originally got, denying Crystal a spotlight episode is probably the smart choice.)

Crystal/Kristen's demise

From the moment we get that lingering shot of the snowy cliff, it's obvious Crystal's going over, but it's not until Misty tells her about breaking the transmitter that we understand how. Poor Misty thinks she's finally found a friend that can truly accept her, flaws and all, so she decides to take a risk that could bring them even closer together. But even Crystal, who admitted to Misty two episodes prior that she too enjoyed the taste of human meat, has limits. She may have just said that she and Misty were lucky to have found each other like this, but Misty doesn't get that Crystal's just making the most of a bad situation; she wouldn't actually prefer to be stuck out here for months on end, so the reveal that Misty broke the transmitter does not go down gently. 

The emphasis is on Misty, who's learned the hard way that nobody will ever accept her for who she is. If even Crystal can't forgive her for what she did, then surely nobody can, so Misty will have to keep her guard up for the rest of her life. In other words, even when Crystal's getting shoved off a cliff, the show still isn't focused on her. This is all underscored by the earlier reveal that Crystal's name isn't even Crystal, it's Kristen. The other teammates just misheard her and she's been too shy to correct them. Kristen's always been misunderstood by those around her, and now she's going to die with the group never even learning her real name. She was tragically overlooked in real life, and now she's been tragically overlooked by the show as well.

Who handled it better?

Kristen's storyline definitely has parallels to Nikki and Paulo's, but there's also plenty of contrasts. "Lost" dove deep into Nikki and Paulo's lives to give them one last hurrah, whereas Kristen's death mainly serves to add extra context to Misty's present-day storyline with Walter (Elijah Wood), who reveals that he knows more about Misty's criminal actions that he originally seemed. Will Misty kill Walter just like she killed Kristen? That's the main question invoked in Kristen's final moments. 

When it comes to which show handled this narrative issue more smoothly overall, it's hard to say. "Lost" benefitted from a larger group of survivors, so it made more sense that there were so many background characters that never got much to do. With "Yellowjackets" there are less than 20 people who survive the initial plane crash, so the treatment of the background characters sticks out far more. There's also the issue that "Yellowjackets," unlike "Lost," is all about the group growing smaller. It shouldn't take too long before the number of survivors reach the single digits; if the show didn't start developing the background teammates, that would feel increasingly weird too.

The problem with listening to fans

Although "Lost" would famously make a series finale that did not give the fans everything they said they wanted, season 3 in particular made a lot of its storytelling decisions based on outside influences. They introduced Nikki and Paulo because fans were always asking what those background survivors were up to, and then they killed off Nikki and Paulo because the fans ended up hating them. It was a failed storytelling experiment overall, serving as a nice lesson in how fans don't always know what they actually want. 

The effect of the fans' influence on "Yellowjackets" season 2 isn't clear yet, although there definitely were plenty of complaints about the lack of focus outside of the main four survivors. Expanding the story to focus more on Van and Lottie makes sense, but the significant shift in focus on Kristen and the other background teammates may have been an overcorrection. 

Where "Yellowjackets" clearly stands ahead of "Lost" is with their resolution of Kristen's character arc, which we know was resolved without any of the fans' influence. Kristen dies in "Two Truths and a Lie" because that's when the writers intended for her to die; her death scene wasn't hastily written into the show in response to fan backlash. Even if Kristen's presence on the show was a little too awkward for many viewers to fully get on board, the whole thing still feels more organic than the way "Lost" handled the situation 16 years earlier. "Yellowjackets" may have inherited a lot of the island drama's flaws, but they've also seemed to have learned a little from its biggest mistakes.