‘Yellowjackets’ follows a team of wildly talented high-school girls soccer players who reveal the truth about their survival 25 years after their plane crashed.
The show has skillfully paced out its mysteries within two timelines – one in the present (2021) and the other in the past. Its outstanding ensemble of actors and plot keeps us invested in the shocking, heartbreaking, strange and unusual lives of the Yellowjackets championship girls’ soccer team of 1996, which tells the tale of their descent from a complicated but thriving team to warring, cannibalistic clans.
This high-school football team is left stranded in the remote northern wilderness for nineteen months after their plane crashes while they’re traveling to a national tournament.
The pilot of the show implies that at some point we may see cannibalism in the series. It can be seen while introducing the characters before they get on the plane to nationals in 1996 and showing us the lives of those that were rescued 19 months after being stranded in the wilderness (at least the ones that we know of).
In the first episode, we see a girl running through a snow-covered forest while shots of symbols of an eye can be seen carved onto the trees. Crows cawing, voices whispering can be heard as the girl wearing a heart-shaped locket falls to her death in a pit (trap). A person donning fur over their body with their face covered looks into the pit, and that’s when their sneakers are revealed making you ponder who it could be.
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More of these similarly dressed people are seen sitting before a fire (like a cult) with their leader in the center to whom the flesh is offered first. The person we see fall into the pit is then bled out after being hung onto a tree upside down. Members of the cult then devour the flesh. Yes, Yellowjackets is gory.
Image via Harper’s Bazaar
Among the survivors, we see Melanie Lynskey (from ‘Heavenly Creatures’) play the adult Shauna, who suspects her husband Jeff (Warren Kole of ‘Shades of Blue’) is having an affair and then cheats on him with a “starving artist” called Adam Martin. Lynskey puts on a great performance even offering a laugh sometimes while Tawny Cypress plays the black lesbian woman Taissa Turner, running for Senate, with her younger self (Jasmin Savoy Brown) being a headstrong person who gets the survivors to hike to find a water source.
The Addams Family’s Christina Ricci is the adult Misty who works at a senior living facility. The younger Misty (Samantha Hanratty) is a socially awkward bullied teenager whom the survivors praised for her knowledge that helped them after the crash. Misty also becomes someone who gets things done for the survivors in adulthood. Lastly, Juliette Lewis is the older Natalie whom we see leave a luxurious rehab due to her reckless relationship with sobriety. The teen Natalie is played by Sophie Thatcher and teen Shauna by Sophie Nélisse.
Their past in the ’90s informs us about their present selves, and how they are still haunted by it. When wrapping up rehab Natalie even states, “After they rescued us, I lost my purpose.”
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Similarly, we see all the survivors still dealing with the trauma after 25 years since the crash. Furthermore, the adult survivors are being blackmailed by someone whilst another survivor seemingly dies of suicide which Natalie believes to be a murder.
Apart from these four survivors, we also see other survivors in the wilderness, they are – 1. Teen Jackie (Ella Purnell), the captain of the soccer team, Shauna’s former best friend who struggled to keep up with the rest in the wilderness who helped in the survival in their own ways. 2. Ben Scott (played by Steven Krueger), the assistant coach, the only adult who survives the crash and helps the others survive by also teaching them to hunt.
3. Lottie – Courtney Eaton, the initially quiet team member who is shaken up by the woods. 4. Van (Liv Hewson). 5. Akilah (Keeya King). 6. Mari (Alexa Barajas). 7. Laura (Jane Widdop) 8.Travis and Javi (Coach Martinez’s kids).
From rationing food, hunting, finding water, to first aid, finding ways to get help – ‘Yellowjackets’ details the survival of the plane crash victims and how these high school kids are left to fend for themselves.
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Despite Yellowjackets’ cast being so big, all the lead, as well as the supporting actors, shine in their own way. The teen actors’ performance in the series is as good as the adult ones, and the great chemistry between the two timelines is commendable!
‘Yellowjackets’ throws tons of questions your way, however, some of them are answered along the way in the ten-episode series, yet the finale raises a bunch of new questions.
Throughout the series, many breadcrumbs are dropped. And yet, too many questions dangle over our heads. Yellowjackets makes us question everything, whether to reason everything out, think practically or believe that something supernatural – way beyond our understanding exists.
A perfect ensemble, clever story, and amazing soundtrack make ‘Yellowjackets’ stand out and become one of the best psychological dramas of 2021. You can even binge-watch the first season now that it has been fully aired.