‘Yellowjackets’ Season 1 Review: Character Driven Mystery

Yellowjackets

Yellowjackets Season 1 Spoilers Below

Yellowjackets Season 1, created by Ashley Lyle & Bart Nickerson, is a brilliant American drama that jumps through time while exploring female trauma and friendships. The television show flashes between the present day and nineteen ninety-six when a New Jersey high school girls’ soccer team crashed into the Canadian wilderness on the way to a national tournament in Seattle. A handful of remaining teammates who survived nineteen months in the wilderness had to do horrific things. Naturally, they don’t want anybody to know what happened in those woods. Today, the now-adult women are attempting to figure out whose blackmailing them.

The actresses who performed as the teenage and adult versions of the plane crash survivors found a way to create characters who felt like the same person at a different time in their lives. As a result, Yellowjackets balances fostering mystery and a grounded story. Shauna (Melanie Lynskey &Sophie Nelisse), Taissa (Tawny Cypress & Jasmin Savoy Brown), Natalie (Juliette Lewis & Sophie Thatcher), and Misty (Christina Ricci & Sammi Hanratty) suffer from trauma in different ways throughout the series.

Two Actresses Establishing One Character

Even though some of the female characters are performed by two actresses, they feel unified and radically different because they represent the characters at distinct periods of their lives. Some of their similarities are “surface” level. For example, both teenage Shauna, performed by Sophie Nelisse, and adult Shauna, who is acted by Melanie Lynskey, are skilled butchers.

Though some of the other similarities are more to do with the “soul” of the characters, both adult and teenage Misty have obsessive darkness in them that Christina Ricci and Sammi Hanratty capture perfectly. Misty was the team’s equipment manager.

Teenage Misty’s crush on assistant coach Ben Scott (Steven Krueger) leads her to drug his soup with psychedelic mushrooms. She accidentally doses all the surviving plane crash victims during their “doom” prom. While adult Misty’s obsession with keeping her “teammates” safe leads her to kidnap private investigator Jessica Roberts (Rekha Sharma) and imprison her in the house’s basement.

Taissa’s Trauma

The variances between the characters reveal the different stages of trauma they are at in the story. The teenage versions of the character have not fully felt all the trauma that affects adults. Adult and teenager Taissa is knowledgeable and ambitious.

Still, the grown woman is full of emotional cracks from her time in the wilderness. Both teenage and adult Taissa struggle to sleep, but there are several marked differences between the way it’s shown.

Teenage Taissa struggles to sleep after almost losing her girlfriend, Van (Liv Hewson). The most significant difference is that adult Taissa has a wife and son. She starts to crack up when she runs for the state senate.

At night she enters a fugue state where she stares at her son from a tree and draws weird symbols on their large home. The blackmail and pressures from the political race bring Taissa’s trauma to the surface.

Now that she is safe, the demons are coming out. Teenage Taissa needs to keep her wits to take care of her injured girlfriend Van and help them all survive. She can’t afford to sleepwalk. The “safe” lives that most of the grown women find themselves in allow their trauma to surface.

Yellowjackets Season 1 Cast

Mystery Without Confusion

Yellowjackets Season 1 leaves a lot of questions unanswered. But never to the point where the story is confusing or hard to follow. So many television shows that rely on almost labyrinth-like plots are hard to track. Creators focus on creating these elaborate stories that constantly surprise their audience but confuse everybody enough to take them out of the story. The prime example of those television shows is Lost and Dark. But Yellowjackets never falls into that trap.

The fundamental way that Yellowjackets keeps the viewers keyed into the story is by grounding the plot with the four leading women and letting the audience into some essential secrets right away. The pilot revealed that the surviving teenage girls’ soccer team lived alone for nineteen months by forming a ritualistic tribe with Misty as one of the leaders.

The girls became cannibals. The television’s mysteries ask why, how, and what turned these high-achieving teenage girls into cannibals. Even the questions around whose blackmailing Adult Misty, Taissa, Shauna, and Natalie are linked to why they formed this odd religion based on the girls eating other humans.

The close bonds between these four characters help viewers understand their logic, and the flashback storyline explains this bond further. For example, adult Taissa comes to Shauna for comfort after discovering that she has been sleepwalking. She doesn’t trust herself to sleep without Shauna.

There are flashbacks to teenage Taissa telling Shauna that she blames herself for Van’s accident because she convinced her to hike away from camp to find help in the same episode. She feels afraid to go asleep. Teenage Shauna stays awake with Taissa to protect her.

Instead of unwinding this grand conspiracy, the story focuses on understanding these characters and their motives. Season One ends with even more mysteries that need to be solved. Hopefully, this means there will be more Yellowjackets in the future.

Last Thoughts on Yellowjackets Season 1

All the adult versions of characters suffer from trauma that has damaged their lives in one way or another. Natalie is a recovering drug addict with no family. Taissa suffers from destructive sleeping walking, banishes her family, and is a workaholic. Shauna lives a double life. Her husband is Jeff Sadecki (Warren Kole), who dated her deceased best friend and soccer teammate Jackie (Ella Purnell), leading to their marriage being full of secrets on both sides.

Finally, Misty continues to act out her psychopathic fantasies in the name of protecting her “friends.” Why do you think these women have refused to work out their problems before now? Is it out of guilt? Are they just ashamed or scared of their secret? A combo of both?

Let us know your thoughts on Yellowjackets Season 1 in the comments below. 

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