Season one of the Showtime series “Yellowjackets” centers on the members of a New Jersey high school girls soccer team. The series does not, however, depict heroic feats of athleticism on the field, leading to a showdown for a championship. Instead, in 1996, the private plane the team is on, which is headed to Seattle for nationals, crashes in the wilderness. The ten episodes that comprise the first season effortlessly shifts amongst three distinct timelines. The first is the girls’ existence before the crash, as they go about their daily lives of school, soccer, and relationships. The second, their time in the wilderness, is filmed, in part, as if it is a horror movie. From the moment they crash, there is an ever increasing sense of dread that permeates through most of the survivors’ waking moments. After a short time passes, questions that pertain to food, supplies, and whether to stay where they are and wait for help, or go in search of help, begin to loom large. Furthermore, some of the survivors begin to wonder if other worldly elements are being utilized against them. The third timeline focuses on the lives of the girls, now adult women, twenty- five years later. Those that survived the ordeal in the wilderness have refrained from speaking about what happened to them during their time there.
Prior to the plane crash, tensions had already been running high on the team. Yellowjacket’s captain, Jackie (Ella Purnell), attempted to maintain morale after the talented, but win at any cost, Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) deliberately injured a player, who she felt would’ve been a liability to the team during nationals. Straight A student, Shauna (Sophie Nélisse), Jackie’s best friend, in perhaps name only, it turns out, is pregnant with Jackie’s boyfriend’s (Jack DePew) child. Depending on how long the girls are stranded in the wilderness, the baby might be born while they’re awaiting rescue. In addition to survival, whether or not to tell Jackie about her betrayal, is something that is constantly on Shauna’s mind. Natalie (Sophie Thatcher), who viewers might recognize as Dash from “The Book of Boba Fett,” is the pot smoking, outsider on the team. She is hiding a secret from her not too distant past. Lastly, there is the team manager, Misty (Sammi Hanratty), who tries desperately to be liked and accepted by everyone, but isn’t. She’s viewed as an annoying person who tries too hard. If the girls hope to survive, however, all of them, plus additional team members, as well as people who were on the plane that are associated with the team, (that I haven’t mentioned), are going to have to find a way to work together.
As pertinent and as attention-grabbing as the team’s struggle to survive in the wilderness is to the series, I found the stories that capture what the characters are like twenty-five years after their torment, is just as interesting. The survivors that season one focuses on, have all been contacted by Jessica Roberts (Rekha Sharma), a journalist, who wants to write a tell all book about the ladies experiences as teenagers. The four survivors she gets in touch with are: Natalie, who as an adult, is portrayed by Oscar nominee Juliette Lewis (From Dusk Till Dawn). She has recently been released from rehab – it’s not the first time she’s gone – and is now on a mission to catch up to her missing love Travis (Andres Soto); Taissa (Tawny Cypress), sleepwalks by night, but is fueled by political ambitions the rest of the time, and is running for state senate; Melanie Lynskey, plays Shauna. Her marriage is in a rut, especially since her husband Jeff (Warren Kole) is seemingly always working late, thanks to computer problems. Callie (Sarah Desjardins) her sixteen year old daughter, is at the age where spending time with mom, is not a cool thing to do. Although, Shauna attempts to put the past behind her, ever since the crash, her life has been, for the most part, unexciting, which leads her to make some questionable choices; Misty, a role acted by Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Christina Ricci (The Dresden Sun), is a nurse in a senior facility, and a true crime aficionado. Her skills will be needed, when she and the other three aforementioned survivors of the crash, begin to receive mysterious postcards. Furthermore, a suicide from someone the women know from the past, which may have been staged, as well as the ever present threat of blackmail by someone claiming to know what really took place decades earlier, force the four women to team up.
“Yellowjackets” was created by Ashley Lyle (The Originals), and Bart Nickerson (Narcos: Mexico). The first season is a mix of the genres of drama, horror, mystery, and thriller. The Showtime series premiered on November 14, 2021. The casting is a major key, as to why I think the show was a success. The younger and older versions of the characters synch up perfectly. I can picture each of their younger selves, growing up to become the women that they are in 2021. The cinematography that was done by C. Kim Miles (Home Before Dark), Trevor Forrest (Super Pumped), and Julie Kirkwood (After We Leave), not only does a skillful job of capturing the right amount of tension and dread, but also knowing when to pull back for moments of levity. Eight directors were used for the episodes, and all of them were spot on. The music conducted by Anna Waronker (Call Me Kat), Craig Wedren (GLOW), and Emmy nominee Theodore Shapiro (The Eyes of Tammy Faye), helped to capture, through their music, the right feel to help showcase what is transpiring on screen.
The season presented several questions: What happened to the survivors after the plane crashed? How did they survive? In what way, did the experiences from their past, shape the people they are now? While some of the questions will be answered via flashback, and revealed in conversations, not everything will be answered. On December 16, 2021, Showtime announced that “Yellowjackets” had been renewed for a second season. For viewers who liked “Lost,” William Golding’s book “Lord of the Flies,” which was published on September 17, 1954 by the Berkley Publishing Group, and the writing of Stephen King that deals with teen angst, this is probably a show you’re going to want to watch.