Courtesy of Showtime

This review contains spoilers.

Season two of “Yellowjackets” premiered on Showtime on March 24 and features nine episodes, which are released weekly. The first three episodes of the season did not hold back on intensity. Now winter, the team has grown divided, as some members look to Lottie (Courtney Eaton) and her rituals as the key to survival, while others write-off these behaviors as frivolous. Flash forward 25 years later, Lottie (Simone Kessel) runs a wellness retreat, and Natalie (Juliette Lewis), Shauna (Melanie Lynskey), Taissa (Tawny Cypress) and Misty (Christina Ricci) reunite after curiosity about their mysterious time in the wilderness intensifies.

The previous season introduced eight central characters who survived a deadly plane crash: soccer players Jackie (Ella Purnell), Shauna (Sophie Nélisse), Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown), Natalie (Sophie Thatcher), Lottie and Vanessa (Liv Hewson), team manager Misty (Samantha Hanratty) and the coach’s son, Travis (Kevin Alves).

Still recovering from Jackie’s death at the conclusion of season one, the team is now in disarray. Jackie’s role in the narrative was archetypal; she was the captain of the soccer team, homecoming queen and the glue that fastened the players together despite their differences. With her death, the glue has come undone, leaving the team less as a unit than a collection of loose parts.

Two timelines run through the series: the first follows the high school girls soccer team after the plane crash, and the second focuses on its survivors 25 years later. Though the 25 years in between are still unexplored territory, the instinct of survival at all costs — even when death is not imminent — lingers on.

The women remain largely unchanged since the crash. Given that odes to ’90s culture litter the show, opening the season with Sharon Van Etten’s 2019 song “Seventeen” marks a departure from its ‘90s identity. The lyrics seem to put the adult women in conversation with their younger selves; the second half of the chorus, “I used to be free, I used to be seventeen,” draws a parallel between the two periods in the women’s lives. They have always been and will continue to be more palatable, yet still damaged, versions of their seventeen-year-old selves, forever changed by their harrowing experience of surviving deep in Canadian no-man’s land.

Season one felt pretty tame in comparison to what it teased: Short scenes of flesh-eating and ritualistic ceremonies flooded the show, yet the team had not resorted to cannibalism by the season’s close. But in season two’s premiere, the food supply is low, and with Jackie’s frozen corpse readily available, maybe, just maybe, the team will indulge. Shauna, who remained relatively level-headed in season one, begins to experience hallucinations following Jackie’s death. Her desperation for Jackie reeks so strongly in the opening episode that she converses with Jackie’s frozen body for hours at a time. Despite her allegiance to the corpse’s preservation, Shauna has dabbled with cannibalism already, so what is stopping her from sharing the wealth?

Episode two answers this question. Taissa makes the executive decision to sever Shauna from her nagging attachment to Jackie, suggesting they cremate Jackie’s body. By mysterious circumstances, the body begins to cook instead of burn. The team awakes to the smell of cooked meat and all appear to be under the spell of dissociation, guided now by their primal instincts instead of conditioned morality.

A surreal scene shows the team cloaked in togas and crowned with golden laurels, drawing direct reference to Bacchanalia. All but assistant coach Ben (Steven Krueger) partake in the feast, signaling to the audience that a figure once regarded with esteem is losing influence. Given that the crash incapacitated him and the team is less resembling what it claims to be, Ben brings nothing that the team cannot already accomplish without him.

While the team members are growing apart from the group into independent units, their adult counterparts are on track to reunite in the cover-up of their murder of Shauna’s ex-lover, Adam (Peter Gadiot), and to save Natalie from Lottie’s “wellness” camp. The coming episodes have a lot to answer in resolving the adult characters’ storylines. Adam’s death confronts Shauna, Taissa’s mental health is dwindling as is her marriage and Natalie has found herself back in Lottie’s presence. Bureau of Citizen Detectives fiends Misty and Walter (Elijah Wood) connect in what appears to be the beginning of a forensic-based partnership that will play throughout the season.

Episode three seems to act as a set-up for the remainder of the storylines; a lot happens, though no information rivets the audience in a way that prior episodes have not done. More members of the group in the wilderness are experiencing hallucinations, and Shauna, who is seven-months pregnant with her and Jeff’s (Warren Kole) baby, is thrown a baby shower at Lottie’s suggestion.

Perhaps most out of place in the episode is a bizarre scene when an unidentified figure carjacks Shauna and Jeff at gunpoint. While the carjacker seems insignificant to the plot, the scene reveals insights into Shauna’s character. She tracks down the perpetrator, threatening him at gunpoint with the weapon she pocketed off the assailant. This further displays Shauna’s willingness to resort to violence when resolving inconveniences. Most notably, episode three demonstrates that Shauna’s penchant for crime persists, Ben is destined to be eaten by the group and Misty and Walter will somehow find a way to cover up the team’s twenty-five-years-and-counting record of trauma and resultant violence.

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