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Yellowjackets - Season 1 - Roundtable Review

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Sometimes, the best show of the year (were it 2021 or 2022, time will tell but I don't see anything else coming close for the time being) seemingly comes out of nowhere. Yellowjackets became the show to watch, to wonder over, to generate increasingly wild theories. But Yellowjackets isn't a great show thanks to its many mysteries and cliffhangers, it's a great show that also happens to include mysteries and cliffhangers! The writing, the characters, the teen and adult casts, all make it one of a kind. So please join Milo, Lisa, Laura, and I (Cecile) for this discussion, with our thoughts, favorite parts of the show, and attempts at predictions for season 2!

1. As a drama focused on survival, Yellowjackets has been said to be inspired by several well known works (Lost, Lord of the Flies, The Wilds, all come to mind) but it still feels unique. What made you love it and what is it about the show that truly elevates it to its own level for you?

Milo: I believe the original plans were for a Lord of the Flies remake before it became its own thing, and the Lord of the Flies influence is everywhere – but what made it stick out to me was its ability to balance both timelines unpredictably, maintaining that pulpy aesthetic that resembled something akin to a Stephen King script. It dealt with grief and moving on in a way that most dramas don’t get the chance to do, acting as an answer to what happened if Lost and The Leftovers were the same show – but more importantly, it made me care about every character present – I had multiple favourites each week, and the way the characters constantly evolved made it an elevated take above even Lost itself, with a clear end point in mind from the start. It also filled my Roy of the Rovers shaped-hole that I’ve been missing, one of the main recurring plot devices of that comic was centred around the fictional British Football Team Melchester Rovers going missing whilst flying – and although there was no cannibalism, the team’s adventures were always entertaining. But not quite as gripping as Yellowjackets, I feel. Furthermore: the soundtrack feels so skillfully curated it’s hard to imagine songs being used in a better way, only shows like Euphoria and Peaky Blinders rival it in terms of non-scored music being used.

Lisa: The acting is terrific – in both past and present storylines. I really like how they are teasing the two out simultaneously which really helps to ramp up the tension. It also prevents you from getting too comfortable or bored in one timeline and leaves you wanting more.

Laura: The thing about Yellowjackets is that it never holds back. Being on Showtime is incredibly helpful for them because they don’t have to follow certain rules other shows mentioned have to follow. They can put their all into it without fear of things being cut or censored.

Cecile: The highest praise I can give Yellowjackets is that when it premiered, Succession was in the midst of its third season and also aired on Sundays. With the delay in watching caused by time differences, I used to watch Succession last, but Yellowjackets got so engaging, so fast, that I started keeping it (yes, as a treat) for last instead, because I knew I wouldn't be able to concentrate on anything else afterwards. As for its uniqueness, it feels like the show has its own mythology, for one thing, and the dual timeline allows for different types of insights into what happened, and how the characters both came together and learned to cope (or not). I also agree with Milo, shoutout to the soundtrack which is particularly excellent (and also sometimes foreshadows stuff that happens several episodes later). I will now be listening to No Return on repeat. Finalt, I actually loved that is was released weekly, as opposed to dumping the 10 episodes à la streaming network. It made for so much fun speculation and theories, and I really loved waiting for new episodes even though it drove me crazy not to know what was in store.

2. In addition to both the 1996 and 2021 timelines, we get glimpses into even earlier scenes where we get to know each of the characters, but we've seen nary a sight of the 1996 reaction to the girls' disappearance and the efforts to recover them. What do you think took so long for the authorities to find them, was it purely logistical or was "the forest"'s, um... spirit truly trying to keep the girls stranded, as Lottie insinuated? In future seasons, would you be interested in seeing the fallout among their families and close ones (if it didn't take too much time away from digging death pits and watching Dateline as a family activity, that is)?

Milo: I feel like we’ll get another timeline at some point with the planned five season run and hopefully it’ll return to 1996 – the flashes of the montage early on has made it too tantalising especially as we know Allie didn’t go on the plane, although we know what happened to her at the reunion, what happened to her whilst her teammates were going through hell? I feel like they could get a whole episode out of the other 1996 timeline, and if the show wants to borrow a playbook from series like Banshee and imagine alternate realities – then I wouldn’t be against some kind of fever dream that imagines a reality where the team didn’t have a crash and actually went to Nationals, or didn’t even win their game in the first place that would have gotten there. There feels like a world of What If? Potential waiting with this show and we’ve only scratched the surface.

Lisa: I think there’s lots of room to explore more of the backstories of the girls themselves – so far we’ve only gotten a few after all! I’d also really like to see what was happening with the search and their families. I’m totally onboard with Lottie’s explanation. There’s definitely something sinister about that forest.

Laura: I would absolutely love to see loved ones' reactions to them coming back. If it’s been over a year, there’s a good chance they were either legally, or at least partially, thought to be dead, and seeing how that would work would be very interesting. There’s a logical way this question can be answered in that authorities searched, couldn’t find them, and presumed them dead, hence the search stopped. However, the less logical way of thinking, is that it really was the forest trying to keep the girls there. If it was the forest, I’m excited to find out why.

Cecile: Since it's still not clear whether there truly is a supernatural element or not (and honestly, I hope it's *not*) I'm going with the destruction of the black box and the remoteness of the area, but still, 19 months is a very long time to stay stranded. I'd definitely enjoy getting some insight into how they finally got rescued though, and how life became (and went on) when they disappeared. We already know several characters like Jeff, Jackie's parents, or Ally, whose lives never were the same after that plane crashed, and it could be interesting to see how they reacted and tried to move on (or never did). Seeing how the survivors reintegrated society after their rescue could also be something to dig into. We've seen them more or less adjust 25 years later, but how did they handle coming back from everything they'd just been through?
3. To say the least, Misty (teen and adult) isn't a very forthcoming person, when it comes to being truthful about the lengths she's willing to go to in order to feel included and loved. The best that can be said about the others' attitude towards her, it that they tolerate her because she can be useful to them. But do you think that stems from her everlasting impopularity, or did she ever confess to the fact that they likely stayed stuck as long as 19 months in the wilderness, because she destroyed the black box that could've led to them being found? In fact, do you think she actually had something to do with the plane crashing?! (I kid, but she may just have poisoned the pilots, and her turning the rest of the group against Jackie in one fell swoop was legit terrifying)

Milo: Jackie’s death was the most heartbreaking of it all in terms of just how it could have been avoided, and Misty we’ve seen plays a fascinating Nurse Ratchet-type figure as an adult, but the early signs are there as a teen. It’s hard to believe that she would have caused the plane crash and us not to get any more hints about it in the first season – it’s too big of a plot device to be left unresolved, but we’re not done with her character just yet and she does get up to a lot of dodgy things both in the past and present. If she ever confesses about the destruction of the black box it’s hard to see the team not giving her the same treatment they gave Jackie for less – so I’d wager that secret is yet to come out, one way or another – be it in the past or present.

Lisa: I suspect that Misty is unpopular because she is odd – in a very Carrie kind-of-way. I would love to know her backstory in particular. Her choices are always pretty off and she has no filter and no insight into people. Of course, she’s also a stone-cold killer – but does that pre-date the crash or not? Only time will tell…

Laura: Going through everything they’ve been through, I truly don’t see any way their friendship (or makeshift relationship for the time being) could survive the girls finding out that Misty destroyed the black box. I could be wrong, but considering what was lost out there, there’s no way Misty has ever told them it was her.

Cecile: If Misty had confessed to destroying the black box, even after the rescue, I don't think she'd be alive right now. Especially, like Milo and Laura said, considering how trivial life seems to be for the survivors we've met so far. I don't think they've forgiven her for making them trip on shrooms, and they certainly wouldn't for delaying their return to civilisation. To be fair though, Misty seems to be the only one to have "grown" into her personality, and who's the most at peace with her (insane) self. So what if she still can't get genuine friends without tricking them into needing her? Misty's loyalty to the group, and her vast knowledge as a citizen detective, do make her indispensable to the other adult Yellowjackets. That said, I don't think whatever's going on in her basement was for a "just in case" scenario. That guy she went on a date with may well have been saved by Nathalie's disturbing appearance, because who knows what Misty does to guys who don't like her as much as she likes them, i.e. I don't think it likely that Coach Ben makes it out of the wilderness.

4. One of the main season 1 mysteries centers around who (if anyone) killed Travis, and why. As the episodes unfold, we learn just how deeply Travis and Nathalie cared for each other, even into adulthood, and how resilient Nathalie's been all this time considering everything she's been through, starting with the abuse she suffered through at home, and ending with losing the one person she never stopped loving. Do you believe being kidnapped by a bunch of (I assume) cult members will save her from herself and her past, and bring closure about Travis' death, or will it only prolong her own downfall?

Milo: Natalie being kidnapped opens up a whole new world of possibilities for her and getting answers with Travis – I like the idea that there’s no grand conspiracy behind it all and Travis just committed suicide – as tragic as it is, showing that some characters haven’t been able to move on – but if it is, as suspected, part of a bigger conspiracy I can’t wait to find out what the writers have in store. The wait for next season is going to be a long one – and having finished the series finale last week, it already feels hard the more time removed from it.

Lisa: I hope that Nat’s kidnapping will actually help her to focus on getting over her trauma when she is finally able to learn the truth and take real control of her destiny. On the other hand, it could be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back…

Laura: Unfortunately and maybe fortunately, I can see this playing out as not being a cause of Natalie’s downfall, necessarily, but the people around her. Once she’s released (which I hope it’s safe to assume we can), she will undoubtedly tell Shauna and Taissa everything, which in turn, will either make her sound believable or certifiable.

Cecile: Nathalie, both teen and adult versions, is my favorite character on YJ, and her slow, unwilling, acceptance that maybe no one had murdered Travis, and the resulting decision to end her own life, broke my heart. So the fact that she was herded away by cult members, while definitely disquieting, at least means she'll live to see another day. Hopefully, figuring out everything that's been going on, will make her change her mind. And while the way she deals with the trauma is not the healthiest, it still feels like she's the only one who's being truly honest with herself about how she feels (and without sacrificing anyone else, unlike Misty).
5. While Nathalie deals with... everything that happened and keeps happening, in a constant state of mental breakdown, Shauna seems remarkably put together for someone who: slept with her best friend's boyfriend, got pregnant with his kid, became an expert slicer, almost killed teen Travis, got into a screaming match with said best friend which precipitated Jackie's death, and finally, killed her lover because of a quiproquo. When you put it like that, how does Shauna even function on a daily basis! What are your thoughts on Shauna's psyche? Is she indeed the most level-headed of the group (no dead dog heads in her basement... maybe some frozen dead rabbits though), or is she a time bomb waiting to explode and just pretending at being comfortably numb as she calmly accepts odd gifts from Jackie's parents every year?

Milo: Going through hat Shauna goes through in the finale it’s hard to see her not being a stronger person for surviving that – although I will admit, I found it hard to sympathise with her after that even though in the moment, both characters – her and Jackie – had valid points. What was most damning about the whole thing was just how easily Jackie could have lived, and that’s what makes it all the more prominent – although I highly doubt her parents would still send Shauna gifts if they were told the full circumstances behind Jackie’s death! As Season 2 will most likely escalate things, it’ll be fascinating to see how she copes.

Lisa: One of the most interesting things about the show is how the various characters deal with their trauma. Shauna may look like she’s keeping it all together, but there are definite cracks in the façade – like killing a rabbit for dinner and stabbing/killing her boyfriend, clearly being distrustful of Jeff (I mean who has amazing scenario-sex and then goes out on a bootie call? Other than Shauna…). I think that Shauna’s journaling actually helped as good therapy for her, but primarily, she’s closed off her mind as a housewife – not going to Brown or stimulating her clearly superior intellect… The Sophie Nelisse / Melanie Lynskey casting is perfect, and I am crazy about Lynskey’s performance in this!

Laura: As Miss Swift once said, it’s a shame she’s f@$ked in the head. Shauna is absolutely, 100% a ticking time bomb. It’s unclear when this bomb will go off given that she’s now in a partially happy place in her marriage and amongst her friends, but it will most definitely be in the second season.

Cecile: Until we saw how, exactly, Jackie died, I felt like Shauna was dealing the best she could, all while maintaining a safe distance from anything she could/should care about, and with a certain penchant for casual violence. After that reveal, however, Shauna's remoteness seems a lot more understandable, yet also unforgivable. She's been through the ringer, she's seen the worst happen, and her best friend's death is on her conscience every single day. You can turn it however you want: Jackie was always going to be the outlier since she couldn't adapt to living in the wild and making herself useful, her assuming the world revolved around her certainly didn't make her any friends, but ultimately, no one deserves to freeze to death because of teenage popularity contests when there's shelter 3 feet away. Shauna somehow managing to keep the will to live after that, and make a semi-normal life for herself, is actually quite a feat. One can also assume that when the consequences of sleeping with one's best friend end in death, you might as well marry the guy and have his kid(s), as well as serve penance every year by celebrating Jackie's birthday with her parents. Jackie's death likely shaped her entire life, whether she wanted it to or not. So is it really surprising that Shauna became the group slicer? I guess not, and her tentatively looking at the bear's blood and bringing it to her lips felt very foreboding. The fact that she (finally) broke a little in the shower scene, makes me think we haven't seen the last of her unraveling. Definitely agree with Lisa's assessement of Melanie Lynskey's performance in any case, she is a star.
6. Jackie's demise felt both understated and utterly heartbreaking, and the repercussions of how she died will likely impact the Yellowjackets group for their entire lives (which may, or may not, be quite short). It's the first one that was a result of a fight that was a long time coming, but which could've happened even if they weren't stranded in the wilderness. It also explains so much about adult Shauna's entire personality and behavior, since it's not like Jackie was eaten by a bear, which would've been very unfortunate but not "ruin your life with guilt" worthy. So will it be a catalyst for the remaining Yellowjackets, as in make them closer in order to never let something like this happen again, or rather increase the growing schism between what's likely going to become two separate clans, as seen when Van and Misty follow Lottie in her blood sacrifice ceremony?

Milo: The two separate clans feels unavoidable now – especially as we don’t know what happened to Van and Lottie yet, given that she’s not mentioned in the present day yet she’s either fully off the deep end in Lottie’s present-day cult, or something bad happened to her in the past. Regardless of whether the lines are drawn or not I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t see multiple shifting of allegiances – the whole thing in the past is giving me vibes not unlike the first season of AMC’s brilliant quasi-supernatural survivalist drama The Terror (which had two groups of survivor’s, one who resulted to cannibalism and one that didn’t), which it’s arguably closer to than The Wilds despite its obvious comparisons of “teen girls lost in a remote location after a plane crash” – both shows have gone in wildly different directions. So I predict lots of changes ahead – lots of questions for Shauna to deal with – especially if more present day characters who don’t know already learn about the sins of the past.

Lisa: I can’t say that I felt a lot of sympathy for Jackie’s death, but it does explain why Shauna goes to and endures those yearly brunches. It might also explain why she didn’t go to school – as punishment, maybe because Jackie couldn’t? Honestly, Jackie’s death is really another manifestation of her selfish behavior. I’m betting she never would have stubbornly stayed out there if she knew that she would die and be the one ultimately punished – though of course, she does punish the others too. I think the death will actually pull most of them together, and I’m not convinced that an out in the open schism will result in the group.

Laura: Honestly, I’d be a bit shocked if Jackie’s death had any huge impact on anyone besides Shauna. Everyone else in the group damn near despised her, and though they might not have wanted her dead, there’s no way they’re going to be upset that she’s gone.

Cecile: Jackie's death definitely felt like a game changer, but based on the group's dynamic I don't think it'll bring them closer, unfortunately. The secession has already started between the believers and non believers, and I wonder how well the ones who don't want to follow, will fare. Misty clearly only follows who she thinks is the most powerful at that time, so I'm sure she'd switch sides in a heartbeat if it felt like the other one might serve her interests (and save her from further scrutiny).

7. Between constantly getting interrupted during moonlit makeout sessions with her girlfriend, trying to rationalize supernatural happenings, setting fire to her marriage, terrifying her child, and getting elected state senator, Taissa's led a busy life so far. Sure, her trauma-induced sleep walking seemed a little over the top compared to the traditional version, but Simone's basement discovery and Taissa's unhinged smile in the following scene taint everything we've assumed about her so far with a much darker spin. How long has Taissa been (back?) in Lottie's cult? Was this her way of ensuring a win against her opponent? Did she have anything to do with Nathalie's kidnapping? What happened to Van?!

Milo: Taissa being in Lottie’s cult is an example that I mentioned of shifting allegiances – we don’t know yet of what led to her joining Lottie for example, and that revelation was a pretty surprising twist. It’s one of those things that’s hard to know until next season, but this was probably the biggest surprise of the year – although we have seen hints that she’s the more driven one that will stop at nothing to get what she wants, so it’s not an out of character choice.

Lisa: I want a lot more Van next season!!! Taissa was a real surprise as we see her completely unravel as the season goes along. I wonder if the sleepwalking came back because she used Lottie’s methods to win the election? But what started it in the first place? Was it the forest or is it something that predates the plane crash? The dog head alter and that smile at the end of the episode were definite surprises!

Laura: I believe that once Taissa lost Van, whether in the wilderness or once they got back, she almost clung to Lottie because she knew Van was extremely close to her. So she decides to join Lottie, not realizing what it would cost, but going along with it anyway. I would believe more that Misty had something to do with Natalie’s kidnapping, but now, who knows? It truly could be all three women.

Cecile: I'd like to believe Taissa isn't even conscious of what she's been doing, her sleepwalking has seemed more like a fugue state where she barely remembers what happened and how she got there. However, her wolfish smile as she won the election, and the increasingly disturbing behavior she's been displaying make me wonder, as does the symbol. If she'd never been in Lottie's cult (as a teen), would she have known to (even subconsciously) try to swing the election in her favor thanks to a blood sacrifice? Logic points to no, so we have to assume she joined it at some point, despite her insistance that nothing otherwordly was going on, then or now. Like Milo said, allegiance shifts are highly likely between the clans. Plus, she was the one who sent Jessica on a mission to question the other survivors, and who knows what happened if/when she stumbled upon Lottie's existence. Maybe she and Taissa reconnected, and that spurred her sleep walking, combined to the stress of the election, the blackmailing, and Travis' death. Van's multiple near death experiences have me hoping she made it out, because surviving being stuck in a burning plane and being attacked by wolves has to mean something. Right?! I really like Laura's theory about this though, I'd never thought of it that way but losing Van, one way or another, would definitely send Taissa off the deep end.
8. Much has been praised about this show, but the casting choices of the teen and adult versions of Nathalie (Sophie Thatcher/Juliette Lewis), Taissa (Yasmin Savoy Brown / Tawny Cypress), Shauna (Sophie Nelisse / Melanie Lynskey), and Misty (Samantha Hanratty / Christina Ricci) were truly fantastic. Now that we know there's at least one additional adult Yellowjacket out there (hi Antler Queen Lottie!), unless someone is impersonating her, which... is far from impossible on this show, who would you like to see cast as adult Lottie in the 2021 timeline? Do you think anyone else made it out, why/how haven't we heard about them until now, and who would you like to see play them? (Prayer circle for Van, please and thank you. Maybe they can sacrifice "outsmarted by an elevator" Randy in order to ensure her safe return)

Milo: No casting that I’d make could ever top the show as they’ve nailed every single casting perfectly so far (and how rare is that in an ensemble as large as this) – so I’m leaving a diplomatic open-ended answer and saying that I’m completely ready to be surprised. I did the Yellowjackets quiz thing on Buzzfeed about which character would you be and my result was Van – so I’m hoping for good things for her! Although I fear if any surviving character hasn’t made it to the present day already it’s because they don’t want to be found – and that would suggest Cult involvement, because if Lottie’s a part of it and it’s not someone impersonating her then it’s not likely good news.

Lisa: I think everyone is on the table to still be alive because I think that they’ve all been keeping their distance from each other – remember that Taissa, Shauna, Nat, and Misty hadn’t seen each other in some time. As for casting? Ugh! No idea – too many choices! But it’s a fabulous question.

Laura: Oh, boy. What a loaded question. Given that Yellowjackets has thrived on an incredible, but widely unknown cast, I would love to see someone new come in as Lottie and just take over. Perhaps if we’re going in the realm of well-known, I’d have to say, Jessica Biel.

Cecile: The showrunners have confirmed that we will meet adult Lottie (not an impersonator), and that we will likely see other survivors, so the question now, truly is... who! I'm hoping for Van, or maybe Mari, because no one else has really made an impact (I miss Laura Lee though, RIP) and like I said before, I don't think Coach is going to make it out of Misty's clutches. As far as why we haven't seen them so far, like the others mentioned, the remaining Yellowjackets have kept pretty silent apparently, and didn't reconnect until the events we've seen unfold. So it's entirely possible one or more of the others went off grid like Travis. Someone like Lauren Ambrose or Natasha Lyonne would be fantastic playing adult Van. I won't venture any casting picks for Lottie but I'm sure they'll do an excellent job whomever they choose!

9. Speaking of theories, while the finale did answer some questions (Jessica was never going to make it out alive of Caligula Inn, was she) it left some room for a lot of speculation too. Do you think Javi is still alive, or was he part of the Doomscoming sacrifice? Will the Adam fallout catch up to Shauna and the others a lot sooner than anyone could've expected (and will Callie file for emancipation)? Is the much talked about cannibalism theory real, and if so, who did they eat first? And most importantly, where the hell did Allie's brand new Long Island accent come from?!

Milo: I think Javi’s days are numbered – and the Adam fallout is going to come back to Shauna and the others at some point, especially if the factions become divided again. Wouldn’t it be a plot twist if that Allie wasn’t really the Allie that they knew?

Lisa: Allie’s accent – the one truly false note in an otherwise brilliant season. Callie is much more the usual very annoying teen on the show! I can’t stand her, and it’s clear why Shauna hates her! LOL! If she does get emancipated, I hope she goes far, far away… I think the Adam fallout will be a bit of a red herring and be dealt with quickly. I hope Javi is still alive, but I have real doubts…

Laura: Unfortunately, I have a feeling only Lottie made it out other than our four girls. Maybe Ben, because it’s a damn miracle he’s survived this long, honestly, but who knows. Poor Jessica! I hope and believe the cannibalism theory is real. As for who they ate first… I guess that’ll depend on whether or not Javi is really still alive.

Cecile: I really hope Javi survived Doomscoming, but since when Travis died we didn't hear anything about Javi (and he wasn't the one to drain the account), I'm going to assume either he didn't make it then, or he died later on and didn't make it back. I'm not sure what happened, but since Jackie didn't survive the first snow, there unfortunately isn't much hope for a younger kid to do so, especially without a fire, and on shrooms. I honestly wasn't expecting Adam's family to give the alert quite so quickly, but that's because we're biased from Shauna's point of view that he wasn't using a real name. It seems Adam is very much who he says he was, and an innocent bystander who got caught up in Yellowjacket drama. The look on Callie's face as Shauna pretended she was talking about the popcorn "burning" was priceless, but I do hope it's resolved quickly, like Lisa said. As for the cannibalism, I assume they get there eventually, but it's going to take a lot more for them to actually take that step.
10. The show has already (thankfully) been renewed for season 2, and the showrunners apparently have a 5 season plan. Any predictions/wishes for the upcoming season(s), or other thoughts you'd like to share?

Milo: As mentioned, a flashback episode to the 1996 timeline from those who didn’t get on the plane, and a “What if?” style series of dream sequences not unlike the ones that Jackie was experiencing moments before her death of a world where the characters didn’t crash, or at least were rescued sooner.

Lisa: I’m sure that we’ll see more deaths next season, but I think this show could be toying with us and the cannibalism won’t actually materialize. I think a lot of the plot will deal with Nat’s abduction – and Shauna and Misty trying to rescue her. I can’t wait to see what Simone does about that alter! It’s possible that Shauna and company may also tap into the power of Lottie’s cult to deal with the Adam thing too… Maybe they could sacrifice Callie’s sense of entitlement?

Laura: I have no predictions given that I’m horrible at guessing literally anything, but I know the second season will be just absolute chaos.

Cecile: I... wish for it to be as excellent and entertaining as season 1. Knowing who the girl who falls into the pit is, what happened to Shauna's baby, would be nice revelations too, but I'm not sure we'll get them all in season 2!

As usual, sound off in the comments below, we'd love to know your thoughts about the show, the characters, and what we can hope for in season 2!

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