“Winter is coming.” That may be a phrase from Game of Thrones, but it was also the ominous drumbeat in the background of Yellowjackets Season 1. The thrilling Showtime series follows a high school girls’ soccer team stranded in the Canadian wilderness in the 90s due to a plane crash. In its second season, which premiered on streaming on March 24 (the premiere will air on Showtime on March 26 at 9 p.m.), one thing is clear: winter is here.
Season 1 ended with the first snowfall, and Jackie (Ella Purnell) freezing to death. It’s now two months later, the frost is thick, the food is running low, and though Natalie (Sophie Thatcher) and Travis (Kevin Alves) search every single day, there is no game to be found. (They’re also looking for Travis’s little brother Javi (Luciano Leroux) who disappeared at the end of last season.) How are the girls—plus Travis and the assistant coach Ben (Steven Krueger)—going to survive? Well, we got the answer to that in Yellowjackets’ first-ever scene: cannibalism.
A mystery girl ran through the forest and was caught and eaten by a select group that we know at least includes Misty (Sammi Hanratty). Now that winter is here, and we know it’s Lottie (Courtney Eaton) who’s running the cannibalism cult as the Antler Queen, the countdown to that reality begins. And while we get our first instance of cannibalism in this episode, it’s not what you would think. More on that later.
Speaking of Lottie and her cults, the show doesn’t make us wait to introduce us to the cult she’s running in the present, the one that kidnapped Natalie (Juliette Lewis) last season. For the first time, we see the girls in the 90s, post-rescue. As they are hurried through a mass of reporters to board a plane home, Lottie looks particularly distraught and screams out at the crowd. I hope this is a sign we’re going to get more post-rescue flashbacks this season because I am fascinated to see how that plays out.
We soon learn that Lottie hasn’t said a word since being rescued. But after going through electric shock therapy, she’s not only recovering but helping other patients. It’s not surprising that people choose to follow Lottie, who is very good at making people feel like everything’s going to be okay as long as they follow her lead (she also claims to have prophetic visions).
Natalie keeps her wits about her and makes a quick play for escape. The only thing that stops her from full-on attacking Lottie (Simone Kessell) is Lottie’s promise that she has a message for Nat from Travis. For anyone whose memory needs refreshing, Travis had written a note that said “Tell Nat she was right” right before he died (most likely, murdered) early in Season 1. Nat’s been on a mission to find out what she was right about ever since. One of the things this series is very good at is doling out just enough answers to its many mysteries to keep us on the hook.
As for Lottie’s cult? There’s so much we still don’t know about it, but Natalie interrupts a ritual with people dressed in animal masks and white robes burying a man alive. It feels reminiscent of that first scene, and I wonder if Lottie’s attempting to recreate in some small way the life she led in the wilderness. Lucky for Nat, Misty (Christina Ricci) is already investigating her disappearance, but maybe it’s not lucky since Misty has clearly been suckered by Lottie in the past.
Meanwhile, Taissa is grappling with the same issues in both the 90s and present timelines. She sleepwalks and seems to have a completely different, much scarier persona when she does. In the wilderness, she and her girlfriend Van sleep in the attic with their wrists tied together with rope to keep Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) from wandering off. In the present, Taissa’s (Tawny Cypress) marriage is crumbling, her wife Simone (Rukiya Bernard) won’t let her see their son Sammy (Aiden Stoxx), and she finds the shrine with the mystery symbol from the wilderness and the head of her late pet dog. I don’t know what Taissa’s been doing for the past few decades, but it’s clear she needs some serious therapy.
Adult Shauna (the great Melanie Lynskey) is also struggling, but at least she has her husband Jeff (Warren Kole) as her partner in crime. The two go to Adam’s (Peter Gadiot) studio to destroy any evidence left there that he and Shauna were ever involved, being that Shauna killed him last season. It’s kind of sick and twisted—Jeff helping his wife cover up the murder she committed of the guy who she cheated on him with—but it’s also much more interesting. Jeff has gone from being an extremely bland character to someone who knows exactly how messed up his wife is and yet loves her for who she is while still struggling with the affair. Something sure to throw a wrench into that delicate equilibrium? Their daughter Callie (Sarah Desjardins) is suspicious about Adam’s disappearance, and now she’s found proof that her parents were involved.
Now, to the caveat about cannibalism. Back in the 90s timeline, a distraught teenage Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) is also struggling with a recent death, somewhat at her hands. Jackie died two months ago, but Shauna still refuses to bury her. Instead, she sits Jackie up and talks to her as if she’s alive, unwilling to let go of her best friend. The other girls are concerned but they don’t interfere. During one interaction, Shauna accidentally rips off one of Jackie’s ears and carries it around for the rest of the episode. Right before the credits roll, she gobbles it up.
This doesn’t seem to be a “she was so hungry, anything looked good and edible” kind of thing. It seems to have more to do with Shauna being sentimental in the extreme, consuming a part of Jackie to be close to her again. I wouldn’t be surprised if Shauna throws up the ear moments later in the next episode being that it’s the cold, raw flesh of a body that’s been dead for two whole months. Anyway, it may be our first bit of cannibalism, but it’s going to take longer to actually make it to Lottie’s cannibalism cult. We’ll just have to stay tuned.
Feature image courtesy of Kimberley French/SHOWTIME.
Yellowjackets Season 2 airs new episodes every Friday on Showtime on Demand and every Sunday at 8 p.m. Central on Showtime. Check back here for weekly coverage of Season 2.
Yellowjackets Season 2 Premiere - 8.5/10