The second season of YELLOWJACKETS proved a disappointing departure from the incredible heights the first season achieved. The second season ate its potential by mostly treading familiar waters.
First, let me gush again about that incredible first season. In the 90s, a high school all-girl soccer team flies to a national competition only for their plane to crash in the wilderness, forcing them to survive on their own for more than a year. Now it’s years later, and we follow several women (strong veteran actors) from among the few who survived. The story unfolds in two storylines, one where we see what happened in the wilderness, and the other where we see the adults struggling to live normal lives, messed up in the conventional sense but somewhat fearless and capable of anything when it comes to surviving. The result teased this is a modern grrl version of THE LORD OF THE FLIES, revealed slowly through the lens of the girls now all grown up. If you’ve read my novel THE CHILDREN OF RED PEAK, you know this is my kind of story, and I was happily surprised at how subtle, nuanced, and compelling they told it.
The second season continues the story, and I think most viewers started the season anticipating seeing the girls devolve into savagery in the wilderness, as the end of the first season brought us to the edge of it. Unfortunately, the second season feels far different than the first. They strongly introduce a paranormal element, which would work but ends up a deus ex machina for every weird or bad thing that happens. The adult storyline treads water, endlessly seeming to try to tie off the first season, and even the compelling wilderness storyline meanders. Otherwise, we get the sudden car collision trope, the I wake up and did bad things while I was blanked out trope, a lot of cuteness, and other service tropes. Solid opportunities are squandered, like Coach’s role in the group and a natural devolution into savagery to survive.
Unfortunately, the result is that despite some salient great dramatic moments, there is a general lack of focus, where most of the episodes feel like filler, and contrived and phoned-in conflict, particularly the atrocious police storyline. I really hate coming down on this show. As a writer, I know how much hard work goes into producing something you think people will like, and the result is always heavily subjective. But I was bitterly disappointed with this. I really, really hope they turn things around with the third season and get back to that sharp, compelling, intriguing storytelling that made the first season such a surprisingly great watch.