Welcome to our first edition of the Yellowjackets Season 2 round table!
Participants include two TV Fanatic senior staff writers (and reader favorites) Jasmine Peterson and Whitney Evans, and my good friend and long-time TV opinion collaborator, Ivey West.
Each week, they’ll share thoughts on the biggest events of the latest episode, and we desperately hope you’ll share yours, as well. So, pull up a chair and join the table for our Yellowjackets Season 2 Episode 1 discussion!
Which side of the story grabbed more of your attention during the premiere: the past or the present? Why?
Whitney: I actually liked both, in as much as it’s hard for me to say one was more engaging than the other definitively. There were parts of both that were a bit sluggish, but overall I thought it was a decent premiere. In the present, I’m most interested in the fallout from Adam’s murder, so I liked that they jumped right back into that.
In the past, I was really looking to see what the fallout from Jackie’s death would be, and we got some of that. I wasn’t very sold on the new Yellowjackets, and the Lottie stuff, both past and present, doesn’t do a whole lot for me. But still, I thought they each had solid beats, and I was hooked throughout the hour.
Ivey: Honestly, I enjoyed both equally, which tracks with the first season for me. This show works so well crafting the parallels between the past and the future, and I continue to be blown away by the mirroring performances between the teen and adult versions of our characters.
I like drawing the lines between Nat steadfastly supporting Travis and the one sticking a fork in newcomer Lisa, between Shauna’s late-night snacking to her setting her backyard on fire to cover up her crime, and Taissa sleepwalking craziness to her … sleepwalking craziness.
Jasmine: I’m going to go with the past. The present storyline felt like it was plodding along a bit, and we were either retreading things we’ve already been through or taking time to get into the nitty-gritty of things.
I’m unsure how I feel about where things are for the women in the present right now, but I want to hold off and get a few episodes under my belt before jumping the gun with my thoughts in that regard.
The past storyline has kickstarted some things, like Shauna being the first to venture into cannibalism with that more psychological aspect of her, possibly, feeling she needed to have a piece of Jackie with her. We’re seeing more of the other survivors, the rise of Lottie, and the decline in morale. I felt that portion of the hour was much stronger.
Teen Shauna wasn’t doing well after losing Jackie. What are your thoughts on her keeping “Dead Ass Jackie” around as her pal? Whitney: Shauna has so much guilt. And I can’t even imagine the pain she’s been feeling in the aftermath of Jackie’s death.
I think the only way she knows how to cope right now is to keep Jackie with her in whatever way she can. Is it healthy? Of course not. But she’s pregnant, malnourished, and freezing. It’s her twisted way of keeping herself from giving up, and I think that’s why everyone kind of just lets it be.
Ivey: It’s weird, but I’m not sure it’s the weirdest thing in this episode (For real, Van is a freaking rock star). As much as Shauna is struggling with her loss and her guilt, I get the feeling she’s far from rock bottom. Things are going to get a lot worse.
Jasmine: Who among us hasn’t chatted it up with our decomposing best friend? Shauna is struggling, and she has the added effects of being a young pregnant girl in a high-stress and traumatic situation. I’m not surprised that she’s fully cracked; this is part of her grieving process.
The guilt is a lot to contend with for many reasons, and somehow, this was the least outlandish thing I’ve seen, even if it thoroughly creeped me out. Dead Ass Jackie is just the equivalent of one of those creepy dolls or a comfort blanket. A girl needs her vices.
Ivey: [Raises hand] Me. I have not chatted it up with a decomposing best friend. At least not that that I’m going to admit with the entire internet watching!
What do you think about teen Natalie sloughing off Lottie’s concoctions for a successful hunt and her concern about Travis’s distress at losing Javi?
Whitney: I don’t blame Natalie for being skeptical because even though they’re in this incredibly difficult situation, she hasn’t lost who she is at her core. She’s not buying what Lottie is selling. And she’s one of the few, since the beginning, who has been willing to say what she means and mean what she says.
I’m really interested to continue to see teenage Natalie and Travis, so I can understand that dynamic more. You could see in Yellowjackets Season 1 that Travis was such a significant person in her life, but we only got bits and pieces of their relationship. I have to imagine that the search for Javi and everything going on there only strengthens their bond.
Ivey: I can’t believe it took as long as it did for Natalie to react to Lottie’s works. That she was kept quiet at first is just as clear of a sign of her affection Travis as anything else we saw today.
I was impressed by her ability to keep his spirits up, by the map she was working on with Ben, but most importantly, I was impressed by just how well she and Travis both pulled off the Red Dawn sheik so well.
She’s probably the Yellowjacket keeping it together the most at this point, which really worries me, considering the version of Nat we know in the present.
Jasmine: Teen Natalie is everything to me. She’s a clear skeptic with all of this, and she doesn’t hide it, although she manages to temper it more than most would.
Natalie is always a character who’s more observant and in tune than the others give her credit for, something I can only imagine is due to her upbringing and needing that as her own survival skill. It’s why she’s become such a trusted person to turn to and confide in. She has such clear eyes.
I think she’s already picking up that Lottie is gaining a lot of power over the others, and she knows how potentially dangerous that is, but she wants no part of that. I also feel like she knows how vulnerable Travis is at this stage, and others haven’t been paying attention or invested in his specific grief as they are with Shauna.
Natalie is very much feeling like the canary in a cold mine right now, and I look forward to seeing how things unfold for her because we already know she’s gone through some serious sh*t.
The past introduced new Yellowjackets and increased time for others. Is that a good idea or not?
Whitney: My gut reaction is I don’t think it’s a good idea. I should probably reserve judgment until I see what the new stories bring, but I feel like there we didn’t necessarily need any new characters out in the woods. Perhaps I will be changing my tune, but I can’t see them m being more than plot devices and eventual casualties.
Ivey: This isn’t a Nikki and Paulo situation. We had to meet a couple of them before they become … well … meat. They were going to have to swell the ranks of familiar characters so that the audience could make a connection to them when things take a turn for the worst.
I am interested in the dynamic between Misty and Crystal. If our favorite little sociopath makes a friend then Crystal will skyrocket up the odds charts for “Who is Pit Girl?” I have always said that bonding over show tunes and bathroom strategies is the core of every strong relationship.
Jasmine: I’m on the fence about this. I understand that because of the COVID regulations, they couldn’t have these characters playing a more prominent role before, but it also feels odd to just toss them to the forefront and hope for the best.
As it stands, they just seem like food fodder and numbers to cross off while the others get the protection of being leads. However, I also understand that this can open the door for some new, compelling storylines to explore, especially in relation to the characters we do know and love already.
It doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but I hope they know what they’re doing with this move. It’s still early enough in this series that they could’ve simply continued to expand upon the characters they already had, and now there’s a risk of not getting that if time gets doled out to new people.
Shauna and Jeff are still stumbling into things with regard to Adam that could send them to the chair. How do you think they’re handling it?
Whitney: I’m sorry, but I love this twisted union so much. I am so invested in their relationship and how it will evolve now that there are fewer secrets between them. But having said that, they are handling this Adam situation horribly! Anyone could have seen them walking into Adam’s art studio, and their prints (and other things) would be everywhere.
Everything involving their petulant daughter I could do without because it feels very much like they’re setting it up for her to turn on her mother, which blah. But I am really into watching Jeff and Shauna figure things out together because their dynamic actually really works well on-screen.
Ivey: I am shocked at how well they are navigating the emotional side of things — which still is pretty bad, Jeff in particular. He was overwhelmed by the myriad versions of Shauna that Adam painted.
But they are doing a terrible job covering up their crime. You KNOW they had their phones with them at Adam’s art studio (rookie move), they potentially left some … erm … DNA around, and destroying evidence like that only makes the subject of the paintings even more important if the police ever figure it out.
Jasmine: It’s probably because I truly love both Melanie Lynskey and Warren Kole, but they can suck me into anything, even when I’m wondering why we’re still on this. It’s delightfully dark and twisted that they’re both supremely screwed up and now feed off of that with one another.
And somehow, the whole murder of her lover has possibly made their marriage or at least their sex life much stronger. They’re such a hot mess, but I love it. What I don’t love is that we have to still spend time on the Adam component of things.
It’s all starting to feel a bit contrived, especially that godawful moment with their daughter finding the part of his ID that conveniently had his face on it in the grill. I feel like they’re digging a bigger hole from themselves, and it can get dangerously close to feeling like a comedy bit. They’re just… so bad at this, but not in an entertaining way.
Taissa is going further off the deep end all the time. How far is it going to go, and be honest: how worried are you for Steve?
Whitney: Taissa has been spiraling for awhile, and I think the longer she is without any kind of solid support, she’s going to spiral even further. I know we’re set to meet adult Van at some point, and I think that will be a really good way for Taissa to kind of anchor herself.
But in the long run? I think she is who she is, and I’m not sure that’s changing. I’m already preparing for Steve’s unhappy ending.
Ivey: See, I think she’s been off the deep end for some time, and we just haven’t seen it … heck, she doesn’t even know it. I doubt, even with the discovery of the altar that her shadow self made in the basement, that she remembers the full extent of the other things she’s done.
As long as both of versions of Taissa continue to co-exist, she’s In trouble. If only she had someone who knew her — both of her — and wasn’t afraid to help her out. That would be nice.
Jasmine: Yeah, I have a feeling, especially based on how things were in the past for her; we’re only seeing the beginning of how dark and disturbing things are for Taissa. To say I’m worried about Steve is an understatement. Lord helps us; that poor baby doesn’t stand a chance. If Steve dies, I’m rioting.
With Taissa, I’m thinking she’ll get progressively worse, and we’ll learn that Van is the key to Taissa getting a grip. I’m ready for that Taissa/Van reunion in the present.
Natalie wasn’t kidnapped by Lottie, she was saved. Where is this story heading?
Whitney: I’m super confused by this, to the point I can truly say I have no idea where it’s going, and I’m not sure I totally care. I’m just going to bid my time through this part of the story until we get ALL the ladies together in the present to air it all out.
Ivey: I’m not sure I grant the premise of the question. She was definitely kidnapped. The whole abduction/locked-in-a-room proves that out. I’m sure Lottie has her reasons, but I don’t think you can get away from the word kidnapped.
I am interested in where this is going. Natalie’s dedication to Travis — both in the present and in the past — is special, and I think whatever answers Lottie is going to have for her on that topic aren’t going to be easy ones to take in. My current theorizing has Lottie and her people all over Travis’ death, and Natalie isn’t going to like that.
Jasmine: I can honestly say I have NO idea. Adult Lottie comes across like one of those charlatans who cons people out of their money in the wellness industry. I am more than thrilled that Misty is hot on her case, though. We’re probably leading up to a bigger reunion, and I’m intrigued by that.
What was your favorite moment from the premiere, and why?
Whitney: I really liked everything Jeff and Shauna. Like the two of them turn into a comedy sketch real quick, and as I was saying earlier, I’m really into that pairing and seeing where it goes this season. I also loved Misty getting into her detective bag, as she always does, to try and find Natalie.
Ivey: I’m not saying it was the 20 seconds I thought it was My So-Called Life’s Wilson Cruz interviewing adult Shauna before it was revealed to be Misty using a voice app, but I’m not NOT saying that either (It’s also not Christina Ricci’s flair as she talked about giving Hawaiian “5-0” Punch a snazzier name … I swear).
But since it wasn’t those things, it has to be Jeff “There’s no Book Club?” Sadecki rocking out to Papa Roach. Warren Kole is always there for us when we need a little comic relief in this show (and we always need some comic relief in this show).
Jasmine: Adult Misty cracks me up, and the premiere was no exception. The “I want my lawyer” cake was particularly inspired. I also got a nice chuckle from her downvoting the person who is on the right path about missing Adam. And out of anyone, she’d be the one to notice that someone broke into Natalie’s room. Misty makes everything weird but better.
Now that you’ve seen the premiere, what are your theories for how the season will unfold?
Whitney: I don’t have theories, so much as I have wants. I want to know what happened to Javi. I want to know what happened to Shauna’s baby. I want to know who killed Travis. I want to know how they made it out of the woods.
But I recognize I might get one answer or none because there’s so much more to come beyond this season. I hope they’re able to satisfy some of our curiosity but leave enough out there to keep us guessing. That was the best part of the first season, and I’m excited to walk away from each hour with new questions.
Ivey: I’m of two minds … part of me wants to turn my brain off and really let the story kind of flow over me.
But the rest of me wants to know what Nat was right about (my guess: that Javi was dead all along), is Lottie’s compound the same place the team was stranded (it better be), who Pit Girl is (probably one of the “newbies”), and what happens to Shauna’s baby (and is it LISA?!?!?!?!).
I think the balance will need to be in answering questions while creating new ones. That way, the audience doesn’t get frustrated and gets to keep guessing. If the show can do that while continuing to highlight some fantastic performances between the teen and adult casts, I don’t care where it goes, I’m along for the ride.
Jasmine: I’m definitely anticipating more of the characters appearing in the present and opening up more secrets about what happened all those years ago. The factions are clearly drawn by now, and it feels like we’ll get to see how that comes to be this season.
I still feel like Javier made it out of there alive — the hot spot under that tree was another indicator of something or someone else out there, and since we haven’t seen a body yet, Javier is still alive… maybe even nearby and orchestrating some things himself.
What are your final thoughts on the premiere?
Whitney: I enjoyed the hour overall. I get that it wasn’t exactly action-packed, but I thought it was a very good place to start. I thought things built over time in season one, and I expect the same here.
I’m sure we’re building up to something akin to the reunion as a chance for all the ladies to come back together in some way. And I’m excited to just wander through the stories again and get lost in the world. There’s nothing else like Yellowjackets on television right now, and I’m just thrilled to have it back.
Ivey: It’s nice to have the show back. I just rewatched season one, and I’d forgotten just how good it is. I’ve waxed poetic about the two casts, but they really are a freaking delight (Misty yelling at herself about crying? Damn this show!).
The only thing I wanted was more … more present Lottie (and Van!), more Travis and Nat scavenging and searching, more Shauna and Jeff stumbling through a coverup, and more Misty — young and adult. The double-edged sword of an engaging weekly show compared to an all-at-once binge!
Jasmine: I’m glad to have my girls back, but I was a bit underwhelmed with this premiere. I recognize that part of the appeal of the series is these women altogether, and with each of them in their disjointed storylines, excluding Misty prepping Shauna, it felt disconnected in the present for me, and I hate that.
The premiere felt a bit slow, but I also trust that they’ll pick up the pace and keeps us invested, and I’m excited to see how everything plays out.
Also, I didn’t anticipate having Papa Roach’s Last Resort stuck in my head, so kudos to Warren Kole’s execution of that headbanging scene that suited the character and where he is right now.
Yellowjackets drops new episodes on Showtime weekly with a streaming release on Friday and a Showtime cable network release on Sundays at 9/8c.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.