Yellowjackets: A New Spin On Survival – Season 1 REVIEW

Yellowjackets: A New Spin On Survival – Season 1 REVIEW

Yellowjackets: A New Spin On Survival – Season 1 REVIEW

Yellowjackets: A New Spin On Survival – Season 1 REVIEW

The plane crashes in the wilderness, leaving the passengers to deal with the elements, supernatural forces, and most importantly, each other. You may think I am referring to Lost’s iconic mid-2000s sci-fi TV series. However, I am talking about Showtime’s new show, Yellowjackets.

Bart Nickerson and Ashley Lyle knew that Lost wasn’t the only preexisting property that informed their Yellowjackets creations. To create their two-pronged story about a New Jersey high-school soccer team that finds themselves in Canada’s barren forests in 1996 and how their horrifying experiences impact their lives 25 years later, the trio has gathered freely from TV shows, movies, and books. Yellowjackets: The First Season is surprisingly original, even though it was based on many storytelling leftovers.

These plot points and themes have been in stories before but not as well as this one. William Golding’s classic novel Lord of the Flies saw us marooned children reduced to savagery. Yellowjackets examine the kind of adult these kids become. While the big-screen adaptations Stephen King’s IT dealt with teen angst and period settings, as well as childhood trauma’s lasting effects. However, they lacked Yellowjackets survival horror elements. And Lost gave us parallel timelines and supernaturally-infused survival horror but tackled things from an almost exclusively grown-up perspective and was comparatively light on the gore.

These comparisons do not account for how the creative team cross-pollinates their influences. Lyle, Nickerson and showrunner Jonathan Lisco of the Yellowjackets writes team don’t just look for new angles on their inspirations. They also take what they have and combine it all. This allows a lot of storytelling ideas to intersect (plus some that don’t) and creates a story that is genre-bending yet feels fresh.

Your mileage may vary depending on how Yellowjackets switches between horror, thriller, teen drama and other genres. The story can also be a bit too complicated at times. The mysteries that underpin the first season’s plot are so compelling that you will be willing to overlook the occasional plot twist or tonal error.

Performances are also a big help. Yellowjackets have not one but two outstanding acting line-ups, one for each timeline. Pros Melanie Lynskey Tawny Cypress, and Juliette Lewis are well-known for their likeability, world-weariness, vulnerability and hidden edge. They play the adult versions of Shauna and Taissa, and Natalie, respectively. Ricci is the most prominent as Misty, the cheerful sociopath. Her frozen smile and girlish voice are as terrifying as any of the other horrors Yellowjackets have to offer.


Talented newcomers Sophie Nelisse and Jasmin Savoy Brown, Sophie Thatcher and Sammi Hanratty continue to be the teenage versions of Shauna and Taissa and Natalie, respectively. Their work in Yellowjackets may be more impressive than that of their veteran counterparts.

They have to capture the teenage hormones, heartache, and humour. However, it is also necessary to track their characters’ gradual descent into tribal hysteria. This could have been very dangerous, considering how absurdly bizarre things eventually turn out. Thatcher, Hanratty, Nelisse and Savoy Brown all do a great job anchoring even the most bizarre moments of Season 1, thanks to their relatable and emotional performances. There are no underperformers, but Thatcher deserves special praise for her role as Natalie’s anti-social and misunderstood damaged goods.

The best thing about the acting is the smooth handover between the younger cast members and their elder counterparts. It is nothing short of amazing and creates fully realized, believable portraits for Yellowjacket’s main characters, both as teens and adults.

It would be great if all of the Yellowjackets were as efficient. C. Kim Miles, Julie Kirkwood and Trevor Forrest’s cinematography capture the beauty and ineffable dreadfulness of the woods beautifully. However, a few poor visual effects shots ruin key scenes. The most obvious culprit is the distractingly obvious CG bear at the end of the game. However, the pixel-powered wolves (and deer) that appear earlier are equally unconvincing.

Sometimes, the Yellowjackets’ pacing can slow down. This is another side effect of the many plot threads that are at play in these first ten episodes. It also has to do with the large number of characters competing for screen time. It’s difficult to fault these plot threads because they work in isolation. However, it is easy to criticize the time spent creating the supporting cast. These are wonderful characters, and it’s fun getting to know them. It all works on some level.

Nevertheless, we suddenly find ourselves in flashbacks within flashbacks mid-season and are trying to track everything from blackmail to infidelity or evil spirits. The show’s rapidly expanding mythology causes it to slow down and almost collapse at this point. The season finale, which is a bizarre rather than revelatory affair, threatens to introduce the same kind of absurd overarching mythology that ultimately stalled Lost back in the day.

These minor issues should not discourage potential viewers from giving Yellowjackets a chance. Yellowjackets Season 1 is a fresh take on an old premise. It’s also one of the most engaging and confident opening seasons for any TV series in recent memory.

Yellowjackets: A New Spin On Survival – Season 1 REVIEW
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Most Popular

To Top