Yellowjackets, series 2, review: TV's teenage cannibals are back – with less bite

·2-min read
Can the teenagers survive life in the wilderness in season two of Yellowjackets? - Kailey Schwerman/Showtime
Can the teenagers survive life in the wilderness in season two of Yellowjackets? - Kailey Schwerman/Showtime

Cannibalism soundtracked by Tori Amos: it’s the return of Yellowjackets (Paramount+), a US show that became a cult hit when the first series launched in 2021. It’s about a bunch of teenage girls fighting for survival after their plane crashes in the snowy Canadian wilderness. We know that some of them make it home because we flit between their ordeal in the 1990s and now, where the survivors are attempting to live normal lives but failing quite spectacularly.

This is not one of those shows that you can pick up at series two if you’ve never seen it before. There is too much going on, all of which will seem fairly insane. In 1996, teenage Shauna is conversing with the corpse of her former friend Jackie before deciding to eat her ear (to be fair, it had fallen off). In the present, Shauna is trying to cover up the fact that she murdered a man with whom she was having an affair, believing he was blackmailing her, only to find out that the blackmailer was her own husband who needed money for his failing furniture shop. Across town, the newly-elected state senator has a secret shrine in her basement featuring a decapitated dog’s head.

The show can be very dark – figuratively and literally – but it’s lightened by performances from Nineties screen queens Christina Ricci and Juliette Lewis. As Natalie, the most anarchic member of the crew, Lewis brings the energy that drives the show. In the first two episodes of this series, she rescues herself from kidnappers with judicious use of a fork and then reunites with fellow survivor Lottie (Simone Kessell), who received psychiatric treatment after their rescue and now presides over a creepy wellness retreat. “Last I heard, you were finger-painting in the loony bin and now you’re running a cult,” Natalie tells her. “It’s not a cult,” says Lottie, straight-faced. “It’s an intentional community.”

The novelty of Yellowjackets has worn off for me – the parallel timelines have become a little annoying, as has Ricci’s sociopathic busybody of a character. In that American more-is-more way, the writers are planning three further series. But the show has an army of devoted fans who gather online to share theories and sift through clues about the various mysteries. If you’re one of them, I’m sure this series won’t disappoint.

Season 2 of Yellowjackets begins on Paramount+ and NOW on Friday 24 March