"Hell is a teenage girl." That's what the opening line of Jennifer's Body, the 2009 horror-comedy directed by Yellowjackets executive producer Karyn Kusama, reminds us. But what about a group of teenage girls stranded in the Canadian wilderness as an unforgiving winter sets in, with death, hunger, and remorse hanging heavy in the air? What about them? Well, the second episode of Yellowjackets season 2 starts to form an answer to that question, with deliciously chilling results.
There's a lot of guilt in this episode, for one thing: pregnant Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) is overcome with guilt for Jackie's death in season 1, to the extent that it's consuming her day-to-day life in increasingly horrible ways, while Travis (Kevin Alves) is filled with regret as each day passes without finding his younger brother Javi. Both of them find comfort and support in Lottie (Courtney Eaton), who seems to see herself as a patron saint of the vulnerable in their makeshift home as she leans further into belief in the supernatural. As more in the camp turn to her for guidance, it feels like lines are being drawn amongst the group – those who listen to her and look to her for solace, and those, like Nat (Sophie Thatcher) and Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown), who do not.
If Lottie is drawn to the vulnerable, then Taissa certainly fits the bill. In episode 2, we see her in increasingly desperate situations in both the '90s and the present day. The main difference, of course, is that she has Van (Liv Hewson) in the wilderness to support her and – literally – pull her back from the ledge, whereas adult Taissa (Tawny Cypress) finds herself alone, with her wife cutting off contact between them and their son until she seeks help for her dark and violent episodes.
Elsewhere in the present day, it's not looking good for Shauna (Melanie Lynskey), as it becomes clear that people have their suspicions about her involvement in Adam's disappearance. The contrast between teenaged Shauna reacting to Jackie's death and her adult self dealing with Adam's murder is particularly evident in this episode – teen Shauna is bereft, wracked with guilt, and driven to the edge, whereas 40-something Shauna is calm and apathetic to an almost unnerving degree. Lynskey is giving us a flavour of what she brought with full force in her role as revolutionary leader Kathleen in The Last of Us: she is soft-spoken and sweetly feminine, but with something cold and frightening beneath the surface.
Meanwhile, present-day Lottie (Simone Kessell) tells Nat (Juliette Lewis) more about the night Travis died by way of some seriously creepy flashbacks, but the question remains: should we, or Nat, believe her? Speaking of Nat, Misty (Christina Ricci) is still looking for her, but now she has help. After a voice cameo in episode 1, Elijah Wood makes his first proper appearance in episode 2 as a mysterious fellow citizen detective – cargo shorts and all.
Despite the injections of humor in this episode, though, the way it wraps up – in both the present day timeline, but particularly in the '90s flashbacks – will have you staring slack-jawed at your TV as the credits start rolling. With six episodes still to go before the season wraps up, Yellowjackets certainly isn't pulling any punches. It's still holding enough back to keep us on our toes, though, make no mistake – this is exactly what you want from a weekly episodic release schedule. As the episode's final haunting scene fades to black, we can be certain of one thing: this is merely a terrifying tease of what's to come.
New episodes of Yellowjackets release every Friday on Paramount Plus. Make sure you never miss an episode with our Yellowjackets season 2 release schedule.