|What goes up...
Season one of Yellowjackets was different and fun. The show's basically Lord of the Flies with girls, and it switches from their ordeal in the wilderness to the characters some 30 years later.
The young ladies in question are members of a ruthlessly competitive girls soccer team, who are heading off to the world championships, when their chartered plane goes down in the Canadian wilderness. God knows we have enough wilderness to go around, enough for a thousand such shows.
You'd think there'd be moose. Or beavers. Or at least horse flies. Nope.
Things get nasty quick. One nerdy little girl, the outcast of the bunch, takes immediate charge and cuts off the injured coaches mangled leg, which is caught under a piece of the aircraft. She's taken all the first aid courses there were on offer, and knows her stuff.
Unfortunately, she quickly becomes addicted to her new valued status.
Things get worse from there. Much, much worse.
Exactly what is left to our imaginations, at first. But it is heavily implied that as little as four or five people survive.
The very opening scenes show the girls hunting one of their own members, wearing masks, and performing what look like cannibalistic rituals.
But we don't get to that state again in season one. It's a teaser to hook viewers in with the promise of the premise which they seem to mostly forget about.
Instead we cut to the girls later in life, when they've settled down into dull, domestic not-so-bliss. At first, there are only three. It seems the wilderness was a bloodbath that few returned from... until they introduce another survivor.
And so on.
It's like a shampoo ad, and the longer it goes on, the lower the dramatic stakes become.
The show dives deep into the characters to the point of disinterest. The navel gazing is extensive and probing, and not recommended for carbon fibre hulls. But the actors are fabulous, and they do well with what they are given. It's an abundance of riches, which will suit some tastes more than others.
The scenes with the kids in the wilderness were even more compelling, with higher stakes. Whenever a 'now' scene rolls by, the urge to fast forward soon strikes, especially later in the season.
Yet the wilderness family cannibal adventure is well worth watching, and I recommended the show to friends. I liked the heavy hints of the supernatural, that there were otherworldly forces dwelling in that forest, and had confidence the showrunners wouldn't drop the ball.
Then season two landed.
The ball wasn't just dropped, it was lost entirely.
The scenes in the present became meandering and self-indulgent.
Back in the wilderness, the vague supernatural forces hinted at earlier are... hinted at again and again. There's enough vague hinting to constitute trolling.
One character sits with her best dead frozen friend for three months, doing her hair and makeup before casually eating her ear. Because of course she did. Her friends find out about her freezer zombie ear parties, and decide enough is enough, they'll burn the corpse.
You'd think that'd be the end of that. But wait! Vague maybe-sort-of-kinda supernatural forces drop a pile of snow on the funeral pyre, and voila, the corpse comes out like a braised butterball turkey. The girls then crowd around and chow down.
That got a guffaw. Not the response the show runners were hoping for, I suspect. Maybe they were going for horror or revulsion or something. All I could see was mouth watering Butterball.
The famine angle is mentioned, but not consistently, and the girls didn't behave or look starved. Obviously, they can't starve aspiring actresses. I mean, this isn't a Stanley Kubrick show.
A few skipped episodes later was the finale, because that's all I could stand to watch. It was silly and pat. The central mom continued her death spiral into awfulness, hoping to one day to join the esteemed ranks of Dexter, Walter White and Tony Soprano. Or maybe not.
Few shows so intriguing became so awful so quickly. Yellowjackets, like Icarus, soared high and then plummeted straight down and pancaked into pavement. Well. Icarus went into the sea, but you get the idea.
Of course, I am not the target audience, so your mileage may be much better. For your sake, I sure hope so.
Yellowjackets would be an interesting subject for a screen writing class.