Yellowjackets' First Big Season 2 Needle-Drop Foreshadows Its Greatest Conflict
Did Shauna really just eat that? Honey, you bet your life she did.
Yellowjackets, TV’s greatest soccer-girls-gone-feral thriller, doesn’t waste time beating itself to its own punch. Episode 1 of Season 2, entitled “Friends, Romans, and Countrymen” concludes with a glaring clue about the show’s juiciest mystery. And it all starts with the doomed (and frozen) Jackie Taylor, and ends with an ominous needle drop.
Major spoilers ahead for Yellowjackets Season 2.
The last we see of Jackie Taylor (Ella Purnell), the formerly alive Yellowjackets team captain and It Girl (back in New Jersey, anyway), is in Yellowjackets’ wallop of a Season 1 finale, covered in snow and completely iced over. Jackie is found, with an eerie, peaceful, angelic expression on her blue face, by the rest of the Yellowjackets, who stare in utter shock as Shauna’s (Sophie Nélisse) animalistic wails echo across the Canadian wilderness. Shauna cries with a spine-tingling ferocity, sobbing because she feels at fault for Jackie’s death. After all, it was a blowout fight between Shauna and Jackie about their codependent and toxic BFF dynamic — and, well, the baby-sized elephant in the room — that prompted Jackie to sit out in the cold and eventually die there.
One could easily argue that Jackie was condemned to die in the wilderness regardless of that altercation. She had no interest in learning how to survive, had stopped eating, and had essentially lost the will to live.
But Shauna doesn’t know that.
In the first episode of Season 2, we see Shauna’s twisted grieving process play out in the cabin’s meat shed. To cope, she imagines that Jackie is still alive, chatting with her and braiding her hair, but also torturing her with probing questions: Why did Shauna sleep with Jeff? It wasn’t love, Ghost Jackie surmises, but a subconscious desire on Shauna’s part to be Jackie, to have what Jackie had, and to become one with Jackie. Where beautiful blonde born leader Jackie ended, a more submissive Shauna began.
In one of those contrived fights, Shauna pushes Jackie and accidentally knocks off one of her ears from her frozen-solid corpse. Shauna, simultaneously frightened and mesmerized by the ear, hides it in her pocket. In the final scene of Season 2 Episode 1, we see Shauna take a bite out of her ear with a satisfied look on her face — and then the end credits roll, with Tori Amos’ “Cornflake Girl” playing, Amos’ mezzo-soprano sounding more haunting than ever.
Every needle drop in Yellowjackets Season 1 was thoughtfully selected by music supervisors Jen Malone and Whitney Pilzer, advancing the plot or dropping heavy hints about future narrative beats. So, what could “Cornflake Girl” be revealing about Season 2? A lot, actually...
What’s a “Cornflake Girl,” anyway?
Before we deep-dive into “Cornflake Girl,” you may be wondering what the heck Amos was crooning about in her ‘94 Billboard top-charter: What’s the difference between a cornflake girl and a raisin girl? (And how does this relate to Shauna, Jackie, and the rest of the Yellowjackets)?
Luckily, Amos has been forthright about what the inspiration for “Cornflake Girl” was: a conversation about female genital mutilation in Africa (and, more specifically, how close female family members would perpetuate the harmful practice by performing the procedure themselves). During the conversation, Amos explained that she would consider those betraying women to be cornflake girls — girls who hurt you despite a close friendship. The singer-songwriter clarified in other interviews about the song that raisin girls, on the other hand, are far more precious and rare than cornflake girls, referencing their distribution in a box of breakfast cereal.
It’s evident by the end of Season 2’s first episode that Shauna does consider herself to be a cornflake girl, and she’s bitter that Jackie winds up being the raisin, in spite of Jackie not always behaving in un-cornflake girl ways with her and the rest of the stranded team. Jackie’s death and Shauna’s pregnancy are symbolic of Jackie’s “purity,” and of Shauna’s self-judgment about her sinfulness. (Deceiving her best friend, stealing her man, and having his baby.)
This catchy hook foreshadows other cornflake vs. raisin girls throughout Season 2 — some more obvious than others — as the show delves deeper and explores the thorns and roses of female friendship and relationship dynamics, both when the Yellowjackets are ill-fated teenagers and when the surviving Yellowjackets are adults. By the end of Season 2 (or, at least by the end of the first six episodes critics were given for review), viewers will have a tough time keeping up with who is the cornflake, who is the raisin, and how those labels bend and break.
Yellowjackets Season 2 is available to watch on Showtime and Paramount+.