Yellowjackets Season 2 is Borrowing a Haunting Trick from Veronica Mars
The past loves to come back to haunt you, especially when you're a teen girl in a TV drama.
Yellowjackets is a teen drama for those who grew up on teen dramas — The OC, Gossip Girl, Dawson’s Creek, they all used the same storytelling tools as this series (albeit with less cannibalism.)
But it probably has most in common with Veronica Mars, the story of an upstart teen trying to solve her best friend’s murder and uncovering all the interpersonal drama along the way. In Yellowjackets’ case, Jackie is the dead best friend — but Shauna isn’t trying to solve her murder. She knows exactly who is responsible for her best friend’s death. After Shauna literally freezed Jackie out in Season 1, she died of exposure.
In Season 2, we see how that knowledge affects Shauna through a narrative trick ripped right from Veronica Mars, in a choice that proves the writers’ room knows what makes their show tick.
Spoilers for the Yellowjackets Season 2 premiere.
In the Season 2 premiere, when Shauna goes out to the shed for more bear meat, she runs into a surprisingly alive and chipper Jackie, who chats about everything with her: they play MASH, spill secrets, and bond.
But Jackie isn’t alive, and when reality sets in, we see her for exactly what she is: a two-month-old dead body kept preserved by the extreme cold. Shauna’s only seeing her alive through a potent combination of guilt, grief, and denial.
Veronica Mars used this same device in Season 1. Tasked with solving her best friend Lilly’s murder, Veronica reflects on their past together, allowing the audience to learn more about their relationship through flashbacks. But Lilly also shows up as a ghost, with her head still bloodied.
Both Lilly and Shauna may not seem like ghosts, but then something happens that throws it all into question. Jackie tells Shauna the real reason she couldn’t see herself with Jeff, and Lilly leads Veronica away from a bus that subsequently crashes off a cliff. They’re reflections of the living’s fears, but also able to provide catharsis and care.
But the most crucial part of both these show’s ghost scenes is enriched by the behind-the-scenes choices. Rob Thomas, creator of Veronica Mars, was only going to show Lilly in a few flashbacks but Amanda Seyfried’s performance was so engaging, he gave her “three or four times more scenes.”
The Yellowjackets creators have obviously found something similar in Ella Purnell’s performance as Jackie. She may be dead, but she’s still the queen bee in Shauna’s life. Why not bring her back and give audiences one last glimpse of their repartée?
Sometimes in TV, a character comes along who you just can’t let go. Lilly and Jackie are just two examples of this: their characters had to die for plot reasons, but their spirits and performances live on.
Yellowjackets is now streaming on Showtime.