Monday, January 17, 2022

"Yellowjackets" - The season finale "Dexter" fans deserved (SPOILERS!)

Props to Yellowjackets, which premiered a week after the return of Dexter: New Blood, and completely sucked me in from episode one. Last night the season finale aired and holy moly, I did not see any of that coming. Except for the fact that we'd already been tipped off that Jackie wasn't going to make it into the present day, so it was just a question of when and how she'd shuffle off this mortal coil back in the 1990's. And who would be the first cannibalized. I think both those questions have now been answered.

If you haven't seen the show, Yellowjackets is Alive meets Lord of the Flies with a 1990's high school girl's soccer team. And it is awesome. It is unlike anything else on television. I don't know where the show's creators have been all my life.

Like I mentioned last week, the Dexter: New Blood finale was a massive disappointment of epic proportions, so much so that it made the infamous original series finale look like a work of genius that at least allowed for more of our favorite sociopath serial killer, at least until that option came to a screeching halt last week. Not so with Yellowjackets, which did not disappoint and will not return fast enough for me. Luckily, Showtime has already ordered season two, so at least it's on its way.

Yellowjackets is the story of the survivors of a mid-1990's private plane crash that was carrying a high school girl's soccer team to the state championship. Lost in the wilderness, the girls will have to fight to survive. In the present day, we learn that some of them made it out alive. Some of them.

What the girls had to resort to to survive the nineteen months they were lost in the wilderness isn't laid out explicitly, but it's pretty obvious, especially since the opening scene shows a young girl running through a snowy forest, clearly running away from something in great terror, only to fall into a booby trap that impales her, and then we find she's not alone.

When we meet some of the survivors in present day, Shauna is a seemingly mind-numbed middle-class housewife who has no rapport with her teenage daughter and who learns that her husband is having an affair. Taissa Turner is running for state senate and lives what seems to be an opulent existence with her wife and their young son Sammy, who is exhibiting emotional issues. For starters, he has papered his bedroom window with drawings so as to hide from what he describes as an evil woman he keeps seeing in the tree outside his room. Nat is being sprung from what we can surmise is not her first trip to rehab. Misty, the weirdo of her high school class, is cheerfully and psychotically "caring" for residents of an old folks home and just being generally unhinged. 

We're lead to understand that while it's obvious that the girls didn't survive without resorting to extreme measures, it seems that today they still have secrets. Secrets that they are now being blackmailed with, requiring Shauna, Taissa, Nat and Misty to join forces to save themselves and their secrets.

Yellowjackets is understandably not for everyone. It is dark, sick, sadistic, terrifying, at times repellent, and promises even more horrors to come. And it's one of the best things on television right now.

Another thing that makes Yellowjackets so amazing is the casting. Not just the brilliance of putting Melanie Lynskey (Shauna), Christina Ricci (Misty), and Juliette Lewis (Nat) together in one show with amazing writing. I've been a fan of Lynskey's since her terrifying performance in Heavenly Creatures. Ricci made a great Lizzie Borden (one of many amazing entries on her resume) and while I've never been much of a fan of Lewis's (to me she was always Luke Wilson's odd-looking pervy girlfriend in Old School) she kicks out all the stops here. Ruthless in both being both badly aged and worn down physically and psychologically compared to the other women, it is an absolutely fearless performance in a role that grants her no relief. She looks awful, but is absolutely amazing. In a cast littered with award-worthy performances, if I had to pick one to win, it would be Lewis. Tawny Cypress, who I was previously unfamiliar with, holds her own in as the increasingly troubled Taissa.

There's also the amazing casting of the surviving girls as teenagers, back in the day. The younger cast is so solid it's mind-boggling. They also look enough like their older counterparts that it's easy to go back and forth between time frames with ease. If there's an Emmy for casting, they might as well just hand it to this show right now.

I will be eagerly awaiting the return of Yellowjackets the way I used to await the return of Dexter back in the good old days. 

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