It’s Time For Yellowjackets To Introduce A Wendigo

KeN-K
6 min readMay 24, 2024

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[Yellowjackets, Showtime Networks]

Would it be fair to say that Showtime’s drama series Yellowjackets needs to stop beating around the proverbial bush? It certainly has been enjoyable (and stressful) to watch as a group of women try to make sense of their lives in the aftermath of being stranded in the wilderness for a year and a half after a devastating plane crash as teenagers. Decades later, each of them have tried desperately to hold onto any sense of normalcy in their lives, only to be brought back together by a handful of mysterious circumstances. And yet after two seasons of these characters shambling through events reminding them of this dark period in their lives, we the audience are left with even more questions than answers, especially those of us who demand those answers be explicitly supernatural in nature. I am not alone in this demand . . . I have done the research!

I’m sure there are far more viewers who would be perfectly fine with Yellowjackets being nothing more than a delivery system for 90s nostalgia, while also serving as a nebulous meditation on how the bonds of sisterhood are strengthened and/or weakened after going through a harrowing experience in one’s formative years. I suppose there could be SOME rational explanations for what’s happened and has been happening with these characters. One or more of them could be revealed as the equivalent of a Scooby-Doo villain for example, and I’d wager that a solid percentage of viewers would be perfectly content. But I don’t know if I could count myself among them.

[Yellowjackets, Showtime Networks]

With everything I’ve watched play out over the course of Yellowjackets’ two seasons, it’s difficult for me to not turn off that part of my brain that desperately wants this show to careen off the edge of a cliff into honest-to-God fanciful genre territory. And let’s be clear, I don’t want this to be a Lost situation, where they careened off the cliff and just glided over fanciful genre territory for the entirety of its run, all for it to amount to absolutely nothing. Navigate around me with that “Mystery Box” bovine fecal matter, JJ!! Nor do I want it to take the trappings of genre and only use them as a means of exploring these characters’ collective trauma within their own minds. Because with the few hints dropped thus far, and even the show’s own marketing, I firmly believe that Season Three should reveal that the girls of Team Yellowjacket, either encountered a literal wendigo while being stranded in the wilderness, or one or more of the survivors actually became Wendigos themselves.

“But KeN-K, couldn’t the characters just be experiencing the very real disorder known as ‘Wendigo psychosis’?” They certainly could be, especially with the second season exploring their descent into cannibalism and the juxtaposition of their ever fracturing mental states during that time in the woods. The problem is, you’ve made the classic rookie mistake of thinking I should be that basic! Chalk it up to me being a Canadian who grew up on 80s horror, and imagined that he was a werewolf when he was six years old. (Damn you, Teen Wolf!)

Granted, this was something I thought was actually handled spectacularly on the NBC series Hannibal, as the title character would often appear to FBI investigator Will Graham in his dreams as the mythological creature, representing his own inner struggle with intrusive homicidal thoughts. Arguably, I could only fault the makers behind Yellowjackets so much if this is the path they’ve set for their characters, without the incorporation of any kind of otherworldly McGuffin into the overarching narrative of the series. Another good parallel to this might be HBO’s True Detective: Night County, which dabbled in comparably thematic beats to Yellowjackets, while utilizing the implications of cultural folklore and myth to tell what was ultimately revealed to be a fairly conventional murder mystery. Don’t get me wrong, because it still made for riveting television.

In the case of Yellowjackets however, I can’t help but feel as if it would be an absolute missed opportunity to not be a bit silly. What was it Tom Hardy said in Inception? “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling!” In this new era of “prestige television” where we’re still painfully afraid of subverting expectations while continuing to treat genre like a redheaded stepchild, despite a few exceptions, the boldest thing this series could do is introduce a whole-ass supernatural creature.

[Yellowjackets, Showtime Networks]

Lord knows the show has already been doing a fair bit of clam caressing up to this point. Taissa’s penchant for eating dirt may be a symptom of undiagnosed pica, be she may also be practicing witchcraft, perhaps even casting spells now to win an election she was all but projected to lose. Lottie may have exhibited signs of clairvoyance that predated the plane crash, but she was shown to be way too spot on in her visions after this event for there to not be some kind of outside factor amplifying her gifts. Then there’s Van, who might as well be a recipient of the Weapon X program, the way they managed to survive a wolf making a meal out of their face, and coming of out it looking like they just got a few papercuts. Seriously though, how did none of the survivors go on to become cosmetic surgeons, after sewing Van’s face back together like they were making seven figures on Rodeo Drive? And on top of all that, we’re no closer to reaching an explanation for the weird symbols the survivors discovered in the woods that are now turning up to them in the present day. I honestly don’t know how you come up with rational explanations for such a flavorful and robust Chex Mix of weird shit.

[Yellowjackets, Showtime Networks]

All I’m saying is that Yellowjackets has to do something to mix things up. I love me a good drama series about suburban teenage girls having to deal with unspeakable darkness that challenges their sunny and bright status quo, with a non-linear narrative structure, and a killer 90s soundtrack, but I now yearn for more. This series has gone above and beyond to tempt us with the promise of glorious absurdity, and I firmly believe that they should make good on it before it’s too late. Let’s “Stephen King’s IT” this shit, and truly set it apart from the other women-led premium cable mystery/drama shows we’ve seen a glut of over the last five to seven years! Fortune favors the bold, and there’s nothing bolder than a skinless anthropomorphic deer creature haunting every fiber of your being.

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