In 1996, a high school football team is flying to a different state to play in the national tournament when their plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness.
In 2021, the survivors – a suburban mum, a recovering addict, a geriatric nurse and an ambitious politician – share a dark secret, and someone is threatening to reveal it.
It’s difficult to contain Yellowjackets within a single genre; its horror elements, with a touch of the supernatural come in direct contrast with its exploration of what collective trauma can do when it resurfaces after being buried for over two decades.
The girls’ gradual descent into madness over the 19 months they spent stranded in the wilderness is at the centre of the story, but its impact on their adult selves is profound.
The first season, which lays the foundation for more to come, becomes even more interesting when you compare the Yellowjackets with the animal they are named after – a type of wasp who lives in female-dominated hives with a few male drones.
After the accident, the girls form their own hive of sorts with the very few men left assuming more passive roles. In the woods, they are forced to gradually shed the conventional teen dynamics and societal norms that ruled their lives back in New Jersey.
Just like in a yellowjacket hive, where usurpation is common, the would-be queen bee is usurped, and previously ignored or underappreciated people take the spotlight for their foraging, hunting and first aid skills.
But finding yourself in survival mode with no clear way out can do things to people. The Uruguay national football team, who were stranded in the Andes for 72 days after their plane crashed in 1972, only lasted a few days before resorting to cannibalism.
From its very first scene, the show teases cannibalism as the survivors’ big bad secret, but its layered approach to storytelling has given way to a myriad of wild theories and speculation online, much to the delight of the writers.
Driven by hunger, desperation – and perhaps, something supernatural – anyone could be driven to eat human flesh. But what if they didn’t? With just the finale to go, it’s clear that not all of our questions will be answered. What we really want to know, though, is who gets eaten first?