Yellowjackets Reinvents The ‘Puzzle Box’ Show By Throwing Away The Usual Playbook

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(L-R): Courtney Eaton as Teen Lottie, Kevin Alves as Teen Travis, Sophie Thatcher as Teen Natalie, Samantha Hanratty as Teen Misty, Sophie Nélisse as Teen Shauna and Nia Sondaya as Teen Akilah in YELLOWJACKETS Season 2. Photo Credit: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME.

Comparisons between “Yellowjackets” and “Lost” were always going to be inevitable. Even before “Yellowjackets” proved itself a character-driven thriller capable of doling out mysteries and WTF moments at an impressive pace, the two clearly shared significant narrative DNA. With multiple timelines, a plane crash, and a possibly sentient setting that’s at once magical and spooky, “Yellowjackets” is a fantastic heir apparent to the hit 2004 series — one that arrived about a decade after everyone quit looking for its successor.

In its season premiere, though, “Yellowjackets” sets itself apart from “Lost” and most other mystery box shows like it in an intriguing, major way. The contrast comes in the episode’s cold open, a tremendous montage set to Sharon Van Etten’s “Seventeen.” The scene gets viewers up to speed after a time jump, showing us what the stranded teammates’ typical winter mornings look like inside the abandoned cabin they now call home.

The premiere introduces a strange morning ritual

As the snow falls, the girls sleep by a well-tended fireplace, bundled in their thickest clothes. They’ve clearly developed some efficient systems since we last saw them; Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) sleeps tied to Van (Liv Hewson) to prevent sleepwalking, the team catches drops of water in a bucket for later use, and when Travis (Kevin Alves) and Natalie (Sophie Thatcher) bundle up to go search for help (and Javi) they cram papers into the lining of their clothes for added warmth. This group is clearly clever and capable. But the explorers also do something else before they head out: stop to receive a blessing from Lottie (Courtney Eaton), the possibly prophetic or possibly mentally ill girl who managed to inexplicably kill a bear in the first season finale.

Lottie greets the pair with a complex ritual, involving putting ashes on their palms, waving a smokey branch in their faces, and having them drink from a mug of water that includes a drop of her blood. She also draws the mysterious symbol we’ve seen before on the window after they leave. “It’s not like this wicca bulls**t is doing us any good,” Natalie says, but she takes the mug anyway. Lottie isn’t phased by the comment. “Well, you keep coming back alive, don’t you?” she points out.

Mystery shows love a good faith-science dichotomy