‘Yellowjackets’ Season 2 Sloppily Handled Its Major Storyline

Movies


The Big Picture

  • Yellowjackets Season 2 disappoints with uneven timelines, shocking deaths, and a poorly executed finale.
  • The murder investigation of Adam Martin was a central plotline that was mishandled in the hasty conclusion of the season.
  • Shauna’s family becomes involved in the aftermath of Adam’s death, leading to an intriguing storyline, but the finale resorts to an unearned and frustrating resolution.


Season 2 of Showtime’s Yellowjackets was disappointing for more reasons than one. From uneven timelines to shocking deaths that didn’t feel earned, problems popped up in the sophomore run of what was once the freshest, most inspired new show on television. But even though many of the issues of Yellowjackets Season 2 stretched through all nine of its episodes, perhaps its greatest narrative offense can be contained to a single one of them: the season finale, ironically titled “Storytelling.” Of all the crimes committed by the show’s second season, the most distressing of all was certainly how it handled the conclusion to Adam Martin’s (Peter Gadiot) murder investigation.

Yellowjackets

A wildly talented high school girls’ soccer team become the unlucky survivors of a plane crash deep in the Canadian wilderness.

Release Date
November 14, 2021

Main Genre
Drama

Rating
TV-MA

Seasons
2

Creator
Ashley Lyle, Bart Nickerson


Adam’s Death Was a Logical Conclusion to ‘Yellowjackets’ Season 1

Though he was only present for one season, Adam Martin was an integral part of both runs of Yellowjackets. Season 1 centered its entire present timeline plot on him, placing him as a red herring and an innocent victim of a devious plot. Season 2 focused a lot of its runtime on the aftermath of his death, showing us how Shauna’s (Melanie Lynskey) family life is impacted by her decision to kill him (and, indirectly, by Jeff’s (Warren Kole) decision to blackmail his own wife). It’s an overarching plot that involved not just the Sadecki household, but a huge chunk of the remaining Yellowjackets, given the roles Taissa (Tawny Cypress), Misty (Christina Ricci), and Natalie (Juliette Lewis) played in disposing of Adam’s body. Still, when the time came to wrap this story up, showrunners Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson chose to forsake the central and all-encompassing aspect of Adam’s story. Instead, they give it a hasty last-minute conclusion that, to add insult to injury, doesn’t even involve any of the characters that actually had stakes in the murder and its subsequent investigation.

From the moment Adam appeared in Yellowjackets Season 1, it was clear that he was going to be an important character. His role, though, wasn’t quite what we expected. Adam first met Shauna in a fender bender in Episode 1, and their story quickly became the central plot of the show’s present timeline, eclipsing even poor Travis’ (Andres Soto) suicide. A young, dashing artist like Adam was everything that Shauna needed to add a bit of excitement to her life as a bored housewife in a marital crisis. And a mysterious man with no past was everything that a show like Yellowjackets needed to complete the atmosphere of paranoia that surrounded both its characters and its viewers in its first season.

Adam was smartly placed in Yellowjackets Season 1 to be a red herring, someone on whom we could all place the blame for the blackmail that Shauna was unknowingly suffering from her own husband. And, for a long time, we all believed he was definitely hiding something. Sadly, he wasn’t, but he paid for it anyway. It’s understandable. Amidst the chaos and the fear that permeated Season 1 of Yellowjackets, fueled by the aura of secrecy that surrounded Shauna, Misty, Natalie, and Taissa’s past, Adam’s death was the only logical conclusion. It was shocking, of course, but it’s not as if he could have survived to tell the tale, especially not after he left that incriminating book about the Yellowjackets’ disaster lying about in his living room. And what better way to show us that their experience in the wilderness did a number on our leads’ brains then to have them come together to chop a body up in pieces?

‘Yellowjackets’ Season 2 Explored the Murder’s Impact on Shauna

These actions had, of course, consequences in Yellowjackets Season 2. Now, mind you, they didn’t exactly have consequences for everyone involved. Lyle and Nickerson made some strange calls when it comes to the present timeline of Yellowjackets in this second season of the show. More specifically, they decided to split their main cast into four different storylines, which lead to a quite uneven season, to say the least. So, while Taissa was dealing with her psychological issues, Misty was searching for Natalie, Natalie was doing God knows what in Lottie’s (Simone Kessell) cult, and Shauna was left to face the aftermath of Adam’s death alone. Or, rather, she was left to face it in the company of her family, who, up until that point, had nothing to do with Adam’s murder per se.

Over the course of Yellowjackets Season 2, however, Jeff and Callie (Sarah Desjardins), Shauna’s teenage daughter, become intimately involved in the case. Little by little, they began helping Shauna lie to the police and even tried their own hand at destroying evidence. This plot about a frayed family coming together to protect one of their own from accurate murder charges quickly became the most interesting of the show’s present timeline. And as the methods chosen by detectives Kevyn Tan (Alex Wyndham) and Matt Saracusa (John Reynolds) got more and more invasive and creepy (they seduced a minor, for crying out loud!) the more we rooted for the Sadeckis to outsmart the police. Seeing how they would do that is a considerable part of what kept us glued to our seats up until the season finale, at least when it comes to the present timeline. Let’s face it, no one was that interested in Natalie’s journey of self-discovery.

‘Yellowjackets’ Gave the Adam Plot a Hasty and Unearned Ending

John Paul Reynolds as Matt/Jay in Yellowjackets Season 2
Image via Showtime

And then the season finale came, and the Sadeckis did nothing to stop the murder investigation from running its course. Instead, the investigation was halted by a completely unrelated agent that neither the Sadeckis nor most of the Yellowjackets had even met prior to Season 2, Episode 9: Misty’s boyfriend, Walter (Elijah Wood). Walter had gone missing from Yellowjackets a few episodes earlier in the season, when Misty began to suspect that there was something wrong with him. In Episode 8, however, he was brought back in a scene in which a Google alert informs him that the police have found Adam Martin’s body. Knowing that his beloved Misty is involved in the crime, he sets off to save her from harm. Like all the other characters in the show, he rushes to Lottie’s cult compound, where he kills Detective Tan and threatens to frame Saracusa for it unless Saracusa agrees to frame Tan for Adam’s murder. Saracusa, of course, agrees, and… Bam! Problem solved. Instead of allowing the plot’s main characters to find a way out of their pickle, Lyle and Nickerson chose to pull a Deus ex machina and get it all over with.

It’s an extremely frustrating ending. It’s hasty, it’s last minute, and, even though Walter practically spells out his plan to Saracusa, it’s very poorly explained. It’s almost as if the showrunners bit more than they could chew when they decided to move forward with this murder mystery plot. But, most importantly, it feels completely unearned, a word that can be used to describe a lot of what goes on in Yellowjackets Season 2. There is a point in having Walter put an end to Adam’s murder investigation, and that’s to prove that he is undoubtedly on Misty’s side. However, it feels entirely unwarranted to have him wrap up this plot. Anyone but Walter would have been a better fit for this already shoddy conclusion. The way things were handled, none of the characters that were involved in Adam’s murder and its subsequent investigation were even present for the plot’s resolution. Well, okay, Jeff was there to help Walter move Kevyn’s body, but that’s about it. Apart from that, everyone else was completely oblivious to this very large problem they had in their hands suddenly being dealt with. What a way to end a mystery that spanned over two entire seasons.

Yellowjackets is available to stream on Paramount+ in the U.S.

Watch on Paramount+



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