Bathed in the nostalgia of the 90s, this tortuous mystery series continues to arouse enthusiasm across the Atlantic. But beyond that, it hides an exciting coming-of-age with an unexpected twist.
During its American broadcast in recent weeks, Yellowjackets had its small effect. And the event series arrives this evening in France, for the first time, on Canal +.
A priori, nothing revolutionary: structured around flashbacks, Yellowjackets evolves between two eras, multiplying the comings and goings between past and present to fill in the holes of a fragmented narration and answer questions that have remained unanswered. In the early 90s, players from a student football team are forced to survive after their plane crashes. Years later, the survivors left the episode far behind, until one of them came out of the apparent discretion in which the group had lived for years, stirring up bad memories in the process. What happened in their younger years? Why are they caught up in this story today?
From its first scene, the series of Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson releases something more. First there is this folk horror atmosphere and the specter of the Blair Witch Project that jumps out at us, soon joined by all the spirit of teen movies and 90s slashers, wrapped in a suitable soundtrack (PJ Harvey, Salt-N-Pepa…). Until this leap in time and this change of scenery, to meet the same characters, who have become adults, prisoners of their past in a gloomy version of Desperate Housewives. All without stalling.
With its composite materials, the series shows a pure demonstration of syncretism of genres, eras
and influence. A combination of elements with varied ferments which are illustrated in the image in fluid temporal connections. And even more, when the past interferes in the present in the same movement, offering real moments of virtuosity. Like when the young and less young versions of the protagonists, who cultivate a resemblance and a striking mimicry, share the screen for the time of a dream.
The series pushes the cursor so far as to summon, among the greatest it girls of the 90s, the Christina Ricci of The Addams Family and Juliette Lewis of born killers, who are upstaged by Melanie Lynskey – “celestial creature” discovered by Peter Jackson – in majesty. What better committee to take a look back? Yellowjackets is then revealed as a singular coming-of-age that grows and takes on its full measure in the repressed, to paint another portrait of adolescence where the worst nightmares of a tried youth resist. Stifled impulses, buried memories knock on the door: they only ask to reappear and explode in broad daylight.
Obviously, there is still this big question mark: how did we get here? Nostalgic to the tips of your fingernails, Yellowjackets revives the concept of mystery box theorized late on by JJ Abrams when he wore Lost in the making. Either the idea of raising question after question, more and more substantial… Especially since the series carries more beautiful moments of occultism, on the borders of the supernatural. Here, the twists therefore have the taste of soap opera revelations of a golden age that we thought was over, in the era of Peak TV and when discussions at the coffee machine in the days of cascading videogames have a slightly old-fashioned taste.
Why complain if the result is up to par? Spoiler: the firm and definitive answer may be long overdue. Yellowjackets has just been renewed for a season 2 and has every intention of lasting. Get ready to phosphorus for a while longer…