Production for the second season of Showtime’s “Yellowjackets” is well underway, and series regular Sophie Nélisse says brace for Showtime’s breakout thriller hit to get far more graphic and disturbing. And she knows that’s a lofty feat, considering the series opened with a gruesome cannibal sequence.
In anticipation of the show’s upcoming return, expected to air in early 2023, “Yellowjackets” held a screening of its Season 1 finale at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood on Dec. 1, followed by a Q&A session moderated by Variety’s Senior Awards Editor Clayton Davis. Stars Christina Ricci, Melanie Lynskey, Tawny Cypress, Juliette Lewis, Sophie Nélisse and Sophie Thatcher all hit the stage to breakdown the show’s inaugural run — and set the stage for what’s next.
“There’s scenes in Season 2 that are graphic, to say the least, and I remember just doing it, and [the cast] all sat and looked at each other, and we were like ‘What the fuck are we doing. Like, literally, what the fuck are we doing,” Nélisse, who plays teen Shauna, said during the panel. “You’ll look at it, and you’ll understand, but I don’t think you’ve ever seen such a scene in TV before.”
The series, inspired by William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies,” follows a high school girls soccer team who is left stranded in the wilderness after their plane crashes on the way to nationals. Scenes of the team members as teenagers is intercut with present-day footage of those who escaped as grown-ups.
“The first two scripts that I read for Season 2, I was audibly gasping,” said Christina Ricci, who plays the adult version of Misty. “I did not think it could get any more intense and wilder, but it does … I was reading to myself, gasping privately.”
Season 1 chronicled the girls’ gradual descent into darkness as the number of survivors in their group dwindled and the natural elements conspired against them. Season 2 is driven by a similarly slow build-up, Nélisse said, which starts to pay off in the season’s climactic sixth episode.
“When I read this specific episode, I remember being terrified,” Nélisse told Variety. “Episode 6 — it gets very intense. I read it, and I was like, very excited, and then immediately sobbed. I was talking to my psychologist, and I was like, ‘I can’t do it, I’m not good enough for this,’ and I was freaking out.”
When viewers last saw Shauna, she was a few months into a pregnancy and had just witnessed the death of her best friend. Season 2 resumes with Shauna at the core of its narrative, both Nélisse and Lynskey — who plays the adult version of Shauna, attested.
“This is my like tagline for Season 2: ‘It’s Sophie Nélisse season,’” Lynskey said during the panel. “All the young cast is so amazing — every single person. But they’re really asking a lot of Sophie this year, and she can do it. She can do anything.”
As for what other storylines fans of the series can look forward to, Lewis hinted her character Natalie’s story arc is drastically flipped. Previously established as being fiercely independent and an excessive drinker, adult Natalie spends Season 2 grappling with newfound sobriety and a desire for affection: “She is a lover in the second season,” Lewis said candidly.
Cypress, who plays adult Taissa, added that viewers can also expect the on-screen reprisal of her character’s dirt-hungry alter-ego. At the end of Season 1, Taissa’s family has begun to catch on to her eccentric sleepwalking habit, putting her marriage and the custody of her son in jeopardy.
“You’re going to see more of the other Ty,” Cypress said with a mischievous grin.
Co-creators and writers Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson are once again at the helm of the production, and Daisy von Scherler Mayer directed the first two episodes of the upcoming second season.