Tuesday, 27 September 2022

‘Yellowjackets’ survival drama; Stockwell tribute on TCM


Showtime’s 10-episode drama “Yellowjackets” works off the premise that a female-centric version of “Lord of the Flies” is compelling for the mystery of the survivors’ saga in the aftermath of a shocking airplane crash.

This series takes its name from a New Jersey girls high school soccer team with players so talented they have qualified to enter the national championship match. Hence, the ill-fated journey by air travel with their coach and a few others.

Even though the team name “Yellowjackets” is the series’ title, this is not a sports show about soccer competition. As a survival drama, the series is steeped in psychological and supernatural mystery that fluctuates with wild swings between the past and the present.

The storytelling about the fate of the girls and their accompanying adults is, in the words of writer Ashley Lyle, structured as a show not “about what happened, but about why it happened.”

Told in flashbacks from the time of the 1996 crash in the Canadian wilderness to the present day of 2021, we get to see how the passage of time has affected the survivors, most particularly the four characters in the leading roles.

Christina Ricci’s Misty was a friendless nerd serving as a team assistant. Melanie Lynskey’s Shauna, a player once destined to attend an Ivy League college, has now fallen into the rut of a loveless marriage and conflict with her spiteful teenage daughter.

Closeted in her school days, Taissa (Tawny Cypress) is an ambitious candidate for state senate who is haunted by her past as well as present-day coping with a son troubled by an inexplicable supernatural undercurrent.

Last of the group is erstwhile gothic teen Natalie (Juliette Lewis) who seems to have spent her adult life in a revolving pattern of drug and alcohol abuse and stints in rehab. Moreover, she was frequently slut-shamed as a cynical youth.

Seeing these women as their teen versions offers clues to their struggles and tribulations in adulthood. Misty’s younger self (Samantha Hanratty) was always weird and showed her cruel tendencies that carried over into her nursing home duties as an adult.

As for the rest of the teens, Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) is a driven competitor; sweet-natured Shauna (Sophie Nelisse) may be deceptive and cunning; and Natalie’s (Sophie Thatcher) stoner image belies her soccer talent.

There’s also a mystery about team captain Jackie (Ella Purnell), who is not seen in her adult years, at least in the episodes made available for review. But the real mystery lies elsewhere.

The featured adults harbor secrets that a fake reporter seeks to uncover with ludicrous offers of a book deal. What happened to the teens while in the woods is the pressing mystery and why are they receiving identical postcards suggesting a conspiracy of silence?

“Yellowjackets” is smartly written as a wickedly fascinating drama that at times dwells on the gore and macabre but ultimately relies on character and the tenuous bonds of relationships to deliver the goods.


Noted character actor Dean Stockwell, who recently passed away at the age of 85, started his entertainment career as a child actor and continued working in film and television for more than seventy years.

The TCM cable channel celebrates his life and career as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday with a retrospective of films while he was under contract with MGM for most of his childhood.

TCM’s on-air tribute to Stockwell includes “Anchors Aweigh” (1945), a story about a pair of sailors on leave trying to help a movie extra become a singing star.

In “The Green Years” (1946), an orphaned Irish boy is taken in by his mother’s Scottish relations. “The Mighty McGurk” (146) is about a punch-drunk prizefighter living on the Bowery who takes in an orphaned boy.

Friends and family try to tame an unruly student at the turn of the century in 1950’s “The Happy Years.” In “The Secret Garden” (1946), an orphaned girl changes the lives of those she encounters at a remote estate.

An orphaned boy mystically acquires green hair and a mission to end war in 1948’s “The Boy with Green Hair.” “Kim” (1951) is based on Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale of an orphaned boy who helps the British Army against Indian rebels.

While the majority of these films being aired as a tribute to the late actor are about an orphaned child, you might wonder if this is a reflection of Stockwell’s own circumstances. The short answer is in the negative.

Born into an entertainment family, Stockwell’s father was a stage and film actor and his mother had performed in vaudeville. The parents split up when he was little, but that didn’t make him an orphan.

A film that is not part of the TCM tribute is 1948’s “Deep Waters,” in which Stockwell played an orphan runaway longing to go to sea. With a 70-year career, at least he grew out of being cast as a child without parents.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

Upcoming Calendar

09.27.2022 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Clearlake Planning Commission 
09.28.2022 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Levee and flood risk workshop
09.29.2022 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
09.29.2022 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Local Hazard Mitigation Plan update meeting
10.01.2022 7:00 am - 11:00 am
Sponsoring Survivorship annual walk and run
10.01.2022 8:00 am - 2:00 pm
Konocti Challenge
10.01.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
10.01.2022 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
20th annual Falling Leaves Quilt Show

Mini Calendar



Responsible local journalism on the shores of Clear Lake.





Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.

lakeconews.com uses cookies for statistical information and to improve the site.