Yellowjackets season 1, episode 1 recap: Coming of age, competition, and cannibalism

Juliette Lewis as Natalie in YELLOWJACKETS, “Pilot”. Photo credit: Paul Sarkis/SHOWTIME.
Juliette Lewis as Natalie in YELLOWJACKETS, “Pilot”. Photo credit: Paul Sarkis/SHOWTIME. /

Teen soccer stars. Nosy reporters. Cannibalism. Yellowjackets truly has it all. From pristine casting to excellent performances to a messed-up plot you can’t look away from, Yellowjackets is one of the most daring and compelling new shows of the year. If the rest of Yellowjackets season 1 is anything like this premiere, then we are all in for one wild ride.

Let’s break down what happened in the series premiere.

Yellowjackets season 1, episode 1 recap: BFFs?

Both stars of the Yellowjackets national soccer team in 1996, Jackie and Shauna are two yellof our main characters. The first we see of Jackie includes getting fingered by her boyfriend Jeff — much to the dismay of her best friend Shauna. Though Shauna tells Jackie she needs to go into nationals without any distractions, Jackie tells her she can’t enter college a virgin and that she and Jeff are planning to lose their virginity to each other. Shauna is surprised Jeff hasn’t lost his already with someone else considering they’ve broken up and gotten back together several times, but Jackie is adamant none of those periods have been long enough to count.

There seems to be something deeper going on in their relationship — potentially even romantic — as there are hints of jealousy (not to mention chemistry) simmering under the surface of their interactions, particularly when they’re getting ready for a party. Though Jackie wants to set Shauna up with a boy named Randy, she’s clearly uninterested and spends most of the party brooding and pining after Jackie. When Shauna and Jeff are left alone in his car after dropping Jackie off at home, though, Shauna tells him to pull over, and the two have sex.

Oblivious to her best friend’s betrayal, Jackie gives Shauna a good luck necklace on their plane ride to nationals the next day. Talk about awkward!

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(L-R): Ella Purnell as Teen Jackie and Sophie Nélisse as Teen Shauna in YELLOWJACKETS, “Pilot”. Photo credit: Paul Sarkis/SHOWTIME. /

Yellowjackets season 1, episode 1 recap: Cuts to the bone

Jackie and Shauna aren’t the only members of the soccer team. There’s also aloof freshman Allie, ambitious Taissa, outcast Misty, and rebellious Natalie. Since Allie played a weak game during the state match, Taissa thinks she’s a liability, trying to get the team to ice her out and not pass to her.

But when the majority refuses to go with her plan, Taissa takes matters into her own hands, being especially tough on Allie during a scrimmage so she can learn to play under pressure. She ends up taking things too far, knocking her down so hard Allie’s bone pops out of her leg.

As team captain, Jackie tries to rally everyone despite the injury, but they’re all angry at Taissa. Things escalate at the party, when an already aggravated Shauna baits Taissa, saying she bets she injured Allie on purpose. This leads to an explosive fight that only diffuses when Jackie orders them to do an exercise where they say one nice thing about every other girl on the team.

Yellowjackets season 1, episode 1 recap: Just say no

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Sophie Thatcher as Teen Natalie in YELLOWJACKETS, “Pilot”. Photo credit: Paul Sarkis/SHOWTIME. /

When we meet Natalie, she’s already a heavy drinker and smoker, hanging out with the stoner crowd and getting herself into trouble by throwing a bottle at a car of men who catcalled her and doing drugs the day before nationals.

It seems that Natalie’s coping mechanisms haven’t changed much in the 25 years since she was in school, as when we first meet her as an adult, she’s just getting out of rehab. But it’s possible she’s had some sort of enlightenment. During her group therapy, she muses that anger is useful if you keep the tiger in a cage and that life’s problems can be solved if you have a purpose — something she lost after she was rescued from the plane crash.

Her purpose now? Unclear. But it seems she has one in mind, catching a redeye back to LA the minute she gets out of rehab and heading to the storage unit where she’s stashed a fancy car and a large gun. The manager of the storage unit notes vultures have been sniffing around her unit for years in her absence, and Natalie tells him she’s back to connect with old friends.

One of those friends? None other than Misty, who works at a nursing home and employs some….questionable, methods, to say the least, such as taking away a patient’s morphine because they wet the bed and threw a dinner tray at her. Yikes! Misty says not to mess with her, and we definitely won’t be anytime soon.

Yellowjackets season 1
Christina Ricci as Misty in YELLOWJACKETS, “Pilot”. Photo credit: Paul Sarkis/SHOWTIME. /

Yellowjackets season 1, episode 1 recap: The public eye

The same people sniffing around Natalie’s storage unit may be sniffing around Shauna’s house, too. Reporter Jessica Roberts even pays her a visit, coaxing her into speaking with her by saying other people are trying to control the narrative for her and promising a seven-figure book advance if she shares her story. Shauna, however, vehemently refuses —  she will not revisit the 19 months they were in the wilderness, nor will any of the others. They’re all trying to move on.

Except…we’re not so sure we buy that — or the fact that there’s not a whole lot more to the story than she’s letting on that’s impacting her deeply even now. She’s masturbating to her high school boyfriend, mercilessly killing rabbits when they get into her plants, and rereading journals she kept during that time.

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(L-R): Liv Hewson as Teen Van and Jasmin Savoy Brown as Teen Taissa in YELLOWJACKETS, “Pilot”. Photo credit: Paul Sarkis/SHOWTIME. /

Not to mention the fact she’s meeting up with Taissa, who’s now running for state senator and gives a similar soundbite about moving on to a reporter when being interviewed with her wife and kids. Shauna is angry she’s in the public eye after they all agreed to stay out of the spotlight, as people digging around her past threatens to expose everyone’s dark secrets. Luckily, they agree that as long as nobody does anything crazy, there’s nothing to worry about.

Yellowjackets season 1, episode 1 recap: Lord of the yellowjackets

In addition to 1996 and 2021, we get glimpses of the group’s time in the wilderness — presumably sometime in the mid-to-late 90s. There’s an eerie scene of a girl falling into a trap and being impaled with sticks, a bloody body being dragged through the snow then strung from a tree and sliced open, and what appears to be human meat being prepared and served to a group of girls in creepy animal furs — meat that Misty appears to be enjoying just a little too much.

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What did you think of the series premiere of Yellowjackets? Will you keep watching?