There are a ton of mysteries in Yellowjackets. Who lives, and who dies? What does that symbol mean? What was Natalie right about? But perhaps the biggest unanswered question is, in theory, the simplest: How many Yellowjackets are there in the Canadian wilderness?
There’s Shauna, Natalie, Taissa, Misty, and the rest of the main cast. And, of course, there’s Mari, Akilah, Gen, Melissa, Crystal, and … wait. Who?
Yellowjackets creators Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson and their co-showrunner, Jonathan Lisco, have been deliberately vague about the exact number of survivors in the woods. This means that there are some “background” characters like Nikki and Paulo on Lost. The show needs a body count, and the unofficial rules of TV-character casualties say that they’re probably the first to go when the show needs an insignificant death or two to drum up the stakes — but only after the audience gets somewhat attached to them, which might happen now that we’re getting to know them a little better in the second season, the premiere of which is now streaming on Showtime Anytime and and will air on cable on March 26.
Perhaps one of these background Yellowjackets will even have the (un)lucky honor of being the “pit girl,” the still unknown character who opens the series as she runs nearly naked through the woods, only to become her teammates’ dinner. Or maybe some of them will defy expectations and survive, Van style. (In a further attempt to throw us off the scent, according to the credits, these characters are technically named Young Mari, Young Akilah, etc. to coincide with the naming conventions for the teens we know make it out of the woods and have adult counterparts in the present day).
Here’s a guide to all of the other Yellowjackets that we know of (for now).
Mari (Alexa Barajas)
Mari is the front-runner to be the pit girl, since she seems to most closely resemble that victim — and because audiences kind of hate her and would probably relish in her death. The team’s ultracompetitive Iago spent most of last season driving a wedge between Jackie and Shauna. Now that this is no longer an issue, Mari’s relishing her power as head cook to gang up on outcast Misty (Samantha Hanratty), who is still on probation since she inadvertently got everyone high on mushrooms during last season’s penultimate “Doomcoming” party.
Akilah (Keeya King in season one; Nia Sondaya in season two)
Although the part was recast for the second season, Akilah remains a viable asset to the team. Her rudimentary knowledge of health care (remember when she helped suture Van after the wolf attack?) might be of use if and when Shauna goes into labor. She knows which fruits and vegetables to forage in the forest and how to create tampons out of extra clothing. And she is pragmatic enough not to get too invested in the infighting and social pecking orders of bored, hungry, and scared teenage girls.
Please don’t kill Akilah. With Coach Ben (Steven Krueger) losing any semblance of control over this group, she might be the only adult left.
Crystal (Nuha Jes Izman)
A theater kid who was a JV player on the team prior to the crash, Crystal wasn’t around last season — or at least she was not part of the central action. But she’s such a big presence this year that she made it into the season-two promotional photo (she’s the one in the skirt standing with Misty and away from the pack). A firm believer that all the world’s a stage, or at least that everyone can sing with the right coaching, Crystal would probably love to be included in more of the action. Sadly for her, this is not a group that appreciates dramatic recitations of famous monologues or random bursts of show tunes.
Gen and Melissa (Mya Lowe and Jenna Burgess)
Previously referred to as background players “Yellowjacket #1” and “Yellowjacket #2” when we saw them in season one, these characters may play pivotal roles this season. In the premiere, they not only speak but serve as an excellent example of the complexities of high-school popularity. In one of the opening scenes of Yellowjackets season two, everyone is sick of everyone else. But there’s frustration, then there’s individualized hate geared toward people in your immediate friend circle. Gen (right) and Melissa (left) really don’t like Crystal’s habit of singing and humming. Although they act like they’re above it, there’s a sense of jealousy as they ponder what the other factions are talking about — even if it is, as Gen theorizes, just their “dumb-jock boyfriends.”
Stinger! What will these months of neglect mean if (or when) Gen and Melissa become more prominent players this season? And do they speak for any other yet-to-be-revealed characters who haven’t gotten any screen time at all?