Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Yellowjackets episode 3!

Yellowjackets is implementing a new feature in its storytelling, repeating the various timeline gimmicks that have made This Is Us so successful. Showtime’s new series follows a girls high school soccer team, the Yellowjackets, whose plane crashes in the Canadian Rockies on the way to the National Championship. Yellowjackets predominately follows two timelines: 1996, when the team crashes in the mountains, and 2021 as the survivors deal with the aftermath of their experiences and trauma in the wild. Episode 3 introduced the first look back at one of the main characters’ childhoods, suggesting Yellowjackets will occasionally feature a third timeline for the rest of the team.


While the two are in fairly different genres, This Is Us is another popular time-hopping TV series set in the real world. NBC’s show follows the Pearson family in the present day as they deal with their fraught relationship, conflicting family dynamics, and trauma from their father’s death as teenagers. Not unlike Showtime’s critically acclaimed Yellowjackets, the trauma from this life-changing event seeps into nearly every aspect of their adult lives, with each finding different ways to cope with their profound loss and new realities.

Yellowjackets’ inclusion of Tassia’s childhood memories directly tied to her character’s current conflict in the episode. More specifically, the flashbacks connected to the death of her grandmother and supernatural or mental illness connections between her grandmother seeing a man taking her eyes, Taissa seeing a dead man’s body in the cabin in 1996, and her son seeing a supernatural figure in 2021. By contrasting the characters’ experiences as children with their teenage and adult conflicts, Yellowjackets is offering a deeper exploration of the main characters, following them each step of the way to paint a more in-depth portrait of who they are, how they survived, and how they cope with what happened in the wild. While the plane crash survival aspect of Yellowjackets and its multiple timelines also make it comparable to Lost, the recurring childhood memories gimmick has been most successfully implemented by NBC’s This Is Us.

This Is Us notably depicts several timeframes in the characters’ lives, whether it be the triplets’ infancy, toddler era, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, or middle-age. This also extends to Jack and Rebecca, who are able to be seen as parents, grandparents, young adults falling in love, and children. By showing multiple timelines in each character’s life, Yellowjackets is following in This Is Us’ suit of giving a more holistic portrait of why they are who they are. While both series typically stick to two distinct timelines – modern-day and a significant period in their adolescence (depending on the season for This Is Us) – it’s smart that they choose to give glimpses into minor occurrences of their youth that affect both core timelines.

This Is Us’ method of including storylines on the Pearson siblings’ younger days also opened up the door for more longevity in the series. The more timelines that could be explored, the more content there was for This Is Us to produce and further the comprehension of the family’s dynamics. Yellowjackets including the team as children, is crucial for understanding how the characters have developed into who they are as teenagers while also allowing for Showtime’s series to extend its longevity. Additionally, this strategy opens up the opportunity for more timelines to be explored in the future, with a particularly intriguing and mysterious era being the surviving Yellowjackets characters’ rescue and initial integration back into society.

It’s also important to remark is that Yellowjackets‘ childhood flashbacks aren’t just filler; they tie in with the conflicts at hand in the episode. Taissa’s flashback is used to enhance Yellowjacket’s growing mystery about a supernatural trait shared by herself, her son, and her grandmother. Considering Shauna and Natalie are the other two characters most predominantly featured in both timelines, it seems likely that the next few episodes will focus on their own childhood experiences. By exploring more timelines, Yellowjackets is also growing on what made This Is Us so alluring, finding different connections between their past, present, and future that contribute to their personalities and story arcs in the respective survival and grief timelines.

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