Only Time: time and trauma in Yellowjackets

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Yellowjackets (2021–) opens with a flashback to the characters’ past: a moment of feral mania at the peak of their traumatic wilderness experience. The series continually flashes between the young women’s traumatic past in 1996 and the show’s present in 2021 where their lives continue to be impacted by their past trauma.

In this paper, I examine Yellowjackets’ flashback structure and its representation of how the characters’ experience of linear time has been distorted by their trauma. Drawing on Karen Barad’s readings of Hayashi Kyōko’s work, I show how the traumatic past is represented by the series as always present for the women who survived. As Hayashi’s translator, Eiko Otake, writes, “past and present are not only related, they are intricately united. The lives of both the dead and the living interact. Memories and premonitions are just vessels that travel between past, present, and future.”

I contrast Yellowjackets’ structure with the superficially similar structure of Lost (2004–2010) to show how the subtle differences between these two shows’ flashbacks position the characters’ relation to time and trauma in different ways. Though Lost and Yellowjackets share inciting plane crashes, Yellowjackets has more in common with Pablo Larraín’s exploration of women’s trauma in Jackie (2016) and Spencer (2021) which both also represent the distortion of linear time around traumatic events.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNo Return
Subtitle of host publicationA Yellowjackets Symposium
PublisherBritish Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies Horror Studies SIG
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2022
EventNo Return: A Yellowjackets Symposium - Virtual
Duration: 18 Jun 202218 Jun 2022


ConferenceNo Return
Internet address


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