The undisclosed location to which Natalie (Juliette Lewis) was whisked away in the Season 1 finale of “Yellowjackets” gets more concerning as Season 2 progresses. In the Season 2 premiere — written by showrunners Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson and directed by Daisy von Scherler Mayer — Natalie finds herself tied to a bed at a wellness retreat run by Lottie (Simone Kessell), who remains as magnetic to followers today as she was in the wilderness as a teen (Courtney Eaton).
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There’s more than a touch of the wilderness about Lottie’s upscale wellness center: A procession of white-clad, animal-mask-wearing followers burying a naked man isn’t the usual accompaniment to tasteful neutrals and suburban mom wall art. But production designer Margot Ready and her props team relished the opportunity to create animal masks just creepy enough to tip Lottie’s present-day community firmly into cult territory. “It’s kind of like Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm,'” Ready told IndieWire. “She’s in this seemingly non-hierarchical cult — but she’s still the leader.”
The inspiration for the masks was a mix of eerily simplistic animal imagery and the showrunners’ love of organic materials. “Our props team were playing around with some natural materials in the props office,” Ready said, “and our props master, David Goodman, put some bark on his face with the eyes cut out and it looked really cool in an eerie, druid-like way. So we leaned into this pagan, creepy, anthropomorphic, DIY-feel.”
Ready and her team picked simple animal shapes and used natural materials and papier-mache to create the masks, which had to look believably handcrafted by the cult members. “[We kept them] really eerie,” Ready said, pointing to Season 1 inspirations. “What we see at the beginning, the Antler Queen and the big mystery in the show, also in [Episode 9] ‘Doomcoming,’ there’s this amazing aesthetic and these things are still probably in Lottie’s mind — fighting yet embracing nature. So they were meant to be an animal-human hybrid mask made from natural materials.”
As in the scripts themselves, the design process for the past and the present have more in common than they first appear. The layer of natural material and crafting process, whether for the landscape or handmade, freaky white rabbit ears, ends up saying something about the characters and who they choose to be.
“Masks are super symbolic in the show, partly because the wild nature of humans that we’re always denying, that we’re animals of the wild. But we are,” Ready said. “We often learn to wear a mask to be acceptable to society — we see that in the present timeline with Shauna [Melanie Lynskey] and Taissa [Tawny Cypress] wearing social masks. The wonderful layering of the show is that it’s almost throwing away those kind of tropes of good and evil and finding a space between. We’re always playing with these dualities. Are you healing? Are you still traumatized? How is your past affecting your present? These are all fun things to work with.”