Samantha Hanratty Talks Misty, Crystal, and *That* 'Yellowjackets' Scene

The actress discusses the huge Crystal reveal, how she protects her mental health while filming the brutal thriller, and what's still to come for Misty and Lottie.

samantha hanratty yellowjackets
(Image credit: Robert Ascroft/SHOWTIME)

Warning: Major spoilers ahead. While most of the buzz around Yellowjackets centers on the show’s stark exploration of trauma and the more gruesome, stomach-churning scenes, the Showtime series is also a showcase of complex female friendships. In season 2, resident misfit Misty, played in her teens by Samantha Hanratty, finds a kindred spirit and new bestie in one of her fellow stranded teammates, Crystal (Nuha Jes Izman). Their relationship changes forever in episode 5, when Misty finally opens up about why the high school soccer team hasn't been rescued from the wilderness. But by the end of the confrontation, Crystal is dead, more or less by Misty’s own hands.

Here, Hanratty chats about that big Misty and Crystal reveal, what Misty would have been doing if the plane crash never happened, and how she protects her mental health while filming the brutal thriller.

Marie Claire: I want to start with the evolution of Misty over the past two seasons. What was your opinion of her when you first heard the character description and read the pilot script? How has your perception of her grown or changed?

SH: [In the beginning] I was like, 'There's something a little weird with this gal.' But for the most part I had no idea where we were going with her. I had an inkling from the audition—it was a mock audition, so it was a fake scene—but it was so manipulative; I go from laughing to crying, to screaming to begging, through all these different emotions. So I knew that she was going to be a wild child, but I don't think I fully realized where things were going. The relationship with [Coach] Ben did not develop until after we filmed the pilot, so I didn't know she was going to have any feelings towards him. 

There are things I still don't understand about her, but we've definitely seen a big evolution since season one with her wanting power, getting and losing power, becoming somebody, and then becoming nobody again. Now, with this season, she's got her first friend ever, and that's changed everything for Misty. If Crystal didn't come around, everybody would've been in trouble. Personally, I think that Mari (Alexa Barajas) would have been dead by now if Crystal wouldn't have come around, because Misty would not have been able to handle any more of the her head she was one more insult away from probably snapping somebody's neck. And then all of a sudden she got a bestie. She's like, Oh, life is good. Life is fun.

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Misty (Samantha Hanratty) and Crystal (Nuha Jes Izman) confiding in each other in a season from 'Yellowjackets' season 2. 

(Image credit: SHOWTIME)

MC: It was so nice to see Misty have someone who got her very quickly.

SH: I truly feel like Crystal and Misty are soulmates, and Crystal is the biggest gift that Misty has received at this point in her life. I'm curious what people think fan-wise, but I do think there's a big part of her that's in love with Crystal. I don't necessarily know if that is romantic or not, but there is definitely a really huge part of her heart that is Crystal's.

MC: One great thing about episode five was seeing Misty and Crystal slowly crossing these taboos. You get the Kevorkian conversation first and then them revealing all of the “horrible” things they've done. It's this really honest friendship, and then Misty's Misty, so she goes too far.

SH: I thought that walking in on your parents [having sex] and not being grossed out by it was a little too far, never mind how far [Misty] went. Working with Nuha, I truly feel like I could tell her anything as well. I have that relationship with her in real life. When we were doing the scene, I couldn't help but be giggly and giddy, because I remember what that's like [to have a best friend]. When you have that person and you're like, 'Oh my God. I've literally never told anybody this.'...I feel like a little kid again when I'm playing that up with Nuha. Right before we film, we poke each other and we're like, ‘Okay, here we go! We're gonna do this!’ Then the shit goes down. 

I think she just sees power and wants to be close to power and will do anything and everything that she can to manipulate and get what she wants out of it.

MC: Do you think Misty's decision to tell Crystal about destroying the black box was impulsive? Or do you think she was honestly thinking, She'll understand. She's my best friend.

SH: I think it's both. I think Misty literally lives off of compulsions. She just does what she wants in the moment without thinking of any repercussions. She tries to be analytic about things, but when that little girl excitement comes out, she can't help herself. It's the same thing with the black box. She wasn't thinking longterm about how this is going to affect everybody. She just saw an opportunity to get something off her chest that she's been holding on to. I think at that moment she's expecting Crystal to hug her and be like, ‘Thank you. We would've never bonded if it wasn't for you.’ When she doesn't have that reaction, of course Misty has that like, ‘oh no, oh crap’ moment...It's confusing to her. So then she's like, ’I'm just kidding,’ and almost gets away with it—Crystal laughs it off a little bit, and then just says, ‘You're not that good of an actress.’ The writers really wrote that line to really hurt my feelings [as Samantha]. Whenever she says that line, I'm like, Oh my God, stab me in the heart. That's the worst thing you could say to somebody. The part where she says, ‘What are you gonna do, drug me too?’ is the knife to the heart for Misty.

MC: Crystal and Misty probably wouldn't have realized that there was friendship potential if they weren’t stranded for such a long time after Misty destroyed the black box.

SH: We went all season one without them getting close. It really had to be Misty at her lowest to see people [on the team] other than the squad that she considers to be “the best.”

MC: That's actually a very interesting way of putting it and connects with the Misty of present day. Would Misty still be doing all the things she's doing in the present day if she weren't always trying to connect with those girls since they were teenagers?

SH: I think she would've been a completely different person, honestly. I've thought about it. If the plane hadn't crashed I think she would probably be like a PE teacher at the school or something to do with the school. I don't see her really letting go of her childhood. Instead, she's still so caught up in these girls, and no matter how much they've hurt her, she still wants to be around them. But speaking on current day, I will say it's a beautiful parallel between Walter and Misty and Crystal and Misty. We're seeing these people who are treating Misty with love and respect and kindness, and it's really cool to be able to see it in both worlds. It also makes sense why older Misty is a lot more skeptical. I think it plays nicely with what she's gone through with Crystal.

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Misty smiles at Crystal during one of Lottie's wilderness rituals. 

(Image credit: SHOWTIME)

MC: I am surprised that Misty hasn’t gotten much time with Lottie this season since in the premiere flash forward, she’s very much with the Antler Queen. I’m curious to see how she’ll stay on Lottie’s good side instead of becoming a victim.

SH: For my timeline at least, the relationship between Misty and Lottie is going to be explored, especially towards the end of the season. There's certain things that I think are going to make more sense. Their relationship is very complicated. As far as being one of the acolytes, I will say I don't think Misty believes in any of the wilderness stuff. I think she just sees power and wants to be close to power and will do anything and everything that she can to manipulate and get what she wants out of it.

MC: It’s so fun to watch Christina Ricci in the older Misty role. I’ve read that you two collaborated on developing Misty in season 1. Did you work with her at all while filming season 2?

SH: We saw each other maybe one time, maybe two times, on set, and that was it. We really were so opposite this year with our schedules—she was back in LA a lot, and she's got a baby. But if there's anything that we ever have questions on, of course we feel comfortable enough to be able to call each other. At this point it's like, she knows adult Misty so well, I know teen Misty so well. We somehow beautifully have so much in common with the way that we portray her, that I don't think either of us really wanted to mess with it too much. I think when you try too hard to be too much like the other person, it becomes almost more gimmicky. Whereas when it just comes naturally, I find it to be a lot more cohesive.

portrait of actress samantha hanratty

(Image credit: Robert Ascroft/SHOWTIME)

MC: You've been public with your mental health journey and how working on such serious material affected you while filming season one. How was your experience transitioning into season two? Did you have more of an idea of how intense the storyline was going to be?

SH: I'm just going to be totally candid and honest. I was definitely worried about season 2. I knew my fiancé wasn't going to be able to come out and visit me as much, so I knew that was going to be hard. But Alexa and Kevin who play Mari and Travis are two of my truly best friends, and I became close with them halfway through season one. It was a big deal to be able to have them. We are very honest with each other and when I'm talking to them, Kevin will look at me and be like, ‘Have you been good about taking your meds?’ And I'm like, ‘No, I skipped a day or whatever.’ It's so nice to have people who truly care, who know you, and you can be very candid with them. I think the biggest difference is that I had friends this season, and that's a big thing. 

Nuha was a true blessing this year. Having to say bye to that was one of the reasons that halfway through the season was so hard. But at the same time, she came back [to visit set] towards the end and was in Vancouver with us, and that just made me really happy. Jenna [Burgess] and Mya [Lowe] and Nia [Sondaya], who plays Akilah, are all really close friends as well. So we had just this really good friendship dynamic there. I think everybody started understanding their relationships better. 

Being on Lexapro was a great thing for me, and being able to go to workout and dance classes. Now that the border was open [post-COVID], there were just things that were a lot more accessible that created a much healthier dynamic. I went from last season where I had probably a panic attack two to three times a week, to having probably like four panic attacks throughout the six months. I was like, I'll take that. I deal with my mental health journey on the daily, but I'm filming stuff that's very intense and playing somebody who's an easy target and looked at in a not fun way all the time. It's a very vulnerable character, and when we're not filming, I'm still dressed in that. It's something I'm always gonna be working on, and working towards being the healthiest version of myself. I just think it's really nice to be in a place where I am very open with my mental health, and there's no real shame or questioning around it. 

Contributing Culture Editor

Quinci is a Contributing Culture Editor who writes pieces and helps to strategize editorial content across TV, movies, music, theater, and pop culture. She contributes interviews with talent, as well as SEO content, features, and trend stories. She fell in love with storytelling at a young age, and eventually discovered her love for cultural criticism and amplifying awareness for underrepresented storytellers across the arts. She previously served as a weekend editor for Harper’s Bazaar, where she covered breaking news and live events for the brand’s website, and helped run the brand’s social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Her freelance writing has also appeared in outlets including HuffPost, The A.V. Club, Elle, Vulture, Salon, Teen Vogue, and others. Quinci earned her degree in English and Psychology from The University of New Mexico. She was a 2021 Eugene O’Neill Critics Institute fellow, and she is a member of the Television Critics Association. She is currently based in her hometown of Los Angeles. When she isn't writing or checking Twitter way too often, you can find her studying Korean while watching the latest K-drama, recommending her favorite shows and films to family and friends, or giving a concert performance while sitting in L.A. traffic.