Monday, December 14, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Wilds' - The Scope of Gretchen's Experiment Widens as Leah Grows More Paranoid and Obsessive in 'Day Twelve'

Amazon's The Wilds - Episode 1.06 "Day Twelve"

A sudden illness rips through the beach camp, affecting nearly every castaway. As the girls fight for survival, we learn more about Leah's past and how she's been faring since her rescue.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Amazon's The Wilds.

"Day Twelve" was written by Sarah Streicher and directed by Alison Maclean

At the end of the premiere, the audience became aware that the plane crash that stranded the castaways on a deserted island wasn't an accident. It was a psychological experiment being conducted by Gretchen in the hopes of proving her radical methods could be effective. The framing device of the series so far has offered the reassurance that the girls will eventually be rescued. And now, the show explains that that too has been deceitful. The rescue and subsequent interviews have all just been a continuation of the experiment. Gretchen has still orchestrated all of it. Sure, it's outrageous to show her desperate to escape the psychiatric facility she signs herself into only to eventually reveal that it was all part of a master plan to recruit Daniel. That shows that the storytelling mostly wants to tease the audience along moment to moment instead of trying its best to make it all make sense in full context. That acknowledgement of the show's shortcomings is necessary. Afterwards, the audience knows what to expect. The viewer now knows not to trust any piece of information immediately. It could all eventually be revealed as false. Earlier, the audience was meant to suspect that Dot was the secret mole amongst the castaways because she had met Gretchen before takeoff. And yet, that wouldn't explain why she too is going through the motions of sitting down for an interview with Daniel. As such, the audience should continue to question the motives of the girls who haven't had their backstories revealed just yet. That makes it significant that this is the first episode to focus on a character who has already received such spotlight. Leah is billed as the central perspective mostly because she is the one who questions the nature of her reality on the island. She wants to believe in the fantasy that something more is going on. People are acting suspiciously. As such, she needs to investigate further to get to the truth. It more than often leads to despair. It means only Toni has the meds necessary to survive the sudden illness developed by the castaways. Leah and Dot have to go out running in the middle of the night to hopefully find more in order to save Martha too. Leah makes these mistakes and blames herself repeatedly. Daniel explains that it's all a part of her obsessive behavior. She dramatizes everything because an elaborate story is much more believable in her mind than the simple truth. Of course, the narrative points out that she is correct to fear a crazy conspiracy. Every twist proves that everything is essentially possible. As such, the audience should have sympathy for Leah. It's difficult because of how destructive her behavior has been in the past. It's hard to get a good read on if the show also romanticizes the drama that happens in her life. It plays her heartbreak as a universal concept. Her connection with Jeffrey is still statutory rape. The professionals in charge of this experiment don't seem concerned about addressing that. Instead, it's all about her obsessive behavior that led her to hurt others while believing she was just making harmless mistakes. Gretchen marvels at Daniel's brilliance in the field. And yet, it's also difficult for the audience to see these professionals as being the best at what they do. They serve to provoke. They succeed in doing so. That allows the drama to rise and fall with passion and intensity. Daniel wants to craft the story to ensure that the girls feel like the time on the island was a benefit for their overall healths. They are being isolated and forced to reflect on that time. It doesn't matter that some of them have suffered severe bodily harm. The experiment continues. They are abused the moment they decided to question things. That will leave them even less likely to trust people and situations in the future. That awareness may be on the horizon. However, it may hinge entirely on Leah discovering it and speaking up on it. Without that clarity, it's easy to believe most will dismiss her as the crazy one because that's much more believable than the story she has concocted. That's how daunting this threat remains in the castaways' lives. They are being forever shaped by this omnipresent force hanging over them. They have no control and no free will. Gretchen and her colleagues have deduced that the girls handle those concepts irresponsibly. As such, it's up to her to put in the right thoughts and responses. She is choosing to do so in the most invasive way possible while manipulating the world to her will. She is in control and no one can reasonably challenge that now that the audience is more aware of the scope of this entire experiment.