Tuesday, December 15, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Wilds' - Shelby Feels Consumed by Fear and Shame Even as Everyone Believes Rescue is Coming in 'Day Sixteen'

Amazon's The Wilds - Episode 1.08 "Day Sixteen"

Assuming that rescue is imminent, the castaways let loose. The only girl who doesn't feel festive is Shelby, and a look into her past reveals why.

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 Sixteen" was written by Amy B. Harris & Melissa Blake and directed by Tara Nicole Weyr

The castaways once again assume that their rescue is imminent. They had lost hope. And then, a plane appeared. They celebrate. It's premature. The audience has that clarity. Gretchen already has a plan in motion to ensure that no one disrupts her experiment. She explains to her staff that it's not a lethal solution. Her influence affords her many opportunities. She gets away with a lot. That makes it reasonable for people to fear how far she'll go in order to achieve success. She has a lot riding on this. She won't allow anything to disrupt her vision of the future. She is frustrated when others mess up. She is quick to blame them as well. It's a lack of vision or attention to detail on their part. Alex once again almost compromises the entire experiment. He is seen in the woods by Martha. The only reason no one suspects anything more sinister is because Martha is high. The backpack they found had more than just vodka in it. It also had edible gummies. Martha consumed the most. So, it's lucky that she is the one who wanders into the woods. It had worn out of everyone else's systems at that point. They just believe she was seeing things. That's the easier assumption to make. They don't want to spiral out of control like Leah did the previous day. And yet, Shelby is in a dark headspace. She is consumed with shame and despair. Those emotions are completely overwhelming to her personality. She can't celebrate like her fellow castaways because she can only feel these extreme emotions after kissing Toni. She was conditioned into believing that a deep sense of shame is all that she can accept when it comes to being gay. Acting on those impulses will only damn her to Hell. It doesn't matter how good and devout a life she lives elsewhere. This one aspect of her identity is enough to sentence her to eternal punishment. She has to continually work to curb these impulses. She can't allow them to take over. She has a very controlling and demanding father. He uses scripture in order to impose what others are allowed to do. He doesn't care about his children's happiness. He doesn't even make decisions with his wife. He is the one who dictates how others should respond. He uses his faith as a weapon. That is incredibly destructive to Shelby's psyche. Daniel reads into it as a dissociative disorder. The interviewers have no clue which side of her personality they are going to get. As such, they have to exude authority no matter what to push her into line. He essentially understands that becoming like her father is the only way that she will give them the clarity they need right now. That is the only way to get to her. And yet, that once again encourages bad behavior. That underlines just how heinous and flawed this whole experiment is. They want to label Shelby as the one with the problem. That means she lashes out at the world because she has no control over it. She pushes her best friend away. That contributes to her suicide. That's a fair amount of darkness that has consumed her life. That's what terrifies her whenever she thinks about her sexuality. She has to be confident and proud in her identity at all times. She can't question it. The mere mention of it only invites more disaster and shame. It's incredibly traumatic. Daniel and Dean note that the castaways are heading toward the darkest days yet. Their false hope will make way for crushing despair. They won't be rescued. Physical harm will be inflicted on several of them before they move to the next phase of the experiment. Shelby is lucky to break protocol to deliver a message to Leah. Their friendship is a sudden development. They unite over becoming the train wrecks of the group. They have lost their hold on reality. Recognizing that brings them closer together. It may not help them at all moving forward. It's simply a partnership to recognize when things aren't okay elsewhere. That may not prevent the dark things from happening. Of course, the show is much more comfortable at inferring that those tragedies have occurred instead of depicting them onscreen. So, it's unclear just how brutal these final two episodes will be. The show may continue to be an empty tease in that regard. This experiment will weigh heavily on all of the castaways. And yet, the way in which all of this comes together for an explosive end with meaning feels vague at the moment. Hopefully, that doesn't last. But the concern is at least becoming a bit more apparent as the end is quickly arriving.