Wednesday, December 16, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Wilds' - Martha Has to Compromise Her Values in Order to Save All of the Castaways in 'Day Twenty-Two'

Amazon's The Wilds - Episode 1.09 "Day Twenty-Two"

Starvation becomes a very real possibility for the weakened girls. Martha could spare them from that fate, but it would require a sacrifice she's not prepared to make. Flashbacks take us into her past, revealing the childhood trauma that's made it hard for Martha to grow up and rise to difficult challenges. Leah's paranoia about the island escalates to a fever pitch.

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 Twenty-Two" was written by J.L. Tiggett and directed by Sydney Freeland

Dark things have happened on the island. The narrative has overwhelmingly stated that things will only continue to grow darker for the castaways. That has long been the perceived notion of what the audience should expect. It's existed mostly as psychological drama. Leah's need to believe in a conspiracy threatens her well-being and those around her. And yes, that does create a precarious moment where she believes she can swim to safety. That seems like the only reasonable way off the island to her. She just goes for it. It's up to Rachel to save her. In that moment, she is forced to confront her sudden fear of the water. She saves the person who may pose the most existential threat to the group. Again, this has all been teased previously. In the interviews after being rescued, the castaways note how erratic and dangerous Leah's behavior was. Her mistakes almost led to them all dying. Nora is terrified for her sister. But she also wants everyone to better cope with their reality on this island. She has long offered kind gestures in the hopes of making a difference. And now, it's revealed that she is the mole who has known all along that they are being watched. She has had the expertise to help the castaways survive. Her position is now in danger because Leah stumbles upon her talking to a tree in the middle of the night. It's a random way to escalate the tension. And yet, the show loves creating coincidences in order to prove just how little control people actually have over this world. That's just one element of the story in this episode though. The rest feels a little scattered. Sure, it tells a meaningful story about Martha while setting up the mystery that she may not be rescued with the other castaways. That's a daunting prospect especially for the person who always tries to stay positive. That simply masks her own refusal to grow up. She has been stunted in her emotional development because she was abused by a doctor when she was a child. Admitting that to herself would dramatically change her perspective on the world. Her refusing to do that accomplishes the same goal though. Her love of dance connected her to the doctor anyway. With these lingering doubts in her mind, she can't dance with the passion she once did. She manages to take some power over the world in the name of survival. She kills the goat that she has seen several times now. And yet, the narrative leaves that resolution completely empty. It's unclear if that sacrifice actually means something to the rest of the group. Is she able to carry the animal back to the group and they fend off starvation? Does she feel that sacrifice and compromise of her values was in vein because Toni and Shelby return with a new supply of berries? There are moments that are missing in this story. That makes it feel incomplete. The drama is more fascinated by what is happening on the beach. Those are the developments that will escalate everything in the finale. The rest is the show once again trying to talk around certain developments instead of being in a rush to actually reveal them. That has made the storytelling lackluster. The season has been very watchable. But again, it always feels like the show is alluding to more than it is actually showing. It's a major development that Toni and Shelby kiss. They agree that this relationship is something they want. And yet, that's a sudden development where the show doesn't really explain why it happens now except for Toni being outwardly kind to Shelby. That is apparently all it takes to pull her back from her dark headspace - at least for now. Meanwhile, Dean is given some character details in the future. And yet, he basically spends the episode reading up on Martha's past. It's an assignment that Gretchen gives him. He doesn't really provide any insight into how to best utilize that though. It's just a tease about something that suggests tragedy. It may amount to something. It may not. The show has gone back and forth in that regard believing that's the way to keep the audience guessing. It just makes the story feel scattered and not building to something monumental in the finale. It will basically be a summation of shocking developments instead of a genuine resolution where the audience feels satisfied with everything that occurs even if it doesn't always end well for everyone involved. Again, it's difficult to get a firm understanding on what the audience should want at this point. That emptiness may hinder the show from finding some greater meaning while attacking the very structure that has caused so much trauma to begin with. It can tell stories about women in ways that often go unnoticed. That may be it in terms of the value this show has in the end.