Sunday, May 8, 2022

REVIEW: 'The Wilds' - The Girls Mourn the Loss of One of Their Own as the Boys Adjust to Their New Surroundings in 'Day 30/1'

Amazon's The Wilds - Episode 2.01 "Day 30/1"

The stranded girls grieve one of their own. Meanwhile, we learn they're not the only ones ensnared in this social experiment - it turns out there's a male control group, marooned on a different island.

"Day 30/1" was written by Sarah Streicher and directed by Alison Maclean

Leah's paranoia over the girls' time on the island grew throughout the first season. It culminated in a season finale where she was proven right. She discovered Nora was communicating with Gretchen's team. Nora tricked Leah in order to prevent this information from coming back to the group. When the confrontation was suppose to happen, it instead shifted to Rachel being attacked by a shark at sea. Nora swam out to save her. She never made it back to the beach. She presumably dies. It's incredibly convenient. It allows Leah to continue operating as the crazy one. No one is willing to believe her conspiracy about someone doing this to the group on purpose. She is being gaslit because that prospect would be absolutely insane. Of course, it's what is actually happening. Leah has a renewed sense of purpose in the flash-forwards. When she was given her freedom to roam around the campus, she discovered another camp of survivors. Time has obviously passed since that revelation. Gretchen even notes the girls lasted longer in her experiment than the boys did. That creates a circumstance where the two groups are being held at the same time. Leah still has enough freedom to wait for Raf to come back to his room. Of course, he's being treated as one of the proverbial monsters he declares some of the boys became during this experiment. He's handcuffed to the table when Young and Faber arrive to interview him. That comes with no easy clarity. Instead, he simply details the first day of this tragedy. It's a lot of new information being thrown at the audience. The circumstances are familiar though. It's a continuation of everything Gretchen has been doing with the girls. They've been stranded for a month now. Gretchen played out the psychology of how the group would develop in that time. The girls even acknowledge that they became an actual family following Nora's death. That tragedy brought them together in a way that was actually real. The first death on the island was simply confirming the lethal stakes of this reality. They could die out there if they aren't careful. With Nora, they lost someone they bonded with. She took advantage of those relationships. Leah can't even present that case to her fellow survivors. Instead, she is hopelessly looking for the pit she was pushed into. It presents as improbably being covered up. She can't find it. She is devoted to that mission at the expense of the well-being of everyone else. Right now, Rachel is raw and vulnerable after losing her sister and her right hand. Meanwhile, Leah just wants to know how Nora found out about the retreat.

Everyone went into this experience with different expectations. And yet, their lives have changed dramatically. Those who were adversaries at school are now the closest of friends. The siblings could see each other as young adults making the best of an impossible situation. There are still far too many moments where the survivors are too cautious about revealing new developments with each other. The group knows that Toni and Shelby have gotten together romantically. Martha is kept at a distance though. This isn't something she could handle. She is happy for her best friend though. She is glad to see the two of them together. They can support and rely on each other. It doesn't have to be at the expense of this personal friendship. That may still be projected onto the situation. Nothing has to change. However, so much already has. That spiral into chaos is only going to develop further too. Gretchen has big plans for this experiment. She presents it as the grand presentation of her life's work. She is close to achieving it. Nothing can stop her now. Her experiment with the boys feels like something required of her. She has to showcase how this psychological torture works more provocatively with the girls. It's not something that can be easily replicated with young men. They develop in drastically different ways. Their social behavior is completely different. The initial instincts are the same. On the first day, the boys look for any signs of life on this island. They refuse to believe it's abandoned. It doesn't make sense for an unoccupied space to still be present on the planet. It builds to a tragic death. They leave DJ behind because a foolish foot injury sidelines him from going on this adventure in earnest. They return to the camp to discover his viciously brutalized body. Of course, it's all just an illusion. It's Gretchen making her presence known. DJ is her son. He was responsible for the hazing incident that killed Quinn, which was used to recruit Nora to the cause. Gretchen wants to protect him to a certain extent. He should be grateful for her intervention. However, he only sees the scale of this experiment as proving her sociopathic mentality. He knows he is a screw up. He was abandoned by his mother long before he destroyed his life. He may be behind redemption. The experiment continues. Gretchen still has absolute control. Leah is a wild card as she explores the facility looking for others willing to question what's going on. And yet, their personal transformations may already be done by the time Leah presents as the one who has always been sensible. She was tossed aside because of a failure of imagination. That's how far people will go to exploit the world. These young minds are simply at the mercy of a woman who decided to cast types to provoke reactions and dictate the lives they are capable of living. That may create strong men and women. It also awoke monsters.