The Wilds brings mystery and adventure to a 10 part series streaming on Amazon. A group of teen girls find themselves stranded on a deserted island. Their struggle to survive is interspersed with flashbacks that help you get to know the characters and the puppeteers behind the scenes.
The Wilds sounds like the same premise as Lost, except with all girls. Creator Sarah Streicher freely admits this series is standing on the shoulders of Lost. She took the idea of multiple timelines and flashbacks and applied it to young women.
We learn early on that Gretchen Klein (Rachel Griffiths) is the mastermind behind this whole thing. She regards it as a research project and feels perfectly justified in taking these unwitting girls and plunking them into this fake situation so she can watch what they do.
Each of the girls brings a trauma of some kind with her on what they thought was a weekend getaway to Hawaii. They all had mental issues before they are faced with this terrifying situation. But Gretchen Klein seems the sickest of them all to me, and self-righteously evil too.
Through flashbacks, we get to know each girl’s background and issues. There are two planted girls – meant to observe and report back to Gretchen. The first dies early on. The second isn’t revealed until near the end.
Leah (Sarah Pidgeon) felt like the lead character to me. Perhaps because she was suspicious of the situation from early on and asked questions about why things happened as they did.
The cast was varied. There was an out lesbian and a closeted lesbian. One girl was Native American. Two Black girls were twin sisters. One girl had just lost her dad after a long illness. Another had anger issues and went off at the least thing. There was a Muslim girl who was a cello prodigy. The blonde white girl was a pageant winner.
They all brought different skills. Dot (Shannon Berry) knew all about drugs after nursing her dad for so long. Shelby lived in Texas and knew about the wilderness and hunting. Nora (Helena Howard) was the brainy twin who had read everything. The other twin, Rachel (Reign Edwards) was a fantastic swimmer and diver. Fatin (Sophia Ali) knew how to read people and how to make things seem effortless.
Just to keep the timelines jumping, while we were on the island and in the middle of each girls background flashbacks, two men were questioning the girls in an isolated bunker of a place as a kind of debriefing. They were Faber (David Sullivan) and Young (Troy Winbush). We watched Gretchen observe everything and practice a speech she would present about her research.
My main reaction to the first few episodes was This is sick and disgusting. How could any scientist get away with something like this? I never really stopped feeling that way about the series, but I got hooked on getting to know the girls. Each of their stories was full of pain and hurt. They had plenty of trouble trying to survive high school before they were inflicted with this fake survival charade.
The end of season 1 is wide open for a whole new story to begin, even though we don’t yet know how this one turns out. The story of these young women is definitely not resolved. [Update: Season 2 was announced. It will happen.]
The series was filmed in New Zealand. Six of the 10 episodes were directed by women: Haifaa Al-Mansour, Susanna Fogel, Sydney Freeland, Alison Maclean, Cherie Nowlan, and Tara Nicole Weyr.
Here are a few clues from the trailer.
Have you seen The Wilds? Are you planning to watch it?
One response to “Review: The Wilds, season 1”
Air-head teen girls vs evil scientists sounds like a recipe for rubbish but that’s very misleading. The reveal of the girls’ pasts and characters is thoughtful and the dialogue is clever. If I can remember much about being 16, and if I am being honest, it’s about not coping well for with what life threw at me. Luckily, I wasn’t dumped on a deserted island.
And all is not going well for the evil scientist as she has funding problems and a sceptical workforce rather than the usual mindlessly obedient minions. And that itchy rash!