What to Remember Ahead of The Wilds Season 2 Premiere

Fatin, Leah, and Dot on a beach yelling for help

Before the women of Yellowjackets became the talk of TV, there was another group of young women whose plane crashed and who had to survive on their own. Instead of a chilly wilderness, the young women on The Wilds are trying to survive on a beach near Hawaii. Fatin (Sophia Ali), Dot (Shannon Berry), Martha (Jenna Clause), Rachel (Reign Edwards), Shelby (Mia Healey), Nora (Helena Howard), Toni (Erana James), Jeanette (Chi Nguyen), and Leah (Sarah Pidgeon) believed they were going to attend a women’s empowerment retreat when they boarded the plane that would mysteriously crash.

None of the young women actually remember the plane hitting the water. They do remember being on the plane as the turbulence got worse, and they remember the pilot telling them to stay seated, but nothing else. They come to consciousness in the ocean, adrift on wreckage from the plane. When the young women swim to shore, they quickly realize how difficult it will be to stay alive.

The audience, however, is let in on a secret that the young women, or The Unsinkable Eight, as they call themselves, are not aware of: the plane crash was staged. Their survival on this island is being closely watched by Gretchen Klein (Rachel Griffiths), who is in charge of the Dawn of Eve program. It is not the empowerment program the girls were led to believe. Instead, it’s a social experiment that Gretchen has devised.

Gretchen in her office looks off camera at computer screen

Season 1 was mainly about The Unsinkable Eight, and cut three different timelines together. Each episode unofficially focused on one of the young women before they boarded the plane. This timeline explains what happened in their lives to make their parents, or the women themselves, want to sign them up for the Dawn of Eve empowerment retreat. The second timeline is the series of events that took place on the island. The last timeline is the future, when the women are being questioned by two men who claim to be FBI agents. They’re held in separate rooms in what looks to be an underground bunker.

The Wilds is about what happens when there are no looming societal pressures. Young people, especially teenagers, are overwhelmed by the weight of expectations from their parents, school, and friends. Social media compounds this anxiety about needing to fit in and cultivate an image so that teens are accepted by their peers. In each of the flashbacks to the women’s lives before the plane crash, the audience sees the different ways that The Unsinkable Eight dealt with societal pressures: Rachel developed intense bulimia as a competitive diver; Shelby was closeted; Fatin was pressured into becoming a cello prodigy by her mother.

And yet, on the island, despite the fact that they’re stranded, the women are free in a way that they weren’t at home. There are no overbearing parents to tell them how their day is going to be spent, no impossible standards, and no one watching their actions, ready to punish them if they step out of line. Of course, someone is watching them, but they are unaware.

Fatin looks at Leah and Nora on a beach

The only member of The Unsinkable Eight who knows what’s really going on is Nora. Gretchen, the woman who orchestrated this experiment, had planted two people to act as moles to keep an eye on the subjects from within the group. The first mole, Jeanette, died on the first day. Nora manages to keep her identity as a mole a secret until day 23, when Leah’s paranoia reaches a breaking point.

The biggest surprise of Season 1 was the finale reveal that while the young women are in the underground bunker, Gretchen has created a second social experiment that involves a plane crash. This time, it’s the Twilight of Adam, with eight young men as the focus of the research.

At the beginning of Season 2, there are some big questions the audience still needs the answers to. Of The Unsinkable Eight, the only member who wasn’t seen in an interview with the “FBI” agents is Nora. Given Leah’s discovery of Nora as the mole, it’s easy to question whether or not Nora makes it off the island. Another clue that Nora may not have made it is that in all of Rachel’s interviews, she’s wearing Nora’s shoes.

The matter of how The Unsinkable Eight got off the island is still a mystery. The audience knows they made it, but it’s unclear if Gretchen saved them as part of her plan or if they attempted to escape another way, but were captured by Gretchen.

Dot and Rachel carry a log with supplies draped over while Nora, Martha, and Fatin follow behind with suitcases

A massive question is where the funding for this social experiment came from and whether the family members knew what was in store for their children when they agreed to send them to the retreat. Gretchen’s research is no cheap endeavor. She needs planes, high-tech hidden cameras, a private island, an underground bunker, and so on. Who is funding this? Why are they funding this? What do they want to gain from these experiments?

The audience knows why Gretchen is interested in seeing these projects through to the end. Her son’s actions in a fraternity initiation hazing led to the death of Nora’s boyfriend, Quinn. The social dynamics of teenagers are especially relevant to Gretchen. She wants to see where she went wrong in her own parenting and whether young people will resort to violence if left alone.

What was so interesting about how Season 1 of The Wilds unraveled was that it seemed to do the impossible. It was able to show Gretchen’s logical progression to get to the point where she was completely comfortable with simulating a plane crash and abandoning teenagers on an island. When a show relies heavily on a high-concept premise, the viewer has to understand the logistics. Too often, shows pose interesting, grand questions they can’t ever answer.

Kirin, Rafael, Josh, Seth, Ivan, Henry, Bo, and Scotty stand on a plane

The true test of The Wilds Season 2 will be how this secondary group of young men are worked into the story. It will be difficult to lose screentime for The Unsinkable Eight, as the large number of characters in the first season made it difficult for each one to have time to shine. The show could easily be overwhelmed with an onslaught of new characters, but hopefully the writers use the Twilight of Adam to look at toxic masculinity in teenage boys.

The Wilds Season 2 begins streaming on May 6th on Amazon Prime.

Written by Tina Kakadelis

Movie and pop culture writer. Seen a lot of movies, got a lot of opinions. Let's get Amy Adams her Oscar.

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  1. Toxic masculinity? There is nothing toxic about masculinity. The toxicity exists in one’s mind. Our perception. The brainwashing and poisoning of humanity by those “in control” should be further investigated by the writer of this “article”? #doyourresearch #dropthelabels

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