The Wilds Season 2 Premiere: The Return of The Unsinkable Eight

S2E1, “Day 30/1”

Bo, Josh, and Henry hoist Kirin on their shoulders by a large bonfire while Ivan watches
Credit: Kane Skenner/Amazon Studios

The following contains spoilers for the Season 2 premiere of The Wilds, S2E1, “Day 30/1” (written by Sarah Streicher and directed by Alison Maclean)

Within the first few minutes of the opener of The Wilds Season 2, we get an answer about the fate of Nora (Helena Howard)…kind of. The audience sees the shark attack from the finale of Season 1 and Nora swimming out to save Rachel (Reign Edwards), but then Nora just disappears. Given what happens later in the episode, it’s difficult to trust that she’s really gone. However, in interviews with the girls at the bunker, they all say that it happened very fast and Nora just disappeared.

As soon as Nora’s fate is haphazardly wrapped up, the focus immediately shifts to introducing the boys of the Twilight of Adam. As with the girls, some of the boys knew each other prior to arriving on the plane. The group is made up of Kirin (​​Charles Alexander), Raf (Zack Calderon), Josh (Nicholas Coombe), Seth (Alex Fitzalan), Ivan (Miles Gutierrez-Riley), Henry (Aidan Laprete), Bo (Tanner Ray Rook), and Scotty (Reed Shannon). Raf is the first one interviewed by the FBI in the underground bunker and serves as a sort of narrator for the boys’ first day on the island.

It’s been about a year and a half since the first season premiered, and the amount of time in the first episode spent on the new boys feels like a disservice to both groups. The girls are the audience’s entry point to this story, and the episode doesn’t give them or the viewers a chance to grieve the loss of Nora. The first season received praise for its ability to handle tough subject matter, and grieving while trying to survive should have been given more time. It’s quite the burden to mourn the loss of a loved one while also being stranded on a deserted island. Rachel especially bears a heavy weight. Nora is her sister, they came on this retreat because Nora was worried about Rachel’s bulimia, and Nora only went into the water to save Rachel from the shark. Rachel’s loss is overshadowed by the introduction of the boys.

Kirin, Raf, Josh, Seth, Ivan, Henry, Bo, and Scotty walk through the forest at night
Credit: Kane Skenner/Amazon Studios

The boys also suffer because of their stilted introduction. It seems the show is going to follow last season’s pattern of giving each of the boys an episode that delves into their lives before the island. If that proves to be the case, the audience (and the boys) deserves an entire episode focused on their first day on the island. Arguably, the dynamics that emerge in times of massive upheaval give a better understanding of who these characters are. The boys all treated their crash landing as a pretty ordinary day, which felt like a decision made for time rather than truth in storytelling.

The prominence of the boys in the first episode is a disappointing departure from what made The Wilds so special. This was a high-concept series centered on what it’s like to be a teenage girl and it offered well-written female friendships. Even with the changes that have occurred in terms of female representation on screen, a show centered on mostly young women discussing genuine problems without their plots centered around men or boys felt radical. This episode effectively snuffed out all of that goodwill.

It’s no disrespect to the introduction or inclusion of the boys in Season 2. Their presence has the potential to be immensely interesting. How their priorities on the island differ from the girls’ or the interpersonal relationships that develop. On paper, expanding the show to include a second social experiment is good, but success really depends on the show’s ability to balance all of this.

This episode created more questions than it answered. The most exciting moment occurred in the final few seconds. After he is questioned by the FBI agents, Raf returns to his room and sits on his bed. Leah (Sarah Pidgeon) jumps out of a hiding spot, puts her hand over his mouth, and tells him not to move.

Leah stands behind Raf with her hand covering his mouth

While that was the most exciting part of the episode, it calls into question the timeline of the show. Thanks to Gretchen’s (Rachel Griffiths) comments earlier in the episode, we know the experiment was supposed to last 50 days for each group. The girls lasted the full 50, but the boys only lasted 34. If Leah is in the underground bunker at the same time as Raf, what does that mean for the timeline? Did the Dawn of Eve and the Twilight of Adam begin on the same day? Logic would dictate no because the plane and the flight attendant seem to be the same for both groups. From a purely logistical point of view, staging two plane crashes on the same day is quite an undertaking.

Also adding further confusion to the timeline is Gretchen’s son, DJ (Elliott Giarola). At first he seems to be just another member of the boys’ group. When the group splits up to explore the island, he asks to go back to the beach early because he breaks his toe. After determining that there’s no hotel hidden just out of view, the groups return to find DJ with his face bitten off. The boys weigh him down with rocks and send him off to sea.

The audience, however, sees him safe and sound with Gretchen at her headquarters. Given their ability to do a stealth extraction in this instance, it makes Nora’s fate more ambiguous. Was staging the death of her son inspired by the real death of Jeanette in the Dawn of Eve? If so, that means the Twilight of Adam had to start after the Dawn of Eve.

Ivan, Henry, Kirin, and Josh sit on the beach looking frustrated at an open suitcase
Courtesy of Amazon Studios

Overall, the premiere episode of The Wilds Season 2 feels more like a middle-of-the-season episode than a true reintroduction to the world of The Unsinkable Eight. Lingering questions from the first season largely remain unanswered. The audience still doesn’t have a firm answer about Nora, the timeline is even murkier, and Gretchen’s funding source for this experiment remains unclear.

Despite all of this, The Wilds is compelling. Even though this episode felt muddled and unbalanced, the overarching mysteries are begging for resolution. Hopefully the season regains some of its original spark as the episodes continue.

All eight episodes of The Wilds Season 2 is now streaming 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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