REVIEW: ‘The Wilds’ Season 2 Expands the World and Message

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The Wilds Season 2 - But Why Tho

Content Warning: The Wilds Season 2 discusses themes of suicide and sexual assault.

I found The Wilds by chance. One of the Prime Video originals that slipped under my 2021 tv-watching radar, I binged it all in the lead up to The Wilds Season 2, and the series quickly showed why it’s different than the clear Lord of the Flies inspiration. In the series, a group of older teens are stranded on a deserted island after their plane to a paradise retreat crashes. The Wilds is created and executive produced by Sarah Streicher alongside showrunner and executive producer Amy Harris.

Season 1 of the series focused on a group of girls, going beyond commentary on group dynamics and instead of taking each episode to explore why each girl is the way she is. The series explores identity, trauma, and fear, doing so through a lens that felt raw. Mainly The Wilds Season 1 is extremely focused on the way the world treats women and girls and how gendered violence and trauma reaps a toll. The twist that the girls are, in fact, a part of an experiment being watched by researchers added an element of deception that helped push the series beyond a typical YA drama.

In The Wilds Season 2, the girls we met in the first season are still present. We continue their story on the island and the fallout from the cliffhanger last season. Having lost another girl and having had to treat a large wound, the girls continue to be traumatized by the island. Leaning on each other for little moments of hope. But in addition to their stories, they begin to understand that what’s happening to them is an elaborate social experiment. But that’s not all; the season’s ups and downs keep you on the edge of your seat by also introducing a new group of test subjects, teen boys.

Like the last season, The Wilds Season 2 takes a sharp look at how gender impacts trauma, only this time through the lens of masculinity. The first season was about the patriarchal standards, misogyny, and homophobia that shaped the girls into who they are. This season, the series explores how gendered expectations harm boys and men too. This new cast of characters are all extremely emotional in their own ways. Sure, they have more violent conflict between them, like the precedent set by Lord of the Flies, but they are also all extremely vulnerable. They fight each other, confide in each other, and try to survive as they each share the experiences that led them to this moment.

Additionally, the story this season is darker, with more content warnings than the last. Dealing with bullying and suicide, and inappropriate relationships, last season peeled back layers of pain for the girls. This season deals with sexual assault, child abuse, and more in relation to the boys that force the audience to see that teen boys are boys, not men. With one storyline, it forces the audience to engage with the fact then boys can be and are victims of sexual assault. In a sequence that sparks a conversation between the boys, The Wilds attempts to look at the fear of sharing your abuse out of fear of being isolated while also showing that supportive friends are an important part of processing it all.

While the intrigue of being watched by researchers in this social experiment was more than novel at first, it added a dynamic of uncertainty and fear while building up questions as to the reason for the experiment in the first place. However, as the answers become clear this season, the inclusion of the social experiment becomes frustrating. With more deus ex machine elements that aren’t fully explained but put the story where it needs to be than the first season, it’s hard to focus on the emotional weight of the story instead of these added bits.

That said, the fact that this is a social experiment makes the series have longevity that just being on a deserted island can’t give. And for that, I can forgive some of the more convoluted elements of The Wilds Season 2. In fact, the series has created such an amazing cast of dynamic characters that I want more from this series and will put up with more social experiment shenanigans if that means I can get a Season 3. And with the season finale, it seems like that is a place for us to head.

Overall, The Wilds Season 2 isn’t better than the first, mainly because I don’t think they can be directly compared. However, it is strong on its own, and the new group of young actors bring heroism, vulnerability, and compassion in a way that makes every episode more than just background information. I can’t wait for more.

The Wilds Season 2 is streaming exclusively on Prime Video beginning May 6, 2022.


The Wilds Season 2
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10
8.5/10

TL;DR

Overall, The Wilds Season 2 isn’t better than the first, mainly because I don’t think they can be directly compared. However, it is strong on its own, and the new group of young actors bring heroism, vulnerability, and compassion in a way that makes every episode more than just background information. I can’t wait for more.