That collective buzz you may have heard lately? It’s not hornets in your walls, but excitement as filming Season 2 of “Yellowjackets” — Showtime’s breakout series about high school girls who turn to cannibalism, and their adult selves living with it. this trauma, after their plane crashed in the desert – is expected to begin this summer. The collective moan that you could also have heard? That it will probably be November or December 2022 before we see the show again on our screens.
What is the hive for? A year before Shauna, Jackie, Misty, Natalie and the rest of the football team honored us with their particular brand of WTF, Amazon Prime released “The Wilds”. The show created by Sarah Streicher and starring showrunner Amy B. Harris has a surprisingly similar premise: teenage girls must learn to survive when their plane crashes. But that plane crashes into the ocean, stranding a handful of surviving girls, few of whom knew each other before the crash, not in the about-frozen woods of Canada (or wherever the “yellow vests” are. supposed to be together) but on a desert island.
And things are not what they seem. Quickly, we learn that among the girls there is a plant, an informant reporting to some kind of mad scientist who engineered it all – yes, even a fake plane crash that accidentally really kills someone: Rachel Griffiths in the role of Dr. Gretchen Klein. Gretchen somehow convinced the girls’ parents, unbeknownst to the teenagers themselves, to allow their children to participate in a risky experiment called The Dawn of Eve, intended to prove that the girls would organize and lead a superior society. .
It’s a secret the audience learns early in Season 1, though it takes time for the girls, led by Leah (Sarah Pidgeon), to find out. The first season of “The Wilds” ended on a cliffhanger, as Leah makes an even more shocking discovery than the fact that her parents agreed to put her on a fake “Survivor”: There’s a witness group of boys.
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It’s no “who the hell is Lottie Matthews?” but it was a shocking revelation, so much so that it was hard to wait for “The Wilds” to return. That’s why it’s disappointing that season 2 doesn’t have the same freshness as the first season. It’s not just that we’ve been to Wiskayok, New Jersey and back, but that we’ve grown attached to the girls of “The Wilds.” In season two, they have to share the stage – or rather the island. – with a group of boys.
The second season seems to undo much of the goodness of the first and blur its message.
Like girls, boys’ characters tend to fall into types. Just as we had the church girl in Season 1 (Mia Healey, who is half of a gripping romance), we have the abused boy with the heart of gold in Season 2 (Tanner Ray Rook). We’ve got a jock (Charles Alexander), a bookish goth (Aidan Laprete), a nerd (Nicholas Coombe), and a smart, rather holy gay activist than you (obligatory Miles Gutierrez-Riley).
Fear not, the show hasn’t completely abandoned the girls – including the elite athlete (Reign Edwards), the bookish (Helena Howard, who anchored the first season), the animal-loving peacemaker (the wonderful Jenna Clause) who is the conscience of the show – but he has to balance them with all the boys. A lot of boys. It doesn’t balance out very well, and the second season seems to undo much of the goodness of the first and blur its message.
Besides not really resolving the girls’ stories satisfactorily, the timeline is hard to follow. The experiments with the girls and the boys don’t happen exactly in parallel and the show’s explanation adds to the confusion – it’s day 42 for the girls and day 15 for the boys. What?
Instead of Doomcoming, we’re having a surprise birthday party.
The rhythm seems off. We have flashbacks. We have scenes on the island with the boys, scenes on the island with the girls, and scenes with the scientists and researchers after their evil genius experiment is complete. (Like the island of another “Lost” plane crash, it’s never really finished, however.)
To the actors’ credit, the cast makes the most of it. It’s not easy to introduce half a dozen new characters into an already large set. Featured stars include Alexander, who elevates his jock character Kirin with empathy, and Rook who plays Bo like a masterclass in silent suffering and the old wisdom of the soul.
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“The Wilds” is less intense and disturbing than “Yellowjackets” in many ways. The Daily Beast describes it as “the YA version of ‘Yellowjackets'” and that seems fitting. Aimed at a young adult audience, the language is softer, and so is the trauma, though this episode deals with a shocking and upsetting sexual assault (and much like Gretchen’s shrugging way of dismissing it). Instead of Doomcoming, we’re throwing a surprise birthday party, complete with decorations that just landed. The stakes seem low, though the teenagers are still fighting for their lives.
While “The Wilds” might be “kids survive plane crash,” it’s actually crazier than “Yellowjackets.” If this is your cup of herbal tea, you’ve struck gold. We have Ben Folds playing himself in an extended hallucination, a man-eating jaguar, not to mention the ridiculous experience The Dawn of Eve, which is flimsy to begin with – what exactly is the experience and what parent on earth would be okay, not to mention who would give Gretchen funding or work for her?
Much disbelief must hang here. Unlike perhaps “Yellowjackets,” you won’t have gruesome nightmares after watching the new season of “The Wilds.” But you might be too perplexed to sleep.
Season 2 of “The Wilds” is now streaming alongside the first season on Prime Video. Watch a trailer below, via YouTube.
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