Episode 2 of The Wilds begins with more exposition as we learn more about 17 year old Rachel. She’s from New York and clearly another survivor the island. She was born 18 minutes before her sister Nora and talks about her twin, not wanting to talk about what happened to her on the island, seemingly hinting that Nora has not made it off alive.
Back on the island, the girls awaken in the morning but find Leah has wandered off on her own. She turns up and shows them Jeanette’s phone as we cut across to Gretchen phoning Audrey off the island. She’s made a controversial decision and as Audrey shows up at the dock, we see the flight attendant (named Alex) is heading off to the drop zone despite Jeanette dying.
It turns out Jeanette’s phone is different to the others and the kids realize this is a bit suspicious. Rachel immediately turns on Leah and asks her why she didn’t wake them up. Rachel eventually has enough and walks off alone.
As she does, we cut back to the past and see Rachel kicked out of her swim team despite working hard and doing everything she can. According to her coach, she doesn’t have the body for the sport. This hits hard for Rachel, who begins experiencing bulimia on a pretty horrific scale. This leads to her heading into rehab, where her relationship with Nora starts to become strained.
After being discharged, Nora does her best to try and tend to Rachel but she hits back at her sister and pushes Nora away. She’s clearly worried about her though and these fears are definitely substantiated. When Nora leaves the room, Rachel relapses and makes herself throw up again prior to her competition.
Rachel’s dive is predictably a complete failure, and she falls into the water with blood oozing from the back of her head.
Back on the island, Fatin and Dot talk about the wild, with the latter apparently good with survival scenarios. While she takes stock of inventory on the beach, Rachel leads an expedition up to the top of the mountain with Leah and Shelby. Nora wants to follow though but Rachel tells her not to.
With very little to drink (minus 4 cans of coke which happens to be a little under half of their entire drink inventory), Rachel drops the mirror in frustration halfway up. Leah tries to salvage it but slips and looks set to fall. Thankfully Nora shows up and saves her but given we’ve already seen Leah has survived the island, there’s not really any tension here.
Rachel heads on alone and makes it to the top where she looks out at… nothing. She breaks down in despair as Nora arrives to comfort her sister.
As the group head back down to the shore, Audrey and Gretchen watch the cameras and notice how the social groups for the girls are starting to change after what they’ve all been experiencing. Gretchen tells her associate, Susan, to ring their operative to make sure the package has made it down to the island.
Meanwhile, Shelby cleans her retainer using the salty sea water before finding a package down on the shore-side apparently belonging to the pilot. They’ve got a whole load of medicine for their troubles inside, which is certainly a stroke of luck for the girls… or clearly planted by the operatives watching them on the screens.
As the interviewers ask exactly what happened to Nora, she shows the stump where her hand used to be and tells them that all she can remember is holding Nora’s hand.
The Episode Review
After a really poor opening episode, The Wilds shifts perspective to a slightly more likable character in Rachel. She’s still not perfect, what with her erratic mood swings and disdain toward her sister, but here it feels more purposeful than Leah’s “I lied to a guy about my age and now he doesn’t want to see me” story.
Rachel’s is much more intimate and highlighters some very real issues affecting young women today. Seeing her estranged relationship with Nora and how this feeds into her losing a hand (but we don’t know how yet of course) is a really nice touch but it also diminishes any tension with her on the island given we know she survives despite losing a hand.
In fact, when Leah is hanging over the edge trying to get the mirror it’s a perfect example of what I mentioned before about tension. Had we not known whether she survived or not, this moment could have had some real high stakes attached to it. Instead, it just comes across as an indifferent dramatic spike. Why should we be worried by this moment if we know she’ll survive anyway?
And this brings back the subject of the editing in this series. The cutaways to the interviews showing those behind the scenes may seem interesting on paper, but in terms of emotionally engaging with these girls from a survival perspective, none of that is here. Where are the cameras installed? Are there drones there? How far out is this island from the US?
The deeper analysis for each of these girls is definitely going to be a major plus though and the second episode is definitely an improvement over the first. However, the girls are still without food, adequate shelter or water so quite how they’ll survive without these going forward, remains to be seen.