Episode 1 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 2/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 2/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 8 -| Review Score – 3/5
One of the biggest problems many shows have nowadays is justifying long run-times for a story that could be told in half the allotted run-time.
Documentary series are particularly egregious for this, while some of the different streaming originals meander through plots that add contrived drama for the sake of padding things out. The ensuing result is an unsatisfying slog that wastes time unnecessarily.
With 8-10 episodes feeling like the universal norm for shows now, there seems to be no argument to return to the old 20-24 episode run that we had in abundance back in the late 90s’/early 2000’s. The Wilds Season 2 though, is one of the best examples for why this formula perhaps should be adopted to some shows.
For anyone who read my review and subsequent recaps of season 1, you’ll know I’m not a massive fan of this series.
However, despite my aggrievances, the twist at the end of the first season was intriguing and admittedly, the characters all had a chance to shine in individual episodes, laced with flashbacks and reasonably good motivations for doing what they were doing. Season 2 though, is a whole different kettle of fish.
Both meandering and rushed; season 2 of The Wilds needs about 10 episodes longer to help flesh its story out. Instead, this year the run-time is slashed, there’s far more narrative work squeezed into these chapters, and paper-thin characterisation for the newcomers.
Now, don’t get me wrong there are glimmers of great work here and the ending to this season is excellent, setting things up for a tantalizing follow-up to come. However, everything leading up to that point is a serious mixed bag of quality.
For those who need a refresher, the end of season 1 unveiled the big discovery that the girls aren’t alone within this island experiment. There’s a separate island holding a bunch of boys, who have all endured the same hell the girls have.
With this shocking bombshell, season 2 then splits its run-time between the girls and boys, juggling not just two sets of characters, but also the present timeline, past flashbacks, and around 15 characters in total. The result is, as you’d guess, a bit of a mess.
Everything here feels out of sync and skewed, which is perhaps not helped by the fact the time is split awkwardly between the boys and girls on their islands.
The episode titles are hints to what days we’re following with each group, but it’s actually not clear within the episodes themselves what day we’re on. The only exception here comes late on when the girls comment on the exact day on the island.
The inclusion of the boys is certainly a nice plot element, and it could have played out similar to how the Tailies in Lost were handled. Instead, the hour-long episodes feel strained and torn between developing our girls further and introducing a whole new bunch of male characters and giving them enough characteristics to stand out.
As a result, most of the drama with the girls revolves around the loss of Nora, and helping Rachel with her grief. There’s also some romance and general partying too, but it’s not until the final few chapters where everything becomes more interesting for them.
For the boys, despite a lot of the run-time dedicated to them, there’s actually a surprising lack of development for key players. Henry, Bo, Josh and Scotty don’t get a lot of time to flesh out their characters, while Seth – the more interesting player here – is given some good flashbacks that are screaming out for more time to develop further.
Everything here just feels very shallow, with most of the guys slotting into the clichés they’re assigned at the start of the season or acting in certain ways that – while one could argue is due to extreme stress – feels designed to throw drama into the mix. As an example, one character is kicked out the group for a shocking act, only to then be reintroduced into the mix again…and then kicked out again.
I know some disagree with this but the set-up here, showing the survivors discussing their experiences on the island while simultaneously throwing them all into a life-or-death situation was a real problem for season 1. We already knew everyone made it back so these moments lacked tension.
Season 2 can be forgiven for this though, given the reveal at the end of season 1, but the issues instead lie solely at the plotting, which is in desperate need of at least another 8-10 episodes to give everything room to breathe, give the characters more time to develop and allow the mysteries to build up. Instead, everything we get is rushed and unsatisfying.
There’s undeniably a big crowd who enjoy The Wilds and season 2 certainly delivers bigger, badder and more bombastic drama than before.
There are a couple of really nice twists thrown in and the present timeline is given a good deal of direction this year too. Despite that, this is a strangely rushed season, one that wastes half the cast and under-develops the other half. Still, there’s always season 3 right?
Verdict - 4/10