When last we left Boy Island, shit was bad and about to get worse. While the rest of the group was off celebrating its victory over an evil jaguar, Seth pinned Josh down and sexually assaulted him. It was brutal and awful and, as it turns out, also catalyzing.
When episode five, “Day 45/16” opens, it’s on Josh, lying in the grass and looking up at the leaves. With “Blue Skies” playing, he seems almost unaffected until the record starts to skip when he quickly rolls over and vomits violently. The events of the previous night are clearly eating him up, and the beer he drank during the night probably isn’t helping.
None of this is helped by the fact that, as we quickly come to learn, Seth is, in fact, the Boy Island plant. He’s been put there by Gretchen and company to observe and report, and what he has to report about Josh isn’t, shall we say, totally unbiased. Speaking to whatever knothole camera they have stuck in the woods, he tells the base that Josh is being erratic, that maybe his meds are off, that he’s been drinking salt water, and that, hey, if Josh tries to do something, Seth might have to do what needs to be done. He’s laying the victim-blaming on more than a little thick, and if anyone at HQ actually knew what had happened the night before, they might be suspicious.
He’s even laying down a steady layer of Josh shade back at camp, where the group enjoys Kirin’s expertly pit-mastered big cat. Seth goes against character and does everything but tell the group that they should straight up abandon Josh, insinuating that he’s too chatty, too annoying, and too prone to maladies and oversharing. The rest of the gang starts to chime in a bit, too, until Henry invites him over for water, telling the group, “packs don’t leave the weak on their own.”
Discovering that the group has depleted their water supply, they break off. Josh ends up heading off with Kirin while Seth stays in camp and — surprise! — cuts through all the hidden microphones that have been covertly placed all over the beach. (Is it even a real beach? Is this ‘the moon landing is fake’ all over again? I have questions.) He knows some bad shit is about to go down, and he’s trying to cover his tracks.
To his credit (?), he’s right. After Kirin and Josh stumble on a water hole, the jock takes a dip. After encouraging Josh to do the same, he tugs on his shirt, only to discover that Josh’s whole torso is covered in hives. Josh blames the gluten in the beer, only to have Kirin rib him, saying something to the effect of “Seth was right. You’re such a Debbie Downer.” Josh loses it, saying Seth is the problem, not him, and that’s when Kirin — who has never before been perceptive but somehow now is — realizes that all is not right in the world of Josh.
We don’t actually get to see what Josh tells Kirin, but we do see that Kirin doesn’t take it well. Josh second-guesses himself, saying maybe he doesn’t remember it right, maybe he was too drunk, he’s not sure, and who knows what happened. Kirin, to his credit, tells him that if he thinks something happened, then it did and that he’s going to beat the shit out of Seth. Josh asks him not to, and Kirin agrees.
That is, Kirin agrees for about five minutes, until Seth tries to wrap Josh in a hug after discovering the pair have brought back water. Kirin flips and lashes out at Seth, and quickly the assault is exposed. Seth fumbles around, trying to deny it, saying that Josh actually walked in on him jerking off and that he must be remembering it wrong. In another unjust situation, people might believe him, but on the island, pretty much no one does. Everyone but Raf quickly takes Josh’s side, telling Seth that they believe the victim and that there’s no excuse for sexual assault. Raf, who clearly idolizes Seth and values the bond they have, says he’s not sure what happened but that he doesn’t think either of them would lie. (Note: he’s wrong.) The rest of the group has spoken, though, and they quickly vote to expel Seth from camp. He’s sent off to live on his own “until further notice.”
As night falls, the bunker staff struggles to figure out what caused the mic outage while the remaining beach boys all sit awkwardly eyeing Josh. He’s full of constant apologies for this even happening, for them having to worry about him, for everything, until Ivan tells him to stop. He’s the victim, after all, and there’s no stigma on being the victim of a sexual assault. “It’s your truth. Own it,” he tells Josh.
Literally the last thing Josh wants to do is “own it,” it seems. Instead, he’d rather “shut up about it forever” because after being told to “own” slurs and slights made against him his whole life, he has learned that “that’s not how it works.” “Owning it,” he says, “just means you are it.” He makes the rest of the group promise that they’ll never tell a single soul what happened to him, and they all agree. And that’s why we haven’t seen a single teen boy spill the truth back at the base, which is, frankly, pretty fucking impressive.
What we do see back at the base, though, is Josh. (And Bo and Henry, so we know they’re still alive.) Josh seems almost suave and swaggy now. He tells Gretchen that he “learned a lot” on the island and that “silence is very potent.” It rings a little manipulative and maniacal, and there’s a part of me that wonders if the Josh of the beginning of this episode is about 20 days from becoming a full-blown cult leader. Only time will tell, I suppose.
Speaking of time: Rachel hates it. She still spends almost every minute of every day missing Nora, and while Shelby’s prayer lesson has helped a little, she’s looking to move her healing along a little faster. (That’s not how it works, dawg.) She suggests the girls hold a funeral for Nora, which is a good idea, and they agree to bury some of Nora’s things. That includes a sweatshirt that, as Fatin finds out at the lagoon, has some cryptic numbers written inside a drawstring. She finds more numbers later in Nora’s notebook, all pointing to a “Dr. HQ.”
The girls also find out that Dot was actually visited by Gretchen Klein, a fact that Fatin and Leah find immediately suspicious. While Fatin convinced Leah earlier in the episode that she should leave her obsessions in the past, she hasn’t quite taken the lesson herself, and she’s in full-on bloodhound mode now. It seems like there’s a team-up with Leah in her future, especially since the girls supposedly only have five more days on the island.
Other news: Shelby tells Toni about the boat and that she “hesitated” when it came to getting firewood. That’s not really what I saw, but hey, I could have been wrong. She’s also trying to reckon with the fact that it’s probably better that her family thinks she’s dead because she’d be dead to them anyway if they knew she was gay. Toni tells Shelby that she’s sorry the blonde has ever had to deal with that kind of hate, and then they get all goony-eyed at each other, which is nice because they are cute.
The most confusing part of the episode comes at its beginning and end when we learn that maybe-FBI agent Dean Young has somehow become sympathetic to Leah and tells her that they’ve found the knife she keeps in her toilet tank. But wait! There never was a knife in her toilet tank, and instead, she discovers there’s now a phone there. She has 45 seconds to use it at 12:01 a.m., a note says, and she should be smart about how she uses that time. She quickly looks at a photo of her weird old author crush (still gross), but I’m not really clear on how she’s going to use the phone. Luckily, we don’t have to wait very long to find out because The Wilds is built to binge, so onward to episode six.
• Speaking of inappropriately older men that Leah likes: Ben Folds, really? I guess I would admit that he was kind of cute in 1995, but 11-year-old Leah crushing on, let’s generously say, 45-year-old Ben Folds is pretty icky. And I like “Sports & Wine”!
• Oops! Forgot to mention Nora’s alive! Because she is! And, frankly, if you didn’t already guess that, you should really watch more TV.