The Wilds Recap: Madness Loves Company

The Wilds

Day 50 / 33
Season 2 Episode 7
Editor’s Rating 3 stars

The Wilds

Day 50 / 33
Season 2 Episode 7
Editor’s Rating 3 stars
Photo: Kane Skennar/Prime Video

It’s pretty fitting that the second season of The Wilds dropped around Mother’s Day since so much of the pivotal action this season is really about what it means to mother and be mothered. We kicked things off watching Gretchen absolutely fuck with her son’s life and have been privy to some “She’s not your mom; she’s my mom” struggles between Seth and Henry. Now we’re getting to see how Toni is drawing from her knowledge of motherhood in terms of how she’s dealing with poor Martha.

And, seriously, poor, sad Martha. She’s spent the past four days in camp lying absolutely catatonic. (Does she even go to the bathroom?) She’s been so still that she’s developing bedsores, and there’s no sign that anything’s about to change. Rachel decides the solution could lie in the hot spring, which makes sense, given Martha’s admitted propensity for hot tubs. Though the group doesn’t relish a long-ass hike carrying a body’s worth of deadweight, they agree to do it. Martha’s worth it, after all —and, honestly, what the hell else do they have to do besides yell at each other and find out what Nora wrote in her journal?

Speaking of mothers: We finally get to see where Seth’s went. It’s a little unclear what went down with her actual departure, but I think the show wants us to think that she was more big sister than mother to little Seth, taking him to the arcade for good times and ice cream and then getting into a screaming match with his dad down the road. She takes off and doesn’t come back for whatever reason, and we watch as little Seth reacts by grinding his knuckles into a bloody pulp, which is fucking gross. Unluckily for us, that won’t be the last time we see him do that. (Whee!)

Back on Boy Island, mostly grown-up Seth is trying to ingratiate himself back into the group with, frankly, too much pep and not enough apologies. He’s smart enough to approach the three members of the group who aren’t Kirin or Josh, though, and he comes bearing the gift of a big-ass fish, which he says would be just too much food for his little three-man camp. They accept, because food is food, but when they bring it back to the camp, Kirin seems like he wants to grind the fish into the sand.

He and Josh have been doing some hyper-masc bullshit bonding, and it’s beginning to grate on the rest of the dudes. (I believe the phrase “NFL Sunday at Hooters” is used.) It’s also not particularly fruitful: The group’s food is almost gone, and fucking around on the beach isn’t going to really accomplish anything. Scottie, Bo, and Henry seem to realize that they need more than just brotherhood to survive and seem to be accepting their fate in terms of how long they’ll actually be on the island. They also realize that while what Seth did was fucked up, the group members need each other to survive.

Of course, it doesn’t help that Josh is turning into a certified sociopath asshole. He tears into Bo as he’s cleaning the fish, ripping on his OCD tendencies and calling him sweaty, unclean, and greasy. Bo, he says, certainly doesn’t ever seem “psyched about missing a meal,” which … fuck him. Pre-attack, Josh certainly wasn’t an angel, with his “Mexican Halloween” missteps and misplaced charity, but this wild swing he’s taken back the other way, toward abject cruelty, is just shitty. Scottie comes to Bo’s defense, and the two leave camp. Henry departs, too, though he’s off to hang out by the pond.

On Girl Island, the crew has almost hauled Martha to the hot springs when they find a surprise river. They channel Oregon Trail and attempt to ford the river while carrying the makeshift stretcher, but Leah slips on a rock and Martha falls silently into the water. A screaming frenzy of a search ensues, and Dot manages to come up with Martha and make it to the other side. Girl Island was always pretty bleak, but things certainly seem to be coming to a head rather quickly — which makes a lot of sense considering we know they’re only there for 50-ish days, and this episode is “Day 50/33.”

On the other island, Seth finds Henry for a heart to heart, where they talk about Henry’s mom and Seth’s latent desire to be loved at all costs. Henry agrees to join Seth’s camp, then Seth decides that, you know what, they actually outnumber the other camp, so why shouldn’t they have the beach spot? It seems like a dickish hostile takeover until the group decides that maybe they should all just try and be hunky-dory again for survival, which is probably the right move. But no one seems to realize that it’s never going to work unless Seth admits what he did, which he never fucking has, and it’s super-fucked-up.

Drawing even further attention to that is that, as soon as the guys are back in camp, Seth tries to go right back to being buddy-buddy with Josh. It could be part of his complex to want to always be liked, but it comes off as fairly maniacal. Like he’s rubbing the fact that he got away with what he did in Josh’s face and doesn’t seem to value his feelings at all.

I should talk about what’s going on with Seth in this episode’s flashbacks because it’s also pretty unhinged. High-school good guy Seth is visited one night by his super-drunk friend Julia, who left her boyfriend Jeremy at a party because he was being a wiener. She’s fled to the friend zone, and Seth helps hold her hair back when she barfs and lets her sleep in his room while he takes the sofa downstairs in his parents’ house. She thinks he’s funny and charming, and when he goes to check on her in the morning, she makes a move. He tells her that he’s not ready for her kind of drama, but they have sex.

Flash forward, and they’re dating. They goof around at something that looks like either a farmers’ market or a street fair, and then we see Seth piecing together the fact that Julia is ghosting him to hang out with her ex. Seth is, in turn, blowing up her phone with obsessive texts, and it’s all around a pretty bad look. Then we see that he does, in fact, have her kidnapped cat and that he’s physically harmed Julia in a parking lot, at the very least grabbing onto her arm in an incredibly painful way. That’s undoubtedly why he ended up on the island — or at least ended up in therapy with Dr. Gretchen, whom we saw him with at the very beginning of the episode.

Somehow, all of this sort of trickles out in the group when Henry pieces together that Seth hurt Julia. Raf is appalled because Seth’s told him that Julia is still his girlfriend, and everyone else is pissed because they realize that just because Seth seems like a good hang, it doesn’t mean that he’s not an absolutely broken, selfish human being. He’s banished once again, and we see him, satellite phone in hand, asking for extraction from the island. When a dude comes with a boat, he takes him out and, presumably, takes the boat for himself. Anyone’s guess where he actually goes, but maybe we’ll find out in the season-two finale — or maybe he’s just lost to the wind … for now.

Also lost: Martha. The hot springs don’t seem to be doing much for her, though Rachel clearly seems to have some faith. She’s taking point on helping heal her pal while Toni is clearly feeling overwhelmed. Rachel sends Toni off for some alone time, where Shelby seeks her out. Shelby tells Toni that she knows she’s mad because she knows that if she’d been able to flag down that boat, none of this would have happened and Martha would still be somewhat sentient. Shelby says that she’d hope for forgiveness, but because she knows Toni, she knows it would never come. She walks away, indicating that they’re de facto broken up.

And if you’ve been wondering why, when we see Shelby in the barracks, she’s bald, here’s why: After breaking up with Toni, she hits the woods with a pair of nail scissors and hacks off all of her crowning glory. Anyone who remembers season one knows she was more than a little vain about her looks, and this act just seems like her ultimate surrender to the ravages of the island. She has control over very few things, but she can control her hair … and so she does.

That’s where Fatin finds her (“Oh, honey”) and shows her what’s in Nora’s notebook. Shelby clearly recognizes the significance, but what will happen next? Will it have anything to do with Leah’s lucid hallucinations down on the beach where she’s somehow once again talking (and swimming) with Ben Folds? (Shout out to that rendition of “Brick,” by the way, which I always forget is a pretty great song and not untimely given its subject matter.) It seems like Leah might have a way off the island buried somewhere in all her madness, but we’ll have to wait and see how everything falls into place.

One more episode to go this season! Onward and upward.

Wild Observations 

• Leah says that maybe it’s okay that Martha is checked out. She’s taken “her place somewhere safe,” telling Toni that the “mind can give you what you need.” Toni takes that about as well as you’d expect.

• Of course Kirin’s been lighting his farts on fire. Does he have any redeeming qualities at all? And if he does, will we ever see them?

• We’re just learning that Henry also has a girlfriend, Paige. She apparently does not figure into this story at all.

• Flapjack Benny’s (the restaurant on Seth’s shirt) is very much not a real place. Sorry to disappoint.

• Once again, solid shout outs to Ben Folds for delivering this episode. A TV swim isn’t an easy thing, from what I’ve gathered, and he did it. A+ guest work.

• Gretchen uses a bowl of “kids” to finally figure out what happened to the boys on day 15. She says the control group’s failure isn’t something that she and the other adults can be responsible for but rather can be chalked up to “bad male behavior.”

• In our last shot of the episode, we see that Leah apparently used her 45-second phone call to call her pal from season one, who’s done some sleuthing and realizes that the website for the ill-fated retreat is registered to a shitty apartment where — gasp! — Gretchen’s stoned son is living. Leah’s friend goes to the apartment and talks his way in, and where that goes will hopefully (?) play out in the finale.

The Wilds Recap: Madness Loves Company