Ever been out walking in the woods and just stumble on a hidden hatch sticking out of the ground? Hungry and bored, you use a rock to break open the lock, and boom, it’s full of 16-year-old food, dusty water, and a bunch of old boxes of files. Crazy, right?
No? Seriously? Are you trying to tell me that this is something that exclusively happens in television shows to move the plot along? Why, I never.
In all seriousness, we’re clipping right along with the second episode of The Wilds’ second season, “Day 34/12.” The story is still centering itself on our new masculine narrator, Raf, who we learn lives in Tijuana but goes to a private school in San Diego each day, by way of an absolutely hellish commute. It’s there that he met his girlfriend Marisol, who (this is not a lie) is also the heir to the Veracruz Salsa fortune.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. All of this comes by way of what Raf is telling Leah, who has broken into his room and convinced him to tell her “everything.” She’s convinced him she’s essentially him (“Same sandals, same sweatpants, same nightmare.”) and he takes that to mean that the first story she wants to hear is not about the plane crash or all the people on the island or how they got off, but rather about that one time, four days into being stuck on the island, that Kirin accused him of looking at his dick.
It’s probably fair to say by now that Kirin, like Shelby in the first season, has probably been raised by shitty parents and is using his manipulative masculinity to disguise some deep insecurities and secrets, but until we know that for sure, he’s just going to seem like a massive, massive asshole. He’s ankle-deep in crystal clear water and practically shoving his crotch in Raf’s face, but he’s mad at him for looking.
Or is he? While it felt like that could have been his veiled intention, it does feel like Kirin’s more interested in instilling fear in people and maintaining his sense of superiority than he is in who actually sees his dick. He didn’t lord it over Henry, after all. Calling Raf “Rafe” plays into that, too, since, frankly, after four days in the hot sun with a bunch of strangers, you’d think you’d get to know their names unless, again, you’re a total piece of shit.
Moving on from macho mind games, though. Shelby has trailed Martha into the woods, and it seems like she’s being a little more annoying than usual. Her toned-down demeanor has gone away, and she’s back in full Southern know-it-all hospitality swing. It seems that Toni has told Shelby to go with Martha during one of their heart-to-hearts, saying that Martha truly loves animals and that it’s a shame that she’s not having to resort to catching and killing them for the rest of the group to survive. (Frankly, it seems like there are six other girls who could help Martha out with that, but I digress.) Martha’s understandably a little put off and grabs her trapped guinea pig and hauls it off to camp. She’ll just have to kill it there.
Back in San Diego, we get to spend a little time with Raf’s girlfriend, Marisol, and her very rich family. They’re hosting an indigenous art show in their house, it seems, in an effort to give Mexican art back to Mexico or some rich person nonsense. They seem to be Latinx themselves but don’t have to struggle like Rafael and his family.
As if economic differences weren’t enough, it seems that Marisol has “forgotten” to wear her bracelet, leaving Raf’s wrist hanging out there all alone. She’s also very into art but seems dubious that he knows what his “thing is” other than just hanging out with her. It’s a tough situation because, as a viewer, I’ve come to like Raf a little bit and I get that he’s up against an almost impossible situation, but also sometimes high school sweethearts just grow apart. I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt and say she’s just over him as a person and not because he’s not in her tax bracket. I hope.
After losing a game of two truths and a lie on Boy Island, Raf has retreated into the woods, where he loses his sad bracelet and is subsequently bitten alive by a swarm of fire ants. (If it were me, I would have yelled more, but I’m a wimp.) He’s conveniently discovered just in the nick of time by Seth, who tells him not to worry about Kirin. “People just want to put other people on the map,” he tells him, explaining that the group just hasn’t figured out what strict high school archetype he belongs in just yet.
That makes sense because it seems like Raf’s not entirely sure himself. When we jump back to his pre-crash days, we see him gearing up for the swanky art show, then getting halted by his parents. Has he forgotten, they say, that his dad works the third shift on Thursdays? That’s when he has to help his mom at the tamale stand. He tries to wiggle out of it, but his parents are firm — and a little harsh. He’s “full of fantasies,” they say. Marisol’s family doesn’t pay his tuition, and Raf is already getting four C’s in school as it is. Marisol, his dad tells him, will jet off to some fancy east coast school and forget him. He’d “bet every cent” he has on that happening.
Shocker of shockers, Raf doesn’t just suck it up and sling tamales. Instead, he hops in his car and heads for the border, where he finds himself stuck in traffic. (Where do they shoot border scenes? I always wonder. It seems so official.) He’s cutting in line, he’s jittery, and he’s looking to get to the art show when — bam! — he runs into the car in front of him. A fistfight ensues, and Raf finds himself cooling his heels in border jail, where he somehow remembers both his father’s number and his girlfriend’s number, like some sort of weirdo who doesn’t just rely on their cell phone for that information. He chooses to call the latter for help, of course, because he just needs to make one more bad decision.
Island Raf, meanwhile, has stumbled on the aforementioned secret hatch with Seth. First of all: What island has a hatch? Even if you’re doing wildlife observation, you’d built a shack or a lean-to. Building a reinforced hole in the ground seems like a lot of work, especially if you’re not bringing in big equipment. Actually, it seems downright impossible. Of course, the boys are just happy to have the food, and so they don’t seem to question why in the world that would even exist or the fortunate timing of the whole affair. Hopefully they will in episodes to come because, seriously, it’s ridiculous.
On Girl Island, Martha tells Toni that she’d rather Shelby not hear anything about her secondhand, and Toni tells her that she’s proud of her, admiring the warrior she’s become. Leah — who totally did not kill herself last episode — and Rachel arrive back from gathering seaweed at the beach (?) with a tote full of retirement supplies they’ve found (?), including a pinata that reminds Leah of her dad’s friend Top Ramen, who once got really drunk on a ski vacation and snorted ten lines of Top Ramen seasoning. Sure, okay. They all have a hearty laugh and drink warm champagne.
It’s a parallel scene on Boy Island, where Seth and Raf return with their spoils, but not before we learn about Josh’s lighter and “kids.” Many cans of Royale Lite are consumed, and we get to hear a now non-stranded Raf wax rhapsodic about how he realizes now that he always needed someone else to make him feel whole, whether that was Marisol or Seth. He’s not prepared to trust Leah, who promises to get him out of what he’s been told is a Coast Guard station, but he doesn’t see what other option he has.
And as it turns out, he shouldn’t trust Leah. She immediately takes what she knows to the debriefer, who hasn’t been able to crack Raf just yet. She calls him out on being a lackey and, looking at the room’s two-way mirror, says that she knows there’s something he’s trying to get from Raf and that she knows that they’re trying to use her to get it. She knows she can, too, but she wants a little something in return. Behind the glass, Gretchen breathes on the glass and draws a smiley face to indicate her acceptance, which, frankly, I kind of doubt works, but let’s say it does because we’re already accepting so much with this show.
• Seth is the proud owner of a hokey social media account by the name of Spillz. There, he documents and rates food spills and writes humorous one-liners, like “pico de oh no” for the group’s spilled jar of salsa. He is somehow internet famous for this and even gets money for sponsored posts. This is somehow the most outlandish concept the show has introduced to date.
• Is “Purple and blue, good for you. White and yellow kill a fellow” real? Did I really just learn actual wilderness advice from The Wilds?
• The book that the girls are passing around seems to be from Nora Roberts’ Bride Quartet, though I can’t entirely tell which one it is, considering it has the trade paperback cover. If any reader can tell which one it is, please let me know. I would like to read it alone, on a beach, like Dot.