'The Wilds' EPs Break Down the Major Season 2 Finale Twist (Exclusive)
By Philiana Ng
Amazon Prime Video
Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched all of Amazon Prime Video's The Wildsseason 2.
The Wildsthrew another curveball at the end of its sophomore season. And if the Amazon Prime Video YA series earns another chapter, the ride is about to get even wilder.
The final episode of the season culminated in a dramatic reveal, that the girls -- and now, boys -- were back on the island they thought they had been freed from. And instead of navigating survival separately, the two groups of adolescent islanders were now left to fend for themselves together. The revelation came in the last minutes of the season, when Gretchen (Rachel Griffiths) -- now essentially on the run -- broke the stunning news to the teens via loudspeaker after they realized they had been played. When they opened the doors to the facility, the scene before them was an eerie one: familiar island foliage and a calm sea. Not again, right?
As Gretchen later tells her minions on the plane, even without surveillance on the island, she still has eyes on the teens in the form of moles. (Remember, she did try to recruit Leah to her side.) After all, getting them all to that point was all part of her masterplan as she declared Phase 3 was now fully in effect. One of those moles is presumably Seth (Alex Fitzalan), the charismatic Ivy League jock, who's seen smirking as he presses play on a tape recorder and plays music over the loudspeaker. So is he the only one working in tandem with the enemy or are there others? What now with Leah and her fellow survivors back on the island they thought they'd left? What does survival look like with the girls and boys now together?
"That's what we want, the cacophony of emotion," showrunner/executive producer Amy B. Harris told ET of the roller coaster of emotions throughout season 2. "That's the truth of coming-of-age is, everyone comes of age. Not everyone goes to college, not everyone gets married, not everyone has kids, but everybody comes of age. And it is a cacophony of feelings and emotions and swinging from one place to the next. So I hope that the audience feels all those things." ET spoke with Harris and creator/executive producer Sarah Streicher about the season's big twist and an early look at their plans for a potential season 3.
ET: This season introduced a group of boys into the picture. What was important for you when you sat down to arc out season 2, knowing that you were incorporating new faces?
Amy B. Harris: For us, one of the things we felt that was super important was Sarah so brilliantly built the pilot talking about female coming-of-age and what that looks like. And so, A, we were very curious to talk about what the boy coming-of-age stories look like. And this was a wonderful, logical twist, which is, of course, Gretchen would have a control group. And then, B, I think what we really loved about it is even though we would be bringing the boys into the picture, they would always be in relation to the girls because she is looking at this as a way to prove the point that women can do it better than men can when they build a community. So even with the boys, we always knew they were a counterpoint to the girls. We always tried to remind ourselves in the writers' room in season 2, like Gretchen's goal is these women. So we explore the men in big, beautiful, specific, detailed ways, but her lens on how she wants to see it is obviously going to be about how we attack those lenses also.
What was intriguing about telling the boys' stories through a female gaze, but also having this group of young men ingrained into the fabric of the show now? What did you want to touch on that you felt you hadn't seen fully explored?
Sarah Streicher: As Amy mentioned, it was really exciting and intriguing to me that we established the women in season 1 as this baseline. And then we bring in the men as this counterpoint. So often in history, it's been the other way around. It's felt like men have served as this default and then women are the counterpoint, but we've reversed it. We've invited the men into this space we've created and the lens that we did create to examine adolescence in season 1, this empathetic lens where you're examining teenagers under pressure, but then also examining their lives preceding this very pressurized situation. You're getting this very global empathetic view of what makes them tick. I was thrilled to take that lens and view young men through it. I have a brother whose teenage years where every bit as volatile as mine. He cried over breakups far more than I ever did. There's just a lot of seepage between the female and male experiences, and we wanted to draw that out.
Was there a particular episode or storyline regarding the boys this season that you felt most proud of?
Streicher: I really grew to adore and be very attached to Ivan's storyline. Episode six is really his backstory episode -- it's just so socially and politically thorny. The messiness is what makes that story so rich. It's this very bound by justice, socially conscious young man who gets a little bit high on his own supply, for lack of a better term, and takes his ethos to this scary degree and ends up having this moment with his nemesis that is really an inflection point in his life. I think the thorniness is so appealing, and makes it stand out.
At the end of the season, they find themselves back on the island. Gretchen has created a new control group through the consequences that she set up, and they find themselves in a pretty terrible predicament. What can you say about the ending?
Harris: The exciting thing was, and I think it's again, to Gretchen's ideas. She tried a girls' island, she tried a boys' island. Now she's going to prove her point, hopefully even more, with smashing them all together. So if they blow up, which is what she's hoping for, she's really proved her point of gynotopia. And obviously, the fun for us is we've been seeing the strengths and weaknesses of these kids in their separate islands and watching that combust together and how that will change dynamics among the women, among the men, among the entire group. Obviously we know they're on an island. They know what's been done to them. So they're no longer in the dark about what's happening to them.
I was very intrigued, and I think Sarah was also, we know there are places where there's beds and running water and food. This has always been a metaphor for coming-of-age, which is pretty life-and-death for a lot of kids -- at least it feels that way. And sometimes it actually is. So when all your needs are met -- the survivalist needs -- what other parts of you come out to make that survival equally as challenging? If we're lucky enough to get a season 3, we really want to play in the world of -- Faber says it in episode five, "Was it because all your needs were met, things started to blow apart?" Sometimes, that is exactly what happens.
The fact that the girls and boys are trying to navigate this together, what excites you about the potential there?
Streicher: The blending of the chemistries. There's a natural pull as a writer, to collide your beloved characters with other beloved characters. I went to an all-girls school for high school and it was the reason I became uninhibited. I finally emerged from my shell. And there is going to be an interrogation of what happens when you are confronted with another gender. So, are there inhibitions that emerge or recede? And really, colliding these beloved characters in more ways, ricocheting them against each other in different combinations.
Leah truly thought she had pulled one over Gretchen, but in the end, it turns out that wasn't the case. Plus, the presence of moles amongst the girls and boys helping Gretchen along as she enacts the next part of her plan is another mystery that's introduced for season 3.
Harris: What I will say for Leah, although she may not feel it. She does have her on the run, which is a win of some sort. Now having said that, Gretchen can even turn being on the run into a win for her. Which to me, again, is a metaphor for being a teenager. Adults, even when you sort of call them out for whatever it is, somehow you are always the one who ends up in trouble. So I love the connection to that. And in terms of the moles, look, I think Gretchen tries to convince Leah to her side. She says, "You're better off. I'm going to just appeal to the personal thing. You were a lovesick fool. And now look at you. You're standing up to me." That is a compelling argument that Leah was like, "I refuse to hear that because you did it against my will. So it really doesn't matter." But I think there are other people whose experiences in their past lives put them in so much more jeopardy that they may or may not buy into that. And Gretchen's not above blackmail. But that'll be the fun of season 3 is seeing where we can take that and who is a mole and who is loyal to the team.
Even though the show has not been picked up officially for a third season, it seems like you're setting up a few paths to go down should it come to pass.
Harris: We would love a season 3 because we know where we want to take it. If the Amazon gods are kind to us, we have some very wonderful ideas for season 3 and we're very excited where we could take the show.
What are you proudest of in terms of the subject matter that the show digs into that maybe other teen shows don't lean into?
Streicher: I'm proud of the specificity and complexity of the backgrounds that the young women come from. From the beginning of the pilot, it was a priority for me, and I did research trips, and I selected these characters almost more meticulously than Gretchen did. I think the richness and intimate relationship that I have with them, I feel, has lent a certain ability to have a reality feel to the characters in their worlds and their difficulties, which I'm trying to show with a lot of empathy.
Is there a character's arc from these first two seasons that surprised you?
Harris: I don't know if it surprised us as we were building it, but I think we were surprised by how much it touched the audience -- the creation of Toni and Shelby's relationship. We were very excited to explore two different women's exploration of their sexuality, one who was quite confident in her queerness and one who was quite closeted. And we were very excited to tell the story of their growing and evolving love affair. But I was certainly blown away by how much it seemed to touch the fandom in a way that -- I hoped of course it would -- I was beyond thrilled and stunned by it. And I think for us, Leah, and what her levels of strength would or would not be as season 2 kept going. We were like, "Oh, she's actually... " We discussed it as our Keyser Soze moment in [episode] 2x08. She's very strong. I don't know if we totally knew we were going to go there at the end of season 1. I think as season 2 was starting to develop, we started to be like, "Oh, that's where we're going." But that was a bit of a surprise for us, or at least for me. Sarah, was that a surprise for you?
Streicher: Yeah, absolutely. It was a beautiful discovery.
Season 2 of The Wilds is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
To stay up to date on breaking TV news, sign up for ET's daily newsletter.