Wilderness and Panic
Are you currently boycotting Netflix (willingly or unwillingly) due to their sharing regulations?
Have you heard of Amazon Prime’s student discount and used it to download Prime and their movies along with it?
If you’ve answered yes to either of those questions, but mostly that second one, then you may be interested in hearing about our recent “Prime watches” (or should I say binges?): Wilderness and Panic.
If you’ve enjoyed Big Little Lies or Gone Girl, then you’ll probably enjoy Wilderness. This single-season spectacle will satisfy any mystery/crime fiction enthusiast, particularly those entertained by the “woman scorned” motif.
Starring Olivia Colman (Doctor Who, Victoria) and Oliver Jackson-Cohen (The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor), the story follows Liv and Will—two happy newlyweds, until Liv learns Will is having an affair with another woman. The revelation evolves into a plan: they embark on the American road trip Liv had long dreamt of going on. For Will, the road trip is a reconciliation. For Liv, it’s an opportunity for revenge, and although she remarks upon an aversion for methods that could get “messy,” I can promise you one thing…it gets messy.
Here’s a taste of the show in a single quote from Episode 1: “That was my mistake. Forgetting what my mother taught me, and her mother before that, and her mother before that. A Greek chorus of all women telling me…it’s never safe.”
It should be noted that the theme song of Wilderness is none other than Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do”; the song is quite fitting for the show’s theme and its dissolution of the “good guy” defense against condemnation.
I would rate this show 4.5/5 stars! I was captivated by it, quickly clicking on “next episode” until I’d reached the finale within a few days. I would recommend Wilderness (and have recommended it) to anyone. I hesitate to give it 5 stars simply because it goes at a slower pace at times, which some may not find as entertaining as your typical, nail-biting thriller. I also hesitate to give the show 5 stars because I would like to bestow that upon my next recommendation…
Before diving into the world of Panic, I should mention one pro and one con. Con first: the show was canceled after one season in 2021 (a cancellation that baffles me and other fans, just as I cannot get over the cancellation of Fox’s Prodigal Son). On the bright side, the story isn’t incomplete! Panic was adapted from a YA book series by Lauren Oliver (author of Delirium and Before I Fall, also made into a film adaptation).
All pros and cons aside, the series
stands alone very well. It picks up in the small town of Carp, Texas, where each summer the high school graduates participate in the dangerous game of “panic,” consisting of a series of fear-inducing challenges (think a combination of Nerve and Divergent, erring more towards the deadly). After the death of two players, the game has taken on a new identity with greater stakes and the sheriff and his deputies constantly attempting to put a stop to it. But the games must go on. With a cast consisting of Olivia Scott Welch (Fear Street: Part One, Two, and Three), Mike Faist (West Side Story, The Bikeriders), Jessica Sula (Split, Malum), Ray Nicholson (Something from Tiffany’s, Licorice Pizza), and Cameron Jones (The Purge TV Series, Shameless), the games follow friends, enemies, and lovers alike as they begin to lose a sense of who to trust.
Here’s a concise summary of the show’s premise in a quote from episode 1: “Every small town has a secret. Ours has a game. The losers stay here where losing is what we do best. The winners get out.”
This series is full of twists and turns and maintains a heart-pumping pace throughout. It makes my dystopian/YA heart happy. Ten episodes is not nearly as many as this show deserved. I highly recommend it not only for simple entertainment purposes but also as an excellent primer for the resurgence of the YA genre with The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ film premiere this month!