A conventional revenge story

December 3, 2023

Wilderness, available on Amazon Prime, is a treat for thriller fans

A conventional revenge story


evenge is a dish best served cold.

…or on a cold night with thunderclaps followed by sheets of rain; murder in a forest no one would tread in on such a night. When the intro song to the series is “Look what you made me do” by Taylor Swift, you know that the series is going to be good. The song embodies the theme around a twisted plot.

At first glance, Olivia aka Liv, played by Jenna Coleman, appears to be a loyal and devoted wife, but is she? Travelling from England to America to be with her husband, Liv leaves her job as a journalist to become a housewife. Having known that her father regularly cheated on his wife for years, Liv is determined to set a different example. She makes her husband promise that he would be a gentleman who would care for her. He turns out to be a liar and a cheat.

Her husband Will, beautifully portrayed by Oliver Jackson, comes across as a stark reminder of a gender role. Keeping his wife at home; asserting control; telling her she’s nothing without him; and that one word from him could put her in jail, he is the embodiment of a man who captivates the room but is a patriarch at heart. Unable to let go of his wife who would obey every command from him without thinking about it twice, William considers himself the centre of everyone’s existence, not just his wife’s. He wants everyone to believe that they are not enough for him yet lures them into a loop where he hold power. No one, including his wife and his lover Cara, can leave him.

The story is conventional in its nature: the patriarchy, the scheming and the revenge. However, it takes a different turn when Olivia and Cara forge a feminine bond and become friends. After losing the car and her belongings when William accidently leaves the keys in it, Cara offers Olivia her wardrobe. Taken aback by the backward thinking and the glittery wardrobe of Cara even though she has a stable and respectable job, Olivia tells her, “You’re not an object. You do know that. Don’t you.”

The plot takes a turn when Olivia realises that Cara is pitiable rather than someone to take revenge on. Her sole purpose is to feel validated by men who don’t even care about her.

Humans tend to advertise their best traits to be socially accepted but when the id takes over from the ego and the true nature of the individual is revealed in the form of raw, unfiltered emotions.

Primarily set in New York and Yosemite, the season takes on a bluish hue. The tone is cold. The endless pine trees and the castle-like hotel do little to present the holiday vibe. The title song leaves everyone on edge. They know that it is going to be a long night in the area.

However, the show keeps on shifting with no real lead to who the actual villain is, with the sympathetic and empathic side of each character showing: Will with his vulnerability about letting go of a picture-perfect American dream marriage; Olivia with her naïve and trusting nature; and Cara with her insecurities and low self-esteem. The sinister side of the characters keeps the viewers on edge. Olivia has a desire for revenge and vengeful traits and is capable of murder without remorse. Will has the audacity to belittle and undermine his wife while assuring her of his faithfulness and begging for redemption while cheating and lying to her. Cara shamelessly follows Will on a trip that was supposed to be an attempt to reverse the damage in Will and Olivia’s marriage.

The show is an epitome of the morally grey. Humans tend to advertise their best traits to be socially accepted but when the id takes over from the ego, the true nature of an individual is revealed in the form of raw, unfiltered emotions.

The Amazon Prime series Wilderness has a strong cast including Ashley Benson who made her debut in Pretty Little Liars, Eric Balfour who was in Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Six Feet Under and Jenna Coleman who has been in Me Before You and Captain America: The First Avenger. The show is a light weekend watch for crime fiction and thriller fans for binge-watching.

The writer is an undergraduate student of psychology at FC College, Lahore

A conventional revenge story