The Wilds Season 1, Episode 1 recap: Which girl doesn’t survive Day One?

The Wilds -- Courtesy of Amazon Prime Video
The Wilds -- Courtesy of Amazon Prime Video /

The Wilds Episode 1: How do nine girls become stranded on a deserted island?

Amazon’s new teen drama The Wilds has been dubbed a combination of The Society, Lost and Lord of the Flies, which is pretty apt, although going by the first episode alone, it seems like The Wilds Episode 1 shows that it will also have its fair share of traditional teen angst in the background.

The first episode is divided into three different timelines, all revolving around a twisted social experiment fronted by a mysterious self-help group called Dawn of Eve. A group of nine teenage girls is told that they’re being flown to Hawaii for a wellness retreat spread out over a long weekend. The retreat is hosted by Dawn of Eve, a group with a core message of women empowerment — supposedly.

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But their plane crashes, and they wind up stranded on a deserted island. The Wilds Episode 1 begins in the present, where Leah Rilke (Sarah Pidgeon) is being questioned on her island experience by two FBI agents.

Throuhgout the first episode, we see who Leah was before the island, and then the episode, aptly titled “Day One,” takes us through the girl’s first day on the island. I’m guessing that each episode will follow a similar pattern, with every hour focusing on a different girl’s FBI session and backstory.

The Wilds Episode 1: Meeting the main cast.

First, there is the star of this episode, Leah. A successful alum named Jeffrey Galanis (Carter Hudson) from her high school writes a book and comes by for a guest lecture. After Leah is tasked with driving him to his hotel, the two start chatting regularly and becoming increasingly flirtatious. Leah lies and says she’s turning 18 on her upcoming birthday. In reality, she’s only turning 17. Jeff and Leah start a romantic relationship, but then someone sends him a copy of her birth certificate. When he finds out the truth, he breaks things off with Leah.

The bulk of her journey in this first hour is about how she became utterly obsessed with Jeff, and the heartbreak emotionally devastated her. Well, he’s obviously a creep considering he was willing to date a teenager, 17 or 18. It doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day, he’s a grown man, and she’s a teen. One year doesn’t make much of a difference except in the eyes of the law.

The rest of the cast is as follows:

  • Fatin Jadmani (Sophia Ali) also goes to Leah’s school. On the surface, she’s your typical, social-media obsessed girly-girl. She’s also a cello virtuoso and the only one whose suitcase washes up ashore.
  • Rachel (Reign Edwards) and her sister Nora (Helena Howard) are opposites. Rachel is an elite athlete obsessed with keeping herself in shape, and Nora is as brainy as they come.
  • Best friends Martha Blackburn (Jenna Clause) and Toni Shalifoe (Erana James) couldn’t be more different. Martha is kindhearted and takes an immediate liking to Shelby, while basketball player Toni has a strange disdain for Shelby and a propensity for brash, volatile behavior (including throwing her pee on someone??).
  • Speaking of Shelby Goodkind (Mia Healey), she seems like a Christan, pageant-loving princess, but she hides the fact she’s missing front teeth with a dental bridge and has great wilderness skills from hunting with her dad. There’s clearly more to her than meets the eye. She arrives with her tomboy classmate Dot Campbell (Shannon Berry).
  • Lastly is Jeanette Dao (Chi Nguyen), the only girl to come alone.

The Wilds Episode 1: Jeanette doesn’t survive the first day on the island.

During her session with the FBI, Leah reveals that none of the girls remember the actual plane crash. I’m guessing this is due to the chocolate cake each one was given to eat as a snack and whatever it was (probably) laced with. When they come to, some of the girls are floating in the ocean, while others have already made it to shore. Leah is one of the girls stranded in the water, and she finds Jeanette nearby after hearing her P!nk ringtone loud and clear across the waves.

Unfortunately, the phone slips out of her hands and plummets to the seafloor. Leah manages to rescue Jeanette and help her get to the shoreline. She notices that Jeanette is sporting some serious bruises along her lower belly but assumes she’s just a little roughed up — not internally bleeding.

The first day on the island primarily consists of the girls trying to figure out their resources and a plan for getting rescued. All they have is 16 Diet Cokes and not much else. Shelby and Toni travel into the nearby woods in search of fresh water, but Toni becomes increasingly irritated by everything Shelby does, eventually lashing out by letting her get hit by the ricochet of some brush that sends her falling down a hill and gives her a mild head injury. What the heck is Toni’s problem? Is she jealous of how much Martha likes Shelby? They bonded on the plane, and Shelby is the first person to help tend to Martha’s swollen ankle.

Their first form of salvation comes when Dot realizes she still has her cell phone, but it only has one bar of service and a low battery. If they want to call someone, they’ll need to be precious with their time and who they pick. Rachel tells each girl to select a person that genuinely loves them and whose number they have memorized. Since they don’t know where they are, calling 911 isn’t the best option.

A few things of note from this scene:

  • Rachel wants to call her coach, but Nora desperately tries to stop her.
  • Despite it being Dot’s phone, she doesn’t have anyone to call.
  • A few comments are made about Shelby’s boyfriend cheating on her, so I wonder where that’s stemming from?

All of them get busy signals, except Fatin, who actually hears ringing. But before the call can connect, the phone dies. At the same time, Jeanette succumbs to her injuries and dies. Together the teens bury Jeanette and try to give her a decent memorial with their sparse resources. Since she loved P!nk, they sing “Raise Your Glass” to honor her.

Later, Leah reveals to the FBI agents that she heard a cellphone ringing in the dead of night and traced it to Jeanette’s grave. Why did Jeanette not tell the others she had a phone? Keep reading.

Using Jeanette’s phone, Leah reached out to Jeff, who answered and was disappointed to hear Leah’s voice. When he found out she was 17, he cut off all forms of contact with her despite her best efforts. Even now, he doesn’t want to hear from her. Leah admits to the agents that she was so strung out by his voice; she couldn’t even ask for help.

Embarrassed, she kept the phone call secret from the other girls. She also begs the agents to tell her if Jeff ever reached out when news broke of the plane crash. Given the agent’s reluctance to answer, we can assume he didn’t.

The Wilds Episode 1: Who is Dawn of Eve, and what do they want?

In the final moments of the episode, we meet Gretchen Klein (Rachel Griffiths), Dawn of Eve’s mercurial leader. She arrives at an office and learns from her associates that Jeanette has died. She was a member of their team. They assure Gretchen that her phone was cut off, which explains why it died in the middle of Leah’s call to Jeff.

Gretchen isn’t too concerned with Jeanette’s death. According to her, they have another operative onsight to ensure their experiment goes smoothly — is it another one of the girls? Or someone we haven’t met yet?

As for what the girls are doing on the island, we don’t yet know, but given that Gretchen has cameras set up all over the place and can watch them through the footage at any moment, it’s clear they are there for a purpose.

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What did you think of The Wilds Episode 1? Will you watch the whole season? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

All ten episodes of The Wilds Season 1 are now streaming on Amazon Prime.