The Wilds showrunners break down season 2 finale cliffhanger, tease potential season 3
Warning: This article contains spoilers about the season 2 finale of The Wilds, now streaming on Prime Video.
The Wilds sure knows how to leave you hanging by the end of a season finale — in the best possible way.
After season 1's shocking reveal in the final moments where Leah (Sarah Pidgeon) learned the Dawn of the Eve teen girls weren't the only group of teens being terrorized by Gretchen (Rachel Griffiths), the season 2 finale delivered yet another incredible mic drop moment that changes everything moving forward. After Leah successfully manipulated Gretchen and her team into thinking she was still a lovesick teen so much that she was able to get a call out to a friend back home, that friend then took all the information about Gretchen's absolutely illegal and unethical experiment to the FBI.
Leah was riding high, thinking that she had taken Gretchen down and there was nothing left to do but gloat ... but then Gretchen cleared out, went on the run with her team, and stranded the Dawn of Eve and Twilight of Adam groups together on yet another island — with sexual assaulter/possible sociopath Seth (Alex Fitzalan) overseeing the next "phase" of the experiment. Their nightmare is only just beginning!
Below, EW got The Wilds showrunners Sarah Streicher and Amy B. Harris to unpack that season 2 finale cliffhanger, tease what it means for a potential season 3, and answer the rest of our burning questions.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This has been bugging me ever since I finished watching season 2: we learn Nora is still alive and working with Gretchen at the end of episode 5, but then we don't see her again, not even in the finale. I was expecting to see her working with Seth but she never showed up. Where is she?
AMY B. HARRIS: Well, those kids are just figuring out where they are in the world right now. They've only had access to their rooms and that post-rescue facility. Where Nora is and what's coming is definitely going to be a question for season 3, if we're lucky enough to get one.
How far into planning a potential season 3 are you?
HARRIS: We were ready for this when the show launched for season 1. Sarah and I had really mapped out what season 2 could be. We're both very superstitious, so I'll just keep my head down and hope. But we have a really good roadmap for where season 3 would go.
What can you tease about what season 3 would explore?
HARRIS: One of the things about a cast as large as the cast we have ... they're just an amazing group of actors. So talented. So professional. What's so fun about 14 characters is, on both islands, just being able to explore different character relationships with each other. Dot and Martha really didn't have a lot of conversations that were intimate in season 1, and that relationship developed more and got stronger in season 2. Now we have all 14 in the same place and what does that look like? We know Gretchen has a little bit of time and a plan, so the fun of seeing how the different variations and chemistries we get to play with turn out, that's what I'm most excited about exploring and I think it will be both satisfying and combustible.
How did that incredible Ben Folds cameo come about?
SARAH STREICHER: We had done a lot of talking about Leah's odyssey of the mind that she travels down at the end of the season and the natural extension of that felt like she is going to be hallucinating something from her past, some kind of figure that's going to be this final big boss in terms of her coming-of-age. This is this hump that she has to get over before she has this beautiful maturity moment. She's been battling with this love sickness for so long — it's how she ended up on the island because her heartbreak was so totalizing and it it hounded her. When she's not being paranoid about what's going on the island, she's wallowing in her own heartbreak. So we meditated upon what she needed to get over. She needs to get over this love sickness curse that she's dabbled with, so we thought, "What if she were to hallucinate her first crush?" The line from the show is the patient zero of her obsessional attention. Then we talked about who could her first crush be, and we love the idea of a musician because music is so powerful, especially during that time of your life. It just clings to your memory. Leah also has this taste for more mature figures, a la Jeff, and so we came up with this notion that when she was 11 her first crush would've been this musician that her older cousin told her about by the name of Ben Folds. We brought him on and the rest is history.
HARRIS: I think Leah is, in many ways, an avatar for Sarah. Sarah loved Ben Folds' music and probably did write a notebook of lyrics and felt they touched her, so like when we first started talking, like, "Could it be an actor?" she was so clear, like it had to be Ben Folds. His music is so emotional. And he was so spectacularly game. Although, he was like, "I'm not going to do physical stuff or be in the water or anything, right?" I was like, "Oh my gosh, we're going to put this guy in a tank for three days … a freezing cold tank." But he was so wonderful. And he re-did all these arrangements of his music for the show that spoke to Leah's mindset, so as wonderful and as exciting as I hoped it would be, it was even better.
I was so impressed that he not only played those songs but also spent so much time in the water. He really committed to the role!
HARRIS: I really felt for him that day. I think he was already in quarantine [before filming] when he was like, "I'm not going to have to get in the water or anything?" I was like, "At least he's already in quarantine for two weeks so he's not going to leave when he finds out he is." His first scenes were those night scenes by the piano in the forest, and it was freezing and muddy and he was like, "Let's do this." He was really game from the get-go.
Another burning question I've had is ... where were Gretchen's pugs this season?!
STREICHER: The dogs are in America, whereas Gretchen was mostly on-site in the compound with her captives, and she, for visa issues, probably couldn't quite handle that importation of the pugs.
HARRIS: I think Tom, her sycophantic assistant, is absolutely dog sitting.
I really hope they return in season 3.
HARRIS: Sarah and I can't get enough of dogs, just so you know.
STREICHER: I write them in almost every episode. [Laughs] Then they get taken out, but they're there at one point.
Another burning question I had is about those phone calls from Jeff looking for Leah. I thought Gretchen lied about that to try and manipulate Leah into obeying her, but my colleague thought they were real. Is he actually looking for Leah? I thought he was done with her.
STREICHER: Yeah. He did reach out. Those transcripts are real. I think that they felt like they needed this trump card and they had one. At that time they thought, "Oh, this is our love-sick girl who's going to be very vulnerable to that." So even though they might not have been eager to disclose that he was on the hunt, they felt like they had to, so they threw that card down. Jeff has, at least, that thread of humanity.
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A group of teens ends up as castaways on a mysterious island.