Wilderness, Prime Video’s new thriller based on the novel by B.E.Jones, offers a twisted look into the demise of a once picture-perfect marriage.
Liv Taylor (Jenna Coleman) is a model wife to husband Will Taylor (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), leaving behind her life and career in the U.K. to support his new job in NYC, but there’s so much more to these newlyweds than meets the eye, especially when Olivia learns that her husband has quite a wandering one.
Upon learning that Will has been cheating on her, Liv becomes obsessed with the other woman and Will’s co-worker, Cara (Ashley Benson).
Fans get a look at her state of mind as Liv follows her for weeks prior to the “once in a lifetime” trip that Will purchased as an attempt to make good on his “one-time” indiscretion; When Cara suddenly shows up at the same hiking trail halfway around the world with her beau, Garth, Olivia is stunned, but she’s also prepared. She knows plenty more than anyone thinks she does, which means she can manipulate the situation to her advantage. What she doesn’t expect, however, is to end up liking Cara and even relating to her.
Will tries to downplay his relationship with Cara, who is very clearly attempting to make him jealous, while Liv learns that Cara’s boyfriend is under the impression that she dislikes Will and that the whole accidental run-in thousands of miles away from home is just that, an accident. Oh, to be so naive.
The trip takes a bit of a turn when Will injures his ankle, leaving Liv and Cara as the only two available to trek back and seek help. They slowly begin to bond, but it isn’t until Will and Liv’s car is stolen and they are forced to drive back with Cara and Garth to the hotel that they begin to form a friendship.
Liv realizes that Cara has plenty of insecurities, just like she does, along with a pretty messed up childhood. But worst of all, Cara is madly in love with Will and can’t seem to shake the feeling, something Liv is all too familiar with. They’re both under his spell, victims to his charms and sweet talk.
When Liv makes it clear to Cara that she knows that she’s the other woman, Cara breaks down crying and apologizes as the two of them share an emotionally bonding hug, which later leads to Liv and Will’s blowout fight in the hotel room as he questions what his wife could’ve possibly connected with Cara about. Harsh words are exchanged and drinks are thrown, and eventually, Will gets drunk at the bar alone while Liv stays in their room and drowns her sorrows. She wakes up hours later to find that Will hasn’t returned, though he did leave behind his phone, which reveals a text message from Cara that asks him to run away with her along with a spot in the woods where they should meet.
In a fit of rage, Liv runs to the location and sees a figure in a red coat standing at the edge. As she rips off her necklace from Wil through tears, she shoves the person with all of her strength.
The next morning, she wakes up and the reality of what happened sets in. She begins crafting her speech when someone knocks on her door and she opens it to find Will, still very much alive. She begins to panic, unclear as to who she pushed off of a cliff, but her worst fears are confirmed shortly after when Garth informs them that Cara has gone missing.
A quick search party later and authorities find Cara, who they describe as taking a “nasty fall,” still alive at the bottom of the cliff. Things seem hopeful as she’s rushed to the hospital, but she dies soon after.
It all seems like a tragic accident initially, but upon further investigation, police begin looking into the matter as a murder as the autopsy reveals someone pushed her.
When Garth is arrested, he swears up and down that he’s innocent and loved Cara, but since they find out that she rejected his proposal before her death, it gives them a motive.
And when he calls Liv for help in the situation, she turns her back on him and hangs up the phone, which later comes back to haunt her as Garth, who can’t be charged as all the evidence against him is circumstantial, appears at her and Will’s apartment seeking revenge for their betrayal. Garth, who has spiraled in his time since Cara’s death and even started drinking again, is completely different than the accommodating and easygoing man we met out in the woods.
He begins to question why Liv lied to the police and allowed them to think he would hurt Cara—trying to make sense of everything—which is when Will comes clean about being the “other man” in the relationship. Garth then attacks Liv, who is forced to fight back as Will is unconscious, making Cara’s boyfriend her second kill.
After Garth’s death, Liv is cleared of any wrongdoing as it’s declared an act of self-defense, and through a series of events, Will is arrested for Cara’s murder before learning the truth about his wife while he’s serving time behind bars.
In the end, Cara and Garth were both collateral damage in Liv and Will’s twisted and toxic relationship.
Wilderness Series Premiere Review – Happily Ever After
Happily Ever After seems subjective on Wilderness, Prime Video’s new thriller (based on B.E. Jones’ novel of the same name) starring Jenna Coleman and Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Liv and Will, respectively, a seemingly happily married couple.
Warning – this review contains spoilers!
The cracks begin to show almost instantaneously, however, putting a strain on their relationship and setting Liv on a course of seeking revenge… permanently. It’s fitting that the tagline and intro of the show is Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood, specifically the lyric, “look what he made her do.”
Liv doesn’t appear to be the kind of woman that would try to get away with murder, but certain situations have a way of changing people. Audiences soon learn that she has a crippling fear of getting cheated on that stems from seeing her father cheat on her mother, paired with a desire to never end up like her mother, who is still trailing her ex’s every move despite being separated from him for longer than she was ever with him.
Liv sees her mother’s obsession with her cheating husband as somewhat pathetic—and vows to never end up like that. And that promise to herself may end up making her do something even more unhinged than withering away at home alone… something like murder.
From the outside looking in—and even from the inside looking in for a bit—it seems like Liv and William’s relationship is a far cry from what her mother experienced with Liv’s father’s wandering eye, however, Liv’s perfect reality begins to cave in on Christmas when she sees a NSFW text come in on Will’s phone while he’s showering.
The work trips suddenly turn into an excuse to “get balls deep”—a phrase used by Will’s boss—in another woman who’s not his wife.
The cheating spouse trope isn’t exactly new, but it is promising and delightful that Liv doesn’t let Will gaslight her into forgiveness.
When he claims that it’s just some flirty woman at a conference, Liv immediately questions why said woman was saved under his phone as “Sol,” another co-worker, pointing to the fact that there was nothing innocent about this.
Will’s attempts to brush off his indiscretions don’t work, as Liv, who thanks him for his honesty about the “one time” hookup with Emily (likely a fake name), then kicks him out of the sprawling penthouse provided by his job smack dab in the middle of the holiday.
It’s bold and empowering, and quite frankly, much-deserved.
Will thought he could charm his way out of this, but he didn’t realize that he was dealing with a woman who refused to go down the same broken path that she saw as a child.
Liv then fittingly burns all of his clothes and mourns their relationship… and while I know re-watching a wedding video and then allowing Will to weasel back into the relationship with a “trip of a lifetime” offer doesn’t exactly scream “it’s over,” I do think that this scene was the pivotal moment where Liv’s love unwillingly ended and her obsession to destroy began.
After this first sign of infidelity, Liv was never the same, nor did she look at the relationship in the same light as before. Even when it seemed like things were back on track when they looked picture perfect during the epic vacation, Liv underscored that they were merely playing their parts of what’s deemed by society a happy couple. Plastering smiles doesn’t make a happy couple, nor does brushing off every problem and burying it under the rug. It all simply festers there.
Liv still very much loved him, but she loved herself more, particularly when she realized Will lied to her face about it being a one-time thing after finding messages in his email between him and another woman, and also, conveniently, a sex tape between the two of them during which Will told her he’d leave his wife.
This part, to me, felt a bit unbelievable as I don’t think Will would be stupid enough to just have something like this in his inbox, but then again, if he has a sex addiction then keeping this on hand and within reach likely makes sense.
Either way, this affair has likely been happening for quite some time as Cara (played by Pretty Little Liars star Ashley Benson) was briefly spotted in a scene during Will’s first work event right (when he and Liv go to hook up in an elevator) shortly after they moved to NYC.
Upon seeing the video, Liv kept her cool in front of Will—despite wanting to internally blow up—and went on the trip as promised. It’s both impressive and terrifying that she kept her composure, and William should definitely be weary of the woman scorned because it’s a thing for a reason.
A woman who is betrayed and has her trust broken over and over again will go to extremes. In Liv’s case, it set something off in her. The solution bubbling in her mind was much more sinister than just walking out on him and taking half of his assets; she carefully plotted his death—one that looked and seemed accidental during a happy couple’s delayed honeymoon.
It had to be the kind that wasn’t messy and couldn’t be blamed on her, as she got away scot-free playing the grieving wife, which is why she figured “the wilderness” would be the perfect accidental setting. However, she hesitated the first time when she tried pushing him off the cliff, and the second time, when he went overboard water rafting, she pulled him back up, as he then saved her when she was flung into the water.
All of this is to say that there’s still love, and despite the pain, it’s not as easy to just turn on someone.
Her desire for revenge is understandable, especially as she’s determined to not end up like her mom, however, in a sense, by killing William, he’ll always have a hold of her; she’ll never really be able to shake him in the same way that divorcing and leaving him behind would. That would take a strong woman in a different sense of the way, which is something she’s never learned or been exposed to.
But how many times can someone have their heart broken? Liv was sent even more over the edge when she realized that Will’s affair was not only physical but emotional, as he took his mistress’ call during their trip only to climb back into bed with Liv. He feels absolutely no shame likely priding himself on being able to have his cake and eat it, too.
Meanwhile, it’s only stoking the fire of Liv’s master plan, one fueled by passion, betrayal, and love, and one that she seemingly went through with if we’re to believe that final scene of the episode.
Did Liv get away with murder? And whose gravestone is she visiting? Is it Will’s? Or perhaps his lover Cara’s? Will Liv and Cara work together? Does Cara have a significant other that Liv will pursue?
The series will span a total of six episodes, all hitting Prime Video at once on Sept. 15, so we’ll see how twisted this once-joyous love story gets.
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