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.
Is ‘Daisy Jones & the Six’ Based on a True Story?
Amazon Prime Video has a bonafide hit on its hands with Daisy Jones & the Six.
The ten-episode mini-series is hitting the streaming giant on Friday, March 3, and the anticipation is palpable.
If you’re not familiar with the series, you may be wondering what all the hubbub is about.
The series—starring Riley Keough as Daisy Jones and Hunger Games’ Sam Claflin as the titular band’s frontman Billy Dunne—is inspired by a book of the same name written by Taylor Jenkins Reid, which follows the rise and fall of a 1970s rock band. Both the book and the series have a documentary-style feel to them due to the interviews with past members.
Since the storyline feels rather familiar, many fans have questioned whether it’s based on a true story. Though many shows these days are, this one is not—the book and the band (including their rapid rise to stardom) are both fictional.
However, there are some real-world influences, with Reid noting to Marie Claire that the band in the book and the show was inspired by Fleetwood Mac, including the tumultuous relationship between Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.
“Obviously Fleetwood Mac is an influence, but for me a really huge influence — maybe even more so than Fleetwood Mac at times — was Bruce Springsteen,” she said, adding, “I read everything about him, including his memoir. I listened to all of his albums, I’ve really tried to understand his psychology.”
With the on-screen adaptation, the characters that have only lived on paper thus far will come to life and take on a life of their own.
Are you planning on watching the series?
Keep Reading: 11 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2023
Utopia Season 1 Review – A Pale Imitation of the Original
*Warning. Spoilers ahead.
Full disclosure here: I am a massive fan of the UK version of Utopia that first aired on Channel 4. I would go so far as to say that the first season of the original series might be my favorite season of any television show, going toe-to-toe with the best from prestige television like The Sopranos and Breaking Bad. The combination of whip-smart writing, eye-popping visuals, and memorable score come together beautifully in the British version and it was truly a shame that it never got the recognition it deserved. That is why when I came across the trailer for this Amazon remake written by Gillian Flynn of Gone Girl fame and executive produced by Dennis Kelly, the original creator, I assumed it was a can’t miss prospect. After all, when you match such superb source material with someone who has an impeccable track record like Flynn, how could you go wrong? The answer, after watching Amazon’s Utopia, is apparently quite easily with one baffling decision after another.
Adapting a British series that is critically beloved for American audiences has been done successfully in the past with shows like The Office, Shameless, and Veep. These shows have even arguably surpassed their British counterparts. Utopia is not one of those examples. The season kicks off with a different spin on Utopia’s comic book origins. We start with a happily engaged couple moving into their new house left to them by one of their grandfathers. They stumble onto a manuscript with bizarre artwork titled Dystopia and the couple believes they can get some serious cash by putting it up for auction at a local comic book convention.
The post goes live kickstarting the plot into motion as we meet this series’ version of Becky, Ian, Wilson Wilson, and Grant as well as a new character made for the show named Samantha. (On an unrelated note, I did get a kick out of the cosplayers in the first episode especially the man wearing pigtails as he was my improv coach here in Chicago. ) The show plods, not for the last time, from scene to scene slowly introducing the rest of the main cast. There are some highlights here as John Cusack and Rainn Wilson, playing Dr. Christie and Michael respectively, manage to wring some tension out of the script whenever they are on screen. There are some lowlights, however, in the show’s versions of Arby and Jessica Hyde. Arby, paired with his accomplice Rod, play as low-rent versions of Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd. It is hard to see this version of Arby taking a sympathetic turn as the original did. Jessica Hyde is even worse. Her character isn’t so much pragmatic as she is bloodthirsty which makes you wonder if she isn’t the real villain of the show.
It was hard not to compare these versions of the characters to their British counterparts. Mostly for the fact that for much of the season, they just simply aren’t fleshed out and rarely rise from being one-dimensional pieces being moved from set-piece to the next. The most interesting of the friend group is Samantha, who is an idealist despite living in a cold, uncaring world. I was very excited to see what new dynamic she would bring to the show, so of course, she was gunned down in what was perhaps the worst scene in the entire show by Jessica Hyde.
In the original series, Hyde is a pragmatic survivalist who has spent her entire life away from normal society but still had recognizable humanity that we get glimpses of beneath her cold exterior. Here, Hyde kills Samantha for no better reason than “a group can’t have two leaders.” It is a moment that makes this version of Hyde instantly unsympathetic and the friend group is briefly alarmed before nonchalantly going about their business. It’s just one of many examples of characters never behaving like actual humans.
The tone is also all over the place as well. You get the sense Flynn was trying to go for a darkly comic take on the conspiracy but almost every one of the jokes falls flat. For example, the sequence where Wilson Wilson tries to take the wheel while half-blind and gets bit by Hyde wouldn’t feel out of place in a CBS sitcom airing at 7 P.M. on a Tuesday. The original was able to mine the absurdity out of the mundane moments in-between the action while here every serious moment gets undercut by some character behaving unnaturally or attempting some lame one-liner.
In fact, the dialogue might be one of the worst aspects of the remake. In every conversation, characters love saying exactly how they feel and rattling off plot-points to each other. Not a single moment of subtlety can’t be explained away immediately. I’m reminded of the bit in Futurama that goes “You can’t just have your characters announce how they feel! That makes me feel angry!”
The show also has the misfortune of releasing during a pandemic. It’s hard to watch the show, based around a government conspiracy around vaccines for a flu-like virus, and not think about the real-life parallels to a conspiratorial fringe in our own country. Just another misfire in a show filled with them.
For anyone who was a fan of the original, there’s nothing in this new season that improves on the original conceit. For new viewers, I would recommend just finding the UK version and skipping out on this version altogether. It is simply not worth your time.
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