Our first introduction to Cara in Wilderness was through the recording that Liv saw of her on Will’s laptop. In fact, this was the part that transformed her from the woman simply having an affair with Will into a scheming person who would stop at nothing to get him. She was the one to record the video, and she was also the one who asked Will at that specific time whether he would leave his wife for her. It was as if she wanted proof of the relationship and the promises that it contained. Maybe it was also her insurance in case things went really wrong someday. After all, she was having an affair with her boss.
For the majority of the series, and by that, we mean till Cara’s death, we saw her through the eyes of Liv. We saw how she started thinking of Cara and how that eventually changed when she got a deeper look at who Cara actually was. Initially, Liv was curious about Cara and followed her all over the place, be it on her jogs or going to the same nail salon as her to get similar nails. Cara was the mysterious woman who had managed to captivate her husband, whom Liv had thought of as perfect so far. In fact, he had even said that he would leave Liv for her, which meant, at that point in Wilderness, that Cara was unique, and Liv really wanted to know how.
As the audience, we already knew that it wouldn’t have mattered whether Cara was special or not since Will just wanted to be able to do whatever he wanted while his ‘dutiful’ wife stayed at home. But that wasn’t the case for Liv, and she believed that Will would actually leave her one day. That is why she agrees to go on the trip—to kill him and avoid a fate like the one she knew was coming for her. But when she saw Cara in the wilderness, things changed a lot. Cara had come on the same trip out of a sense of competition. Cara felt that Will should be with her, and she took it upon herself to ‘clear’ his head by asserting her presence in his life. She probably wanted to remind him how much he liked her, or perhaps she wanted him to compare her with Liv to understand the choice he should be making. After all, wasn’t this her childhood lesson: that her brand of perfection would get her whatever she wanted? Liv had been ingrained with similar lessons, but she was taught how to be a ‘good wife’ more than how to be attractive.
As uncomfortable as it is to think this, women know the politics of these lessons and the identities that they must filter and create from within them. In a lot of ways, it was the basis of the ‘Madonna-Mistress’ complex that women end up ingrained with. Liv had started consciously fighting it since she decided that she wasn’t in love with Will anymore, but Cara had yet to see that. She kept making remarks about Liv’s niceness and her opinion that she was ‘boring.’ To be fair, Liv knew she thought that because she had read some of Cara’s emails to Will, but it did not take a lot of pushing for Cara to accidentally reveal that it was what she thought. We remember that when Will had his accident on the trip, Cara told Liv that it was her fault that it happened. She need not have done that, but she wanted to impress on Liv that Will was captivated by her. Basically, Cara was playing a game where she had placed Will as the prize. She wasn’t aware that Liv was nowhere in the zone anymore.
Later in Wilderness, it came as a surprise to Garth and Will that Cara and Liv ended up becoming such good friends. When Liv and Cara were talking, they realized how their childhoods had been about them learning to be certain kinds of women that men would like. There is something called being in solidarity with someone as per their identity. Liv could hate Cara for her affair, but she could still understand her as a woman. When talking to her, Liv understood that Cara was as much a victim as herself, and that is why she was able to accept her apology after telling her that she knew about the affair. This part really humanized Cara for the audience. It made us see her as someone vulnerable who was trying to find love for herself. Her methods may have been questionable, but she truly felt lost. She was in a relationship with a man (Garth) who she did not like.
The time when she was having an affair was a terrible period for her, and we knew this when Bonnie said that Cara wouldn’t skip the gym even at midnight, as she had started thinking of it as her safe space. This means that Cara was pushed into a corner the entire time. Will was probably the one person who made her happy, and she did not want to let go of that feeling, which is why she fought so hard for him. But the woman was not without guilt. When she made friends with Liv, she couldn’t pretend anymore that she was right, no matter her circumstances. That night, when she refused Garth’s proposal and spoke to Will, who ended up giving her hope about their future, we don’t think she was feeling triumphant. She had to have been feeling guilty.
Coming to the actual crime, Cara certainly felt the push off the edge that landed her on the verge of death. Technically, she couldn’t have known who did it. It may have been Garth who was being possessive, or it could have been Will, who just wanted to be rid of her. We don’t think she even thought of Liv until Liv apologized to her at the hospital. As Will says later, that was odd. Perhaps that was when Cara also realized who her culprit was, but she didn’t blame Liv because she understood her. She understood the rage and helplessness she must have felt and thought that maybe she deserved it. Or it could be that she was clueless about who did it. But we would like to believe that she did know, and she took this act as a way the two women could get even with each other.