When we started watching Wilderness, it was clear to us that Liv just wanted to kill Will. Therefore, it was a surprise how she turned over to be on his team for the majority of the narrative. Perhaps the surprise is because we expected her emotions to flow a lot more linearly. We expected the confusion to come first, followed by the intent to murder. Even if we assume that her guilt at having hurt the wrong person made her pause her plans for a bit, it took time to understand why she would agree to have a child with Will, trapping herself with him forever.
Perhaps the first question we would like to ask is whether Liv still loved Will. When Liv told her friend that she did, she was already aware of his affair being a long-term thing and had started her obsession with Cara. Liv wanted to kill Will because she believed that would help her not pine over him in the long run. She had a chance to do the deed but wasn’t able to because, as a person with a conscience, she couldn’t kill someone in cold blood, even though that was the plan. And here is where we need to understand a critical difference.
What was supposed to be a calculated move ended up being an act of passion? Liv needed to understand her feelings in their entirety, and she had yet to do that. Probably, the road trip was an excuse for her to think. After all, she was clearly not ready to commit to a second chance for the marriage, but she kept going forward with other intentions. And then she had to face more blatant lies from Will, telling her that what happened with Cara was a one-time thing when it clearly wasn’t. She even understood that Will probably never loved her but only liked that she was his wife. It was one emotional blow after the other, and Liv had not been prepared for this. When she eventually thought she had pushed him off the edge, it had been in a state of anger fueled by drunken revenge. It is important to remember that the next morning when Liv woke up, she was horrified at what she had done, but she immediately started practicing her statement, something she should have done before the killing if it had been as successfully premeditated as she wanted it to be.
Basically, Liv’s mind was in a state of utter chaos, and more so because she had actually liked and understood Cara. She knew that despite everything Cara had done and was doing, Will was the one responsible for it. But now, with the wrong victim dying and Liv coming to know just how depraved her husband was (he had promised to be with Cara), Liv felt stuck, not because of the situation but because of her guilt. We have to wonder whether Liv helped Will not because she loved him but because she thought it was the right thing to do. After all, he did not kill Cara; Liv did, and she did not want him to go to jail for her crime. Perhaps Liv was being righteous when she made a false statement for his sake. But all of it had cumulatively come to mean that she was not the good person she had always thought of herself as. That must have tied right in with the guilt and shame of her childhood, with her slipping into familiar patterns to deal with them.
When Carly, Liv’s mother, blamed Liv for their home breaking down, Liv retaliated by being a ‘good and dutiful person.’ She supported her mother’s loneliness, got a good job, and did everything by the book. Liv says at the beginning of Wilderness that it wasn’t the real her but an act she was putting on as was expected of her. But she also said that she could let the mask slip in front of Will, which is why she loved him. We waited to see Liv with her mask off in front of Will for the entire six episodes of Wilderness, but we never got to it. Perhaps the mask did not really slip but shifted just enough to accommodate domestic comfort.
To be her true, authentic self, Liv had to know who she was when she was not bogged down by shame and guilt. But as much as she seemed to be over her mother’s accusations, she still carried their hurt. They must have felt validated when Liv started thinking of herself as a bad person after she killed Cara. We are beginning to think that the reason Liv agreed to have a child with Will was because she thought of it as her punishment. She had wrongfully killed someone because of this man, so she deserved to spend the rest of her life with him as her atonement. It is a very twisted thought, but there is no other way to see that since we are positive that Liv did not love Will anymore, nor was she thrilled by the marriage.
The question now is, at what point did Liv realize that she had permission to leave and that she did not need to torture herself further by staying in that marriage? It is often said that when you are hurt enough, you stop feeling the sting of those comments because the numbness that takes over gives way to logic and clarity. Maybe that is what happened with Liv in Wilderness. After the death of Garth, Liv did not know what to make of not one, but two murders at her hands. Maybe she realized that life with Will would always push her, and she did not wish to test her limits more.
While Cara was with Ash, she felt some love and acceptance, which showed her once again that life does not need to be a series of punishments, and that is when she decided to leave Will. At that time, she had no desire to punish him; she just wanted to get rid of him. But when he brought Garth’s death over her head like that, she knew that she just couldn’t let him get away with it. Liv needed to protect herself, so there was that factor as well, but sending him to jail for Cara’s death was a way of punishing him for making all their lives hell for his own selfishness.
Liv had stayed with Will through thick and thin, whatever her reasons may have been. Even when she was leaving him, all she wanted was a clean break, but it was Will who had pushed her. Liv had been as good as possible, and now, finally, she let out her dark side, which she found and tapped into because of a man. It is a gray ending for the characters in Wilderness, but we have to wonder how much more havoc Will would have caused with his actions had he been out in the open, free to do whatever he pleased. Perhaps then, it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea that he is going to spend a lot of time confined to a room while Liv is finally free to live by her own standards.