The unique thing about Wilderness, unlike other shows centered around women, is that it does not try to include men. What we mean is that it is simply telling the story without trying to gain their approval by making them understand or react to something, and that makes it very authentically a story for women. If men want to watch this show, they would need to suspend their defensiveness and the urge to say “not all men” before they turn on the screen. As for women, you just need to be one to understand Liv’s story, and here is a recap of Wilderness.
What Was Olivia’s Childhood Like?
People don’t exaggerate when they say that the environment of our childhood shapes us into the type of adults we become. Liv had a life where she was blamed by her mother for her father’s leaving her. The father had been cheating on his wife, and when Liv accidentally brought it up somehow, it shattered through her mother’s pretenses and caused the house of cards to fall, separating him from the family. He moved on in life, but Liv’s mother, Caryl, was never able to, and she blamed Liv for it. It was not the vindictive type of blame, but the kind that arises when one doesn’t know how to manage their own grief. Liv just got in the way of Caryl not knowing how to move on, and for many years after, even though she did not say it, we suppose that Caryl made use of Liv’s guilt to find support for her own loneliness. Perhaps this intense amount of blame and guilt is also why Liv felt the need to be the “good girl.” She had to make a life where she wouldn’t be left behind, and she ended up choosing a man, Will, who certainly did not want to let go of her till the end. But that did not mean that he gave her the life and love she deserved.
Why Do Liv And Will Go On A Road Trip?
As the blurb states, both are certainly living an idyllic life as a married couple. Liv got the American dream, and Will got himself a “nice wife” who would impress his parents. Liv moves to New York for him, and all is going well until, one day, she sees a message on his phone that shows that he cheated on her. When Will finds this, he tries to tell her that it was a one-time mistake while trying to guilt Liv for checking his phone. Liv doesn’t accept his excuses, and he sleeps out for a few days. As she is still trying to understand what to do, Will wants to make it up to her by taking her on a cross-country road trip like she has always wanted. Liv is on board with the idea as she wants to give their marriage another chance, but three weeks before they leave, Liv finds that Will has been cheating on her for a long time. She also discovers a video of him with the woman, Cara, where he tells her that he will leave Liv for her.
Despite it all, Liv still wants to go on the trip, but her primary motivation is that she wants to kill Will. In her own words, she doesn’t want to live a life where Will has moved on without her, and she is left in a situation like her mother’s—angry and resentful. Therefore, what Will thinks is a second chance is Liv’s way of finding the right opportunity to take his life in Wilderness.
Who Killed Cara?
While Liv is still working up her courage and thinking of the right way to do what she wants, she and Will find a surprise co-tourist on their trip: Cara. She has come with her partner, Garth, and it is pretty clear to Liv that she has followed Will here. Liv had read some of Cara’s emails to Will, and she knew that the basis of their relationship was the “Madonna-Mistress” complex. Cara was the fun person with whom Will could be himself, but Liv was the wife he wanted to take home to his parents, who would gain his approval. And the pursuit of this shallow man left both women with the short end of the stick in Wilderness. In this entire narrative, something that struck us was how the women supported this complex in their own subtle ways.
There was Liv’s friendly neighbor, who explained the difference between ‘hot’ and ‘beautiful’ while asserting how one was better than the other. Then there was Bonnie, who failed to see the hypocrisy of the “beauty with brains” concept and told everyone that a combination of these two factors is what made Cara so special as a woman and as a friend. Even Cara, for a bit, tried to uphold the idea of the “interesting girlfriend vs. the wife” to be able to be with Will. Either way, Liv’s patience is wearing thin, and she is on edge when Will ends up leaving the keys in the car, and it gets stolen, so they have to hitch a ride with Cara and Garth. Surprisingly, Cara and Liv end up bonding over their childhoods filled with terrible conditioning and how they are not that different from each other, despite what it looks like on the surface.
As expected, this friendship makes Will extremely uncomfortable, and when Liv makes an offhand remark about his cheating, they have a fight. When Cara tries to console her, we believe that she is genuine. Liv accepts that, but she makes it known that she knows about the cheating. Cara apologizes, and Liv knows that she is sincere. She even forgives her because her expectations were never from Cara but from her husband. It is he who should have stayed loyal to his wife instead of expecting the world around to accommodate him for it. Back in their rooms, Will and Liv’s fight gets worse as he says that he cannot handle the pressure of Liv’s expectations and love. This man wants his wife to act like his situation is dire and there is absolutely no hope for him.
When he storms out that day, Liv falls asleep after drinking too much. When she wakes up, she finds that he has left his phone behind, and on that, there is a message from Cara asking him to run away together. This is the betrayal that makes Liv so furious, and she goes out of the hotel to find a figure in a red coat waiting on the edge of a chasm. Without thinking twice, Liv pushes them down, thinking that she has finally killed her husband. But to her horror, the next morning, she finds that it wasn’t Will but Cara. She has survived, but barely, and the very next day, she passes away.
How Does Cara’s Death Affect Will And Liv’s Marriage?
The twist here in Wilderness is that Will thinks he might be implicated in Cara’s death. He was the last person to talk to her, and Liv deduces that he gave her hope of a relationship between them. The police did not suspect a murder, but if they find out about the affair and this late-night rendezvous, things will look very bad for him. Therefore, he asks Liv to lie for him, and despite all the anger she shows him, she does as he asks. To him, she is playing the part of a good wife, but only Liv knows that it is her guilt and shame that are making her act this way. The investigating team, specifically Detective Rawlins, suspect that Liv is not telling everything she knows, but she has no evidence of it, especially after Liv and Will took the time to erase every interaction between him and Cara over the years. They even get back the keys he had given her, and throughout all this, Liv continues to find out just how much she has been taken for a ride.
While their marriage is already on the rocks, Carly comes to visit Liv as a surprise after receiving a tearful call from her. Carly has never liked Will, and she is extremely suspicious of what is happening between her daughter and him. It isn’t long before she finds that Will has been cheating on Liv because she finds some explicit photographs in his dressing drawer. Carly understands that Liv knows, and she finds out the entire story from her daughter. In this process, they resolve their long-held differences by simply addressing their feelings. Carly tries to tell Liv that she deserves better and that she will stand by her daughter, but Liv is not ready to let go. Her guilt is the reason for it all, and the seed of it was planted by her mother in her childhood. At one point, Liv confesses that she was the one to hurt Cara, but Carly silences her and tells her to remember that Will was responsible for her situation. As Carly leaves for Wales, Liv finally takes a look at the photographs and understands that Will has been cheating on her with not just Cara but multiple women.
Why Does Liv Kill Garth?
The fact is that Garth in Wilderness was not a great partner for Cara. He was definitely controlling and possessive, and he had taken her death too hard. Suspicion fell on him first when the detectives found the secrets that Cara had been keeping from him. They discovered that she had plans to leave him, probably without letting him know. A careful step-by-step prodding revealed that Cara had turned down his proposal, so the detectives wonder if that is why Garth may have killed her. But he never admits to it, and due to a further lack of evidence, he is let go by the police. The first thing Garth does is meet Liv and Will. Seeing the statement Liv gave about Garth being possessive, along with the fact that the two had become friends, Garth suspects that she knows who the second man in Cara’s life was. Will admits it was him to get Garth to back off Liv, but in the fight that follows, Will is knocked down, and Liv ends up having to kill Garth to protect herself. The police write it off as an act of self-defense, but Rawlins’ suspicions are still there.
Is Liv Pregnant? How does Will find out that she killed Cara?
Liv is at a point where she has had enough. All the guilt in the world cannot make her stay in this marriage anymore, and she tells Will the same. But he doesn’t want to give her a divorce because, as we said before, she is his ticket to parental approval, and that matters to him more than anything: the facade of a perfect life. He tells her that he would tell the police that she did not kill Garth in self-defense but that it was murder. This is the point for Liv when divorce goes from being a want to a need. She has made up her mind, and there is no turning back. She and Will seemingly reconcile after she pushes him into a corner by acting out at his workplace and bonding with his other girlfriend. Knowing he needs to concede somehow, Will pulls out the sympathy card. He cries, saying that he feels bad that he wasn’t the one to save her, but she had to do it herself.
Liv pretends to give in for now, and we know why at the end of Wilderness. As they are about to board the flight, the police arrest Will because Liv has anonymously sent the video of him and Cara to them. They know that he has withheld facts from an important case and hindered the investigation. They also find his red jacket, the one that Cara was wearing when she fell, and this places him together with her at the scene of the crime. Will is sentenced to a long time in prison as Cara slowly starts figuring out how to rebuild her life. Three months later, Will asks to meet her once, and when she gets there, he knows that she was the one to kill Cara. Things that she had said over time, along with everything that has happened, have placed it all for him in the right context, and he knows who the culprit is.
Frankly, Will has some actual audacity here because he started off by asking Liv to wait for him, and when she refuses, he tries to hold this over her head to get what he wants. But what did he want? Was he actually willing to spend all that time in prison to protect Liv? Or was he just playing a game? Whatever his intentions were, Liv played a better game by telling him that she was pregnant. They had tried to make a baby before he went to prison, and their attempt had been successful. If Will wanted his baby to be safe and happy, he had to keep quiet and live his life in prison. Liv also gets her final revenge when she tells him that it wasn’t Cara but him that she had been trying to kill. During Wilderness‘ ending, Liv is seen telling off a hiker for blaming Cara for having fallen off the cliff. The smile that she gives at the end shows just how close she is to not caring about anything, which is far from the perfect and practiced good-girl smile of hers that we had seen all along.
It’s been a good while since we saw a show from a female perspective that actually understood women, with all their flaws, struggles, triumphs, and losses of conditioning. This is some really excellent writing, and it is after quite a while that we have come across something that we would call a must-watch.