Joe and Terry discuss Hulu’s cruise ship slasher series Wreck, alternating between our respective sites.
Spoilers for episode 5 “Needle in a Gaystack”…
Episode 1.05: While Vivian and Lily’s relationship reaches new heights, Jamie finds himself in a terrifying situation and must use all his courage and strength to escape.
Well, Joe, we talked about wanting answers last week and “Needle in a Gaystack” hands a lot of them on a silver platter! It’s like Hostel (or maybe Get Duked! is a better comparison) on a cruise ship. Seemingly everyone in power, as well as the elite, are involved! Including Lily (Ramanique Ahluwalia)!
I wrote last episode that I didn’t really buy Lily’s She’s All That-esque bet that ended with Lily in love/lust with Vivian (Thaddea Graham). Because even if the bet were a thing, it speaks more to her dubious character than anything else. So when Lily tells Vivian, in post coitus glow, that Vivian was her “gift”, I visibly recoiled at the entitlement. Little did I know (though I feel like I should have) that not only is Lily grossly entitled in the regular rich way, but also in a homicidal way.
But back to the beginning with Jamie (Oscar Kennedy) and Officer Cutie AKA Sam (Louis Boyer). The cold open flashback shows Sam setting up a dinner for Pippa (Jodie Tyack), where he admits he loves her. I couldn’t quite clock her reaction to it, but it was obvious that something was bothering her. After Sam gets pulled away from the dinner date, Pippa discovers what I can only assume is her first discovery of the secret hallways spread throughout the Sacramentum.
Back in the present, Karen (Harriet Webb) hands a knife over to Sam and tells him he needs to clean up his mess and that “those boys have been covering for you.” This strongly suggests that, at least in the case of Pippa, it was Sam in the Quacky suit.
The end of episode 4, coupled with this opening scene and the reveal towards the end that the VIP ship guests are hunting workers suggests, to me, at least, that Sam and crew have been dressing up as Quacky to deliver their victims to the killing rooms inside the walls. It’d make sense, considering that it’s been difficult to pinpoint a common theme between Jerome (Diego Andres), Danny (Jack Rowan) and the list of names Pippa discovered that, presumably, led to her being targeted.
It makes me wonder if these individual kills are in the Hostel vein where the rich set up their grotesque fantasies and then Karen and comapny carry them out. Because neither Danny nor Jerome were hunted; Danny was stabbed and then dropped in a pool while Jerome was given the Paris Hilton treatment. It’s interesting to me, though, that Danny was dropped where anyone could find him while care has been taken to hide Jerome and, presumably, the other bodies. It almost seemed as if Danny’s death was a message because he’s the only one that’s received an In Memoriam.
Does this mean Pippa is still alive and got revenge on Danny for something? Or that someone else is involved? I feel like more twists are ahead of us.
Am I reading too much into this, Joe? What was your vibe about the reveal of the hunting rooms and its implications to the narrative? Did Lily’s reveal surprise you? For that matter, what about Nile (Ned Costello), the NDAs and his pacifism? We’ve talked about Cormac (Peter Claffey) and I’m curious if the way he comforted Jamie made you smile like it did me.
Yeah, we really got it all wrong, didn’t we, Terry? Writer Ryan J. Brown was distracting us with all of the drug dealing stuff (to such an extent that I truthfully didn’t even catch Sam mention that he’d forced Pippa off the boat last episode). As you said, we wanted it to be something more than drugs and we wanted more twists; well, we certainly got them both and more.
In hindsight, the Lily reveal is probably the least surprising aspect. You’re right that we should have suspected her considering her laissez-faire nonchalance, but – again – Baugh got me because I didn’t want to believe the worst of a queer love story. And step-brother Nile is so hissably deplorable that it was easy to believe that he was simply trying to turn the new lovers against each other.
Like Vivian, I ignored all of the warning signs because I wanted to believe in what Lily was selling and Nile seemed like a jerk.
As for the reveal that this is, yes, a Hostel or The Most Dangerous Game Situation, it’s kinda genius, no? We’ve had multiple conversations about the show’s interest in class, as well as how easy it is for the Velorum company to pick up and dispose of personnel at each port. When you think about Jamie and Vivian’s status on the ship, they’re incredibly disposable: their parents either don’t know they’re there or they don’t care. Hell, Karen even told the Entertainment crew last episode that they were replaceable, so the idea that a group of militarized personnel would sell an extreme human-hunting experience for bored, rich “whales” (first class guests)…sadly isn’t that much of a stretch.
Perhaps less believable are the secret passages and rooms, bathed in green light and ready for use by the rich (wearing night vision goggles and camo gear, naturally). Certainly it plays off the idea of how large a cruise ship is, and how easy it is to get turned around, but it’s a bit silly that Pippa mapped all of these secret corridors that apparently no other employees noticed (not even Francis Flores’ The Baby!).
Still, that’s a small quibble when “Needle in a Gaystack” is offering up both genuine tension and great atmosphere. Watching our small band of misfits negotiate those enclosed, poorly lit corridors was nearly enough to make me darkness-phobic like Cormac.
Factor in the creepiness of the two-way mirror that poor DOA housekeeper Leila discovers in that set-dressed room, and the moment when Karen pops up behind Jamie and Olly (Anthony Rickman) in the dark? It’s all good stuff on the genuine scare meter!
There’s also plenty of good romance and comedy. I really appreciated that Olly doesn’t balk when Jamie finally reveals his backstory (swoon) and Cormac gets plenty of comedic relief moments between his fear of the dark, his refusal to split up, and his tendency to ram walls first and ask questions later.
But Terry, back to you: are you surprised that this conspiracy goes beyond Karen and all the way to the top with Henry Allan (Donald Sage Mackay)? Will the other crew like Sophia (Alice Nokes) or Lauren (Amber Grappy) come to Jamie and Vivian’s defense? And is it healthy for Hamish (James Phoon) to douche with San Pellegrino? Because there’s a clear gay double entendre here (I assume it’s a reference to anal sex douching, and not just the French word for shower).
Oh I definitely took it to be anal douching because it didn’t even register to me that it’s also the French word for shower. I cackled hard at that line and then started thinking…wait, what flavor of San Pelegrino is he using? I literally just got their cherry and pomegranate flavored water and went down a weird rabbit hole.
Transitioning quickly away from that, it does seem as if an uprising is brewing amongst the staff. I had the privilege of chatting with Brown on Scarred For Life and I know there is a second season/series already in the making. He’s just finishing the writing and they plan to film very soon, so I’m curious whether it will be a different adventure with the remaining survivors or if it’ll be a continuation of the Sacramentum storyline.
I bring this up because if it is a different storyline, then I’m wondering if the class criticism we’ve been clocking this season will come to a head and the working class will mutiny against the VIP “whales.” If so, then absolutely Lauren, Sophia, The Baby and everyone would come to Jamie’s rescue. We’ve already seen it with Sophia and her slowly changing attitude towards Lauren (if only she could remember it’s Lauren and not Laura…but hey, progress is progress).
Continuing with that thought, I’m actually not surprised that Cruise Director Allan was involved. Dude was slimy from the very beginning and Karen has seemed incredibly apathetic whenever people, like Sam last episode, brought Danny’s death to her attention. There has been a kind of resigned understanding coming from her that suggested that if she were involved with nefarious things, she wasn’t the leader. Just the enforcer.
At least that’s been the way I’ve read her character. She seems almost annoyed about having to report to Henry Allan. I’m curious if she’ll end up being The Big Bad or if she’ll come to her senses. It’s very difficult to see where her loyalties lie because we don’t know much about her backstory. Sam is the obvious choice for a defector, though, because he’s been going through it, both in the present but also in the flashbacks.
So I’ll turn it over to you, Joe. We’re entering the final episode of this season and I’m curious if you have any thoughts on what’s going to happen? Do you think the season will end in a big brawl on the ship? Does it even matter who Ducky is at this point? And will we get closure on what happened with Pippa?
Considering Sam’s revelation that he was (presumably) in the Quacky costume in the premiere, I’m not sure that there’s much left to surprise there. Perhaps there will be a last minute reveal that someone else was involved, or maybe we’ll get a Scream homage with Jamie or Vivian throwing on the duck outfit to take out a villain or two. But aside from that, the iconic looking costume hasn’t played as big of a role as I expected when we first watched the pilot.
I do think that you’re right about what’s about to go down, though: Sam will turn against Karen and Henry Allan (in penance for his role in Pippa’s disappearance/death) and the other underprivileged staff will rise up in mutiny to help save our heroes.
Will anyone meet a grisly fate, though? Wreck has leaned into comedy more than I anticipated, though when it dispatches characters (Danny and Jerome most specifically) the results have been pretty bloody. I’m still hoping for a few more deaths before we wrap up the season.
As for whether the story will resolve itself with a tidy bow or continue, I can definitely see more adventures on the Sacramentum, albeit with a colourful new cast of characters and possibly a holdover or two (a la White Lotus). All I really want is for Jamie & Olly and Cormac & Rosie to get their happy endings and for Vivian to get exquisite revenge on Lily. Aside from that, however, I’m going in prepared to be surprised!
We’ll find out how S01 ends when we hop back over to Gayly Dreadful next week for the finale, “Water Off A Duck’s Back”
Wreck S01 is available on Hulu