So yea, if you’re googling to figure out some problem with your apple product, and it you end up on a Apple Support Communities thread, you’re wasting your time 99.99999% of the time. Except this time.
iOS 8.0.2 seems to make the wifi on my retina iPad mini quite sad. More than 10 feet away from my router? bam! no connection.
Turns out there’s a buried setting that seems to fix this. Settings > Privacy > Location services > System Services > Wi-Fi networking. I turned that off, and I was back in business immediately.
I guess that’s what I get for upgrading early.