(Photo: Sergei Bachlakov/Fox)

Poor Rebecca Yedlin. She’s stuck in a town of her own making, against her wishes, and in violation of everything she tried to escape. I can only imagine: The one thing worse than being in prison would be finding yourself stuck inside a prison of your own making, one designed to be a Utopia, a perversion of the very soul of what you tried to create. It’s like one of those nightmares where everything that you initially found comforting and familiar suddenly turns sinister and forbidding. Once she learned of the plan for her shining city in a valley, all she wanted was to break free of her involvement in Pilcher’s scheme. No wonder she didn’t want to tell Theo the whole truth right away—she can barely handle that knowledge, and she’s been there almost three years. We thought Dr. Theo Yedlin was the big ”get” for Wayward Pines, but it seems he may have just been an afterthought, a bonus prize for ensnaring Rebecca.

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The dinner scene flashback, where Megan explains to Rebecca just how far into the future Pilcher’s vision extends, was a great illustration of what separates true believers from enthusiastic fans. Theo’s wife couldn’t quite keep her real emotions buried. Her mouth may have been saying what a wonderful plan it was, how insightful and far-reaching, but her expression said, “Oh, you fucking psychos, get me out of here.” There’s always a breaking point when it comes to absolutism: Rebecca loved designing her perfect city, and had a ball scoping it out in Idaho with Pilcher and his team, but it wasn’t until they were dining inside a massive mountain stronghold, and she realized everyone in the world would be long dead for her vision to come to fruition, that she realized this was not a dream she wanted any part of.

(Photo: Sergei Bachlakov/Fox)

But those flashbacks went a long way toward recapturing some of that delectable sense of mischievous fun the first season delivered so effortlessly. After four episodes of dour warmongering and dystopian violence, we’re finally getting some juicy new puzzles wrapped up in character development. Much like Lost, Wayward Pines is getting strong mileage out of delving into the past, and revealing Theo’s wife not only knew about Wayward Pines, but was the chief architect of the entire city, is a big revelation. It creates tension, and the fact that she’d rather tell Theo about her marriage to Xander than her role in crafting the town speaks volumes about her sense of complicity in the entire enterprise.

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Speaking of Theo, his team-up with Kerry was another good step forward in getting the new season rolling (finally), with Kerry warning the doctor that his appointment as head of research on the captured Abies would “step on some toes.” Ironic, then, that the toes he steps on are those of the wheelchair-bound Megan Fisher. It’s becoming clearer that, outside of the kids, Megan doesn’t exactly get along with people in town. She’s so lonely, in fact, that she talks to Margaret, the captured female Abie, as a way of expressing her feelings. She may not be human, in Megan’s eyes—not even a housepet, just an “animal,” as Megan says—but apparently she’s good enough to hear the hypnotherapist unload some memories and emotional damage onto her.

Of course, no one has a lock on emotional damage at the moment quite like Theresa Burke and Adam Hassler. The two conversations these broken people share are all the more somber for how much they sound like eulogies. She blames Adam the Geico Caveman for everything, and she’s not wrong; if it weren’t for his unrequited feelings toward her, the Burke family would have lived out the remainder of their days in the 21st century, none the wiser. If nothing else, Theresa wouldn’t have had to bury her teenage son outside the walls of the last human outpost. She’s resigned herself to death, as Adam notes, and even that embrace of mortality won’t let her forgive him. Although, seeing as we’re halfway through the season and Theresa is sitting outside the town by a roaring fire, there had better be more to her story than just bitter resignation and death.

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Some of the characters this week have subplots that are interesting, but serve to do little other than illustrate the fraught nature of life in Wayward Pines. Frank is the best example of this, as his time in the Procreation Room is creepy and informative, but completely incidental to the main narrative. It made me laugh seeing the literal road maps to sexual intercourse set up in the room, as though two teenagers trying to get pregnant was equivalent to a game of Candy Land. The idea that homosexuality would once again become an offense punishable by death is nauseating, and one of the few false notes struck by the series in crafting a believably realistic future. No one in their right mind would plan for a growing society and not account for a percentage of the population being gay; it would fly in the face of the most basic common sense, and even Pilcher wouldn’t have stood for it. Here’s hoping Theo is right, and nothing will happen to little Frank.

Wayward Pines is still hanging its hopes on the Abie evolution storyline, and the more it focuses on this pressing issue, the better the series fares. The arrival of Margaret makes for an interesting turn of events, transforming the Aberration threat into a strategic and immediate danger, rather than a perpetual existential peril encircling the fringes of the plot. The throwing of burning torches into the crops signals a change in the war between human and Abie, one that appears to be getting some sort of telepathic guidance from Margaret, trapped inside the research facility. However she got inside the walls, she can presumably teach her fellow creatures, which means a reckoning is coming—but for the first time, it won’t be Jason and his authoritarian military force killing their fellow humans. It will be Abies, standing inside of Wayward Pines, and taking orders from a thinking, calculating leader. That’s not a recipe for violence; it’s a blueprint for extinction, or even more unsettling, enslavement.

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Stray Observations:

  • After the events of “Sound The Alarm,” I’m now about 60 percent convinced Margaret is going to start speaking English in the next couple of episodes. Someone else want to make odds on the over/under of this scenario?
  • Pilcher and Rebecca, scoping out their location in Idaho. Rebecca: “Looks like there’s a town already there.” Pilcher: “Not for long.”
  • Watching Xander drink his whisky milkshake made me wish I had an ice cream shop at my disposal, too.
  • The show still has an unfortunate tendency to want to turn any subtext into text. Rebecca really didn’t need to call out the obvious analogy that her husband makes things work on the inside, while she “makes them work on the outside.” Show, don’t tell, Wayward Pines.
  • I did laugh while trying to suss out what all the letters on the Procreation Room map stood for. Also, Meadow’s line: “We could go straight to P if you…”
  • Arlene is bananas: Telling Kerry how Theo has a full docket, just for her to turn around and scan the empty waiting room.

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