The residents of Wayward Pines better hope that Margaret accepts sacrificial humans as payment for her fellow Abbies being murdered while standing helpless in their cells. At this point, that’s likely the only thing standing between the town and utter annihilation. And frankly, after his actions this week, Jason deserves to be fed to the Aberrations on a fork. He embodies a classic pathology—the everything-or-nothing narcissist—and by shooting the captured male Abbies in the head, he exposed not only his willfully ignorant and infantile tendencies, he quite likely obliterated the only chance they had of forging some sort of understanding with Margaret. Viewers could be forgiven for slapping their foreheads and uttering a distressed, “Oh, you dumb shit,” this week. True, this is very in keeping with his Napoleon complex, as we saw last week with his refusal to acknowledge the Abbies’ intelligence, but he’s moved beyond stubborn, all the way to suicidal.
“Time Will Tell” lays out the stakes of the season with a clarity that has been danced around since the first episode of the year. There’s a clear moral dilemma here: Either acknowledge the intelligence and soulfulness of your fellow inhabitants of this world, or be destroyed by them. Yedlin spends the entire episode slowly bringing around Megan (Megan, of all people!) on the idea that Margaret is not only intelligent, but willing to communicate, only to have all his hard work undone in a matter of seconds by some impetuous gunfire.
The notion of trying to see the value of life in your mortal enemy is familiar dramatic territory, but Wayward Pines inverts the standard formula in which the humans who wield the upper hand are too eager to wipe out an inferior population. Here, even with survival on the line, it’s a question of whether or not Yedlin and Hassler and any other humanists still left alive can prevent this society from charging headlong into certain death. It’s somewhat akin to the moral quandary of the final season of Battlestar Galactica, in which humans were eventually forced to collaborate with their Cylon enemies in the name of mutual survival. It can make for frustrating viewing at times, as a relatively innocuous and humane point of view is challenged by do-or-die lunatics like Jason, but it provides a nice Twilight Zone-esque counterpoint to the more common “kill ‘em all” Hollywood narrative.
But the real show this week was CJ. Watching Djimon Hounsou finally sink his teeth into a meatier role was an excellent balance to the modern-day hysterics unfolding in the lab, and CJ’s story illuminated the haunted stare we’ve seen time and again from the character. I’ve been wondering if and how the series intended to show us the interim between the development of Pilcher’s facility and the beginning of Wayward Pines after the year 4000. “Time Will Tell” shows us it was the work of one desperately lonely man. It shook out to 100 days spent in solitary confinement for CJ, as he woke up for 24 hours every 20 years, to maintain the equipment, check out the slow dissolution of humanity, and play chess. After 1000 years, the isolation and pretend conversations with the pictures of interred citizens from their portfolios was too much. During his time out and about in 3214, he hallucinates his dead love, telling her a heartbreaking tale about how he always assumed he’d be buried next to her at the end of all this. But that ground isn’t even there anymore, he notes, tears rolling down his cheek. “It’s your job to be here,” she gently reminds him, “Miles to go…”
Of course, CJ’s other encounter with an actual flesh-and-blood person was arguably more upsetting for him. Five hundred years from now, technology and communication are slowly disappearing from the planet, and the young man CJ stumbles across is already beginning to show signs of the Abbie change. It’s a dark moment when CJ ends up killing him, yet it’s a necessary moment, showing the character’s essential split over his concern for all life, and the sacrifice he’s already made in hopes of preserving a crucial few. Maintaining that essential lack of certainty about your actions is what keeps you moral, and human, as is proven by Jason’s lack of such an attitude. When CJ looks out onto the world during his very first awakening, and wonders, “Was it a mistake?”, it’s hard not read some meta- internal wrestling on the part of the show into the scene.
There’s an element of original sin to Wayward Pines’ origin story, as Pilcher makes the fateful decision to push the Abbies out of the territory he had set aside. This is handled somewhat clumsily—CJ literally wonders aloud if attacking the Aberrations would start a cycle of violence that could’ve been avoided—but Pilcher’s devotional zeal to his dream has been well established. These other creatures are interlopers in his vision of a new world, and since they look like devolved animals, he chooses to treat them as such. It’s a form of intentional blindness, closing his eyes to the world right in front of him, but the show has developed this theme in multiple ways. It’s argued from the start that we all have to tell ourselves little lies or half-truths just to get by.
Even Megan Fisher—R.I.P., David Pilcher’s most dedicated proselytizer—was aware, in the end, of what she had to do to make her way in this world. Whether it’s CJ telling her that Group A won’t be able to handle the realization of what they’ve lost, or Theo asking her to remember what life was like, Megan had to brush such concerns aside. She worked hard, as she tells Theo, to forget the world as it was. At a certain point, you must willfully let go of the past, if you want to survive the future. She refuses to surrender to Hassler’s certainty that all is already lost, that the Abbies are humans’ replacements. But that’s exactly the problem—the need to let go blinds you to the importance of remembering. Theo Yedlin is the counterweight to the tunnel vision that’s developed in Wayward Pines. Margaret sees that; it’s why she wants him as leader. But nothing causes you to lose sight of what’s come before quicker than death staring you in the face. Which is why Margaret kills Megan and leaves; she’s seen enough of these people, and this world. She’s ready for a better one.
- It’s an effective and startling moment when we realize at the same time as Megan that an artery in her leg has been severed, and she’s bleeding out. Farewell, one of our last remaining connections to season one.
- How many times does Yedlin have to point out obvious facts to these people? “They have the numbers.” At least Megan finally came around in her last hours.
- As always, Theo’s pitch-black humor is much appreciated. His best line was after Megan tried to arrogantly change the subject by telling him he’d be paired with another mate, and he looks down at her and says with deadpan perfection, “Maybe I’ve already found one.”
- Also, Megan was so pleased when he took her hand to say they were friends! A nice moment of humanity for her right before the end.
- I see this has turned into the “memories of Megan” stray observation time. Eh, she’s earned it.