This Wayward Pines post is written from the point of view of someone who has not read the books the series is based on. As such, spoilers are strictly forbidden. Any spoilers in comments will be deleted on sight. Remember: Discussions of things that were different in the books or confirmations of things that won’t happen count as spoilers, too. Have you read the books and want to discuss what’s coming? That’s what our Spoiler Space is for.
Sheriff Pope finally crossed a line. He tried to kill Ethan, and it ended in his own death. The Burkes did what the sheriff didn’t think could be done: Ben hits Pope with his own car, and then Ethan kills him with his own gun. The sheriff’s own tools, the things he used to wield power in his town, were turned against him. Pope was felled by his own pride and belief in his inevitability. (“This is my town,” he insisted, more than once tonight.) Perhaps it’s that very quality that blinded Pope to Ethan’s value—after all, as he exclaimed to Ethan during their fight in the mysterious hangar, “I don’t know what they see in you.”
That lack of knowledge is what convinces Ethan he still has room to maneuver. Confronting Pam and Pope in the latter’s office, Ethan sneers, “You’re not in charge here.” The town may have killed Beverly as a show of force, a means of intimidating Ethan, but it backfired. All it showed Agent Burke was that everyone he’s met is just following orders. Pam’s not in charge, Pope’s not in charge—they’re taking orders from whoever is on the other end of that oft-ringing phone. His antagonists don’t have all the answers, and the ones they do have, they’re not sharing. After all, as Pope warns Ethan before he’s shot, the truth behind Wayward Pines is “so much worse” than what he could imagine.
And let’s unpack those final moments, because they certainly suggest that something here is worse than can be imagined. Specifically, whatever creatures made those horrific shrieks and dragged Pope’s body back into the interior of the wall. This is our first indication that there may be something supernatural going on. Sure, my clone theory from last week isn’t exactly scientific, but it’s still based in what we consider to be human reason and technology. Those wailing sounds didn’t come from a normal animal. Wayward Pines is opening up the possibility of beings beyond our everyday reality, and it offers some tantalizing possibilities about where the show is headed. Pope was right about one thing: it’s much safer if you follow the rules.
The Burkes don’t like rules, and “Our Town, Our Law” burned through a lot of story in demonstrating that fact, even as it forgot to include the humor that has leavened the all-creepy-all-the-time weirdness of the central conceit. Theresa and Ben are in Wayward Pines, and it’s unclear how they got there. We know Pope cut a line in the car, probably the brake line; but unlike with Ethan, the audience never sees the accident. And whereas Ethan woke up in the woods, Theresa and Ben came to in the hospital, and were taken directly to their “home,” a.k.a. the recently vacated residence of Beverly. Does this mean they could conceivably be the Theresa and Ben we saw on gurneys last week? Absolutely.
Bringing them into the town is a great move, narratively, because it allows the show to stop dipping its toes outside of Wayward Pines—something that brought dramatic tension to a grinding halt in the first two episodes—and instead corral the Burkes under one roof, and into the same mystery. The whole “Ben sees Kate and tells on Ethan” shtick felt a little forced—you genuinely think you’ve been moved into this weird house in a weird town so that Ethan can have an affair with Kate?—but the final minutes will likely help show the Burkes they need to stick together. Of course, Ethan’s behavior was a little forced, too; not telling your family they’re in a giant inexplicable experiment isn’t going to get you very far. Did he think they’d just hang out in an unfurnished house all day and night for the foreseeable future? Ethan can be a little single-minded, but that’s beyond tunnel vision, it’s tunnel blindness.
Speaking of tunnels, let’s talk about Ethan’s discovery of the one that keeps Wayward Pines functioning. Hitching a ride inside the “Finest International Foods” truck, he’s taken to what appears to be a giant hangar, where conveyances in and out of WP are housed. We even see several other employees being dropped off—the ones who were cleaning Beverly’s house, it looked like. Do they live outside the town, then? Are they aware of what’s going on? Presumably, this hangar is also inside the giant perimeter wall, though hopefully far away from whatever made those awful shrieks. And here we find Theresa’s car, smashed up, lending credence to the “accident” story. Just before Pope injected Ethan, knocking him out, it seemed as though our secret service agent might have a chance to get more answers, though the existence of this area alone is a pretty big piece of intel.
And besides, Kate Hewson had some answers of her own, even if they weren’t the ones Ethan was hoping for. Thanks to Kate, we now know that what happened to Beverly was called being “Reckoned,” the punishment for violating one of the fundamental laws. She also confirms the existence of what I believed to be Ethan’s grace period: “There are no second chances here, and you got one, so take it.” No wonder Pope is so frustrated with the Burke family—they really are getting a lot of special treatment in this town.
Kate also helps to explain why she’s not on Ethan’s side, during their second meeting in the woods. What seems like five weeks to Ethan has been over a decade for her, and after awhile, all her resistance finally broke down. She tried to escape, to think like an agent, and eventually concluded it was all for nought. Ethan may still believe she can be roused to his cause, but her justification for her behavior makes a lot of sense.
The most significant exchange in the episode, though, is also the one that was probably the most incidental from Ethan’s point of view: his exchange with Dr. Jenkins in the middle of a rainstorm. From Ethan’s point of view, Jenkins is just another member of this town, taking orders from God knows who and playing the game of small-town civility demanded by the experiment’s overlords. But we know Jenkins can travel outside the walls, and that he’s in on whatever machinations brought Ethan to Wayward Pines in the first place. He’s a key player, but Ethan doesn’t know it yet. So he doesn’t pay enough attention when Jenkins tries to explain that everyone is doing their best, and that Wayward Pines needs someone like Ethan—someone “good.” Instead, Ethan Burke tells Jenkins there’s a very simple reason he won’t stay: “I don’t live here.”
The camera pulls back, and Ethan walks away, toward the house his family is in, behind a mailbox labeled “Burke.” Ethan may not want to accept it, but for now, he does live here.
- While nothing this week confirmed my theory about what’s happening in Wayward Pines (you can read it in last week’s review), nothing disproved it, either. If anything, I’m even more convinced that Jenkins’ pleading may be to try and avoid having to do this all over again, with the next body/iteration of Ethan.
- Speaking of which, you can probably guess that I’m about to suggest we haven’t seen the last of Pope, either.
- Melissa Leo continues to deliver her lines with a zest usually only seen in people who just won a Golden Ticket to Willy Wonka’s factory. “Of course, I’m speaking more as a poet than a nurse when I say that.”
- Adam Hassler’s call to Jenkins shows how quick WP people can arrange situations on the outside. I have no doubt those little kids were just waiting for Theresa to arrive at the gas station, so they could tell her Ethan had an accident near Wayward Pines.
- It’s odd they put Beverly’s body in the same house as Evans’. Is there something special about 604 First Avenue?
- “The only way to stay alive is to play along.”
- Hello, Justin Kirk as the eerie realtor. Something tells me we’ll be seeing more of you, as well.