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.
Wayward Pines is rapidly becoming one of the most dependable series on television. Not “best,” mind you—although it’s definitely one of the best shows when it comes to fun summer TV. No, what the series reliably delivers is its particular brand of crazy, week after week, and with only two episodes left to go, there’s not a dud in the bunch. And given how this week’s events literally blow a hole in the entire setup, that momentum seems unlikely to change.
Pamela Pilcher finally made sense as a person this week. It turns out her alternately patronizing and threatening demeanor has been largely a way to placate her paranoid brother, while she tries to watch out for the people she considers family: the volunteer employees of Wayward Pines tech facility. Conducting interrogations of the security monitors, she learns some love the job, some tolerate it, and some, like poor Reggie Hudson, occasionally do their best to shield the town’s citizens from the very rules meant to protect them. Pam understands this, and allows it. She knows that people are naturally inquisitive, and that there will always be questions. Unfortunately for her—and much more unfortunately for the re-hibernated Reggie—her brother doesn’t see it that way.
For the first half of “The Friendliest Place On Earth,” I was convinced Pam was in league with the resistance. Melissa Leo’s line readings were maximally designed to suggest subterfuge. (“What kind of person sets off a bomb in the middle of town?,” she asks, all doe-eyed with concern.) By the time she’s awkwardly agreeing to investigate the possibility of a collaborator on the inside, the show was practically ringing a warning bell over her head. But as it turns out, David’s the unstable one. In fact, Pam is the unsung hero of this situation. She tries to keep her sibling from going too far—even if, by the end of this week’s episode, he’s announced they’re at war against terrorists. When she talks down to the citizens, it’s in part an effort to maintain her brother’s sense that events are well in hand. Even the fellowship celebration (attendance mandatory, of course) was an effort to rein him in, to keep David Pilcher from doing something rash.
But Ethan is right: It’s too late to keep everyone calm and quiet. The bomb that ripped through the delivery truck also ripped through the fragile veneer of everyday life that sustains Wayward Pines’ functionality. The irony is, Pilcher knows this. When he ventures out as Dr. Jenkins, he sees the looks on people’s faces. He overhears their muttered concerns about bombs, about violence, and even gets an opportunity to weigh in. But his measured warning against “spreading rumors” is laughably ineffectual. This town finally has a sheriff who’s telling them the truth—part of it, anyway—and as a result, the mayor’s platitudes and Pilcher’s surface-level polishes are like Band-Aids on a severed limb.
And that sheriff can rest easy on one front, at least: His son isn’t dead. Ben is in rough shape, but both he and Amy survived the blast. (Which suggests that perhaps Harold and Franklin aren’t the talented bombmakers we’ve been led to believe they are. A bomb that doesn’t even kill people two feet away is supposed to rip through the wall encircling the town?) Most of Ethan’s scenes this week are subdued; his biggest act is confessing to Theresa the real story of the Easter bombing, and his part in it. No, the real action dealt with those on either side of Ethan—the resistance and their ongoing efforts to break free of this terrifying town, and the increasingly desperate and megalomaniacal actions of Wayward Pines’ paranoid patriarch.
Kate also really comes into her own this week, and her flashbacks with Pilcher show both why she was eventually able to guess his true identity, and why he saw in her an emblem of what was achievable. Their conversation illuminates the predicament of both sides. As Pilcher tells her, “It’s freedom or safety, not both,” and when Kate retorts, “Who anointed you to make that choice?”, his answer cuts to the heart of the problem: “I did.”
Except, it wasn’t just him. Megan Fisher was there from the beginning, pushing him into the calculating decisions that led to the establishment of this experiment in the first place. It’s unclear just how big a role she plays in this endeavor, and her lack of time alone with Pilcher—on-screen, anyway—makes her a tremendous wild card. Turning Ben against his father felt a little too easy, but again, she’s not necessarily wrong. Perhaps if Ethan hadn’t let Harold go free, and hadn’t offered Kate an out, Ben wouldn’t be in the hospital right now. Still, it’s hard to believe Mrs. Fisher isn’t working some of her hypnotherapist mojo. And Theresa shares that suspicion, meaning if Ben’s teacher tries to keep working whatever voodoo she’s laying down, there’s going to be consequences. And that’s something Megan Fisher should understand—instructions and punishments both clear and severe.
The final actions of “The Friendliest Place On Earth” suggest that, instead of breaking loose, all hell is about to break in, as Harold’s cohort (Hi, Alan! Bye, Alan!) finally succeeds in driving through the wall. His immediate and bloody death at the hands of the Aberrations implies death is coming to Wayward Pines. It sounds strange to say it, but David Pilcher’s paranoid militarization of his volunteer forces might just turn out to be a blessing after all. The town is ill-equipped for an invasion of Abies. Everything that has kept this place afloat is on the verge of collapse; Pam and David have suffered a potentially irrevocable rift, and Ethan doesn’t have a way to protect anyone, let alone his family. To quote the philosopher Martin Lawrence: Shit just got real.
- Poor Ruby. Pilcher saw you show up late to work, and there’s just no way that’s going to end well.
- Kudos to the people who called out the Easter bombing as something that would become a beat in the narrative later on. It’s like Chekhov said: If you let a bombing suspect go in the first act, he has to come back and be a minor plot point in the eighth episode of a Twilight Zone-like Fox series.
- Amy: “I can hear your heart.” Ben: “Yeah, well, I hope so.”
- Pilcher is really turning into a Dick Cheney type of paranoiac. I’m interested to see how his “this is a war on terror” speech sits with his team.
- “These people want to be free. And I owe them that chance.”