Lights out in Wayward Pines. Kind of a problem. You know what’s coming. So next time your power goes out and you want to scream and murder your electric company, just breathe and think… Well, at least I’m not in Wayward Pines.
I’ve been so excited for you to see Episode 9. Written by The Duffer Brother and directed by Nimrod Antal (yes that’s his real name), this episode slays me every time I see it. For so many reasons: The cinematic comeback of the reckoning. Arlene (Siobhan Fallon Hogan) having a stare-down with the buffalo on her wall. Ethan (Matt Dillon) showing the gruesome cadaver photos to Harold (Reed Diamond) and saying: “That’s Alan. And that’s Eric. Or maybe that’s Alan and that’s Eric. Hard to tell.” The gut-wrenching performance Carla Gugino gives us when she tells Ethan he has to kill her.
And while I don’t like to pick favorites, sometimes you have to do things you don’t like to do (as we’ve learned many times in Wayward Pines). So I’m gonna go ahead and admit that my favorite scene in this episode is the scene where the First Generation boys take over the sheriff’s station and execute the rebels. It still shocks me every time I see it. It’s so unexpected. It’s so intense. It’s so “only in Wayward Pines”.
It worked because all the elements came together. Yes, it all starts with the script. But television is a group effort and Nimrod crafted a beautifully haunting experience. It took almost two days to shoot. It’s a terrifying thing for any actor to perform material like this, and I think Tom Stevens, who plays Jason, did a remarkable job. And Kate and Harold’s connection to each other is never more visceral than in this scene. I love Charlie Clouser’s sublime, tense score and its underlying heartbeat. I love the high-pitched sound that rings in your ears and takes over when the first shot is fired. It’s how it would really feel. And that’s what Nimrod and our brilliant editor Leo Trombetta did with this scene. They made you feel what it would be like to be there. And it’s horrifying.
As we near the end of our story, let’s look back, shall we? Here is a hit list of my favorite scenes from each episode:
Episode 1: When Ethan Burke first meets the ice-cream eating Sheriff Arnold Pope (Terrence Howard). The darkly comic interplay between the two is fantastic to watch. This scene helped establish the tone for the whole series. And rum raisin. Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Episode 2: The scene in the mausoleum when Ethan and Beverly (Juliette Lewis) discuss the fact that she thinks it’s 1999 and he thinks it’s 2014. When she says her birthday is November 1960, he says “You look pretty good for fifty-four.” And she responds, “Well, I guess that’s a point in the plus column” in the most perfect Juliette Lewis way. Director: Charlotte Sieling
Episode 3: I’m obsessed with the scene where Theresa (Shannyn Sossamon) finds Sheriff Pope eating ice cream in her kitchen. It’s terrifying. He’s just sitting there with a spoon, impressed that they have a new ice cream flavor in their freezer. Shannyn plays it with such a haunted subtle terror while Terrence is chillingly unpredictable. “Don’t I get a thank you?” he asks. “I’m sorry?” says Theresa. “A thank you. For saving your life.” Little did we know back then exactly what he meant. Director: Zal Batmanglij
Episode 4: The first “tutoring” session with Ben (Charlie Tahan) and Mrs. Fisher (Hope Davis). I remember when writer Steven Levenson told me he wanted to write a scene inspired by the interrogation scene in Blade Runner. I love how it turned out. Mrs. Fisher’s questions are so odd and chilling. “Where are you from, Ben?” “Seattle.” “And where do you live?” Hope Davis is a revelation. She makes it work in the most f*cked-up way. I love how the camera racks out of focus when we go into Ben’s POV, staring at the kids outside. Director: Zal Batmanglij
Episode 5: I love the interweaving of storylines in this episode. As Ethan is out in the world beyond the fence, Ben is learning the truth in a cold white room in the basement of the school. My favorite scene is when Mrs. Fisher tells Ben and the two other students the cautionary tale of Chris, the boy who told his parents the truth. And then his parents killed themselves. Director: James Foley
Episode 6: There’s a flashback scene in this episode that always gets me. It’s when David Pilcher (Toby Jones) recruits a young Arnold Pope to join the cause. Pope was just a security guard with a past… and no future… until Pilcher tells him he could be part of the future of all humanity. The whole scene takes place in Pilcher’s parked car, in the rain, and Terrence gives a dark and emotional performance as this hopeless, sad man. Director: Jeff T. Thomas
Episode 7: The scene where Nurse Pam (Melissa Leo) finds her brother David Pilcher at the hospital and excitedly tells him about the “two new pregnancies!” Nurse Pam might have been terrifying at first but she was a necessary evil. We now know that “Nurse Pam” is a character she plays, but Pamela Pilcher sees herself as the caring mother of everyone in… the world. And Toby Jones so beautifully begins to show the chinks in Pilcher’s armor. He’s terrified that his perfect creation is coming apart. Best of all, this is a brother and a sister being… a brother and a sister. Director: Steve Shill
Episode 8: I love the flashback to Kate’s first days in Wayward Pines when she’s in a white padded cell screaming “I want to get out of this town!” It’s like, phew, Kate wasn’t always playing the role of perfect Kate Hewson. In fact she was so resistant they had to lock her up and drug her. Carla’s performance in this is captivating and wild. And we see the beginning of her complex relationship with Dr. Jenkins… who she eventually realizes is David Pilcher. And I love when Nurse Pam comes in with a syringe cap in her mouth and the line, “Don’t worry. We’ll get you all fixed up.” Director: Tim Hunter
Episode 9: Of course, the aforementioned assassination scene in the sheriff’s station. Director: Nimrod Antal
Episode 10: Come on, now. You didn’t think I’d give anything away, did you?
I’m very excited for you to see our finale next week. Thank you for watching and making Wayward Pines the #1 scripted series of the summer. We’re all incredibly grateful.
And thank you for reading this blog. I’ve had so much fun writing it and hearing from the fans. But this will be my last because I think the final word should come from the show itself…
On Twitter: @chad_hodge