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'Wayward Pines' postmortem: Who survived the finale?

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Liane Hentscher/FOX

Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the Wayward Pines finale. Read at your own risk!

Well, that was depressing!

After David Pilcher (Toby Jones) left Wayward Pines to fend for itself by turning off the power, Ethan (Matt Dillon) helped most of the town escape to headquarters in the Wayward Pines finale. But with the Abbies inside the walls, Ethan sacrificed himself by blowing up the elevator shaft, while Pam (Melissa Leo) ended Pilcher’s reign of terror by killing him.

Wayward Pines seemed poised to be free of tyranny, but when Ethan’s son Ben (Charlie Tahan) woke up from a more than three year nap after being injured in the battle against the Abbies, he discovered the First Generation had put all the adults into hibernation and put Wayward Pines back under the thumb of big brother. Why, oh why? EW caught up with executive producer Chad Hodge to get his take on that inauspicious ending.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Was this the original ending from the books?

CHAD HODGE: No. It’s not the original ending from the books, it is a variation on the ending from the books. In the books, everybody goes back into suspension realizing that we can’t survive against the Abbies for now. Everybody goes back into suspension for several thousand more years. “Let’s just go back into these chambers. This is not our planet right now. Let’s see what happens when we wake up in 10,000 years.” They wake up and you see Ethan’s eye pop open and that’s the end of the book.

That’s even more depressing!

It brings up one of the things Wayward Pines is about: Is the whole thing a brilliant idea or a depressing one?

What came with the decision to do this ending rather than the book one?

The First Generation and that whole plot is not part of the books. When Ben comes to town and starts going to the school, that whole aspect that the kids know the truth and they’re being groomed was an original part of the show. From that point forward, everything had an element of the First Generation in it, so the ending would be different somehow.

Were there other alternate endings you considered?

Yeah. We considered many different endings and ultimately decided this one was the most in the weird tone of the show and in the truth of the show and what would probably have happened. There’s obviously many ways you can go, but the strength of the First Generation and the fact that they were the ones following Pilcher’s ideology, for better or worse, they ended up taking over.  

Was this your way of teasing what a potential second season would look like, or do you feel like this is the end of the story?

It was not meant to tease a season 2. It was the end. Period. Really what it does is it comes full circle. Just as Ethan woke up in episode 1 and found himself in this strange town of Wayward Pines, in a hospital bed with a nurse standing above him, and then he walks up Main St. to find this strangely odd town and people staring at him, it’s actually partly shot-for-shot exactly what we did in the first episode as Ben comes up Main St. and sees people starring at him. It’s meant to be full circle that Ben is now experiencing, in a way, exactly what his father experienced when he came to Wayward Pines. Not that much has changed, but in fact, things have maybe gotten a little worse.

Has Fox talked to you about a potential second season?

There are some preliminary discussions, but nothing official yet. It really was always designed to be this one season, so should it have a further life, it’s a whole new discussion. This ending and where it went was always intended to be the end.

If the show were to return for a second season, would the adults be part of it?

We are in such preliminary discussions that I can’t confirm anything.

What exactly went wrong so the adults were all put under?

Right? The last we see is Kate (Carla Gugino) and Pam (Melissa Leo) talking about how this didn’t work and this is the last of humanity, things have to change. But the strength and insanity, you could call it, of Pilcher’s ideology and the First Generation that he groomed so effectively was stronger. While, of course, we don’t know the details of exactly what happened between then and now, obviously they took over. They put all of the adults back in suspension. They felt the adults would just be their downfall.

You say all the adults, but was Pam killed in the ensuing years for killing their savior or is she still asleep somewhere?

I think she’s still asleep somewhere. You look at what happened in the last episode and yes, Ethan told the town the truth, which is a good thing, but in the world of Wayward Pines, was it? Because now most of the people are dead. The Abbies killed so many people. Was it a good thing? I don’t think there’s a yes or no answer to that. That’s what I love about the show and the way we told the story. You can debate it and you can have your own opinion. There is no right answer, which is exactly why when you see the First Generation has taken over Wayward Pines at the very end, you’re like, “Wait, no! That’s not what’s supposed to happen.” But the rules of Wayward Pines are not the same rules as our world, but in a way they also are. You can look at it that there’s no end to the violence and craziness. No matter how many times we learn a lesson, people will still be killed and people will still want power. That’s how it is in our world today and always has been. That’s why the episode is called “Cycle.” Is it a never-ending cycle? Are humans basically destined to kill each other?

Is that the message you wanted to send with this ending, that everything is basically hopeless?

It’s not the message of hopelessness, it’s the message of, “Is there another way?” Right now in Wayward Pines, maybe there’s not, and maybe that’s Pilcher’s fault. When you put the power in the hands of the wrong people, maybe there is hopelessness. Had the power been in the hands of the adults, maybe there would be something different and hopefully there will be going forward.

Who was hanging from the light pole in the closing moment?

Obviously the First Generation alone, they’re not enough people. They’re not enough to sustain a town and sustain humanity, so they have to bring some people out of suspension, so I think they tried to bring out people from Group C. Those people, of course, some tried to run, some tried to scream and shout and don’t understand the rules. Now, Jason (Tom Stevens) and the First Generation has taken the punishment to the next level. It’s just truly horrific.

Why did Ethan have to die?

Like in all of the episodes, you’re hopefully constantly surprised. You didn’t see that coming. We really wanted it to be real. Of course, none of this is real, but at the same time, he’s our hero. To me, it’s a little less realistic that of all the hundreds of people who are dying, everyone we care about survives. Ethan, as our hero, actually has to be the one to make a sacrifice. He realizes in that elevator that if he doesn’t blow up the elevator, effectively killing all the Abbies, that they’re going to get in, they’re going to get into the super structure and kill everybody. He has to make the ultimate sacrifice, which really is the ultimate heroic move.

Can you just confirm that Megan Fisher (Hope Davis) did indeed die a horrible, horrible death?

[Laughs] I can confirm that you can imagine that, but I cannot confirm that she died a slow and horrible death for sure. I can confirm that Ethan Burke did.