If the last episode of Wayward Pines blew your theories into oblivion, this week’s installment began the arduous process of picking up the flaming pieces and sorting them into various smoky piles of exposition.
After two weeks of backstory about the truth of WP—it’s the last remaining settlement of humans in the year 4028, mutants roam the outlands, I believe the children are our future, etc. etc.—it seems we’re on the way towards a final-four finale where the battle lines are drawn and the town is in for a radical revolution.
On one side is Ethan, who’s still wrapping his head around things after getting a VIP mountainside facility tour by David Pilcher and Nurse Pam (who, it turns out, is Pilcher’s recovering addict sister, Regular Pam). By the tour’s end, Ethan understands the importance of the town’s stringent albeit unnecessarily immoral system of government, and though he’s keen to change it, he’s also intent on protecting it. His biggest threat? Kate and Harold Ballinger, who are actually the leaders of a faction of resisting Pinesians who are secretly plotting to bring fire down upon the town—or at least upon the giant fence keeping everyone inside.
Ethan has vowed to keep Wayward Pines safe and do “whatever it takes” to stop the resistance from blowing the electrified wall and letting the aberrations in, but he’s presently unaware that it means he’ll have to go head to head with Kate. Crazy turn of events, right!? Two weeks of exposition was worth it to get to this scenario, and the slow burn is close to a pay-off that may or may not involve a Dillon-Gugino utopia throwdown.
Amid the revelations, there’s also poor Ben, newly initiated into the First Generation and trying to come to terms with his place in the world as one of the sole survivors of humanity (standard teen existentialism at its finest), and Theresa, who’s investigating a possible escape route on an empty plot of land in town. Could she ostensibly join the resistance, too, before Ethan gets a chance to explain his new loyalty to her? Or, even if he does explain it, would she believe him?
The big thing this week was Ethan’s tour through the mountainside. Like any good journalist, he’s asking the Pilchers the same questions we’ve been throwing around: who/what/where/when/why/what’s up with all the murder/how? Pilcher explains pretty much everything while showing Ethan all of the frozen cryonic chambers, control rooms, and storage facilities (different, we learn, from the food storage facility he once snuck into). It’s arguably the Costco of post-humanity arks. Ethan gets to glimpse the 200+ volunteers who keep things in WP running, who left their families to help Pilcher and now eat, sleep, and work in the complex, and he sees an aberration in captivity—a little Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf and Nicholas Hoult in Mad Max: Fury Road with a splash of Off Off Broadway’s Bat Boy.
Most revealing of all, Ethan sees the somewhat empathetic Pilcher as the man behind the surveillance and secrecy. For every barb Ethan throws about the moral misbehavior of what the scientist has done, Pilcher winningly defends his philosophies with a perfectly “hey, that actually makes sense” response. (My favorite is when Ethan demands an end to the public executions, and Pilcher compares them to nascent America’s sedition laws, when spies and traitors were visibly hanged in the streets. “This isn’t a little town, it’s a new civilization,” Pilcher reasons, and as we proceed, the ethical battle between Ethan’s man of good and Pilcher’s man of greater good could become a Lost-lite dialogue about rationalism.)
In flashbacks, we see young Pilcher as a budding science industrialist who grew frustrated with a global community either not believing in the inevitable mutation of humanity or simply not concerning themselves with it, leaving the mess to the perils of their children’s children. (All of a sudden, Wayward Pines takes on a very modern shape in its message about delaying inevitable doom, be it sharp-toothed human aberration or something as simple as a change in the weather.) Encouraged by his sister Pam’s guidance, Pilcher adapts the mentality of, “I couldn’t protect the entire world, but I could protect a select few. I had to save some of us.”
Thus, he diverts his money into cryonics research and sets out to recruit to his cause. After publishing a book, he finds an early devotee in Megan Fisher, a hypnotherapist who perhaps gives Pilcher his first idea to employ brainwashing (although that’s not a path he embarks upon until much later). Disenchanted with the lack of actual volunteers, Pilcher recruits Sheriff Pope, then just a family-less security guard, to help him abduct people instead, targeting valuable souls on the fringe of society like a disgraced doctor who could theoretically rediscover his purpose—albeit just 2,000 years later. Ergo, on March 26, 1999, they freeze Dr. Charles Keen, patient #000001.
Ethan wonders why Pilcher doesn’t just share the truth with the Pinesians. But lo, he tried. When the first generation woke up in 4014, Pilcher informed the unfrozen recruits about the truth, and they reacted by rioting, running away, and killing themselves in acts of sheer fragility. Thus, the Burkes, the Ballingers, and the friendly barista lady are all part of Group B, and they can’t be told the truth. Ben’s “First Generation” classmates are being groomed with the seed of truth instilled at a young age, so the secrecy can end—eventually.
Which brings us to the present (in 4028, at least): Ethan has promised to keep Wayward Pines safe and give the town something to believe in, but he refuses to continue the reckonings. Pilcher may bend, but the more impending crisis is the resistance faction that’s presently threatening to blow up the fence.
Kate’s working in the toy store when she’s approached by Ted, a deliveryman who’s part of the resistance group (and who may or may not also be toying Kate’s ballinger on the side). Ted brings the news that a key package in their plan is sitting at the late Peter McCall’s desk at the real estate office. Of course, Peter’s now dead and Theresa has inherited his job, so Kate diverts her by inviting her out for a cup of coffee while Ted swipes the box.
Kate and Theresa’s tete-a-tete is partly a ploy to keep the latter occupied during the theft, but also a seemingly authentic attempt by Kate to bury the hatchet. Now, more than ever, she needs allies in the resistance, and Theresa certainly shares the same desire to escape the Pines (though Kate’s had 12 years to ruminate on it). As Theresa gets closer to discovering the secrets of this Plot 33, she may very well align herself with Kate’s efforts.
As it turns out, the resistance’s package is a component for a bomb alarm clock, which Harold quickly crafts and declares ready for use. What will they bomb? The fence, as Pilcher fears? Or something that will hit closer to home?
Whose side are you on? Surely, in any other circumstance, Ethan would have joined the resistance and we’d be wholeheartedly rooting for him to bust through the wall, aberrations be damned. And now he’s at odds with them, and you have to decide whether you want to preserve the sanctity of the Pines or you want it blown to little idyllic barbacoa shreds.