Oh, Wayward Pines, you devilish little minx. You sly, devious little show. You came into our lives this summer with the spectral intrigue of a psychothriller, the chic style of a Nordstrom, and the marching momentum of Luscious Lyon, and how did you end? As a guns-blazing, limb-chopping, blood-splattering horror movie, but one that still managed to find moments of quiet, subtle, tissue-grabbing woe and one final WTF to keep things turning like a terrible merry-go-round. Nay, like all merry-go-rounds.
The final episode of season 1 of Wayward Pines—and perhaps the entire series, as buzz on a second season pick-up has been spookily quiet—ended right back where it started, much like the creepy carousel that underscored the shocking final moment when Ben Burke, awaking three and a half years after the attack of the Abbies, finds himself in a new Wayward Pines under the regime of the First Generation. Children now have children; teenagers are cops and wear high heels; a giant statue of David Pilcher has been erected claiming him to be a savior visionary; and, most unsettling of all, corpses are strung from flagpoles, with signs saying “DO NOT LEAVE” tied to their puffy, discolored necks.
Wayward Pines survives, but despite the efforts of the townspeople of Group B, it’s a town where dystopian rule once again reigns supreme. The cycle continues. It’s a horrifying sight, and yet it feels strangely right and wrong at the same time.
How did we get here?
In the immediate aftermath of the Abbies’ descent on Wayward Pines, the town is in a mad panic—mainly because of the power outage, because most of them don’t know what Abbies are at this point. Until they QUICKLY learn. Ethan tells the townspeople to take shelter in the bunker under Plot 33, as he and Kate head to the sheriff’s station to arm the resistance with the town’s supply of weapons. Theresa goes to the hospital to rescue Ben and Amy, and the rest of the town is forced to fend for themselves as they navigate Main Street. But the Abbies come, and they come fast, and they claim casualties.
There’s Big Bob from the realtor office, and the friendly doctor at the hospital who goes to restore the back-up generator. Arlene almost gets killed—which would have made me absolutely furious—but she’s saved at the last minute by Kate, who tracks an Abbie to her toy shop and fights her way back out. The carnage on Main Street is eerily reminiscent of the madness of Group A, with cars blazing and bodies strewn and general violent unpleasantness permeating the thick air.
At the same time, Pam is watching the horror unfold and desperately trying to get Pilcher to change his mind. He reveals that it’s time to exterminate Group B and wake up Group C, but Pam won’t eviscerate an entire population again just because of Pilcher’s mistake. “We’re not talking about ideas anymore, David, we’re talking about actual living human beings,” she pleads. “You haven’t failed your great experiment.” But Pilcher has his sister escorted by security—along with the rest of his employees—and sends Pam back into a sleep chamber. Was it meant to be for good, or just for now? Either way, it was betrayal, and Pam’s last look to her brother was more heartbreaking than when Rose didn’t let Jack share the door in Titanic.
Back on the street, Ethan retrieves Ben, Amy, and Theresa at the hospital, and shepherds them to the bunker under Plot 33, where Kate, Arlene, and the rest of the town’s surviving adults have made it. That includes Megan Fisher, who grumpily still believes that Pilcher is going to rescue them and refuses to tell Ethan where the town’s underground tunnels lead. It’s only when Ben finally chooses his father and forces Fisher to acknowledge that Pilcher is drowning the ark that Fisher realizes perhaps her savior really did abandon them.
She directs the survivors toward the elevator to the mountainside chamber, and Ethan and Kate begin to lead the group.
Fisher stays behind, though, in the hopes that some of the First Generation students who are absent will still make it to the bunker, and she can let them in. It’s a moment of redemption for Fisher, because she’s quickly eaten by Abbies—but not before I have one final moment of doubt about this woman. At the same time that she tells her husband she’s going to stay behind, we see that the incarcerated millennials of Class One of the First Generation (the ones who shot Harold Ballinger and tried to reckon Kate) have been rescued by the rest of their group of teens/twentysomethings. Instead of going to the bunker, they head straight to Wayward Pines Academy, where cute douchebag Jason leads the kids to a safe room Costco-filled with everything they need to outlive the Abbie attack. Survival, by Kirkland Signature.
Watching Fisher in the bunker, I wonder if she knew about the room and planned to go to it. Instead, she gets (presumably) wrecked by Abbies. And that’s all she wrote.
NEXT: Inside the bunker[pagebreak]
Ethan and Kate lead the town to the elevator. They go up first, and quickly take out some of the guards under Pilcher’s command. (The surviving guard decides to support Pam instead, and thankfully, orders her to be immediately un-cryo-whatevered.)
Ethan sends for the rest of the town, and they ascend in small groups to the mountainside chamber, and to safety. But down in the bunker, Abbies have broken inside and are making their way to the shaft. Ben, gun in hands, fights them off, but he runs out of ammo…just in time for Ethan to save them yet again.
The final elevator ride includes Ethan, Theresa, Ben, and Brad Fisher, who’s just said goodbye to Megan for the last and, let’s be honest, probably first time, too. The elevator travels its way up, but the Abbies tear through the wiring and it gets stuck. Ben begins to lead his mother and the rest of the group out through the elevator roof, but Ethan stays behind. He bids an emotional farewell to Ben and Theresa and sends them to safety.
What’s his plan? Ethan Burke is going to blow the elevator to make sure none of the Abbies make it to the mountainside facility. He waits until the time draws near, and during his waiting, he hears Pilcher’s voice through the speaker. One final confrontation.
Pilcher, watching from his office, gloats to Ethan about his impending demise. Suddenly, Kate enters, gun pointed at Pilcher, and begs one last time for him to turn on the power. He mocks her and refuses, saying that his ideas will live on long after he’s gone—the ultimate revenge—but before Kate has time to shoot him, PAM KILLS HIM. I cheer. Special K spills to the floor. I return to the screen.
Ethan smiles. He sits in the elevator, bombs ready, and thinks of his happiest moments with Theresa and Ben. And then… he blows the elevator, killing himself and all of the Abbies.
I cry. And I think, if you cried for Ethan Burke—even just one single tear—what does that say about the success of Wayward Pines? To take a stubborn if well-meaning adulterer and turn him into a sympathetic martyr for a cause you didn’t think you’d ever believe in, run by a nurse you didn’t think you’d ever like? What a world, what a summer, WHAT A TOWN.
Ben leans over the edge of the shaft to see what his father has done. He’s hit by a falling piece of shrapnel, arguably the second biggest WTF of the episode.
In the aftermath, there’s a false ending of hope and redemption. The storm has quieted, and it appears as if Kate and Pam are ready to reconcile and join together to run Wayward Pines. “No more lies, no more surveillance, no more reckonings,” Pam promises, and one final shot of Pilcher’s computer screen is thought to be perhaps the last voyeuristic shot we’ll ever see.
Except it’s not.
Ben wakes up, and he’s stirred by a clean, significantly older (she’s wearing lipstick!) Amy. She’s a nurse now, and she keeps calling Ben “Mr. Burke.” Ben begs her to explain what’s going on, and she reveals that he’s been asleep for three years and four months. “After your accident, they put you back into suspension with the rest of the adults,” she explains. “I tried to get them to take you out earlier, but they wouldn’t allow it. They’re angry at your father. They blame him for the savior’s death. They think you’re like him. I told them, I convinced them you’re not like him. You’re different.”
But no. Ben’s not different. You see, Ben is exactly like Ethan, in morals, in convictions, and now, in circumstance. And as he stumbles around Main Street and sees the horrible Wayward Pines he’s woken to, we can only hope that, though the world is bleak, he can make his way out just like his father did.