Ethan refuses his first task as sheriff; Ben enrolls in the worst school ever.
Wayward Pines is a time capsule. Wayward Pines is a brainwash facility. Wayward Pines is Hogwarts. Wayward Pines is a municipal DeLorean wherein Melissa Leo is Doc Brown and Matt Dillon is Marty McFly and Terrence Howard was one of the Libyan terrorists.
Time travel is real in Wayward Pines, but that clears up a whole lot of absolutely nothing when it comes to actually understanding what this town is all about. How many Pinesians are here against their will, and how many are servants of the greater good, ready to do the bidding without any hesitation? This week, we met a few from both sides of the creepy coin.
MR. BURKE GOES TO WASHINGTON, SORT OF
After killing Pope, Ethan suddenly inherits his position as the new sheriff, an abrupt rise in status that has the town split over how it happened. Someone like receptionist Arlene thinks Pope simply took off, while other, less idiotic residents like Nurse Pam are acutely clued in to the bloody turn of events. And then how about Brad Fisher, the town’s mayor, who perhaps falls somewhere in that middle space of chosen ignorance?
Either way, Ethan’s the law now, as evidenced by his welcoming committee: mayor Fisher (a government official who is likely less useful than one of Harold Ballinger’s hand-crafted iPads) and a sexy photographer from the town’s heretofore nonexistent newspaper. They arrive to deliver the news of Ethan’s promotion, yet neither man will actually give Ethan any clue as to who exactly made him sheriff.
With his newfound ring of keys, Ethan wastes no time in stashing a gun or two and prodding around the secret compartments of Pope’s office. He quickly locates a fancy sealed box under the floorboards containing files on the past lives of Arlene (a former bus driver), Mayor Fisher (a telecom VP), and presumably every other Pinesian.
Ethan decides to toy with fate and give Arlene her file, perhaps just to see what happens. Arlene’s already begun to show a few signs of cracking—she was one of the few emotional townspeople to show disgust during Beverly’s reckoning—and she’s not appalled when Ethan reminds her of her New Jersey life. Rather, she appears to have adapted to Wayward with the sort of “guess so” reluctance like when you go Chipotle and they barely give you any meat but what are you even going to really do about it. You have to wonder who else besides Arlene—Mayor Fisher, perhaps—also falls into that sphere of resignation about circumstance.
But just as Arlene is getting to talking about her past life in New Jersey, the office door swings open and it’s Nurse Pam and her beefy henchmen demanding a reckoning for Peter McCall, the cane-bound realtor who showed Ethan to Beverly’s his new home last week. Pam has used what I’m sure is her 50th citizens’ arrest to apprehend Peter for spray-painting graffiti on Main Street: “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Deep, man.
Unsurprisingly, Sheriff Ethan refuses to call the reckoning—even going so far as to flat-out ignore his first Omniscient Phone Call directive to do so—and instead takes the time to get to know Peter. Turns out, the guy began his life in Wayward about 10 years prior and has never lowered his skeptical eyebrow about the town. As for his leg, he busted it trying to escape via a wall of rocks on the outskirts of town.
But Peter’s origin story is the real juice here. He wound up in Wayward Pines because, back in 2001, he brought a brunette named Denise up to his hotel room in Los Angeles and did some lines (of the coke, not conga variety) and ended up blacking out. When he awoke, he was in a hotel room in Wayward Pines, and the clincher: “The brunette from the bar was still there. But she was older. And her name wasn’t Denise. It was Pam.”
WHAAAAAAT. That one glimpse of a quasi-young Nurse Pam is enough to prove that the Wayward Pines time shift is not simply a fleeting facet of the town’s mystery, but perhaps its largest part. Everyone seems to have experienced some different shift, but your past theories about time in WP are thrown if Pam, whether at will or on assignment, can tap into her younger self. Also, this further proves my college thesis that Melissa Leo can transcend space and time.
THIS WEEK IN UNNECESSARY MURDER
Ethan does not throw the reckoning—he likely wouldn’t, despite finding that Peter is a kindred spirit—but Peter, recognizing the need for Ethan to acquiesce and earn the trust of the Powers That Be, hugs Ethan and then throws himself into the electric fence. It’s pretty shocking. Ethan’s expectedly bothered by it, and he decides to pack up and leave once again. He cleans out the sheriff’s office and all but leaves his position to Nurse Pam, who relishes her chance to sit in the big leather chair in his absence.
Ethan bids a temporary farewell to Theresa and makes for the bluffs, climbing up the same rock wall that Peter once fell from. As he makes it to the top, one of our favorite blurry monsters breathes heavily from behind a tree. The view is just a bit clearer, and we can see that whatever this THING is, it’s definitely humanoid but still woefully mysterious. Like a mountain-dwelling Tilda Swinton.
NEXT: Theresa and Ben make friends!
BEN AND THE TERRIBLE HORRIBLE NO GOOD VERY BAD HYPNOTHERAPIST
Shortly after killing Pope, Ben and Ethan are washing the blood off their hands a la Velma Kelly when a bike messenger delivers a Hogwarts letter to Ben informing him that he’s been accepted to Wayward Pines Academy. It’s the only school in town, which perhaps makes the news a little less special, but apparently Ben’s acceptance is not necessarily a given—especially once he arrives and gets grilled by his teacher, Miss Fisher.
Megan Fisher welcomes Ben to school (Theresa, not so much) and begins what is basically her first attempt to brainwash Ben into believing that Wayward Pines is home. Ben logically says Seattle, of course, and Fisher is displeased. Why is it so important to get the children to find hometown loyalty to Wayward Pines?
An afterschool escort—a young classmate named Amy—seems to be either well-calculated or completely coincidental to this cause (and let’s be honest, coincidences do not happen in Wayward Pines). Amy strikes up a flirtatious banter with Ben, but underneath she’s really trying to continue Fisher’s work in undermining Ben’s memories so he can realize that he doesn’t miss Seattle and shouldn’t be homesick for the friend-less life he had there.
The slow-burn, quasi-romance seems to work, as Ben returns to school the next day and answers Fisher’s quiz once more, this time saying “I don’t know” when asked where he lives. That’s good enough for Fisher, who says he’s officially welcome to start classes with the other students. She gives him a guitar. This school is weird.
THERESA AND THE BIERGARTEN OF SECRETS
Ben isn’t the only one to get a magical letter informing him of his immediate new status quo. Shortly after Peter’s death—or perhaps, even before it actually happens—Theresa receives a letter telling her that a spot at the Wayward Pines Realtors Association has just opened up. But let’s back up a bit.
After being so unkindly brushed off by Miss Fisher upon their arrival at the school, Theresa has used her first official day in WP to explore the town. She quickly happens upon the toy shop where Kate works, and she enters, ready to confront her husband’s mistress and perhaps the reason why they’re all there in the first place.
Kate is completely horrified to see Theresa, as one is horrified to see the angry wife of the man she was banging a dozen years ago, but in the interest of keeping up appearances, Kate puts on a friendly face and offers to sell Theresa one of Harold’s music boxes. It’s only when the music begins playing that Kate tells Theresa, “You have 30 seconds to say what you need to say to me.” (Because the loud hardcore sounds of hand-crafted music boxes are surely enough to drown out the microphones.)
Theresa’s response reveals that she was once training to be a federal agent like Ethan and Kate, but decided to put her family first instead, a choice that Ethan regretfully didn’t make. “You hurt my family,” she says to Kate, who reasons, “I know, I’m sorry. A lot has changed since then.” “Maybe for you,” Theresa replies. “For you, too,” says Kate. “You just don’t know it yet.” Theresa walks out without buying anything, because band-aids don’t fix bullet holes.
Later, at home, Theresa doesn’t tell Ethan about her run-in with Kate, but she does realize that both she and Ethan met different Fishers—mayor and teacher. Ethan picks up on Brad’s weak will, and they decide to invite the Fishers over for dinner to extract more information.
Mrs. Fisher suggests they meet at the biergarten, and the place is totally crowded when the Burkes arrive, with basically everyone in town—including Kate, Pam, Arlene, and Blonde Hotel Cutie—having seemingly received an Evite to the bizarre occasion.
At their table, Ethan tries to pry Brad for any intel about the true nature of WP, but the only tidbit he reveals is that the town focuses on the children: “The school, they’re very dedicated. It’s all about shaping the mind of the child.” So, is understanding Wayward Pines Academy the key to understanding the secret of Wayward Pines itself? That would explain why Megan seems to be much more powerful and ominous than her husband, comparing her position as schoolteacher (formerly hypnotherapist) to that of sheriff. Is she one of the keys to the town’s longevity? And, more importantly, is she just as domineering and central in this town as Nurse Pam? That’s a Celebrity Death Match I’d love to see.
The dinner ends abruptly and without many answers when Nurse Pam raises a toast to Ethan’s sheriffhood. In turn, he drops a thinly veiled threat that he’ll bring the real criminals to justice (Nurse Pam; also, the aforementioned Chipotle workers who skimped on the barbacoa).
As Ethan and Theresa walk home from their very peculiar dinner party, they run into Doctor Jenkins, who’s checking on some sort of pine crossbreed he’s been working on. When Ethan complains about having to execute McCall, Jenkins replies, “Perhaps the best things in this world require the biggest sacrifice.”
It could be reasoned that everyone in Wayward Pines is a sacrifice for the greater good of whatever this town represents…or, perhaps, every citizen has sacrificed by being chosen for whatever this town represents…or, perhaps perhaps, the children are the blood sacrifice for the thirsty powers that exist in the high-tech mountainside that overlooks whatever this town represents. Either way, it’s episode four, and I’m more confused than ever.