Paranoia hits the Pines in the aftermath of the Ben Burke Bombing™.
Do you remember that part in Clue when everyone is on high alert and fear is rampant and Tim Curry frantically re-enacts the entire evening’s events to reach a widely accepted solution? We’re thisclose to the same thing happening in Wayward Pines, wherein a full-on mass panic is on the horizon and the Pilcher-Ethan-Kate trifecta are waving their arms with Kermit-level fervor in an attempt to win over the town.
Pilcher wants peace via ignorance. Ethan wants safety via awareness. And Kate wants freedom via firepower.
Paranoia fever has hit Wayward Pines, and there’s only one cure: high-stakes conversation. This week, it’s perhaps most helpful to see where everyone falls on the ranking of Wayward Paranoia:
Paranoid Level: 10 out of 10 home reckonings
Topping the list of fearful is Pilcher, who has absolutely flown off the handle after the bomb blew up his favorite main thoroughfare. Pilcher wants to put out an issue of the newspaper explaining that the explosion was simply a gas leak, but everyone in town already knows different. Pilcher then demands a celebration—a mandatory fellowship gathering, rather—to remind the town of their blessings, because nothing says “What a time to be alive” like county fair rentals from the late ‘90s.
Pilcher is largely paranoid about who’s an insurgent and who isn’t. Barista Ruby has pine needles in her hair, so she’s obviously part of the resistance, right? Arlene is wearing earth tones so she’s got to have been on the outskirts of town, yeah? Everyone’s a suspect to Pilcher and since Ethan has failed to squelch the resistance, the man in charge has decided that there must be a mole inside the mountainside facility, helping various rebels get away with removing their chips and plotting destruction.
He enlists Pam to conduct interviews with the 24 members of the surveillance team. (There’s even an undertone of suspicion toward Pam that makes me question whether she’s actually been working against her brother this whole time.) None of the interviews betray enough evidence to convince Pam of a double agent inside the mountain, but Pilcher needs a scapegoat and thus he commands the death of a well-meaning if fatally kind-hearted surveillance worker named Reggie. Yes, the reckoning is coming from inside the house! It’s a bleak reminder of how far-removed the current Wayward Pines is from his ideal plan, and how frantic Pilcher is becoming in trying to preserve peace. Especially now that he’s seen his once-favorite model citizen Kate identified as the head of the resistance, Pilcher is scrambling for control like a suburban dad cooking breakfast on custody weekends.
Paranoid Level: 9 out of 10 teen eye-rolls
The young Burke boy doesn’t seem particularly upset about almost being blown apart. He’s recovering well (thanks to the miraculous appearance of actual employees at the hospital) and he’s even pleased at the idea that he might be thought of as a hero for surviving the attack. But Ben’s loyalties become confused after a visit from his teacher, Convincey McBrainwash, who plants the idea that Sheriff Ethan allowed the bombing to happen by releasing Harold Ballinger from his custody.
Ben is visibly hurt by the idea that his dad let the bomb-maker go—but he’s even more distraught when Miss Fisher suggests the reason why is because Harold’s married to Ethan’s old flame, Kate. It’s at this point that I throw my imaginary Miss Fisher doll across the room because I’m so annoyed with this terrible woman and her even more terrible influence on poor Ben.
She tells Ben that people will want to hear from him, and he needs to choose his stance: leniency, or clear and severe punishment? When Ben brings up his angsty anger to Ethan and Theresa, the latter immediately turns her suspicion on Miss Fisher while the former allows his son to vent, swearing that it had nothing to do with Kate (because, truthfully, it didn’t). Left alone to his teen hormones, Ben reconnects with Amy, and it’s still unclear whether he’ll support his father or forge ahead down Miss Fisher’s Academy for Indoctrinated Doucheteens.
Arlene & Henrietta
Paranoid Level: 8 out of 10 gift cards to Ann Taylor
WHAT’S SHADIER THAN PINE TREES? The sheriff receptionist and ex-realtor, who deserve their own bitter spin-off where they gossip about whether gas leaks are bombs and whether Kate’s music boxes are real.
Paranoid Level: 7 out of 10 straightjackets
Locked away and left to her own grayscale flashbacks, Kate still refuses to consider the possibility that Ethan may have been telling the truth about Wayward Pines. She reflects on how, two months into her stay in the Pines, she was already bound in an asylum, venting to Pilcher-as-Jenkins about her growing insanity, having discovered the fence and the microchip in her leg within just 60 days.
It’s only a few months—or years?—later that Kate feigns recovery in front of Pilcher, successfully convincing the psychiatrist that she’s “still asking all the same questions, but the answers are less urgent now.” That, perhaps, is when the insurgence plan truly began, and Pilcher now recognizes that moment, too. He confronts Kate about her plot against his town and it only adds fuel to his frantic fire.
Ethan also swings by for a visit and they have their classic argument, wherein she wants freedom and he wants survival. The sad thing is, they could team up and both goals could co-exist, but they’re going about it from opposite pedestals of pride.
Paranoid Level: 4 out of 10 pairs of white Keds
Pam has juggled my allegiances back and forth ever since that big flashback in episode 5. If Pam is, in fact, a member of the resistance, she’s done a damn weird job maintaining her endgame with her harsh methods. I wonder, could she have turned on her brother after seeing Pilcher lose his way, ordering reckonings and favoring Miss Fisher’s ear? She cares deeply for the town and would/could/should be the heir apparent if something tragic were to happen to Pilcher in the finale. On the other hand, if Pam isn’t actually working against her brother, she’s got to figure out where she stands in her brother’s eyes before his paranoia turns him completely.
Paranoid Level: 3 out of 10 canceled state fairs
All things considered, Ethan’s actually not too off the mark this week. He’s feeling the effects of his failure to stop the bomb, and he’s doing everything he can to make up for it. He shuts down the sad Fellowship Gathering (partly to party-poop that there was a bomb and nobody is safe, and partly because the event actually sucked) and does his best to apprehend Harold Ballinger. In fact, he does so, after Harold and another insurgent steal a depot truck in one final escape attempt. Ethan nabs Harold outside town and handcuffs him to a tree, despite Harold’s insistence that he’s already too late. But could another bomb be in the works? Or is there one more resistor who’s unaccounted for?
The other aspect of Ethan’s arc this week is not paranoia-fueled, but rather, it’s a visit to his memory. Do you remember the Easter Bombings, the events alluded to earlier this season, which supposedly threw Ethan into psychological oblivion and led to his emotional and physical affair with Kate? Given that he let the bomber get away—and he similarly let Ballinger get away—Ethan decides it’s time to come clean to Theresa about it. It’s quite a lovely, emotional moment for them, although it certainly can’t be the extent of the bombings’ importance, can it? Those memories seemed to play a huge role for Ethan in the pilot, and I can’t imagine, from a story perspective, that they only haunted Ethan in order to strengthen his relationship with Theresa in this random moment.
Paranoid Level: 2.5 out of 10 parent-teacher conferences
With Ben in the hospital, Theresa hasn’t done any digging into Plot 33 this week. Her paranoia comes from—perfectly grounded—suspicions that Miss Fisher is filling Ben’s head with anti-Burke nonsense. In fact, she warns Fisher to stay away from her family, which will only cause Fisher to go back to Ben next week and try to expand the wedge she’s creating between son and mother.
Paranoid Level: 1 out of 10 sniffs of freshly cut cedar
Our boy Harold isn’t actually freaking out, despite having most of his fellow insurgents either arrested, missing, or dying. Harold’s travels on the outskirts of the forest this week revolve around his reluctance to make any kind of last-ditch escape without Kate, whom he doesn’t love but still refuses to leave behind. That doesn’t hold much favor with his nameless friend, who steals a depot truck and crashes it through the gate, quickly sending abbies down upon him.
And now the gate is open. And Harold is handcuffed to a tree.