The Wayward Pines
plot has thickened like corn starch in Thanksgiving gravy. In "The Truth," Ethan conducts his own brand of reconnaissance and turns the tables on the monsters outside the perimeter, Theresa takes a job and learns some things she probably wished she hadn't, and Ben's indoctrination into the Wayward cult commences full force. Fellow BuddyTV writer Kartik Chainani nailed it with his theory
that Wayward Pines
was a futuristic world. But do we buy it? More importantly, are we entertained, are we having fun existing within that very question? If you've made it this far, fellow viewer, then you continue to be as intrigued as I am.
The most valuable counsel my mother ever gave me was thus: Believe nothing that you hear, and only half of what you see. Basically, there is always more to the story than meets the eye (and it's probably none of your business anyway). Now, at the time Mom was conveying advice about being judgmental. However, I have found this rule to be helpful in the realms of politics, parenting, and just about everything else, most especially in regard to plots spun by Mr. M. Night Shyamalan. Since Shaymalan is famous for his bait-n-switch approach to entertainment, it's challenging to swallow the revelations spoon-fed to viewers in "The Truth" without questioning half of what we see and all of what we hear.
Ethan Escapes, Theresa Gets a Job, and Ben Gets a Girlfriend
In "One of Our Senior Realtors Has
Been Killed Off Chosen to Retire," Ethan was promoted to the role of sheriff and then interrogates a resident who was willing to die to escape. Finally, he took off up the craggy mountainside to find out what's outside the perimeter. Geeky Ben started making friends at school and was introduced to guidance counselor, Megan Fisher, portrayed by Hope Davis (Allegiance), who just so happens to be an expert brain-washer, er, hypnotist. As for Ethan's wife, Theresa, pretty much nothing went on for her other than an offer to become the town realtor. That's where we left off, folks.
As "The Truth" opens, Ethan scales the sheer wall and finds himself surrounded by a plush forest until he encounters the gargoyle/Sleestack monsters (the same species that carted off Pope's corpse) and earns himself some Velociraptor style gashes across his right arm. We never actually see the monsters this time, though. Back at home, Theresa decides to look into becoming a realtor (just to fit in) while schoolgirl Amy is making passes at geeky, friendless, awkward, yet grateful Ben.
Ben's Indoctrination Begins
Ben is flabbergasted and suspicious when everyone at school is nice to him. Watch out, Ben, that's how cults get their hooks into you ... by making you feel welcome, loved, accepted like never before. At Wayward Pines Academy, Ben attends orientation with two other recent arrivals, Reed (Juvenile Resident #109) and Carrie (Juvenile Resident #110). That makes Ben juvenile resident #111. Guidance counselor Megan wheels in a slide projector and ominously announces these kids have been chosen because they are the elite. They have been judged ready for the truth. By whom, I wonder?
Theresa Gets a House for the Newest Wayward Pines Resident
Theresa takes the job as realtor and goes on her first assignment: Assisting recent accident victim, Wayne Johnson, with settling into his new home. At the Wayward Pines hospital Wayne is despondent and disoriented. Theresa understands what he's going through and gains his trust, until Nurse Pam interrupts them, then they leave.
Ben, Carrie and Reed Learn About the 'Abbies'
Megan begins her dramatic presentation and before long the youth triad is learning about the Aberrations, or 'Abbies', which now rule as kings of the food chain outside Wayward Pines' perimeter. Mankind has been reduced to the lowest rungs on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. In other words, forget about love, happiness and self actualization. Mankind now struggles to meet the basic needs: food, shelter, sex, sleep, safety. That's it.
Where did these hairless creatures with a canine's sense of smell, the aural ability of a bat, and the strength of a silverback gorilla come from? Beginning as humans, the Abbies are genetic mutations that evolved in response to a harsh environment. What that harsh environment entailed has yet to be revealed.
At lunch, the three novitiates have no apatite. Ben attempts to understand what they've been told using logic, but Amy warns them to just wait and all will become clear after lunch.
Ethan Finds Boise
The Abbies may be strong and perceptive, but Ethan is cunning. In the forest he finds a fresh buck carcass and drags it to a location he can safely observe the Abbies from. Before long, three Abbies emerge and gnaw on the carcass while Ethan studies them.
Ethan continues his trek through the Abby-infested forest being very careful. He finds an old mile sign to Boise and continues on, then stops at an overlook and gets a good look at what used to be Boise.
This scene reminds me of a tonally and philosophically similar scene in Planet of the Apes where Charlton Heston as George Taylor escapes to the beach where he finds the Statue of Liberty in ruins, sunk up to her nipples in the sand. Gah. But this is much worse. More frightening, I mean. Wayward Pines is a kernel of forced utopia surrounded by a dystopian universe. How in the world is this storyline going to resolve? We're only half way into the ten episodes and things are pretty stinkin' wacky. And intriguing, I admit.
As Ethan stares at the landscape before him in disbelief, he sees a helicopter flying overhead.
Ben Goes Back to the Future
Megan explans that the accidents that brought the kids to Wayward Pines were orchestrated so that the chosen could be brought to the year 4028. Each person has been put into forced hibernation and brought to the future to be part of the first generation of the new world. Why? Maybe it is not Ethan Burke they are truly interested in at all, but his son, Ben? Interesting idea.
Wayne Reveals Memories of a Robin Cook-type Daymare Following His Accident
Once alone together at newest resident Wayne's new house, Theresa turns on the washing machine to drown out their conversation. Wayne then nervously reveals what he saw after his accident. He awoke inside a hibernation chamber surrounded by many other chambers filled with people. The only person he recognized walking around outside the chambers was Nurse Pam. Coincidentally, Peter McCall also mentioned seeing Nurse Pam after he awoke from a night of boozing it up immediately preceding his arrival in Wayward Pines. How old is she, anyway?
They say there are no original stories left to be told. This may be true. This part of the story reminds me of the description of what was being done with people in Robin Cook's Coma from the '70s: bodies suspended in stasis both alive and dead to be used for the future. There has to be some original twist coming up and I'm waiting for it.
Wayward Pines is the Second Coming of Noah's Arc
Megan says a great scientist named David Pilcher foresaw the evolution (devolution?) of man into Abbies. Desirous of preserving mankind as it once was, this scientist created an arc to keep a select few safe. He named that arc Wayward Pines.
Ethan Meets David Pilcher
The helicopter lands in front of Ethan. Out walks Dr. Jenkins who introduces himself as David Pilcher. Hah! Well, we did see him back in Seattle meeting with Ethan's boss, Adam. But ... was that 2025 years ago, or is this whole thing a big farce, a dream, a psychological test ... or is Ethan really dead and this is his brain trying to cope in its final seconds flush with oxygen?
Ethan has the same questions you and I have. Pilcher keeps spinning the tale. This is all that's left, dear boy, Jenkins/Pilcher oozes at Ethan. Let's make a better world, he says, or you can fend for yourself out there with the nasty beasties. What would you choose? Beam me up, Scottie!
You Do Not Tell Your Parents
Megan continues with the brainwashing. Don't tell your parents or they will kill themselves. Wow, that's kinda harsh, Megan. And really unfair to those poor kids. You have to respect her strategy though. No sane parent will leave their child behind, and no sane child will endanger his or her parent by telling them something that would make them commit suicide.
The truth is too much for your parents to comprehend and accept, Megan tells the kids. She levels a veiled threat: Telling your parents will put them and all of Wayward Pines in danger.
The things is, an adult could probably rationalize away what they were being told, but a child has a limited experience of the world. A child is vulnerable, susceptible to influence by other seemingly rational adults. Brilliant strategy, this. Well, done, Wayward Pines.
After orientation, Megan leads the three students into a dimly lit room where the student body of Wayward Pines Academy awaits them, each holding a solitary candle. Reed, Carrie and Ben are handled candles of their own, which Amy lights for them. It's all pretty creepy until it gets even creepier: in unified cadence the entire room of students begins to pound on their desks. What the spank was that about? It all seemed somewhat palatable until that happened. Perhaps that's a hypnotizing strategy? Can't wait to find out more about what the kids are told that the adults are not privy to. Also, I wonder if Ben will tell Ethan and Theresa what he's learned?
What Is Wayward Pines?
Ethan asks the million dollar question of Jenkins/Pilcher before he agrees to take off in the helicopter with him. We don't find out yet, at least not from Pilcher or Nurse Pam, but maybe it really is all that Megan has described to juvenile residents #109, #110, and #111. Maybe everything Wayne saw after his accident and before waking up in the hospital is true. That doesn't explain the weird rules or the reckonings. I'd like to see more of the residents going forward. Have any of the parents figured out the truth? What do they plan to do about it if anything?
Still, the questions remain: Why does Wayward Pines want Ethan specifically? Was it really Ben they were after? Why has Ethan been given leeway in regard to the rules? What about Ethan's boss back in Seattle, the one who met with Jenkins and tried to call this whole experiment off? If Wayward Pines is in the future, is there a wormhole, a Stargate, a ... a ... TARDIS? Do the two times coexist?
Wayward Pines airs Thursdays at 9pm on FOX.
(Images courtesy of FOX)