Wayward Pines‘ “Exit Strategy” isn’t much of one, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a fair amount of meat to keep this barbecue afloat. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not giving up on Shyamalan’s dystopian Once-Upon-A-Time anytime soon, but this episode reminds me that the middle four episodes have a lot of ground to cover, just like during the first season. I just wish it was moving a little faster. Main characters Jason and Theo barely show their faces, an old character returns to add almost nothing to the plot, and Megan is anxious to steal an 11-year-old girl’s virginity. Them are the yawners.
On the other hand, Megan gets into pissing matches with Kerry and Rebecca, Xander returns from exile to make googly eyes at Rebecca (who bats her lashes right back), and a troop of Piners make camp outside the electrified fence. Then, of course, there’s a shocker in the final two seconds of the episode which I will not spoil until the end of my recap.
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If the Abbies Don’t Get You, the Unabomber Might
So it appears Xander wasn’t eaten by the Abbies after all. He awakes to find himself at the bottom of a man-sized gopher hole. How he ended up underground is soon revealed when “Bob the Sleestack,” er, “The Abbie” comes home to the hole and attacks him. Xander gets the better of Mr. Abbie and strangles him to death, then bashes his head like a watermelon for good measure. What I want to know is why the Abbies didn’t eat Xander when they had the chance? This kid doesn’t seem to have a scratch on him. And what was the Abbie planning to do with his human prey? Inquiring minds may want to know, but we are going to have to be patient. Answers aren’t forthcoming during “Exit Strategy,” but the Wayward Pines mythology continues to spin itself.
Once he claws his way out of the cave/hole/pit, Xander is attacked once again, but this time it’s not by an Abbie. Meet Ted Kaczynski, aka Adam Hassler, aka Ethan Burke’s old boss, Adam “Douche Bag” Hassler, who enrolled Ethan in this whole cryo-preservation nightmare 2000 years ago.
How Has Hassler Survived All These Years Outside Wayward Pines?
We don’t know, and you aren’t going to find out in “Exit Strategy.” If you recall, last season Theresa Burke found an underground bunker containing hundreds of archived video journals from “nomads,” including Adam Hassler, who were barely surviving outside the walls of Wayward Pines. Hassler’s last transmission in 2040 showed San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge in utter ruin.
Though Hassler appears fairly coherent at the beginning of the episode, he becomes increasingly unglued as the plot progresses. He’s plagued with PTSD-induced hallucinations as he wanders aimlessly through town after an initial physical with Dr. Theo. What he does tell Xander is that the Abbies are methodical, and if you follow their methods, you can use them to your advantage. Cryptic enough for you? He does mention, however, that the Abbies are human replacements. Everyone seems surprised by this even though it’s widely known that the Abbies are the result of the evolving human race.
Curiously, Jason doesn’t strap Hassler into a chair and torture him into spilling everything he knows about the Abbies. Like, how the hell did he survive? You’d think Megan would want a crack at him as well, but no.
So, why is it that a bunch of intelligent people might not do the most logical thing in the face of this opportunity? Well, what do you do when you don’t want too much of the yarn unraveled too early in the plot? You ignore it. That’s what Wayward Pines does here — pretends they don’t have the most experienced specimen within reach to prod and poke and get all the answers from. Okay. Deep breath. Patience, young Padawans, we have six more episodes. All will be revealed in its time.
Hassler Needs to See A Man About A Horse
What we do learn about Hassler is that he wants to go home because “there’s someone I’ve gotta see.” We don’t get a definitive answer to that by the end of the episode, but it’s inferred that Ethan Burke is the man Hassler hopes to meet up with. Instead, he learns that Ethan is dead, but Theresa remains. We learn half way through the episode that Hassler already knows about Ben’s death when he’s able to bring Ben’s corpse to Theresa so she can finally put Ben to rest. Unfortunately for Theresa, this means she’s most likely no longer needed for the second season’s storyline and will soon be listed in the credits as Abbie kibble victim #23.
Xander is a Man of Mystery … and Romance?
Xander uses Hassler as his Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card and returns to Wayward Pines with him. Once there, he returns to work at the soda fountain. Curious Kerry reads Xander’s file and makes veiled threats, but Xander uses the promise of sharing his new-found knowledge of the Abbies (which consists of, oh yeah, nothing) to persuade Kerry that he can be of benefit to Jason now.
Later, Rebecca visits Xander at the soda fountain. The two speak with a familiarity that only comes from having been intimates. After all, Rebecca has been in Wayward Pines for three years without her husband. She’s gorgeous and intelligent. She thought Theo was dead, right? Well, it looks like she spent her time getting busy with young Xander.
Always Remember Not to Use Protection, Boys and Girls
Megan gives pregnancy statistics to Jason and his brat pack during a strategy meeting. There are 78 knocked up teenagers in the First Generation program at Wayward Pines Academy. Eight ore girls, she says, recently began menstruating and can now be used as baby incubators. (How different things are there than they were in my house growing up!)
Lucy Armstrong is an eleven-year-old girl who, along with her brother Frank, were orphaned when Pilcher allowed the Abbies to attack Wayward Pines three years earlier. Lucy was one of the girls who was sent out of class when it was time to talk about sex because she was still too young. Well, now Lucy has gotten her period. She implored Rebecca not to tell anyone because she is terrified of being a mom so young. Rebecca tells her that there is no way out of this crooked system, but she doesn’t push her.
Megan smells menstrual blood and approaches Lucy, who denies her womanhood is burgeoning. Megan then threatens Frank to get the truth. Then, she confronts Lucy at Rebecca’s beauty shop where Lucy has been spending time. Rebecca stands up for Lucy and is clearly not intimidated by Megan. (What is the history between these two? I still can’t decide which side Rebecca is on. Again I ask, was Rebecca part of this whole plan from the beginning?)
Remember, last week Pam told Theo that he wasn’t the only reason for the abduction in Hawaii, suggesting she and Pope were equally, if not more interested, in Rebecca. Boom. This incident with Lucy is the first time we’ve seen Rebecca buck the system, yet she’s not afraid to do it. What makes her so valuable to Jason that she doesn’t fear he might reckon her for coloring outside the lines?
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The Harvest is Plenty and Laborers Are Few, Come With Me Into the Fields, Says C.J.
Throughout “Exit Strategy” C.J. pushes to be allowed to conduct soil and light studies outside the perimeter now that the Abbies have backed off. Jason agrees that it’s time to expand the crops. As such, C.J. receives permission to take a troop of people and protection outside the electrified wall and scout out fertile ground.
Though Megan fervently insists that their sole focus should be on procreating and propagating, C.J. says nothing matters more than growing food to feed all those mouths Megan is manipulating into existence. He has a good point. Jason is on his side, of course. As for Kerry, she wants Dr. Theo to work with Megan as she examines and studies the captive Abbies.
Ben’s Uneaten Corpse is Unearthed and C.J. Changes His Tune
Once the group assembles and starts to make camp outside the perimeter, Hassler and Theresa have a little chat. At first she was angry as hell that Hassler got Ethan into this fatal mess. Then she decides to see what the Unabomber has to say. When she asks about Ben, Hassler goes off into the woods and returns with Ben’s corpse. (Damn! Again, though, why wasn’t Ben completely eaten, and what kind of wasteful creatures are these Abbies? Do they hunt for sport?) Theresa freaks, but now she can get on with it.
As Theo and C.J. talk, C.J. admits that the town is still at risk, but says the real reason for the crops is so that through him, those left behind can see hope. Does he mean those who died and have become flowers on a grave, or does he mean the people back in Wayward Pines who wait for the food? His resonant voice is meant to sound like he’s imparting wisdom or great insight, but he’s being so cryptic it’s hard to decipher his true meaning. So far the character of C.J. has been one dimensional. Hopefully this will change going forward. It better!
Look Who’s Coming To Dinner, Frank
In the final evening scene Frank, distraught over Lucy’s anger at him for spilling the beans, goes off by his lonesome to eat a sandwich. The lights of the carousel flash on and it begins to rotate. All looks innocent until the lights flash off again. Frank’s wonder turns to horror when an Abbie growls and appears behind one of the carousel horses. Now, how did he get inside the walls? Tune in next time for “Sound the Alarm.” It sounds to me like all hell is about to break loose in Wayward Pines, folks.
Wayward Pines airs Wednesdays at 9pm on FOX.
(Images Courtesy of FOX)