Wayward Pines: Season Finale Cycle Ends on Sour Note (SPOILERS)

Ethan and Theresa in Wayward Pines Cycle
Wayward Pines provided a season finale with Cycle that ended the show on a somewhat sour note. While the final reveal was a twist, including the David Pilcher statue in the town park, it left a bitter taste. Matt Dillon’s character Ethan Burke blows himself and a group of Abbies up to save the town’s remaining citizens and son Ben, who is draped over the blazing elevator shaft calling for his dad, is knocked out cold by falling debris. Before looking at the rest of the season finale perhaps the whole episode, with its moments of revealing clarity, should be looked at overall.

In last week’s episode, A Reckoning Pilcher proved once and for all that under all that visionary rubbish, along with his massive case of megalomania and control freak issues, that he was essentially that snotty kid who takes the basketball home if he does not get his way. In Cycle he also revealed that his noble words about “his people” were empty.

Turning off the fence and leaving the denizens of Wayward Pines to the hands of the Abbies was equal to a child’s stomping their ant farm flat because its occupants dare to escape. Pilcher may have suffered from a Deity complex and had more than his fair share of hubris but in the end, the only ones that walked away fairly unscathed from David’s destruction of the town were his 1st class of the Wayward Pines Academy.

Megan Fisher proved that her devotion and zealous brainwashing hid an innate lack of common sense. Either that or she chose to be eaten alive by Abbies who broke into the compound entrance at plot 33. Viewers can be forgiven for giving a little clap when this annoying woman got her “just deserts.”

Theresa showed that when a “mother bear” is protecting her cub and his girlfriend, no Abbie on earth is too much to handle. Sure, Ethan finished the creature off, but his wife was handling things just fine thank you very much. Kate and Theresa have a moment where she binds Theresa’s wound, from the hospital encounter with the Abbie, and for the time being things are okay between the two women.

Without going into specifics, this is after all more of a review than the usual recap/review format, it is time to look at what was pretty annoying about the episode.

The Death of Ethan:

After an entire season of acting his little cotton socks off, Matt Dillon’s character, former Secret Service Agent Burke, blows himself up and what looks to be about 100 Abbies. Dillon was an integral part of the show and his death is particularly galling and the manner of it even more so; sitting on the floor of the elevator with the detonator in his hand, smiling gently at his memories of wife and child…

It could be said that this is a satisfactory character arc for Ethan Burke, a man eaten up with guilt at the deaths caused by his release of the Easter bomber (before Wayward Pines) and his “affair” with Kate that threatened to destroy his marriage. The main problem with this character’s exit is that the whole show revolved around Ethan, taking him out of the equation is not only a bad idea but it removes Dillon who “rocked it” in this role.

The Death of Pilcher:

Granted, there cannot be many fans of the show that, while applauding Toby Jones for his performance, could not wait for Pilcher/Jenkins to be taken out. Despite the fact that his sister Pam, whom he had a very odd relationship with, was the one to shoot David, one really wanted to see Theresa shoot him and have the power mad dictator be put in stasis. Pilcher’s exit was too fast and felt rushed.

Jason Not Dying:

There cannot be many who did not want to see this major douchebag character get eaten by an Abbie. Unfortunately the “I’m special” kid lives through being shot by Ethan and the Abbie attack and manages to get to the Ark in the Ark.

Ben as the New Burke in Town:

Nothing against Charlie Tahan, the Frankenweenie actor did a bang up job as Ethan Burke’s “Wilbur Milquetoast” son who, under the tutelage of Megan Fisher, becomes a more confident character. His romance with Amy, while a little disturbing, was cute and the fact that Ben has survived a bomb blast and being conked in the bean with falling debris, means that he is pretty resilient if nothing else.

But…

The kid is not Matt Dillon…just saying.

Pam as Hero:

From the very first time Pilcher’s sister appeared, she was destined to be an off the wall character who would blindly follow her brother’s lead. Melissa Leo did such a good job as psycho nurse Pam in the beginning that it is very hard to believe her turn around. It should be mentioned, however, that her shooting of David fits. It must have been obvious to her that he did not think much of his drug addict sis.

Conclusion:

There are other things that were annoying about the finale but these are smaller in nature and not quite as irritating at the above mentioned items. Although the Abbie’s ability to cut off electricity and shut down the elevator did stretch things just a bit. As did the head security guy who forces Pam into stasis/suspension only to do a complete about face and take her out moments later. (Of course he had to, otherwise she could not have so ironically shot down her maniac brother…or as one wit once said, “it’s in the script.”)

The final twist of Ben waking up to find his one time potential “baby mother” calling him sir and being very distant was interesting and for a brief moment all kinds of possibilities were opened. Once he demanded, and got, his clothes and left the hospital though, things got interesting. Only for a short while however.

The fact that Jason and the rest of his special group made it to the ark, and that three years has passed since the massive Abbie attack, made the Nazi-ish spin to the finale almost fait accompli. The conversation in the hospital, “They’re listening,” harked back to the beginning of the series and the additional shock value of seeing a man hanging in the town square by the carousel and a nuclear family having their picnic practically at the corpse’s feet, worked very well. The end result of that final set piece is that the viewer nods and thinks, “yup, Jason lived…”

Some entertainment sites are touting that a second season seems to be on the cards. That may well be. The viewing figures for Wayward Pines were impressive and the right demographic was appealed to. Deadline spoke to M Night Shyamalan who hinted, “very diplomatically” that there may just be a second season.

Sadly, unless they can bring back Ethan Burke from the dead, sorry Ben, the show will have limited appeal. Dillon made the whole thing work, along with his continuing interaction with Jones’ David Pilcher, he brought a certain gravitas to the role. Granted Jason may make a great season two villain but it is doubtful whether Charlie Tahan, great actor that the kid is, can pull off a “Dillon.”

So, the recap of the finale is: Kate lives, Pilcher turns off the fence and Ethan arms the citizens to fight the Abbies. Theresa saves Ben and Amy, Pam gets put to sleep and then woken up and Meg Fisher learns that staying behind can lead to being eaten. Ethan blows up a slew of Abbies and dies, Pam shoots David, Ben survives a bash to the head and Amy is now a nurse. Wayward Pines survives and is now worse than before, Jason may just be in charge and all the “adults” are in suspension. There could very well be a second season with Ben Burke as the lead protagonist.

Wayward Pines: Choices and Plot 33

Still showing Theresa and Bill Wayward Pines
In last week’s episode of Wayward Pines, The Truth, Ethan climbed “over the mountain” and discovered savage creatures and a city in ruins covered with vegetation. He also learned that Wayward Pines was an “ark” started by David Pilcher/Dr. Jenkins who rescued the escapee from abbies who were about to attack. In Choices Ethan learns about what the town really is and why he was chosen to become a resident and viewers learn about plot 33 and a faction who want to escape.

At the beginning of the episode, there is a flashback to a long-haired Pilcher wandering a destroyed city street and he passes burning cars and freshly dead people lying in the road. After the opening, Ethan is flown back to the control center that runs and maintains Wayward Pines and the 200 volunteers who live and work in the “complex.”

While Ethan goes to have his “abbie” wound treated, Theresa finds Ben sitting deep in thought. His newly gained knowledge as a member of the first generation is weighing heavily and speaking to his mother Ben reveals how much this has affected him. She tells him that “everything will be all right, I guess,” and heads off to work.

Ted, the home delivery man, drops off a package at the toy store run by Kate and Harold and asks about one that they want sent out. The two go into the back of the shop to Harold’s workshop. It seems that Pete had a package the three need and Kate angrily tells Ted that he should not be meeting them there. She tells the delivery man to look for the late McCall’s package at his workplace and Ted replies that it won’t be easy as Bill is always there and that new “cute” brunette is working there.

At the real estate office Henrietta is quitting because Bill “hired” Theresa as a agent instead of her. When Mrs. Burke follows her departing colleague out of the office to apologize, the woman warns her to be careful and mentions McCall and his belief that plot 33 is “a way out.” When Burke asks what plot 33 is, Henrietta hurriedly ends the conversation.

As Ethan gets his arm treated, he learns more about the doctor, including that she is Pilcher’s sister. Afterward, he comes across a captured abbie in the facility and learns more about how David set up the ark. It is revealed that Wayward Pines’ doctor is a recovering drug addict as well as Pilcher’s sister and that David is not as close to her as she is to him.

Flashbacks show his struggle to set up Wayward Pines and a couple of characters are met that play, or played, an important part in the town, the head teacher who was learning to be a hypnotherapist and now runs the school for the “first generation” and the former sheriff was a security guard for Pilcher’s company. Pilcher takes them both as volunteers and the sheriff’s first job is to kidnap a disgraced doctor for the new ark.

As Ethan learns more about Wayward Pines and its beginnings, Theresa looks up details about plot 33 and finds out that Bill is not a very nice boss at all. Kate stops by to talk to her former lover’s wife and the two go for coffee. A new inductee is being processed for the town, a Sara Barlow from Missouri, “she’s a teacher,” the doctor says proudly and Ethan wants to know “how many?”

Ted uses Kate’s diversion to grab McCall’s package and fends off Bill’s questions about Kate. Theresa is told by Kate that she wants them to all be friends and to be “closer.” David explains to Ethan why he was chosen to be a part of the new world. Pilcher also explains that he and the volunteers were put to cryogenic sleep for 2,000 years in order for the earth to regenerate.

It took Pilcher and his group two years to rebuild Wayward Pines after they woke up and that the perimeters were built to keep “things” out. Ethan reveals that he does not like how the leader of the ark runs things. Kate, it turns out, does not like life in the town either and she, along with Harold and a few others, are planning an escape.

Burke tells David that he needs to tell the people what is going on and that the public executions must stop. Pilcher agrees that the executions should cease but that he cannot tell the denizens of the ark the truth. Turns out he did once before, with Group A. Ethan, Theresa, Ben, Kate and many others are part of Group B. The first group broke under the strain of the knowledge and it resulted in an almost complete meltdown. As David says, “They emerged from Plato’s Cave and it blinded them.”

The ruins seen at the beginning of the episode were the remains of Wayward Pines after Group A self destructed and Pilcher reveals that the “new generation” are the real hope for humanity. Ethan recognizes that his son Ben is one of those meant to “enlighten” the town. David tells Burke that a new group means to take down the fence and Ethan vows to stop them without killing anyone.

Choices is all about the various choices made by those who opted to follow Pilcher and those who have decided not to. The disappearances that brought Ethan, Evans and Kate to Wayward Pines to investigate and then become a part of the town, were choices made by David to fill his new world with the right people. Somewhat disturbingly, it looks like Ben may be crumbling under the same information overload as did the members of Group A.

Matt Dillion brings a certain world weary gravitas to role of Ethan Burke now that he is not trying to escape and in Choices his character learns about what the town really is and why he was chosen to become a resident and viewers learn about plot 33 and a faction who want to escape. Toby Jones as the cold and distant savior of humanity is brilliant. The show continues to peel back further layers to each of the characters in Wayward Pines. Pilcher’s sister comes across as a bright eyed “Pollyanna” in the flashbacks, the teacher as an almost fierce zealot and the late Sheriff Pope was an ex-con and former drug addict as well.

There appears to be common denominator shared by the powers running the ark. Several were drug addicts, or mentally unstable, like the overly zealous teacher, or like Burke who suffered some sort of breakdown. Pilcher himself lacks the ability to really empathize with his fellow man and for all his posturing, it appears that David targeted people who were flawed to populate his oasis of mankind.

Wayward Pines airs Thursdays on Fox.

‘Wayward Pines’ The Truth: Is This ‘The Matrix?’

While early the series Wayward Pines felt a lot like The Prisoner revisited, or to be more exact reimagined, the latest episode, The Truth, feels like The Matrix. Matt Dillon’s Ethan Burke may not be Neo and Toby Jones is definitely not Morpheus although he might be the Idaho version as we learn later just who his character really is.

In this segment, we learn just what those “animals” are on the other side of the fence. Last week, Ethan tells Ben somewhat unconvincingly that the animal they saw was a “wolf.” This episode proves that off all the woodland creatures they could be, a non domesticated canine is not one of them. The show takes a severe left turn in this episode.

The Truth has Ethan climbing the mountain in a desperate attempt to get help in Boise, Theresa starts her new job and Ben becomes a member of the First Generation. While it sounds like some sort of pop group, it is not. These youngsters are all learning the “truth” about Wayward Pines and finding out who the new savior of mankind is; David Pilcher, aka Dr. Jenkins, played by Toby Jones.

According to the headteacher, or is she the only teacher, at school, the world has moved on. Giving the three kids in Orientation a coin each, she asks them to inspect these “old” relics that are no longer worth anything. Ben finds it is a quarter dated 2048. The three then learn what the rest of the school kids know already, that the animals in the wood are people who have regressed to a more savage state.

As they learn that Wayward Pines is an ark in a post apocalyptic world where humans have become animals, Ethan crossed the mountain top, gets attacked by one of the “abbies,” short for abnormals, and when he gets to the edge of Boise, he finds ruins covered with vegetation and a helicopter.

Meanwhile, Theresa learns that the towns newest denizen was also in a car accident before being admitted to hospital. This new arrival needs a home and she finds that her real estate jobs does not included selling houses but giving them away. In a town where retirement means death, it is anyone’s guess who lived there before, most likely Peter.

The new addition speaks to Mrs. Burke about what he saw after his accident, a lot of what sounds like cryogenic capsules and this ties into what Ben learns at school. Apparently the world has ended except for these chosen few who have been spared to ensure the human race survives in a more civilized state.

As convincing as all this seems, one has to remember that just last week, Dr. Jenkins was in a civilized Boise talking to another Secret Service agent about the Burkes. If, as he and the teacher, Wayward Pines is all that is left of civilization where was Jenkins/Pilcher when speaking to Ethan’s supervisor.

It is taking this into consideration that makes the whole thing seem like a sort of Matrix scenario. At the very least this appears to be some sort of experiment. At one point, the man from Boise’s Secret Service agency says that Burke is not handling things well, except that he gives Ethan a number, there is that reference to The Prisoner again which this does not appear to be at all.

This week’s episode of Wayward Pines, The Truth does feel like a trip into The Matrix. Now that Ethan is on his way back to the town the rest of his nuclear family are learning their own truths after he has learned what Pilcher claims to be true. One thing is for certain, this show continues to keep the plot line twisting and turning, becoming one of the most addicting programs on television.

Wayward Pines: The Prisoner Updated?

Wayward Pines banner
Coming late to the Wayward Pines party, the first thought after watching the premiere episode is that this show is an updating of the superlative, and before its time, British series The Prisoner, “Who is number one?” Starring the intense and brilliant Irish actor, director and producer Patrick McGoohan. In some ways the only thing missing from Wayward Pines is the big plastic balloon-like ball which used to chase down and capture the odd “inmate” from the village who managed to get past its boundaries and almost escape.

*It should be pointed out that The Prisoner was remade in 2009 and released as a six episode mini-series. It was met with a mixed critical reception, much like the original 1960s series.*

This Fox series is not just The Prisoner revisited though. There are hints of Twin Peaks, American Horror Story and Cape Wrath, aka Meadowlands in the US throughout the show’s plot and if one looks hard enough, more off-beat and odd television show’s may be spotted like Eureka or even at a stretch The Stepford Wives film.

Of course, Matt Dillon as Ethan Burke is this show’s version of Number Six. In the 1960s show, the “agent” is someone who has opted to get out of the system. His “defection,” which is in fact a resignation, is not allowed; hence his incarceration in the quaint yet disturbing village. As far as we know Burke has not tried to leave his organization. He has had some sort of meltdown after failing to stop a bombing where over 600 innocent people died. His Secret Service Agent is mired in a world of guilt, regret and pathos.

A car accident leaves him injured and disoriented in the “town” (village) of Wayward Pines. As he stumbles about, after checking himself out of the deserted hospital, it becomes apparent that this place is not what it seems. By the end of the show, he has learned that the area is surrounded by a tall, seemingly never ending, electric fence with signs that warn death is imminent if the boundary is crossed.

As this first episode shows, Burke’s life is pretty screwed up from the word go. His guilt, from failing to stop the bomber and his affair with a partner who is thought to be missing has consumed him. Discovering that she is in Wayward Pines, along with the dead tortured Secret Service agent who is also missing, Burke learns that this town is a prison where people listen to what is happening and questioning things can be fatal.

“There are no crickets in Wayward Pines,” says the back of a bar bill that Juliette Lewis’ character, Beverly, hands Ethan in the Biergarten. Of course the same slip of paper has an address where he finds the other missing agent dead and decomposing. Later in the episode, Burke hears crickets and leans towards the foliage where the sound is emanating. He discovers a metal box and this is responsible for the cricket “sound effects.”

After leaving the hospital Burke tries to call home twice and leaves messages for his wife. Away from the town, the Secret Service tell Theresa Burke (Shannyn Sossamon) that her husband is missing and that there was no sign that he was even in the car at the scene of the accident. By the end of the show Mrs. Burke checks the answer machine and it holds no messages from her husband.

Thus far Wayward Pines is four episodes into its first season and looks very promising. Binge watching will allow the viewer to catch up on events and see just how strange things may turn out. The cast includes the superb Juliette Lewis and English actor Toby Jones (Captain America: The First Avenger, The Hunger Games) and Terence Howard (Iron Man, Empire) and of course Matt Dillon as Burke.

Show creator Chad Hodge has come up with an interesting show that appears to borrow from a few existing examples of the weird and wonderful. Producer M. Night Shyamalan directed this first episode and has obviously set the tone for the rest of the first season, which may still turn into an updating of The Prisoner. Time will tell whether this new show finds the audience it deserves.

7 June 2015

Michael Knox-Smith