‘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