Wayward Pines: Lord of the Flies

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Welcome to the last night in the last town on earth (unless there’s a second season). Are you ready to rumble? Because previously on Wayward Pines somebody let the abbies in, so now it’s now time for the abbiepocalypse.

As the evil mastermind David Pilcher watches from his lair, Ethan and the newly unreckoned Kate take leadership and try to keep everyone calm after the lights go out. Ethan calls Pam on his car radio. She’s is now a completely different person than the one we saw in episodes one through five. She’s watching the heat signatures of a herd of nosferatu abbies heading over the fence to grab some not-so-fast food. She tells Ethan to get everyone to “the bunker,” the tunnel under Plot 33, and she’ll work on getting the power back.

The cutting edge of terror in 1922.

The cutting edge of terror in 1922. Now, not so much.

Over at the hospital, Ben is with Amy. She’s alive and conscious after her brain surgery. You know who else is surprisingly among the living? That snot-nosed kid with the creepy stare what was about to shoot Kate when Ethan shot him. He didn’t even need medical treatment despite a bullet in his gut. He and a couple of his gang are in jail.

Up on the other side of the mountain, Pam tries to convince her brother that mass murder is wrong, but he insists the town is “too sick” to save and they’ll need to defrost themselves a new population after the abbies dispose of this one. When Pam gets all “But David blah blah blah, it’s not too late yadda yadda yadda,” he has his guards take her away and force her into a cool space suit in preparation for going back to bed for a few hundred years. If you were waiting for him to do one of those “I know it was you, Fredo” kissing her on both cheeks thingies, you’ll be disappointed, and not for the last time.

Kate and her crew swing by the sheriff’s office to grab some weapons. They leave the children of the damned locked in their cells, which might not be the worst place to be during an abbie attack unless those things are strong enough to bend steel in their bare hands like Superman. (Well how was Kate supposed to know they could do that?)

What does a man do after setting loose a bunch of preternatural predators on the last remnants of humanity? David listens to Una Furtiva Lagrima, which, as furtive as it sounds, is actually from a comic opera, Donizetti’s L’Eliser de Amore, which the entire family could enjoy, but on TV and in the movies, opera is strictly for evil masterminds and mob bosses.

You can see how this would drive someone to evil.

You can see how this would drive someone to evil.

Teresa goes to grab Ben and Amy (conveniently the only two patients at the hospital). There’s already a zombie an abbie loose on the premises, and once he’s finished eating the doctor, he’s going to want some dessert, so they better hurry! Sure, Amy just came out of brain surgery and a coma, but she’s a trooper. Fortunately, Ethan makes it to the hospital in time to help.

Up in the lair, before they get Pam and a few other rebels into the fridge, she starts making a speech.

Meanwhile, more brainwashed kids come to spring their friends out of jail, but instead of heading for the bunker, they go to some other extremely well stocked secret bunker just past the white room under the school.

Various abbiepocalyptic things happen. Kate ducks into the toyshop, where she takes out an abbie with an ax. There’s a bag of leftover explosives she grabs while the co-conspirator who’d been carrying them is chowed down upon by a group of abbies. Later, there’s a “moment” between Kate and Teresa indicating bygones are bygones and they’re good with each other despite the home-wrecking stuff, which technically happened over two thousand years ago.

This is the point where the last remaining diehards finally switched over and started rooting for the abbies like the rest of us.

This is the point where the last remaining diehards finally switched over and started rooting for the abbies like the rest of us.

Trope #363 – And a child will lead them: In the bunker, Ethan asks Megan where the tunnels lead. She doesn’t want to tell him because David Pilcher will provide. It’s Ben who’s able to persuade her that if Pilcher wanted to save them, he would have, ergo ipso facto they better figure a way out of this. Megan, despite a lifetime devoted to David, gives up the info. The tunnels lead to an elevator to the mountain lair. She gives up the code for the elevator but stays behind in case any of the stragglers haven’t been et yet. Even the usually pretty great Hope Davis is hampered by the script. She’s playing “obsessed” and not a character.

What’s missing in all the mishagas? A shitload of characterization and the tying up of loose ends that just aren’t going happen in the remaining twenty minutes. Like what’s the deal between Megan and her husband? Are they another match made by Pam, like Harold and Kate? He tries to persuade her to come with, but his goodbye kiss is more friendly than passionate, which brings up something else. Not only are there no crickets and few black folk in Wayward Pines, but where are the gays?

Soon there is a knocking on the bunker door, and then pieces of the door come falling down. It’s not the kids; it’s humankind’s evil spawn. Up in the lair, one of the guards switches sides and gets Pam out of deep freeze. Meantime, Ben and Teresa are among the last group of people left waiting for the elevator to unload and come back down. When they hear the abbies running through the corridor behind a few doors they’ll easily break down, Teresa uses a walkie-talkie to tell Ethan. He jumps into the elevator and comes out in the nick of time shooting. He’s also grabbed the bag of bombs from Kate, which we know will have to go off within the next fourteen minutes because Checkov (not the one from Star Trek) tells us so.

Those clever and persistent evil dead abbies are now climbing up the elevator shaft. Human meat really must be quite the tasty treat because surely there’s easier prey that won’t fight back with guns. The elevator stops. (Looks like David might have stopped it, or it might have been the power.) Ben climbs out to take a look, and why the ridiculously overprotective Teresa lets that happen is a mystery. There’s a ladder, and they aren’t that far from the door. Everyone leaves to climb it except Ethan, who tells Ben they have to work as a team to keep “those things from coming up.” He lays out the explosives.

"Just out of curiosity, you're all paid up on your life insurance premiums, right?"

“And by ‘work as a team,’ I mean leave me here all alone to sit on 100 pounds of explosives by myself.”

David is watching on the monitor and can’t resist the temptation to taunt and scold Ethan from above because that’s what your evil nemesis will do. He tells him the walking dead abbies will come up the elevator shaft and kill everyone, and it’s all Ethan’s fault. Evil geniuses, always with the guilt tripping!

Kate makes it to Pilcher’s creepy home office, where she’s taking aim while he lectures her about how she can’t kill his “ideas” which are “everywhere.” It’s Pam in her cool space suit who actually shoots him dead. Then one of her allies gets the power back on.

Yeah, fratricide, schmatricide. You're more amazed that Nurse Pam looks hot in that space suit.

Yeah, fratricide, schmatricide. You’re more surprised Nurse Pam looks so hot in that space suit.

Ethan sits by the explosives, waiting patiently and LITERALLY seeing his life flash before his eyes—mostly just the same stuff we saw in the first episode, Ben’s birthday party. In case we needed the zombie references to be any clearer, when the abbies break through the reinforced steel floor of the elevator with their bare hands and no weapons, their bloodied arms pop up as though they were digging out of their own graves.

"Listen, M. Night, I'm stuck on an elevator with a giant pile of explosives and an army of superpowered cannibals clawing their way in, waiting to sacrifice my life to save my family. Are you sure 'slightly bored' is the look I should have on my face right now?"

“Listen, M. Night, I’m stuck on an elevator with a giant pile of explosives and an army of superpowered cannibals clawing their way in, waiting to sacrifice my life to save my family. Are you sure ‘slightly bored’ is the look I should have on my face right now?”

There’s an explosion. Ben looks down the elevator shaft and sees the fire below. It would be pretty hard to imagine, even on this show, that Ethan made it out alive. A piece of debris pops up and bonks Ben on the head. If you laughed when it happened, you weren’t alone.

Some hours later, Pam shows Kate around. Even though, as Kate puts it, they’ve never said “one true thing to each other,” it looks like the start of a beautiful friendship—or at least an uneasy alliance—with no more lies or surveillance. And we might have ended right there if the powers-that-be hadn’t decided we needed more of a lead-in to a new season that would work with all of the major characters MIA or killed.

Ben, who was knocked unconscious by the zombie-arm or whatever it was that hit him, wakes up in the hospital. Someone is calling him “Mr. Burke,” just like Nurse Pam called Ethan upon his awakening. The episode is called “Cycle” so get it? GET IT?

Amy is the one waking him, only she’s dressed up as a nurse and looks a little different because she is different. It’s three years in the future, and they’re just letting Ben out of suspended animation. The “adults” are all on ice, and all of the members of the children of the damned that were hiding in the school basement have taken over. Ben grabs his clothes and takes a walk outside. Surveillance is back, as are reckonings. There’s a pointed shot of the merry-go-round. Same old, same old. GET IT? And of course there’s a bronze statue of David Pilcher – “visionary.”

So looks like the new season, if there is one, will be sort of Lord of the Flies meets The Walking Dead, with zombies in all but name, who are stronger, faster, and can breed. Gone is any hope or pretense of repopulating the earth with people. What would be the point of even trying? People don’t stand a chance against what’s outside.

True confessions: Sometime after episode five, your humble recapper read the books—so you don’t have to. Believe it or not, Pam and David were more nuanced on TV. There was some truly cringe-worthy dialogue in the novel—especially from the “gals”—who were mostly helpless, except for Pam, who was younger, hotter, more of a ninja, and a full on psychopath. The television show worked best in the places where it jettisoned the book altogether and went its own way—changing the timeline for Teresa’s “arrival,” for instance. It worked worst where leftover remnants from the book remained but never made sense with the other changes—such as Pam’s inexplicably sadistic behavior in the first few episodes or Adam’s looking at Teresa longingly. (In the book, Adam was in love with her.) The endings are very different—and the book wins that one hands down. The book’s final chapter is goofy, more definitive, but less cynical about humanity. It involves one of those twists you should see coming but probably missed because of its outlandishness…and because it wasn’t something you’ve seen a gazillion times before.

The TV series’ ending is just a cheesy setup for season two, with more appeal to the youths and a less prestigious and costly cast. But is it really much of a premise? Even when you’re facing zombies, you might find a cure or build fortress cities where you burn your dead while waiting for the ones walking around outside to rot away to bones. You’ve got almost unlimited access to weapons since they weren’t mostly destroyed over two thousand years ago, and it hasn’t already been established that you’re absolutely the only ones left alive. But what can you do when you’ve got a few hundred humans in one small town versus millions of super strong predators spread across a planet turned back to jungle? Better if Ethan had bombed the mountain lair and destroyed all the homo sapiens left. Our time has passed.

Marion Stein

Marion writes television recaps and reviews for the Agony Booth, and books you can find over at Amazon.

TV Show: Wayward Pines

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