May 29, 2018
Wayward Pines: That Explains All the Dust
Night: Despite having previously seen a “wolf” drag off Sheriff Pope’s body, Ethan climbs the rocks and heads over the wall to get help. So what’s on the other side? It’s too dark to see much, but you can hear genuine crickets, and growling, lots of low-rumbling growls, and something scampering real fast in the woods. Ethan starts shooting, but can’t see at what. He’s just reacting to the sounds, turning around, shooting in the dark. Something strikes him, a blade of some kind, which he pulls from his arm. That’s gotta hurt.
Outside of the house, Amy asks Ben if he wants to walk to school with her and a friend in the morning. “Cool,” he says, having temporarily forgotten all other words. Dorky is a better choice than explaining he promised his mom he would only walk to school with her. She kisses him. Let’s hope she’s not evil.
Teresa is running the water in the kitchen—it’s a habit now, even when no one else is home. She tells Ben that Ethan is working late, but he’ll close the case real soon and then they’ll leave. He can go back to his old life of getting shaken down for lunch money in Seattle. “Great,” he says without much enthusiasm because it’s dawning on him that having a life means hanging out with other people besides your mom. He walks away, and Teresa sighs loud enough for the closed captions to mention it.
Morning comes, and Ethan is still alive outside and aiming to make it to Boise. Ben is up bright and early in the kitchen and has made his own cereal like a big boy. His mom will be so proud he’s walking to school with his new friends all independent like! Not so much. He leaves angry. Moms should never let their kids leave angry, especially when there’s brainwashing going on at the school, which she might know about if she had asked him what exactly happened his first couple of days.
At Wayward Academy, everyone knows his name and says “Hello, Ben.” He asks Amy if they’re nice to him because they want to be or did someone tell them to be nice to him. That’s the kind of attitude that’ll melt a girl’s heart if she’s in to train wrecks—not that there’s anything wrong with that. Then there’s an announcement that Ben and two other kids are supposed to go to Orientation. How many days has he been in school? Has he even been inside a classroom yet?
Teresa shows up for her first day at the Realtor’s office. She meets her boss, Big Bill, who starts out by whistling at her. Turns out Realtors don’t sell houses in Wayward Pines; they give them away. But we already knew that when Peter showed Ethan his house. She’s going to the hospital to meet her first client. He was working construction, putting up traffic cones, when a police car zoomed by and hit him. Anyone want to guess who was driving that car? It’s so lucky that a house is on the market—probably belonged to her predecessor. On the way out, Big Bill tells her, “Thank your husband for killing Petey, will ya?” Think she can trust him?
Orientation happens in a white room empty except for three chairs and the students sitting them. Is this the part where Mrs. Fisher offers them each a red pill or a blue pill? Nope, she walks in pushing an old-timey projector on a cart. Just like regular schools have. The group consists of Ethan, a girl with long hair, and a boy who looks like a younger Justin Long.
In the forest, Ethan comes across what looks like an archway from an old house, a very, very old house.
Megan Fisher will be hereafter referred to as Grand Mistress Fisher or GMF because she is an awesome blend of Morpheus, Yoda and Mr. Miyagi—but probably evil. GMF tells the kids that they were all chosen because in their individual sessions they showed “great potential.” As suggestible subjects for her brand of hypnotherapy? She tells them that if they “make it through the day,” they’ll be part of the “first generation” of Wayward Pines. And if they don’t? Probably better not to ask. Then she asks if they’re ready. For what? “The truth.”
Speaking of firsts, Teresa meets her new client, Wayne, at the hospital. He looks pretty shell-shocked, as anyone would be if they woke up with Nurse Pam by their bedside. He tells Teresa he saw something “awful” after his accident, and Nurse Pam was there. Teresa whispers that it’s not safe—but he can trust her, and he better blurt it out quickly. Good thing those bugs aren’t sensitive enough to pick up whispers. Nurse Pam is lurking anyway and congratulates Teresa on her new job in her own special way. Wayne agrees to check out the house because anything would be better than staying in a hospital where there’s a crazy person with access to medical equipment.
Remember that critter a couple of episodes back what took away the Sheriff’s body? GMF shows a where’s Waldo slide that features a couple of them hiding out in the woods right outside of the perimeter, taken 14 years before. Who finds Waldo? Ben does! Then she shows one with the creature’s face. She asks the kids what it is. “Bigfoot?” Justin Long suggests. She continues. They are called “abbies” or aberrations. They travel in herds and are the most efficient predators on the planet. And, oh yeah, they look like us—because they once were us! Over in the forest, Ethan sees a maggoty rotting deer and drags its carcass over to a log. He watches from a ditch as three of the creatures come by and start chomping on its innards. Seriously? He was that eager to get a look at them?
Lunch break! Amy comes over to Ben and the other orientees, who are all having a pretty tough time. Justin Long, Jr., looks like he’s going to be sick. She tells them it’ll all make sense in the second half.
Back to work. GMF is talking again, and she’s going to keep on talking for another twenty minutes, spooning everything out with interactive lessons and Socratic dialogue. Sure, it’s a lot of information, but this is much better than, say, Lost, a show that meandered for years and finally got around to telling us, “It’s a cork.” Here we’re getting whole megillah with crosscuts of Ethan seeing it for himself. It’s the future—4028 to be exact—and the world they knew is no more.
She tells them they didn’t arrive by accident. Ben asks why they were chosen. That’s an easy one. They were chosen to ensure the survival the human race. Wow! Not even the Ivies lay it on that thick.
While Ben is learning “the truth,” Teresa is also adding to her knowledge base. She turns on the washing machine at Wayne’s new crib and tells him to talk fast. Always with the water. She must be an Aquarius. The washing machine window makes him remember. How convenient is that? He was standing behind a little round window like the one on the machine. And he saw other people also standing behind little windows, and that’s where he first saw Nurse Pam.
Ethan sees a helicopter coming in for a landing, as we continue to listen to GMF’s soothing voice in the background. Is she hypnotizing the kids every time she opens her mouth? Probably. She tells them about a scientist who saw the coming of the aberrations, and so he built an “ark” and filled it with Americans. Mostly white people, but a sprinkling of ethnics and ethnically ambiguous people here and there. The name of the scientist was David Pilcher, which your humble recapper misheard as Felcher when Adam was on the phone with him discussing Teresa’s meddling. He sure sounded exactly like Doc Jenkins, who of course he is because that explains everything. (Not being snarky—it really does.) GMF tells the children that while they won’t get to meet him, he’ll always be watching over them—like Santa Claus or Kin Jong-un.
The helicopter lands, and Doc Jenkins, a.k.a David Pilcher himself, disembarks, accompanied by an armed soldier type, to tell Ethan how awesome he is because nobody ever made it that far before. Although Ethan saw the ruins of a lost civilization, grass growing over what was once gravel, and humanoid creatures munching on rotting deer like it was an all-you-can-eat buffet, he still doesn’t get it. Pilcher introduces himself with his real name, at which point we get a flashback—in case we weren’t paying attention—of Ethan meeting him as Doc Jenkins, and also of Kate and Ethan discussing David Pilcher, the mystery man they were tracking down when she went missing. He tells Ethan the extremely concise version of GMF’s lecture, boiling it down to “old world gone.” Not spelling it out with a slide show and well developed lesson plans may have been a mistake. Poor Ethan is still looking for Boise.
At the Academy, GMF is coming to the most important part of the lesson. They must never reveal any of this to their parents or any other adult. “Why not?” asks Ben, the only one amongst them who is still able to speak.
She tells them the story of Chris—a cautionary tale. Chris told his parents the truth, and then they all killed themselves. Truth KILLS. This Orientation has been brought to you by the Wayward Pines’ Truth Abuse Resistance Education program. Lesson learned, but she elaborates anyway because that’s the kind of great teacher she is. Their tender young minds can handle the truth, but people who’ve lived for a long time in the old world can’t. Telling them would put everyone’s life in danger.
Teresa goes back to the real estate office, where Big Bill proves to be even creepier than we thought. He pins a gold star on Teresa’s chest because she got Wayne to accept his house. While he’s standing close with one of his big paws practically on her boobies, she mentions there sure are a lot of people arriving at Wayard Pines via car accident. Her breasts don’t prove to be quite the distraction she hoped. He tells her not to think too hard and tacks on a “sweetie,” along with a not-so-veiled threat.
Orientation is coming to a close, and apparently everyone made it. Yay! No child reckonings. The orientees now go to an auditorium, which is dark except for the lit candles that all the other first generation members are holding in little plastic holders. Ben, you are now a rock star! The others stomp their feet for way too long to welcome the new inductees. Amy comes over and lights Ben’s fire—not a euphemism. Ben comes as close as he ever has to smiling. Best school ever!
Over by the helicopter, Dr. Pilcher is droning on about how all the art and culture is gone, plus languages. It sounds like he could have continued his lamentations for a good long while, but a herd of hungry aberrations is approaching fast, so Ethan has to choose between getting ate or returning to Wayward Pines. Nurse Pam, who is out of uniform and seems to have undergone a total personality transplant, helps Ethan get onto the chopper for the ride “home.”
That was a pretty fine hour of television. The reveal made sense. Pretty risky giving it to us in lecture form—but Hope Davis pulled it off, and James Foley’s direction was superb.
But the revelations create more questions: Are there other “towns” left like Wayward Pines? If so, are they connected through the facility where the cars are? And do any of them have a bistro with ketchup? Where does the food come from? Who was watching the pods for the last couple of thousand years while the world was going to shit? Plus, how exactly were people chosen? Does this brave new world really have a pressing need for a school bus driver from New Jersey? If it’s about the survival of the species, why are there all those unpartnered adults or couples like Kate and her husband who don’t have kids? Why are there any adults who aren’t taking care of young ones? What’s the point of having an excess population that has to be coddled, lied to, and given goofy non-job jobs? If they’re there for the baby-making, they aren’t doing it right. What about all the lost art, culture, and languages that Dr. Pilcher went on about? If he’s such a genius, why didn’t he see that coming? He could have fresh-froze Noam Chomsky or even Salman Khan instead the Hotel Manager and Big Bill. And why are people so mean, and sneaky, and willing to rat out their neighbors? Or is that the point? That we are rotten to the core, and there’s not much difference between the top of the food chain inside Wayward Pines and those beyond its walls.