Wayward Pines: Our Town, Our Law Review

The plot is intriguing, the characters compelling and, as “Our Town, Our Law” proved, no one is indispensible.

Last week’s “Don’t Discuss Your Life Before” ended with a shocker: Terrence Howard’s Sherriff Pope publicly executing Juliette Lewis’ Beverly in that swift throat-slicing scene was unsettling to say the least. We already knew that Wayward Pines is different, but I was still trying to figure out why some people didn’t know who Beverly was—and I enjoyed Lewis’ presence—when Pope went all Bill The Butcher on her, in a ritual that’s called “The Reckoning” around town.

This week’s episode began with the aftermath of the execution, wherein Sherriff Pope gives what’s actually more of a sermon than an explanation in the wake of Beverly’s murder. When the camera cuts to the townsfolk crying, it’s hard to tell if it’s because they’re moved by Pope’s dedication, or they’re as afraid of his lunacy as the viewers are. 

When the citizens recite Pope’s message with him, word for word, talking about loving life in Wayward Pines and not thinking about the past, I couldn’t help but think back to M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village. In the 2004 Shyamalan film, the whole idea of the community was that people who had experienced death and trauma in the outside world could start anew. Shyamalan might be an executive producer, but there seems to be echoes of The Village in Wayward Pines.

Carla Gugino’s Kate is an enigma. She’s Stepford-esque sometimes and a helpless prisoner others, simultaneously calculating and brainwashed. Although Matt Dillon’s Ethan is the subject of a town-wide manhunt, when Kate is in the kitchen, she senses Ethan in the house and behind her without batting an eyelash. That an agent as clearly lethal and intelligent as she is so fearful and frightened of some unknown force is terrifying for the viewer. We know that she said they’re always being watched and monitored, but what could be taming her of all people?

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I can’t seem to grasp why Ethan gets off scot-free after Beverly’s “Reckoning.” Simply because someone paid for their “crimes,” Ethan’s sins don’t count. Kate tells Ethan he has a second chance when she gives him back his tracking chip—but why does he? Because he’s the protagonist? We learn that Nurse Pam and Sherriff Pope aren’t calling the shots, but who is, and why do they seem determined to let Ethan run amock? 

When Ethan finds Beverly’s body, he vows to find her daughter and tell her how much Beverly fought to find her. It would be surprising if this didn’t come back later on as a twist. Could Beverly’s daughter be another main player in the show?

While the Theresa-Ben/mother-and-son (Shannyn Sossamon, Charlie Tahan) adventure was worrying to me—responsible for the more blasé moments in the first two episodes—their trip is picking up, and key information is being gleaned. For one, Wayward Pines is a real place, confirmed by the gas station attendant in a nearby town and neighborhood kids. While Ethan is an unreliable narrator, it seems that he, at least, hasn’t invented the town in his mind. Secondly, they’re clearly a threat, as Sherriff Pope had to intervene and mess with the car. Why do Theresa and Ben pose a threat? 

Ethan sneaks onto a truck that had delivered food and goods to an event in town. He arrives at the headquarters of a place that feels like Lost’s Dharma Initiative, with strange hubs where things like coffee and sugar are kept. Theresa’s car is kept here, along with other confiscated vehicles, meaning her and Ben are in town. After their car crashed—seems a habit for Sherriff Pope—they were brought to Beverly’s old house. Is this how it always starts, with a car crash?

Justin Kirk (Modern Family) makes an appearance as a realtor who moves Ethan and his family into Beverly’s house. It feels like all of Wayward Pines’ residents were threatened and bamboozled into staying. When you recall that time works differently in Wayward Pines—Ethan’s five weeks is Kate’s twelve years—could the promise of relative immortality, through strict observance of the rules, be the reason some hang around?

If you watched the full episode, you know that Sherriff Pope is no more. Terrence Howard was magnetic as the ice cream connoisseur/all-out maniac. (It’s possible that Empire scheduling conflicts preempted Pope’s death.) After Ben struck Pope with Pope’s truck, Ethan shoots him. Pope’s last words are, “You think you want to know the truth but you don’t. It’s worse than anything you could even imagine.” They still echo as a shrieking humanoid emerges from beyond the electric fence and carries Pope’s lifeless corpse to the other side.

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I saw and see Wayward Pines going a lot of different directions, but humanoid monsters being kept at bay by a Jurassic Parkian electric fence was way down on my list. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg, but this Idaho town is one fascinating place to examine. A few worries: that the show won’t finish on a satisfying note; we started to get some answers last night, but the show’s run is already 30 percent complete.

I worry about there being enough time left to answer all the questions, whether a show only slated for one season leave issues unsolved, and that the mystery uncovered at the end might be a bit too strange. Right now? None of those questions truly matter…yet. Wayward Pines is one hell of a ride, albeit a bumpy, confusing one at times. The cast of characters is stellar, the story is intriguing, and the plot is consistently surprising. What more can be asked?


4 out of 5