With his final breath (before he was shot), Terrence Howard’s Sheriff Pope signed off with: “”You think you want to know the truth, but you don’t. It’s worse than you can ever imagine.”
After watching the fifth episode of Wayward Pines, aptly titled “The Truth,” we know just how true that is. And, truthfully, the build-up was worth it for the payoff, but we’ll get to that.
Last week, when Matt Dillon’s Ethan climbed a massive cliff, only to be spied on by a bloody, drooling humanoid beast, one of the ilk who carried Pope’s lifeless body with him into the woods. Whereas a run-of-the-mill mystery drama might hold off on exposing it’s “baddie,” Wayward Pines didn’t dance around the exposition: only halfway into the “event’s” ten-episode run, we poetically do get truth and the answers we’ve been awaiting since the show began four weeks ago.
“The Truth” begins with Ethan ambling through the woods with a shotgun he proves he doesn’t mind firing. Immediately, he’s accosted by a beast, which seems to be toying with him, sprinting past and leaving deep claw gashes in his arm. If these things are that fast, it’s amazing any wall at all keeps them at bay, let alone that anyone could fend them off long enough to erect a wall.
Ethan’s son Ben seems to have a bit of Walking Dead’s Carl in him; despite the very clear and imminent danger that surrounds him, he can’t seem to just stay inside. We all get that he likes Amy (Sarah Jeffery) but it’s not like this town has screamed “Welcome Home.” Walking into the woods late at night has never been less safe. Expect some Ben-saving in the near future.
While I’m all for Matt Dillon’s Ethan being the everyman who takes the craziness of Wayward Pine in stride, I’m a little concerned/thrown off with just how well he’s dealt with everything. A little too good to be true, almost.
Despite the relative slowness of the Ben-Amy storyline, Ben gets answers much quicker than Ethan or Theresa. Megan Fisher (Hope Davis, finally getting some serious screen time this week—and, seriously, how good is she on this show?!) tells Ben and two new classmates they’re ready for “the truth”; but most of the adults in town aren’t? Showrunner Chad Hodge teases that the explanation for why the truth doesn’t work for Wayward Pines’ adults is coming, as well as how the town came to be. Fisher openly discusses the beasts, showing up close photos and giving them a name: “Abbies,” short for “aberrations,” the result of genetic mutation gone wrong. Being only halfway into the season, and so much being revealed this episode, your guess is as good as mine where this is going—especially considering that Hodge and others have promised that this season’s end will be a definitive ending, with nothing left unsolved.
Whether Ethan is deemed “ready” or not for the sight of the Abbies, he learns all about them in a much more hands-on way than Ben. I’ll admit it…the Abbies and the way they devour prey, are flat-out frightening. Suddenly the wall makes sense, except (as we find out in a matter of minutes) it’s as much to keep the Abbies out as it is to protect the vital resources within. And something must be said of Wayward Pines’ tactic of not holding on too long to the reveal of the beasts. Most shows hold out to the point where the reveal is disappointing, but not here. Kudos to the writing team. (But, if the Abbies are as lethal as they’re billed, how did they not see or smell Ethan when he was a foot from them, watching on as they feasted on a dead dear?)
In Ben’s orientation, the kids are told that they were “chosen” to be in Wayward Pines. And, the real earth-shattering moment… while they (and everyone else who’s recently landed in town) believe they’ve crashed in Wayward Pines in 2014, Fisher tells them that it’s actually the year 4028 and humanity has largely been extinct for thousands of years. The citizens of Wayward Pines are all that’s left of mankind. What?! If you saw that coming, as Aldous Snow would say, “You deserve a medal, or a holiday, or at least a cuddle from somebody.” Talk about a twist. (Apparently, this twist is the same as in the Blake Crouch books the show is based on; admittedly, I haven’t read them, but still, Shyamalan presides over another gotcha moment.) The students of Wayward Pines Academy are called “the first generation,” and are a way of reestablishing human kind. Now Sheriff Pope’s ruthless, totalitarian ruling over the attempted utopia makes sense—there is no margin for error, in Wayward Pines.
Dr. Jenkins’ admission that he’s actually the head honcho David Pilcher, presiding over all of Wayward Pines, wasn’t shocking—in fact, it was kind of predictable. What was interesting is that Dr. Jenkins/Pilcher admits that Wayward Pines is his attempt at what is, essentially, a modern day Noah’s Ark. Pilcher saw that the end of mankind was approaching, and Wayward Pines was a life raft, built in the hopes of waiting out the storm. Few actors besides Toby Jones could pull off the caring madman/unrelenting Big Brother like Jones can. He can be either deranged, brilliant, or bouncing between the two extremes at any given moment.
Also, did anyone else have a shiver run down his/her spine when Ethan looks out beyond Pilcher’s helicopter landing at the mountains and says, “I know Idaho, and that isn’t it”? I certainly did.
There is a panoply of questions raised with this episode. Is what Fisher said really true? The Abbies could reasonably be what they’re supposed to be: mutated humans. Could it be a furthering of the attempt at utopia, since the children are barred by penalty of death to not tell their parents about the Abbies, or the downfall of humanity? Could this be a horrifying brainwashing method, and could the Abbies simply be an experiment gone wrong? Or are the citizens of Wayward Pines really the 500 or so last humans left alive, and the world has aged 2,000 years? Who would’ve thought that this show would employ a space-time continuum concept?
It seems to be, from what showrunner Hodge has stated, that Wayward Pines is all that’s left—500 humans, give or take—and that they really are 2000 years in the future. Though the alternative is tempting, the town brainwashing its youth, it doesn’t seem likely.
With a bullet, “The Truth” has been Wayward Pines’ best episode to date. It’s shot well, well-written, well-acted, surprising, frightening, enlightening and thought provoking all at the same time. The premise might be a bit insane—a post-apocalyptic gene-mutation, space-time continuum tale meets The Village—but it’s certainly one-of-a-kind. I truly cannot wait to see what happens next. Bring it on.