No Choice is Easy in 'Wayward Pines'

And some don't even have that luxury.


Wayward Pines has come back after a two week hiatus to… do more of exactly the same as in the last episode, “The Truth.” More exhausting exposition, more talking, everything less exciting. But hey, we get answers!

Consider this a David Pilcher origin episode, complete with the surprise return of Pope via flashbacks. We learn Pilcher was a scientist prophesying doom and getting laughed out of the science community. He built his devoted following with books and smart business choices (Hey! Themes!) and a few key people. Namely Fisher, whose hypnotherapy has been thematically upgraded to a superpower, and Pope, a smart but out-of-luck guy looking for a fresh start. He wasn’t always so cold, he could barely subdue a guy without feeling guilty about it. The reckonings seriously hardened the guy. It’s no wonder he became so devoted to Pilcher’s cause: He became that for him.

Pilcher knew the world was ending, and we see more of his “ark”: cyro chambers, to shepherd mankind past nuclear disaster. With the help of his cabal in a high-tech, comically self-sufficient facility, he’s allowed mankind to live in 4028.

And Ethan is now compelled to aid David Pilcher in his mission to retain Wayward Pines’ status quo! It’s a significant 180 that feels natural when you don’t think about it too much. This now puts him at direct odds against Kate, who has turned to domestic terrorism with her husband. That MacGuyver-like bomb they’ve built, who wants to bet it will for sure go off next week?

That bomb is a result of Kate’s choices that led her to Wayward Pines, or so she says to Theresa over some hella awkward coffee. Living up to its title, “Choices” either shows those who have none or those whose bad decisions led them to where they are. Ethan is helping David because, well, he’s the only one who can. Theresa has zero freedom in her work, her scumbag boss Bill grossly hitting on her and telling her what to do. Ben had no matter in this whole matter at all and nearly breaks down in his room.

And no one that David has “abducted” — an accusation Ethan challenges him on — chose to join Wayward Pines. It’s unclear why particular people are chosen, there was some vague thing about choosing the right people to preserve culture. If that were true then Michael Bay and every meme creator should be abducted, not just teachers and smarties.

We get a better look at the Abbies, in their full glory, with some new information: varying skin tones. Previously the Abbies were albino zombies, but the one held captive in Pilcher’s top-secret facility was a few shades darker. It’s unclear what pseudoscience will explain that, but there might be something.

The immediate question will be what comes out of the makeshift bomb the Ballingers have made and how they’ll lock horns with Ethan, who I stress is in an entirely different position and motivated by forces unthinkable just one or two episodes ago. But a longer question — though, with just a few more episodes left this season, they can’t take that long — is Port 33, a select area of land underdeveloped when everything around it has flourished. It is Theresa’s own mystery to solve, and given Wayward Pines’ slow pace they need to hustle.

Also, I guessed in “The Truth” why the adults were not told of the truth, which has driven Kate to domestic terrorism. I was right: “Group A,” the first adults in Wayward Pines, went bonkers and killed themselves upon learning the truth. Pilcher bothers to quote Plato, in case you couldn’t quite understand why the human mind is so fragile with these things. Ever since, every group has been kept in the dark, save for the children.

And now, because of that choice, Kate is about to blow up the wall.

The world of Wayward Pines is wonderfully big in scope, but I’m afraid that the writers room has been full of fights and disagreements over how to deliver its backstory. Two episodes, separated by an entire off week, has slowed the pacing of the series considerably. I can’t tell if “Choices” is a great episode or not, it’s oftentimes beautiful and other times boring, but it was a necessary one. But it’s necessary in the sense of responsibility, like a chore to accomplish, and not the fun kind like your first legal beer at 21.

There are still more questions to answer — Plot 33, Kate’s bomb, what to do with the Abbies because they’re going to fuck things up eventually, but finally there’s meaning to the weird streets of Wayward Pines.