Enjoy Your New Life in 'Wayward Pines'

It was almost perfect.


Cue the Boyz II Men or Semisonic. We’ve reached the end of the road and Wayward Pines is in our rearview mirror. With season two only a faint possibility, even though it’s doing gangbusters for Fox, it’s safe to call Wayward Pines over and done. For now.

Which is great because the finale is infuriating.

They had it. M. Night et al had it. They would have stuck the landing with reasonably enough material for a second season had that path of been taken. But noooooo. One last stinger destroyed that. They piled it on and made the worst cliffhanger ending possible.

Ethan sacrifices himself heroically for the town and his family. Pam kills David Pilcher, who put everyone in danger because he feared he’s lost his grip of the town. Ben is injured and placed into a coma (Ugh). Pam and Kate put their differences behind them and choose to operate Wayward Pines, promising that they will run the town better.

Three years later, Ben wakes up from his coma to find Amy, aged and now a full-fledged nurse. He goes to town to find Wayward Pines… back to its creepy old self. A horrifying statue in remembrance of “visionary” David Pilcher and the rotting corpse of his “traitor” father hanging without dignity.

Yeah, what the fuck.

To the show’s credit (grumble), it did wrap up most of its stories nicely. Some things are left unfulfilled (Adam Hassler’s, where the hell is he?) but, Wayward Pines succeeded its mission: It was born as an event series that was intended to tell its story in ten episodes. And it did.

It’s just, that ending. The last few minutes. If you’ve invested yourself in Wayward Pines like I have, the last few minutes are like a slap in the face right after hot sex. Couldn’t we bask in the afterglow? No, and you’re being kicked out of bed.

Most of the episode played like an evacuation mission in a video game. Getting most of the town out is no short order, and predictably there are tense elevator sequences as the Abbies make their way deep into town and into the bunker. Much of the action is pretty thrilling. It’s not John Wick — by default, the zombie genre can’t allow for intricate choreography — but more World War Z. It’s quite the action seen this side of the best Walking Dead.

In regards to Ethan’s sacrifice, I guess it had to happen. I’m not sure what he would gain by surviving. He can’t go home, no one can, and to make Wayward Pines his home would feel wrong. It’s against his character. Even as the sheriff, he was working against the town. In the end, I guess he really had to be offed. He could never enjoy his life in Wayward Pines.

And I was right about Kate! She did love Harold, as she confessed. I’m sure I’m the only one who really asked that question, but, man, does it feel great to have that answered. Kate and Ethan’s fling was just that, a fling.

So, my next big question: What’s Pam’s deal? Was she the big bad after all? This episode positioned her as a victim to Pilcher snapping over his lost grip over the town, but the ending scene has to be her doing. From the start, her position as an antagonistic force against Ethan indicated she could never fully be righteous or sympathetic at any point. Her transition has felt awkward, but it felt nearly right as she was sent into cyro (Interesting tidbit: They don’t freeze, they’re under some granite-looking substance). Her release was great, but it was orchestrated: The soldier ordered her release right as Pilcher became occupied. His initial coldness to her was a cover. But that had to mean Pam knew ahead of time what the game was, and she took control of Wayward Pines after.

So it was Pam’s game to win all along? Has to be. Pilcher was her puppet. Not surprising, she supported him in the very beginning and appeared to leverage him to help herself. But, again — what’s her purpose? Is it power she couldn’t have in the old world? We know zilch about her then (except that she was hot).

And this is why the ending is maddening. A second season is practically screaming right now.

Folks, it’s been quite the pleasure watching this wild show these last 10 or so weeks. I didn’t think I’d enjoy a show from M. Night Shyamalan as much as I did, especially when it came off like a lame Twin Peaks ripoff. But Wayward Pines became its own thing — first as a sci-fi mystery, then to some bizarre post-9/11 allegory, to finally some kind of apocalyptic zombie thriller. And it’s been fun.

I’d be happy to cover a second season should it happen, but I will admit I’m soured on the experience. A second season now just feels obligatory, like it would check off boxes to make this first season good as oppossed to telling a good, smart story. Unanswered questions of this caliber, even after last call when the lights are on and the chairs are on the tables, can be frustrating and poison whatever good came before it. And Wayward Pines’ freshman season had plenty of good! Bad too, but whatever was good was better.

I enjoyed my life in Wayward Pines. But I’m ready to go home.