The banality of the title of the 4th episode of Wayward Pines, “One of Our Senior Realtors Has Chosen to Retire,” belies the strangeness of the town. In Wayward Pines violence may be framed with coded words, but it walks undisguised amongst the townspeople. Sheriff Pope’s haunting warning to Ethan in “Our Town, Our Law”—“You think you want to know the truth, but you don’t. It’s worse than anything you could even imagine”—and the revelation that some kind of frightening creatures live beyond the wall, deepens the mystery that surrounds Wayward Pines. In “One of Our Senior Realtors Has Chosen to Retire” the Burke family tries to fit into the Wayward Pines community.
All happy families are alike: each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
– Leo Tolstoy
Ben Burke wants to know, “What were those things on the other side of the wall?” Yeah, we are curious as well. Does Ben actually believe his dad’s explanation that they were wolves? More importantly, why would Ethan leave his son alone outside of the car to wash the blood off his hands after such a traumatic experience? Ben just hit the Sheriff with the police car, and then watched his dad kill him. Seems like Mom and Dad should be focused on supporting their son rather than letting him clean up with the hose as they talk alone in the car. Ethan tells Theresa he hasn’t been able to escape Wayward Pines since he arrived, and the whole town is under surveillance.
Ethan: “We have to keep our guard up. Keep playing along. Act like there’s nothing wrong. Act like …”
Theresa: “Act like we’re a happy family.”
Ethan: “If you want to survive.”
She seems to catch on much faster than Ethan ever did.
Theresa isn’t too excited to be trapped in the same town as the woman her husband had an affair with. Later in the episode, Theresa is downtown and sees Kate’s toystore. Theresa goes into the store and confronts Kate about her affair with Ethan. Theresa shares a tirade about giving up her training as an agent in order to have a family. She put her family first, but Ethan didn’t. Seems like something Theresa should be bitterly throwing in Ethan’s face, not Kate’s.
Theresa: “You hurt my family, Kate.”
Kate: “I know. I’m sorry. A lot has changed since then.”
Theresa: “Maybe for you.”
Kate: “For you, too. You just don’t know it yet.”
If we’re supposed to feel sympathetic towards Theresa, or any of the Burkes for that matter, it’s not working.
“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.”
– Albert Einstein
When he arrives at the sheriff’s station to grab some guns, Ethan is surprised to learn that he’s been given the job of Sheriff. Murder is the oldest form of advancement opportunity, after all. Receptionist Arlene has even brought in a cake, but there’s no ice cream in sight. Mayor Brad Fisher arrives for a photo opportunity and congratulations. Ethan begins asking pesky questions, but stops when it’s clear he won’t get answers. Arlene reminds him that no one likes a nosy Nellie. When they have a moment alone, the Mayor indicates that in his new position Ethan will have access to information about people in the town.
Ethan, in his first worthwhile investigative effort, finds the files on all the townsfolk in a vault in the floor. Kooky Nurse Pam brings in Peter McCall on a citizen’s arrest for subversive graffiti. She demands a reckoning, but Ethan just tells her to leave and he will take care of things. Nurse Pam seems to love the reckonings more than most.
“We are born free, but are taught to obey orders.”
– Marty Rubin
Ben is going to Wayward Pines Academy, where the creepy kids stare down from the windows. Ben and his mom meet enthusiastic teacher Mrs. Fisher. She’s one of those teachers who tries a little too hard to be liked by the kids. It’s hard to believe the Burkes would ever let Ben out of their sight, particularly when they have given him so little information about the dangers of Wayward Pines.
Ben is interviewed by his teacher, and seems to be failing miserably. Probably because his parents never prepped him for … anything. She repeatedly asks him where home is, and he keeps answering, “Seattle.” She cultivates the doubt that Ben already has about his father, asking if he thinks his dad might be lying about why they are in Wayward Pines. Again, some prep would have been helpful.
Ben meets a girl named Amy. There’s nothing to make a teenage boy forget his pre-Wayward Pines life like a pretty girl. She asks him about his “old” school, commenting, “Well, if everything’s perfect in Seattle it makes sense for you to want to go back.” Seems like Amy might have gotten an instructive phone call from the powers that be. Since Ben hasn’t been told by his parents that everyone in town is playing a part, he’s the perfect mark. Theresa frantically runs up to Ben, asking why he wasn’t waiting for her at school. Before Ben can complain, “Mom, stop embarrassing me!” Amy explains it was all her fault: “I practically forced him.” Amy has that the vibe of a smooth-talking teen charmer who ends up being very bad news for your child.
“In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
– George Orwell
Ethan is engaged in his own interrogation with Peter McCall. The phones rings and Ethan answers it, almost absentmindedly, and gets an order from the mysterious powers that be. Apparently Nurse Pam isn’t the only one who expects Ethan to call for Peter’s reckoning. When Ethan hangs up, he looks at Peter and says: “Telemarketer.” We thought Nurse Pam was the only one allowed to be funny in Wayward Pines.
The next morning, Ethan asks Peter about how he got to Wayward Pines. It’s a sordid story that involved a one-night stand with a woman named Denise in 2001.
“We went back to my room … where I blacked out. Next thing I knew, I woke up in a hotel room. Wasn’t the same hotel. The brunette from the bar … was still there. But she was older. And her name wasn’t Denise. It was Pam.”
Nurse Pam! Are you as shocked as we are? What exactly is Nurse Pam’s role in Wayward Pines, besides making inappropriate jokes and providing questionable medical treatment? Is she still bitter over that one-night stand? Is that why she wants Peter reckoned?
Back at the school, Mrs. Fisher, who was a hypnotherapist before she came to Wayward Pines, is continuing her interview with Ben.
Mrs. Fisher: “All right, let’s start where we left off yesterday. Where are you from, Ben?”
Mrs. Fisher: “And where do you live?
Ben: “Uh … I don’t know.
Mrs. Fisher: “Good, Ben. So good. Tomorrow, you can start class with the other students, and guess what? I’m gonna be your teacher.”
Mrs. Fisher’s technique appears to be working, especially after she gives him a guitar. To bad his parents didn’t warn him that people might not be what they seem in Wayward Pines.
Mayor Fisher: “Your son, Ben … I hear he’s a good kid.”
Ethan: “Yeah, I think so.”
Mayor Fisher: “See, the thing about this town is that … they focus on the children. The school … is very dedicated. It’s all about shaping the mind of the child.”
Ethan: “Your wife is a teacher at that school.”
Mayor Fisher: “Yes. Be careful.”
When the women return, Ethan asks what everyone thinks of the public executions. Awkward.
Receptionist Arlene is also at the restaurant, lamenting Sheriff Pope’s “retirement.” Kooky Nurse Pam has arrived and gives a toast celebrating the new sheriff, indicating she expects him to punish those who break the rules. In the back of the restaurant Kate Hewson sits with her husband, watching Pam’s behavior with surprise. Interrupting Pam, Ethan gives his own toast: “And I want everyone here tonight to know … that as long as I’m Sheriff of Wayward Pines, I will do everything in my power to ensure … that the evils of this town are brought to light … and that the true criminals … are brought to justice.” The whole toast thing didn’t seem to go as Nurse Pam had hoped.
Theresa and Ethan find Dr. Jenkins on the path as they walk home. It’s not clear why Ethan seems to trust Dr. Jenkins. Perhaps it’s his past experience with psychiatrists or that Dr. Jenkins referred to him as a good man in “Our Town, Our Law.” When Ethan expresses his concern about executing a man for graffiti, Dr. Jenkins responds, “Perhaps the best things in this world require the biggest sacrifice.” Ethan realizes that Dr. Jenkins will be of no assistance and sends Theresa home, while he heads back to the Sheriff’s office.
Theresa finds a message in the mailbox telling her that “One of our senior realtors has chosen to retire,” inviting her to come the office the next morning. The note refers to Peter McCall’s position. Apparently retirement means something very different in Wayward Pines.
“Before I built a wall I’d ask to know / What I was walling in or walling out”
— Robert Frost
Ethan tells Peter he’s going to hide him, and Peter suggests they go to the wall. At the wall Peter quotes Robert Frost and asks about the wall: “Which is it? Is it keeping us in, or something else out?” Peter suggests there’s only on way out of Wayward Pines, pointing across the town towards the mountains. Peter throws himself at the electrified fence, sacrificing himself so that the powers that be will trust Ethan.
Ethan goes back to the Sheriff’s office to get climbing gear, but Nurse Pam arrives. She menacingly tells Ethan, “You might have fooled everyone else, but I’m a registered nurse.” Ethan tells her that she would make a better sheriff, and she agrees, making herself comfortable at his desk once Ethan leaves.
Amy has lured Ben out to the woods to hang out and listen to the piano playing over the speakers. When Ben asks if the person playing the piano grew up in Wayward Pines, she responds, “No. He’s like 40.” Ben has no idea that this means the man was kidnapped from somewhere else and is being held in Wayward Pines against his will. When Ben asks Amy, “What’s on the other side of the fence?” she distracts him with a kiss on the cheek, which ends with an awkward hug.
Ethan begins to climb up the mountain, but something is watching.
“One of Our Senior Realtors Has Chosen to Retire” Review
Wayward Pines continues to leave us mystified, adding a new layer with a hypnotherapist teacher and creepy kids at Wayward Pines Academy. Ethan Burke is doing a bit better at playing along, though he remains confrontational. It’s still hard to believe that Ethan or anyone else is able to hide what they are doing, such as Kate covering her conversation with a music box or tea kettle whistle. The Burke family has yet to engage us as watchers, though some of the other characters in the town, like Nurse Pam, are really compelling.
When Wayward Pines was discussed prior to the season, it was indicated that a major plot twist takes place in the middle of the series. Though “One of Our Senior Realtors Has Chosen to Retire” has revealed little about the mystery of Wayward Pines, we’re looking forward to much greater clarity in the next couple episodes.