In “The Friendliest Place on Earth,” Wayward Pines shows us the beginning of the end. As things start to unravel, it’s not clear if we should anticipate an end to the insurgency, an end to David Pilcher’s authoritarian regime, or an end to the town of Wayward Pines. But something’s got to change, and Wayward Pines stands on the precipice.
The Burke Family
So it turns out Ben Burke is still alive. We can’t pretend we’re not a wee bit disappointed. His mom, Theresa Burke, feels guilty, and despite what her husband thinks, we believe she ought to. Really, they both should have been keeping better track of their son and trying to be a tiny bit honest with him about the dangers of the town.
Later, Ben wakes up and asks his mom to check on Amy. Teacher Mrs. Fisher sneaks in to Ben’s room when Theresa leaves. She tries to get Ben on the reckoning train, telling Ben that she believes in clear laws and severe punishment. We have never seen a 14-year-old as easily manipulated as Ben, and by a teacher no less. He clearly wasn’t raised to be a critical thinker.
When Ethan Burke checks on Ben, his son regurgitates his teacher’s party line. Ben accuses his dad of letting the bombing happen by releasing Harold Ballinger. Theresa seems to realize that Mrs. Fisher may be having an undue influence on her son, but Ethan sweeps her concern aside. Ethan responds to his son’s accusations in a much calmer way than we would’ve expected. When Ben’s girlfriend Amy comes in, Ethan and Theresa leave to give the kids some privacy. Amy’s charm has disguised the fact that she’s a bad seed herself.
Out in the waiting room, Ethan tells Theresa about an incident that happened in which he was ordered to let a suspect go who then later killed 621 people in a terrorist attack. Theresa realizes that he turned to Kate for comfort after this happened because he couldn’t talk to his wife. It’s weird to see Ethan actually communicate with his wife. He tells her that he’s not taking orders anymore. We’re not sure we have yet to see Ethan do anything resembling following an order, so his exclamation feels a bit hollow.
Theresa finds Mrs. Fisher suspiciously waiting to talk to Ben. She threatens the teacher, telling her to stay away from her family. It’s about time Theresa tried to protect her family.
The Pilcher Siblings
Dr. Jenkins/David Pilcher and his sister Nurse Pam decide they need to do something special to distract the masses: A celebration of life in Wayward Pines. The big event is announced through an ominous phone call to the coffee shop. When barista Ruby announces it to everyone in the coffee shop she removes some pine needles from her hair, and David realizes that she’s one of the “subversives.”
David goes to the mountain for a little surveillance and finds that Ruby has left her microchip at home. When they turn on her bedroom camera (creepy!) we see that she didn’t even bother to stuff her bed with pillows. Amateur! David uses his own investigative skills to uncover that five other Wayward Pines residents are unaccounted for.
For reals though, how do David and Pam move so quickly between the mountain and Wayward Pines? Where does the helicopter park? Doesn’t anyone notice that every time Dr. Jenkins disappears a helicopter seems to fly over the town? Has this been going on for years and no one has made the connection?
David is worried that someone at the mountain is helping the “insurgents.” Pam conducts a full security review to put David’s mind at rest. She uses her much nicer mountain character during her interviews. What other personalities does Pam have? She uncovers that some surveillance workers enjoy the drama of Wayward Pines (at least someone does), while others have sympathy for the scared, confused residents. One of the observers, Reggie, sometimes erases the Wayward Pines residents’ slip-ups. Ruh-roh! Why tell Nurse Pam, sister of the megalomaniacal David Pilcher, that you’re breaking the Mountain rules? Hasn’t Reggie observed Nurse Pam’s scary alternative personality during his surveillance duty of Wayward Pines?
Despite her findings about Reggie breaking the rules, Nurse Pam doesn’t want to tell her brother. Could Kooky Nurse Pam actually be trying to protect people? Maybe she’s the glue that holds it all together. Little does she know that the townsfolk are not the only ones being surveilled.
The mandatory Fellowship Gathering has a gloomy feeling to it. Dr Jenkins (David Pilcher) encourages the Mayor to say a few words to lift everyone’s spirits, and he eagerly complies. Before the Mayor can finish his pie-in-the-sky speech, Sheriff Ethan interrupts. He tells everyone that there was a bombing last night and sends everyone home. Not exactly the diverting celebration David Pilcher was planning.
Up on the mountain, David seems to be losing it. Pam is going to get him some pie because she doesn’t want his blood sugar dropping. Wonder what the reference to his blood sugar dropping is code for—megalomaniac eruption? David wants to punish Reggie for breaking protocol. Pam pleads with David to not start killing their own people:
“You need to punish someone? Is that it? Then punish me. I’m the one who lied to you. Not Reggie. Reggie told the truth. These are our people, David. They came to us by choice, not like the people down in town who don’t know how they got there and probably will never be happy. We tolerated those reckonings. ‘Okay, we’ll kill one and keep the rest in line.’ But if we start killing our own people in the name of saving humanity, then we’ve lost everything. You need to punish, David, punish me. Kill me.”
He doesn’t seem willing to listen. Rather than kill Reggie, he makes a big show of putting him back in his cyronic chamber, which doesn’t seem so different from killing him. It’s a pretty awful scene. We’ve been thinking that it’s surprising that the Mountain hasn’t had it’s own uprising at some point, but perhaps David just triggered it. Murdering people, or putting them in stasis, doesn’t appear to be the best solution to keeping the peace either in the mountain or the town.
After the bombing, Harold Ballinger and his co-conspirators, one of whom is seriously injured and unconscious, are hiding in the woods. A friend brings them food, but it’s too late, as injury turns to death. It’s not clear where these subversives will hide and how they’re going to survive.
Harold and Alan dig a grave in the woods for their dead co-conspirator. But Alan decides that this fallen freedom fighter won’t be buried in the prison of Wayward Pines, but in the “free” soil outside the wall. Fresh meat for the Abbies!
Ethan questions Kate Hewson at the Sheriff’s station. And by question we mean he yells at her. Her group’s bomb did almost kill Ethan’s son, after all. Kate still believes their resistance movement is about freedom:
Kate: “You know, you have really good instincts, Ethan. But when push comes to shove, you will always follow orders. You have made the same mistake before.”
Ethan: “Well … I’m not following orders this time. I’m just trying to make sure that nobody gets killed. What happened to you? We were partners! Don’t you trust me at all?”
Kate: “These people want to be free. And I owe them that chance.”
Ethan is surprised that Kate doesn’t trust him, but he hasn’t lived through what Kate has in her 12 years in Wayward Pines, including months spent locked up in the psychiatric wing of the hospital.
From her cell, Kate remembers her transition in Wayward Pines. After getting the phone call about Wayward Pines being a government experiment, she put up a lot of resistance, which only resulted in hospitalization, extra attention from Nurse Pam (something no one wants), and sessions with Dr. Jenkins. After her “treatment,” she acted as though she had accepted life in Wayward Pines. Which we now know was a lie.
Dr. Jenkins arrives at the Sheriff’s office to check on his former patient. He asks why she didn’t come to him, and Kate responds that he would’ve have just told her to ignore the truth. He claims that the price of her truth is that Ted is dead, two teens were injured, and several people are missing. He calls her a fanatic and Kate responds, “Are you sure you’re talking about me? Because it sounds like you’re talking about yourself, David Pilcher.” Whoa! Kate knows that Dr. Jenkins is David Pilcher! Wayward Pines can still surprise us. Kate wants to know the truth:
Kate: “Just please … tell me what this place is.”
David: “You were its model citizen. I thought that if I … I could make Kate Hewson conform, then I could make anyone conform. There’d be no more need for reckonings.”
Kate: “Whatever you’re trying to do here, it will never work if you keep people in the dark.”
David: “It’s not a question of keeping people in the dark. It’s a question of keeping people alive. Freedom or safety. Not both.”
Kate: “And who anointed you to make that choice?”
David: “I did.”
Kate the freedom fighter and David the savior. It’s hard to tell who is more deluded, but we’re pretty sure it’s David. He has all the information and still thinks murder, spying, and play-acting is the best way to subdue the population. He doesn’t have much faith in humanity.
Meanwhile, Kate’s husband Harold and his fellow fugitive Alan have liberated a 30-foot dump truck with the goal of driving it through the wall. Out in the woods Harold says goodbye as Alan prepares to charge through the wall. Harold can’t leave Kate locked up and stays behind.
Despite being a fugitive, Harold chooses to walk along the road and Sheriff Burke quickly finds him. You would’ve thought that Harold would hear Ethan’s car coming a mile away in the quiet woods of Wayward Pines. When Harold repeats the story that he acted alone, Ethan loses his patience, telling Harold: “Now, I’m about this close to letting them cut your wife’s throat in the middle of Main Street.” Harold finally tells Ethan, “You’re too late.”
If you run into an electrical fence with a metal truck, don’t you get electrocuted? Well, Alan’s freedom will be short lived anyhow. Once he crashes the truck through the gate, he drags his dead friend out of the cab of the truck and yells out in victory. Alan is quickly surrounded by the Abbies, who have not only found a meal, but a possible route into Wayward Pines. As the Abbies enjoy their meal, we are reminded that, in fact, Wayward Pines is the friendliest place on earth.
Will the arrival of the Abbies in Wayward Pines stop the revolution, or just speed it up? Or will heroic Sheriff Burke manage to save the day? We’re ready for the town to know the secret, so let’s hope at least one Abbie gets through. Who will challenge crazypants David Pilcher? Perhaps Nurse Pam will unexpectedly become the heroine of our story, at least on the mountain. With only two more episodes of Wayward Pines left, we don’t have long to find out. “The Friendliest Place on Earth” shows us that in Wayward Pines, fanaticism takes many forms, but people can only be controlled for so long.