Last episode, Wayward Pines told us the truth, or the version of it the show wanted the audience to know. “Choices” continues along with that, this time giving Ethan even more information on why Wayward Pines is the most important place on Earth. Dr. Jenkins, giving Ethan a tour of the facilities high above Wayward Pines, exposes the history of the town, how he built it as a refuge for humanity when he realized the end of the world was nigh, and it forces Ethan to make a choice whether he’s really willing to go along with the charade, or if he’d rather just continue to fight against the system.
It’s a pretty easy decision, though, especially after all that Ethan’s seen. He knows the outside world has disappeared, leaving Wayward Pines the last refuge for humanity. And he also knows all of the secrets of the town – who the mysterious caller is, how the town keeps tabs on its citizens, and most importantly, what the motive is for keeping them in the dark. The way Wayward Pines has exposed the truth of the show already is surprisingly commendable, a way to allow the audience in on the plot while keeping things exciting because of everyone else’s ignorance. “Choices” plays on that by again relating a lot of exposition that’s coupled with slow subplotting.
The problem, though, is that “Choices” is basically repeating the same setup as “The Truth”, and coupled back to back, this episode loses the sense of surprise the previous episode generated. While it’s good to know the background behind Wayward Pines, it’s really not as important to the plot as “Choices” makes it out to be. It leaves an episode that moves slowly, lacking the sense of humor and frenetic pacing that previous episodes this series have had.
However, it does bring up a couple of interesting new ideas. Ethan, swayed by Dr. Jenkins’ story, has now shifted positions considerably. He’s not Sheriff Pope, but he’s also not the rebel causing all of the problems in Wayward Pines either. Now, his main goal is to stop Jenkins’ surveillance and murders while keeping peace within the town, and that puts him in an awkward position with his family and Kate. With Ethan effectively “brainwashed,” they’re reluctant to trust in Ethan’s newfound alliance with the mysterious group running Wayward Pines.
This leads us to “Betrayal,” the better of the two episodes and one that sets in motion Wayward Pines new arc. The first half of the season was mainly focused on divulging the mystery of Wayward Pines to both Ethan and the audience, but now the second half finds Ethan and the audience forced to protect Wayward Pines from its own residents. There’s a great juxtaposition here; Ethan has now changed from the crazy guy protesting against the people watching him and keeping him locked up to a crazy guy interrogating people about their attempts to leave Wayward Pines.
“Betrayal” returns to its low-key comedy in a number of ways, aided by Matt Dillon’s constant badgering of those people he thinks are planning to raise a coup. But the episode is specifically thematically focused on procreation, from its students to its adults. Wayward Pines’ school, for instance, has their first biology lesson, and teacher Ms. Fisher forces Ben and Amy to stand next to each other as she talks about a bee pollinating a flower. At the same time, Nurse Pam schedules annual fertility visits to increase the chances of procreation in the town.
It leaves a funny and very spooky feeling in the viewer. Though Jenkins’ town is meant as a refuge for humanity, it still feels like a prison that forces people to do what they’re told. That’s something that Ethan struggles to understand about Jenkins’ approach to selecting people to participate in Wayward Pines – they don’t have a choice, and even when they’re given a new life in the future after the rest of humanity has been destroyed, they’re still left with no freedoms. It’s a society that’s been dictated by a higher power, and the shades of God-like personification are definitely here.
“Betrayal” is an episode that’s much more involved than “Choices,” and it sets in motion a particularly devastating series of events. Kate, leading the rebellion, cooks up a scheme to escape from Wayward Pines, and it inadvertently involves both Amy and Ben, who have mistakenly gotten on the wrong delivery truck to head out to a favorite make-out spot. “Betrayal” ends with the fate of Ben hanging in the balance, and despite their developmentally-challenged relationship (I don’t think we’ve seen Ben and Ethan together much at all since the show began), it leaves an exciting cliffhanger that forces the viewer to question how Ethan will respond. Will he side with Jenkins’ crew now that he sees the danger in attempts to leave Wayward Pines? Or will he understand that people will rebel when they’re imprisoned without knowing the reason?
Either case will have quite a bit of fallout, and I’m impressed with the way Wayward Pines has been able to continue even after spilling its secrets. It’s not the best show on television, but it certainly has its charms, and it’s a perfect summer event for those wanting to get away from the realities of the world. And it shows that cryonic preservation might not be all it’s cracked up to be – sorry Ted Williams!