The joke in the title of the fourth episode of Wayward Pines is that no one ever simply retires from their job; it’s a euphemism, a nice one at that, that indicates the person died and a replacement has already been selected. In the Burkes’ case, this happens, “coincidentally,” twice: Ethan is given Sheriff Pope’s job after his demise, and then Theresa lands a realtor job after Peter, the previous worker, graffitis a building and gets reprimanded to death. Wayward Pines has its way of dealing with opposition, and it seems they don’t miss a beat when someone strays from the path; they just replace them.
“One of Our Senior Realtors Has Chosen to Retire” has plenty of comical moments because of this dark humor. Everyone in town knows what really happens to people who “retire,” but they’re hesitant to discuss it. Instead, they talk in circles and hide their tears, as Arlene does after Pope’s death. They pretend like nothing has happened even though many of them recognize the difficulty of living in a town where everyone is always watched. Only Ethan and the Burkes provide a reprieve from the oddness of the townspeople, but “Our Senior Realtors” at least gives us glimpses of people who don’t believe in the town’s secrets.
Peter is one of them, a guy Ethan is tasked with killing after he scrawls some words about truth on a town building. Ethan uses this time to try to get some answers from him, pulling his file from a secret filing cabinet Pope had hidden in his office floor. Wayward Pines quickly got rid of Juliette Lewis’ character, leaving very few straight answers for Ethan, but Peter is able to speak of the past because he has little to lose. He reveals time before he made it to Wayward Pines, a life of infidelity that eventually led to him waking up in Wayward Pines next to Nurse Pam.
Ethan gets some answers, but they’re not enough to explain what’s really going on. At the same time, his son Ben begins to attend Wayward Pines school, led by teacher Megan Fisher. Apparently, she used to be a hypnotherapist, and indeed Wayward Pines shows us the ways that she’s able to subtly work her way into Ben’s head. She plants the seed of blame in his mind, saying that Ethan was really the cause of all their problems; she’s also been working on some behind-the-scenes work at the school if the way the kids treat Ben is any indication, because they all seem to know him well and he even gets a semi-girlfriend during his first couple days. “One of Our Senior Realtors” is moving towards something big with the school, and Ethan gets a hint from Megan’s husband, the mayor, that he should be careful around her.
On the other hand, Theresa’s role in this episode is somewhat annoying. Despite the oddness of winding up in Wayward Pines, despite her knowledge of the strange stuff that happens in town, she still visits Ethan’s old ex Kate to put a scare into her, and that feels much too childish for her character, especially in the context of her time in Wayward Pines. Hopefully the show can focus on her more in the next episode rather than sidelining her like “One of Our Senior Realtors” does.
The mystery continues, and this episode effectively switches between the three Burkes in order to give the audience the same vague secrets that those characters get. It feels like Wayward Pines is building up to a reveal, especially given Ben’s involvement at the school and Ethan’s new powers as sheriff. The best payoff by far is Ethan’s reluctance to kill Peter even with the whole town watching – Peter’s belief that Ethan can lead Wayward Pines to some sort of peace overrides his fear of death, and that seems telling of what’s to come for the show. Nearly halfway through the miniseries, the shocks and twists are still coming, and I’m quite engaged with it all.