DEADtime TV: Wayward Pines ‘Our Town, Our Law’

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Wayward Pines is a town that seems to be located outside of time and space, but at the same time the show has been giving us subtle hints about its existence. The doctor and Sheriff Pope have been able to leave, to go into regular time/space, but so far the show has given the audience no clues as to how that happens. In “Our Town, Our Law,” the show continues to slowly reveal more about the mysteries in town while veiling other things in secrecy; it’s still working, however, and though this episode feels a bit slower and less progressive than the other two in the series so far, Wayward Pines has still got that good mix of tension and black comedy that makes it such an enjoyable show to watch.

A big part of “Our Town, Our Law” is the question of who’s really behind what’s going on. Who’s watching behind the cameras, and who’s making the telephone calls? Who devises the rules? These are answers that Ethan is always searching for, especially now that his partner-in-crime Beverly has been killed trying to escape from town. Witnessing that event sparked a new fire in his belly, and throughout the episode, Matt Dillon throws his lines out with a venom that makes things even more intense. He questions both Pope and Nurse Pam about who’s in charge, and when a phone rings to tell Pope to back off, Burke gets his answer – despite all of Pope’s assertions that Wayward Pines is “his town,” the voice on the other side of the phone says otherwise.

It’s an important distinction that gives Pope even more detail. He’s a guy that the audience really knows nothing about, and the first couple of episodes have shown him in a powerful light intentionally, so that when “Our Town, Our Law” reveals his inner power struggle, it’s a lot more poignant than if he was simply a guy whose ego had rapidly expanded. It’s also important for Burke, who finds new motivation to stop Pope – as a figurehead for the rest of the town, it is Pope that holds the order together. Without him, maybe Wayward Pines’ residents can feel a little bit safer about speaking out against the town.

As “Our Town, Our Law” shows us, most of the residents have adopted the rule-laden lifestyle rather than fight back against it. Burke says that everyone in the town is “weird,” but they’ve all been bred to be that way – most of them were probably, at some point, in a position just like Burke. In a conversation with him in the woods, Kate states that she’s been in Wayward Pines for 12 years, and during the first moments of her life there she attempted to escape just like Burke. But there was no way out, and instead of risking her life, she instead allowed herself to succumb to the lifestyle; it doesn’t make it right, but she realized that there was no point trying to get out of a town that allows no escape.

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Wayward Pines finally makes use of Burke’s family, too. They find themselves setting out for Wayward Pines only to be stopped by Sheriff Pope, who cuts their oil line; they eventually wake up stuck in Wayward Pines with Burke, told to mind themselves and stay inside. There are a few moments where the show slips back into its premiere territory, this time with Theresa and Ben instead of Ethan; but there’s a lot more tension here thanks to Terrence Howard, playing Pope with an odd bipolar aspect that makes a confrontational scene with Theresa quite suspenseful.

While I don’t think that Theresa and Ben are interesting as characters, their presence in Wayward Pines gives Ethan even more gravitas. Immediately they’re put in danger by Pope, sick of hearing about how special the Burkes are, and it gives Ethan the chance to jump to action to put down the threat. It actually turns out to be Ben who succeeds in quelling the danger, ramming Pope with his police cruiser; but Ethan, with little left to lose, puts Pope down like a wounded animal in another surprising death that keeps the viewer wondering: is any major character safe? Wayward Pines continues to kill off big-name actors, leaving me with the feeling that maybe the show really will end after ten episodes.

There is one other big reveal in “Our Town, Our Law” that adds yet another layor of mystery flavoring to the show. As the Burkes attempt to escape from Wayward Pines with a remote that opens part of the wall, some sort of large animal comes out to take Pope’s body. It’s done in such a quick, skillful way that it doesn’t feel cheesy; in fact, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it style makes sense for Wayward Pines, because it makes the viewer question whether what they saw was real. There’s no clear shot of the monster, either, so there’s room for the show to build on that.

“Our Town, Our Law” makes major strides for Wayward Pines, not only in its plot but also with the secret that lies at the heart of the town. There’s something bigger going on than just a weird governmental facility where the residents are forced to live by rules; now that Ethan’s family is also stuck in town, there are more avenues for the show to explore, especially since they’re still trying to figure out the town’s weird culture. Everything is still spooky in Wayward Pines, and this show continues to impress.

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