The Truthiness Of Wayward Pines
The Burkes finally figure out what's going on...possibly to the show's detriment.
In this week's episode of Wayward Pines, aptly titled "The Truth," we learn -- you'll never guess -- the truth about Wayward Pines. Or, at least, some of it. Here's the tl;dr:
Over the course of 2,000 years, humans will (d)evolve into ultra-powerful, animalistic id-monsters and destroy society as we know it. A scientist (Toby Jones's character, whom we now know is named David Pilcher) foresaw this catastrophe and built an "ark" in which he cryogenically froze a select few in order to preserve humanity. Wayward Pines exists in the year 4028, and everyone not living in WP, or working backstage, is, presumably, dead.
Ethan and Ben both learn this Shyamalany twist from separate sources. Ethan, who escaped WP confines at the end of the previous episode via the easily climbable rock face that no one thought to destroy when constructing the town, learns it from Pilcher himself after he saves Ethan from the aforementioned manimals, which the WP townsfolk call "abbies" (short for "aberrations") (I know). Ethan trekked far enough to find some emblematic apocalypsia (bridges overgrown with moss, city limit signs coated with just enough dirt to be wiped away with one dramatic motion), so he accepts this explanation and flies back with Pilcher -- and a surprise Pam! In a leather jacket!
While Ethan had to fight his way through a mutant-infested wilderness to get answers, Ben was handed them in the Awfully White Room Designed Solely For Dramatic Reveals:
What Ben learns that Ethan does not is that the children of WP Academy are being trained to become "the first generation of Wayward Pines," whatever that means. We do know that it involves standing in a creepy circular room while holding candles and banging rhythmically on desks, so it's probably not on the up-and-up.
And like all tales of children being inducted into nefarious cults, the WP Academy kids are instructed not to tell their parents, under penalty of death. Adults have "lived too long in the old world," while teenagers -- who've spent the majority of their lives playing "Fruit Ninja" and Snapchatting their genitals to each other -- are, apparently, disillusioned enough to accept that they've been abducted and dropped in a post-human wasteland.
Theresa gets to do some detective work as well, which is a relief, because that character's concerned mom bit was seriously moving her toward "Pierce" territory. In her new role as WP real estate agent, she gets the opportunity to covertly interview a new arrival while pretending to demonstrate how loud the dryer in his new home is. Through him, we learn that there's a whole room of frozen future Waywardians waiting to be thawed out so that they too can take their place in WP's doll town. This would explain why Kate has aged fourteen years, while Beverly -- who claimed only to have been in WP for a year -- still looked her age.
Or does it? Who cares.
Unfortunately, since we spend the entire episode cutting between the three Burkes learning, for the most part, the same information, "The Truth" is a pretty boring episode of television. Megan's TED Talk on the WP universe is so long that Ben and his fellow inductees have to take a lunch break halfway through. There are only ten episodes in this "miniseries event," and they just wasted one revealing info that I could (and did) explain in less than a hundred words.
As a plot twist, the reveal of "The Truth" is interesting enough. It's not earth-shattering, but it sets up a next-level conflict between those running WP, who claim to be fighting for the continuation of the human race, and the residents of WP who are forced to play out placeholder lives while their children are harvested for some sort of mutant-fighting army.
The way Megan lionizes Dr. Pilcher and his work (and, more specifically, her use of the word "ark") reminded me of Snowpiercer, Joon-Ho Bong's bonkers apocalypse film in which Ed Harris's Wilford creates a self-sustaining train to preserve a small sample of humanity while the rest of the world freezes. In Snowpiercer, Wilford is responsible for humanity's survival, but he's also responsible for the preservation of humanity's brutal, static class system, which he maintains by presenting himself as an unimpeachable genius/deity without whom humanity would be extinct. I don’t know whether Pilcher is as merciless as Wilford, but he did create a town in which graffiti artists are slaughtered in the streets. I might also be thirsty for a larger, thematic purpose in my dystopian entertainment because I just saw Mad Max: Fury Road (after, I feel obligated to admit, consuming THC-infused strawberry shortcake, because Colorado).
To be clear, I don't believe that WP has anything unique to say about class structures or power inequality or anything deeper than the waves of Ben's dumb hair. It's shallow sci-fi and that's okay. But now that we've learned "the truth" halfway through the series, what does this show become? Matt Dillon spent the first four episodes barging into hospitals and soda fountains demanding to know where he is. Now he knows he can't escape.