Thursday, June 11, 2015

Wayward Pines, Season One, Episode One: Where Paradise Is Home

Secret Service Agent Ethan Burke wakes beside a river and has obviously been hurt in some kind of accident.  He stands, then makes his way out of the woods. Ethan recalls a session with his psychiatrist about an incident involving a girl.  Burke admits withholding what happened from his wife because it's classified, but admits that he did however discuss the Easter Bombings with his partner.  The psychiatrist makes it clear to Ethan that he is not to blame for the bombing and asks about hallucinations. 

Ethan has made his way into the small town of Wayward Pines and all the residents stare as he walks past.  He makes it into a bar and is told he is in Wayward Pines, Idaho, before collapsing on the ground. Ethan wakes up in the hospital with nurse Pam checking out his vitals. 

In a flashback, we see Ethan in a car with Agent Rick Stallings.  They talk about the fact that Ethan has been ordered to find Kate and because of the affair between Kate and Ethan, Ethan didn't tell his wife about his assignment.  Ethan justifies keeping his wife in the dark by reminding Stallings that the mission is classified.The truck which hit them seems to come out of nowhere.

Ethan asks about Stallings, and is informed he didn't survive the accident.  Ethan requests to call home and is informed that the sheriff's department got into contact with his family after the accident. Ethan then asks about his things and Pam says that the sheriff's office has everything before leaving.  The hospital seems pretty empty even for a small town.

At the Secret Service Headquarters in Seattle, Washington, Stallings body has been discovered but as far as the agency is concerned, Ethan is missing.  At this point they are trying to figure out if Ethan is missing, or if his body was so badly burned that the remains are gone.

Having not heard from Ethan, his wife Theresa calls him but the call goes straight to voicemail.  Ben asks his mother she is calling and when Theresa says Ethan, Ben immediately becomes concerned about how things are going.  Ben believes that Theresa is lying when she says that all is good because she paused and looked to the left.  Theresa's phone rings and it's Adam Hassler from the Secret Service office, to inform her that there's been an accident.

In the hospital, Ethan pushes the button to get Nurse Pam's attention.  Ethan demands to see the doctor and asks why the hospital is so empty. He asks about his things and then asks for a phone when Pam gives him noncommittal answers to his questions.  Pam says that there are no phone jacks in the patient rooms and promises to return in an hour with Ethan's dinner.  A frustrated Ethan gets out of bed and gets dressed the moment Pam leaves the room. When he pushes the button for the elevator, Nurse Pam tries to stop Ethan saying that he is not thinking clearly.  Ethan has to get insistent with Pam to be able to leave the hospital. Once outside, Ethan heads to the sheriffs office to find that it's closed.

A concerned Ben confronts his mother about the call and Theresa informs him that Ethan was in an accident and yet there's not race of him at the scene.  Theresa does her best to assure Ben that everything is going to be okay.

Ethan makes his way into a bar and asks the barmaid Beverly for a phone.  Ethan then orders a cheeseburger, saying that he lost his things in the accident and was told that they were at the sherfff's office but when he went to collect them, the office was already closed. Beverly agrees to give Ethan the burger for free and he calls her the first normal person he's met in this town. Ethan reveals that he is in town on business and is a member of The Secret Service. Ethan calls home but gets the machine, so he is forced to leave a message. Beverly questions what Ethan is doing in town and Ethan says that he is looking for some missing agents.  Unfortunately for Ethan, he is the only new face Beverly has seen.  Beverly  writes up a receipt and instead of a bill it's her address.  Beverly suggests that if Ethan runs into trouble he should look her up.  On the back of the receipt, Beverly has written the words, "there are no insects in Wayward Pines."

Later that evening, Ethan stops when he hears a cricket chirping.  When he bends over to investigate the sound, he finds some kind of device emitting the chirping noise. Ethan places it back.  The next day, Ethan awakes in bed with a loud knock on the door.  It's the hotel manager to inform Ethan that he has slept past check out time.  Ethan asks if the phones are working yet because he couldn't get a call out and is told that there's nothing wrong with the phones and that there were no calls for him.  When Ethan explains that he is unable to pay because he hasn't gotten to the sheriff's office yet, the manager demands Ethan vacate the premises immediately.

Back on the street, Ethan decides to check out the address Beverly gave him the night before.  When he arrives, the house looks abandoned and completely run down. Ethan calls out for Beverly and when he gets no response, he decides to enter the house. Once inside, Ethan finds Evans body rotting tied to a bed.

Ethan returns to the police station, introduces himself and asks to see the sheriff.  Ethan tells Sheriff Pope about a bartender giving him the address to the house which contained the dead body.  Ethan then asks about his things, having been told by nurse Pam that Sheriff Pope would have them. Sheriff Pope informs Ethan that he doesn't have his things and so Ethan asks for a phone to make some calls. Pope agrees to Ethan's request, as long as Ethan provides information on the body.  Ethan says that he found agent Evans and that he was sent to Wayward Pines to find to agents but with the death of agent Evans, he is now only looking for Kate Houston.  Ethan gives a general description of Kate.  Pope makes it clear that he will check out the house without Ethan's help.

Back at the secret service office, agents are examining Ethan's car and note that the GPS module is missing. Even  more troubling, is the fact that there's no evidence that Ethan was even in the car.

In Wayward Pines, Ethan takes the opportunity to call his family again but gets the answering machine again.  Ethan then tries calling the secret service to speak with Adam Hassler but is informed that Adam is out of the office. Ethan asks for Hassler's cell phone and is told that it cannot be released. .  Ethan gets indignant and demands that Hassler be put on the phone immediately but Marcy the receptionist is not forthcoming.

Ethan then returns to the bar where he had the burger the night before to speak to Beverly.  He is told by the owner that no one named Beverly works at the bar.  When Ethan is asked how much he had to drink, Ethan declares that he knows he visited the bar yesterday and that he knows who served him. Ethan starts to become wobbly on his feet and then he grabs the owner of the bar, demanding to see Beverly.  The owner sends a message on the radio that 101628 (hmmm Ethan has a reference number?) is not doing well.

In a flashback, Ethan guides a blindfolded Ben to meet his mother, who is holding a birthday cake.  Ben says that his wish is that his parents don't end up like everyone else's parents.  Ethan gets a call and so excuses himself.  When Ethan returns to his family, Ethan tells them that he has to go out of town for a few days.

When Ethan wakes up, he is back in the hospital and this time he is handcuffed to the bed. Ethan asks Dr. Jenkins to remove his handcuffs but the doctor refuses to do so and instead asks Ethan about his headache. Dr. Jenkins asks if Ethan has a history of mental illness and reveals that he is a psychiatrist. Dr. Jenkins explains that Ethan has bleeding on his brain and that is why Ethan is having this dissociative breakdown. Ethan is adamant that he is not having a hallucination but Jenkins points out that Ethan wouldn't know if he were indeed having hallucinations.  Ethan remains convinced that the problem is Wayward Pines and not him.  When Ethan is informed that Jenkins plans to have Ethan taken to surgery to draw the blood in his brain, Ethan becomes irate, demands a second opinion and refuses to give consent for the procedure. When Ethan becomes upset, demanding that the cuffs be removed, Nurse Pam appears to inject him with a sedative. When Ethan doesn't hold still, Nurse Pam actually threatens him before jamming the needle roughly into his thigh.

Ethan's gurney is rolled out into the hallway and Nurse Pam steps away, leaving room for Beverly to snatch Ethan's gurney. Beverly  rolls Ethan into the elevator and then takes off his handcuffs.  Ethan informs Beverly that he will be out cold in five minutes from the sedative, so they have to get as far away as possible, as quickly as possible.  When they cannot find an exit, Ethan and Beverly are forced to hid in separate rooms from Nurse Pam. Ethan breaks a mirror so that he can use a shard of glass as a weapon.  Pam walks down the hall promising that if Ethan comes out of hiding she will give him anesthesia for his surgery otherwise, she will simply paralyze his so that he cannot move or make a sound, rendering him aware of what is happening throughout the entire surgery.  Ethan's vision starts to waver as Nurse Pam approaches Beverly's door. Ethan sneaks up on Nurse Pam from behind and renders her unconscious.  Beverly uses the distraction to help Ethan get outside. Beverly manages to get Ethan to a place to hide.

Beverly tells Ethan that she really does work at the bar and that it is being denied because the towns people are trying to break his mind.  Beverly then reveals that she came to the town to help them deal with Y2K and then was hit by a motorcycle, informed that she had a brain injury and has been in Wayward Pines ever since. Beverly only believes that she has been in the town for one year and Ethan has to tell her that it's 2014.

Theresa goes to see Adam Hassler at the secret service and learns that they didn't find any trace of Ethan in the car.  Theresa's first thought is that Ethan is with his lover but Adam cannot confirm anything at this time.  Theresa tries to find out about Ethan's mission but is told that details cannot be disclosed.

Back in Wayward Pines, Ethan wakes up to find some of his things lying around him.  Ethan makes his way deeper into the town and sees Kate Houston.  We get a flashback to Ethan talking to Kate about the the deaths of 621 people, who he blames himself for. The two hug after Kate makes it clear that he is not responsible.  In a moment of weakness, Ethan kisses Kate and she responds. In the present, Kate sees Ethan and decides to leave the gathering.  Ethan follows Kate and her husband back to their home.

Ethan knocks on the door and Harold, Kate's husband answers the door.  Ethan explains that he came to Wayward Pines to find her but Kate tells Ethan that he must be confusing her with someone else.  Kate tells her husband that she will be inside in a moment and sits to talk with Ethan on the porch. Kate tells Ethan that they are being watched and that someone is listening. Ethan asks what is going on and points out that Kate looks older.  Five weeks have passed for Ethan since he has seen Kate but for her, 12 years have gone by. Kate tells Ethan to leave, saying that he is putting her life and Harold's life at risk.  Kate refuses to elaborate on the threat and simply tells Ethan that he could be happy in Wayward Pines. Ethan asks if he is having a relapse but Kate simply turns and enters the house.

In desperation, Ethan steals a car and starts driving out of Wayward Pine.  The road takes him in a circle and shortly after seeing a thank you for visiting sign, Ethan runs into a welcome to Wayward Pines sign and soon finds himself downtown again.  Ethan turns the car around and again tries to leave.  He pulls the car off to the side of the road and makes his way through the woods to a stone wall.

In Seattle, Adam meets with Dr. Jenkins to say that he wants to call off the plan but is informed that everything has been taken care of.  Jenkins assures Adam that there's nothing for him to worry about. 

Theresa checks her phone again and still there has been no call from Ethan.

After climbing the stone wall, Ethan discovers that Wayward Pines is surrounded  by a big electrified fence and that he cannot get out. Ethan backs away from the wall and returns to his stolen car. Before Ethan can even start the car, Sheriff Pope shows up and informs Ethan that there is now way out of Wayward Pines.

As a series opener, I really feel as though Wayward Pines did a good job of setting the tone for the series.  We know that Ethan is a man who is struggling with his emotions, his guilt over the death of innocents and his guilt regarding cheating on his wife.  He seems deeply devoted to his job, even though he cannot reconcile the pain it has caused him.

I want to know more about Wayward Pines. Clearly, the town felt off almost from the get go.  Why do people experience time so differently? For Theresa, time has clearly slowed down, whereas; for Kate, it's speed up.  Time is something that is constant unless there's a supernatural force involved. How do the characters reconcile the fact that they are experiencing time differently from each other?

Then we have the issue of Dr. Jenkins meeting with Adam.  Clearly, Ethan has been specifically chosen to be in Wayward Pines, what we don't know is why. There seems to be some level of government conspiracy going on as well. What we don't know is how deep the conspiracy goes and what it is meant to accomplish. Given the difference in the way time passes, it indicates a possible supernatural element to all of this as well.

I didn't like that they prayed on Ethan's history of mental illness to trick him into accepting Wayward Pines.  At least they didn't use it as a justification for Ethan to be violent but I do think that mental illness still deserves better treatment than what occurred this episode.

So far, we don't have any explicit LGBT characters and I only see one reoccurring character of colour.  This does not bode well in terms of inclusion.  Is Wayward Pines going to be yet another series about a brave disenfranchised white man saving the world?

The first episode raised enough questions to peak my interest.  I want to see where this is going and what forced a really at play in this little slice of weird suburbia.