Saturday, March 5, 2016

Wayward Pines, Season One, Episode Eight: The Friendliest Place on Earth

Things are on high alert at Wayward Pines and everyone seems to want different things.  Pilcher naturally wants to be control of absolutely everything that goes on and for everyone to follow the laws that he has created.  He also very much wants to be seen as the benevolent benefactor.  Ethan wants the violence to end and for peace to finally come to Wayward Pines.  Kate, simply wants to the truth and is willing to do whatever she has to do get it.

There's a lot of flashbacks this episode.  We see Kate shortly after being brought to Wayward Pines and she is in a padded cell with Pilcher, who is acting as her psychiatrist using the name Dr. Jenkins. Kate is absolutely convinced that she has become an unwilling participant to some sort of secret government experiment though Pilcher tries to convince her otherwise.  We see Pam doing her evil thing and injecting Kate. Later when Kate appears to have acclimated, she is now in an office with Pilcher and she talks about how all of the questions that she had in previous life still exist.  Kate wants to know if there's a God and why it is that humans breathe but she has come to terms with her new life in Wayward Pines, admitting that it's a lot safer her.  Pilcher buys her story and writes Kate a prescription.  Pilcher encourages Kate to get pregnant, saying that she would make a good mother. Outside the office, we see Kate crumple the prescription in her hand. Kate has convinced Pilcher of her willingness to follow the party line but she's clearly not giving up.

Pam seems to have undergone a bit of character growth this week.  When David marches into the hospital demanding to know how these people could have created a bomb, it's Pam who pulls him aside and reminds him of where he is.  Pilcher is at a loss as to what to do but is clearly considering violence. It's Pam who deflects this urge and suggests that they should hold a gathering and make a celebration of life in Wayward Pines.  At this point, Pam seems a long way away from the woman who gleefully injected Kate with drugs against her will.

Pilcher heads to see Kate to question why she didn't come to him with her concerns.  It seems that he wants impress upon Kate that her actions have caused harm to the community and that she needs to stop her people. Kate however turns the tables when she calls Pilcher by his actual name, instead of Jenkins. Pilcher is stunned that his identity has been revealed and demands to know how long has been aware of who he is but Kate simply responds that it doesn't matter. Pilcher is disappointed because Kate represents a failure for him he had thought that if he could get Kate to conform that he could get anyone to conform.  Kate demands to know the truth but Pilcher simply walks out of the jail. The fact that Pilcher was so determined to break Kate rather than working with her to settle things down shows how his megalomania makes him unfit to lead.

Pilcher's paranoia is running high and he is certain that someone inside of the mountain must be helping the people of Wayward Pines.  He has the entire place being monitored 24/7 and therefore someone must have been ignoring the secret gatherings.  To calm his nerves, Pam agrees to head an investigation. Pam sits down with the surveillance team and asks pointed questions about their family and how they feel about their job.  All is fine until she gets to Reggie, who immediately spouts the company line.  Pam prods more out of Reggie and he finally admits that he sometimes fudges or erases bits of tape when people are actively questioning. Reggie believes that it's human nature to question and that he sees these people crying alone in their beds at night. Reggie doesn't want to be responsible for the death of someone simply because they questioned what is going on.  Pam assures him that everything is going to be okay and dismisses him.

Things aren't going to go well for Reggie because David has determined that what's needed is more discipline.  How this man cannot figure out that this approach didn't work in the town and was therefore not likely to work with the mountain people is beyond me, especially given that he is supposed to be a genius. Pam starts begging David for Reggie's life and says that if someone should punished it should be her.  David determines that there will be no more violence and decides to put poor Reggie in the freezer again in front of the mountain staff.

Ethan is still running around town trying to get control of the situation.  When he finally confronts Kate, she is anything but cooperative saying that he is Pilcher's man now.  Kate accuses Ethan of just following orders and says that her people depend on her and therefore she won't be giving them up to Ethan. It's worth pointing out that Kate has a reason to be mistrustful. She has been in Wayward Pines much longer than Ethan, has actively been lied to, drugged against her will, and watched as people were reckoned for disobeying Pilcher's laws. This would the perfect opportunity for Ethan to tell the truth but  of course he doesn't,even though it's clear that all she wants are answers. Ethan doesn't pause for a moment to consider that it wasn't that long ago that he was in Kate's position determined to figure out what is going on.

Back at the hospital, much to Theresa's relief, Ben regains consciousness. Ben gets a visit from Hope, who is absolutely as fanatical as Pilcher.  Hope informs Ben that Ethan had Howard in custody and let him go.  Hope then says that maybe if Howard hadn't been married to Kate that Howard would have been kept imprisoned and none of this would have happened. Hope is of course hitting a nerve with Ben because he knows that his father had an affair with Kate. It looks like Hope is picking up right where Pam left off. She takes the time to let Ben know how important that he is, claiming that Ben is a hero for surviving a terrorist attack.  Even as Hope undermines Ethan, she takes sure to prop up Ben, thus playing the kid like a fiddle.

Howard is out in the woods with the other insurgents talking about their failed escape. There's something very defeated about Harold. When one member of the team dies, Harold begins digging a grave only to be told that the dead man should be buried on free soil.  Harold helps the only living member of the escape team steal a truck but decides that he is not going to attempt to leave Wayward Pines because he cannot leave Kate behind. The last living member of the escape team drives a truck straight through the fence and drags his dead comrade outside with him. He has a moment to celebrate before being eaten by an aberration.

Howard is caught by Ethan and it seems that he is just as brave as Kate.  Howard absolutely refuses to give Ethan any information about the insurgents and when Ethan continues to push, Howard simply says that it's too late anyway.

With the anger and paranoia level being as high as it is in Wayward Pines, there's no way that this has any hope of ending well despite Ethan's efforts. Ethan's just one man and he sees that Pilcher's way isn't working yet he still doesn't tell Kate or Howard, the two people most likely to do something about the current plan to escape. It makes absolutely no sense to keep people in ignorance when all of their actions are motivated from a desire to learn the truth.  Ethan is highly focused on his past mistakes and this is what makes him determined not to just follow orders.  He does however take the time to explain to Theresa how the affair with Kate started and blames it all on being upset because he had captured a terrorist and then let him go, only to find out later that the man executed an attack killing over 600 people.

Pam is clearly going through some kind of evolution.  In her first interactions it's clear that she simply followed Pilcher's orders without question. In her interactions with Jerry what became clear is that Pam is starting to see the cracks and no longer thinks that operating like an automaton is a good idea. Who is this new Pam?  What is troubling however is that she makes a clear distinction between the people of the town and the people of the mountain based in the fact that the mountain people chose to be there.  It would make sense to me to have more empathy for the residents of the town given that they had everything taken away from them, were kidnapped and live with terror everyday of their lives. I guess we will just wait to see how far Pam's evolution goes.

Hope is one scary scary woman.  It seems that unlike Pam, she still has her fanaticism and is determined to turn Ben against his father. I did however love the moment when she is confronted by Theresa and told to stay far away from the Burke family. Score one for Theresa but we all know that Hope is far from down.

Wayward Pines is building up to an epic conclusion and I for one am excited.