Don’t you love TV shows that start giving a damn?
After last week’s well-done episode, Wayward Pines once again serves up an installment that successfully juggles all the key balls — intimate drama, head-scratching suspense, dark humor — needed to keep this murky, mysterious little serial attractive to viewers.
Once again, I have to say throwing the entire Burke family into the mix, having them all stuck in this synthetic, small town and forcing them to acclimate into the community while trying to find a way to get out of there, has certainly made the show more watchable. “One of Our Senior Realtors” (once again directed by the impressive Zal Batmanglij) does have the clan playing the role of happy family, even when they are worried what kind of strange, fatal shit they’ll stumble on next.
For Ethan, who shot and killed Sheriff Pope at the end of last week’s episode, this means getting a promotion. While he’s in Pope’s office looking for guns, the mayor and the sheriff’s secretary show up with a newspaper photographer, a celebratory cake, and the announcement that he’s now the sheriff. It’s amusing watching Burke, who’s now accepted that he’s living in an insane, unreal environment and should just roll with it for the time being, simply accept the position, well aware that whoever’s in charge knows that Pope is dead and Burke killed him.
This also gives him more time to snoop around the office, where he finds a floor compartment under his new desk containing files on many of the townsfolk. And that includes Peter (Justin Kirk), the realtor who welcomed the Burkes to their new home in last week’s ep. It turns out he’s also an insurgent, according to Nurse Pam, who catches him spray-painting “subversive graffiti” (it’s really an Orwell quote) on a store sign and demands that Burke hold another public execution — they call it a “reckoning” in these parts — with Peter getting reckoned. Since it appears that both Burke and Peter want the same thing, which is to escape Wayward Pines (the cane-wielding Peter injured himself from climbing a mountain wall that would’ve led him to sweet freedom), Burke is more concerned with what he knows than offing him in public.
I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Dillon and Kirk, basically playing two men who are so stuck in an impossible situation and bonding over their common frustration, making them feel quite at ease with each other. (I kept waiting for Dillon to pull out a bottle of whiskey and a couple of glasses whenever they were together.) Unfortunately, with Pam breathing down Burke’s neck to get the reckoning going, Burke proposes hiding Peter somewhere. Instead, Peter takes Burke to the fence, where he purposely electrocutes himself to death so Burke can continue being sheriff. As we see in the end, Burke is more concerned with scaling that mountain wall and seeing what’s on the other side than playing sheriff to a town he doesn’t have control over anyway.
Before he does that, Burke encourages Theresa to keep up the normal routine. This means taking Ben to school at the Wayward Pines Academy, filled with creepy-ass, Village of the Damned–looking kids and led by Mrs. Fisher (Hope Davis), the unbelievably sunny, high-fiving teacher who just happens to be both the mayor’s wife and a hypnotherapist. We see her use of powers of persuasion on Ben, implanting the seed in his head that maybe his old man can’t be trusted. But it appears Ben is more preoccupied in this episode with fellow classmate Amy (Sarah Jeffery), who takes an instant shine to the boy, especially after he brings up those “wolves” that are beyond the fence. So, does Amy generally like Ben, or is she another distraction dispatched to keep him from investigating any further?
While those aforementioned wolves don’t make an appearance in this episode, there is a strange presence lurking in the trees, as we see in the ep’s final shot, waiting for Burke to scale the top of that mountain. It’s funny watching this show and knowing exactly why all this crazy stuff is happening, especially since — and I know some of the commenters hate it when I mention this — I read the book this show is based on. But what I’m liking the most is how the show is weaving bits and pieces from the book (like Burke climbing the mountain wall) but creating its own multi-strand narrative for television. It’s great knowing that while we’re waiting for the eventual Big Reveal to drop like a room-jangling DJ beat, Wayward Pines is keeping us engrossed with its intriguing stories and even more compelling characters.
SOME STRAY THOUGHTS
- While this episode didn’t have a lot for Theresa to do except be there for both Ethan and Ben, Shannyn Sossamon did have a steady-nerved scene where she quietly verbalized her disgust to Carla Gugino’s Kate at her knickknack shop for her homewrecking ways. Theresa also revealed in this scene she could’ve been an FBI agent but chose to have a family. It looks like she might get preoccupied with other things, now that she’s gotten a letter in the mailbox summoning her to take over Peter’s job at the real-estate office.
- As one of those people who’ve had it bad for Hope Davis ever since I saw her in that long-lost indie flick The Daytrippers almost 20 years ago, I was delighted to see her as one of the Wayward Pines townsfolk. It seems she’s more concerned with keeping order around Pines than her mayor husband (Barclay Hope), who appears ready to spill the beans to Burke about the town’s suspicious goings-on.
- After weeks of playing the pissy-ass sheriff’s secretary, Siobhan Fallon Hogan had a good couple of moments in this show, as she briefly talked about her New Jersey past to Burke and mourning Pope’s loss at the bar, which led to a sassy back-and-forth between her and Pam.
- So, it looks like Pam is now going to take Pope’s place as the show’s villain. She does appear to have inherited Pope’s chip on his shoulder, as she gripes to Burke about coming into “her town” and taking over.
- Since a younger Pam picked up Peter at an L.A. hotel bar back in 2001, eventually abducting him, does this mean she looked like this back then?