Toby Jones’s hairpiece – why?
That bad toupee, which made him look like a very sad Paul Williams impersonator, was just one of a few things that made the latest Wayward Pines installment feel a bit off.
For starters, could the writers have come up with a less on-the-nose episode title than “Choices”? Practically all the major characters, both alive and dead, either quietly or verbally, made choices that’ll definitely change the course of their lives.
Jones’s scientist David Pilcher (formerly psychiatrist Dr. Jenkins) made his life choice way back in the 1990s, when, discovering information about the possibility of a civilization-free future and mutant humanoids roaming free, he decided to abduct people and send them on a 2,000-year nap. He explains all of this to Burke, as they both walk around the top-secret facility that keeps everything ticking in Wayward Pines, along with more frozen bodies that’ll eventually be thawed out.
Pilcher doesn’t do all of this alone. He also has a select number of volunteers and his sister, who is – wait for it – Nurse Pam! Back in the day, the siblings rounded up folks (including Dr. Fisher and the late Sheriff Pope, who was originally Pilcher’s parking lot guard) to assist them in racking up future inhabitants before all of them – Pilcher included – went into hibernation. Pilcher also wants Burke to be a part of the team, presumably back on sheriff duty, so he can protect all the Wayward Pines Academy kids (aka “the first generation”) from not only the abbies, but from insurgents like the dearly departed realtor Peter, whom Pilcher fears will blow up the fence.
After being dazed and disgusted for most of the episode (and ingesting some glasses of hooch from Pilcher’s splacked-out office), Burke suddenly agrees to protect the townspeople from abbies, insurgents, and even Pilcher. Little does he know the insurgents now include Kate and her husband, Harold, who has made a music-box bomb in their knickknack shop thanks to materials left by Peter back at his desk, now occupied by Theresa, at the real-estate office.
Kate gets a down-with-the-cause deliveryman to pick up the package while she has coffee with a reluctant Theresa. Kate uses the time to extend an olive branch, trying to convince her to put aside the whole I-fucked-your-man thing and see her as an ally in finding the truth. Theresa goes on a little truth-finding mission of her own when she goes to the mysterious “plot 33,” mentioned by disgruntled ex-realtor Henrietta.
If last week’s “The Truth” was all about answers, “Choices” was all about, well, you know. But it was also about motives, specifically about many of the characters’ motives. Burke becomes a part of Pilcher’s team because there’s nothing left for him to do except the thing he knows how to do, which is serve and protect. Pilcher kidnapped people because he saw mankind going extinct and needed to do something about it. Kate becomes an insurgent because she’s tired of seeing townsfolk either scared or killed. A visibly scared Ben silently decides to keep the truth of Wayward Pines to himself because he knows the future all depends on teenagers like him. Even Sheriff Pope joined Pilcher’s team in the '90s because the police-academy reject was tired of living a solitary life and wanted to make a difference.
With the episode concentrating so much on the characters explaining themselves, it wasn’t that exciting. Also, it misses some steps in the logic department. In the Pines book, I believe Ethan was something of a repeat rebel. Pilcher put him in hibernation several times. But every time he was awoken, he tried his damnedest to escape. So Pilcher finally decided to stop fighting him and convince him to become sheriff, even telling him his family (who was awoken long before he was) is waiting for him in Wayward Pines. On the show, Pilcher only woke him up once, assuming that Burke has the sort of unbreakable spirit needed to lead Wayward Pines. (This would also explain why Pope was so salty toward Burke and his family in the earlier episodes – he knew ol’ boy would be taking his spot.) But how did Pilcher know Burke would be so willing to lead? If Burke is the chosen one and all that, even having his wife and son all thawed out and there for him, why didn’t Pilcher hip Burke about all of this in the first place? But, of course, we wouldn’t have had these several weeks of Burke entertainingly scrambling around Pines like a rat in a maze.
It’s quite apparent that Wayward Pines is finding more ways to keep its audience riveted now that the truth is out there. This episode appeared to be another opportunity for the show to explain what the hell’s going on, especially for all the slow people who were still bugging out about all the whoppers that happened last week. However, since the episode gave its characters time to talk things out and form new, begrudging alliances, this will hopefully lead to some good stuff in the remaining four episodes.
SOME STRAY THOUGHTS
- I do have to commend the writers for continuing to not make an obvious love triangle out of Ethan, Theresa, and Kate. Even though Theresa thinks there is one (hearing that clueless barista say she’s seen Ethan with Kate didn’t soothe her suspicions), we later see Kate tell Harold that she is his partner in love and revolution. I also like that this will give Reed Diamond more to do in the future besides being the dopey fourth wheel.
- I do fear they’re over-kooking Hope Davis’s Dr. Fisher, who appeared to be quite neurotic and exuberant when she first meets Pilcher in a flashback. However, this does explain why she was all “Praise Him!” when referring to Pilcher in “Truth” last week.
- Speaking of that flashback, what was up with that black wig Melissa Leo was wearing? It looked just as off as Jones’s hairpiece. As for Leo’s Nurse Pam, now that we officially know she’s Pilcher’s kin, the show seems to have gotten rid of all her dastardliness and turned her into a concerned, supportive sibling.
- Not only is Mike McShane’s real-estate boss a threatening, creepy lech, he’s also dumb. Missing that crafty, box-over-a-box move the deliveryman made is one thing, but why did he give the keys to the still-wary Theresa, who was obviously curious about “plot 33” and eventually ripped the plot’s info out of that ledger?
- Man, that montage of “Group A” people and the myriad ways they killed themselves was gnarly. And don’t think I didn’t catch those big chess pieces in that flashback prologue – yet another on-the-nose reminder from the show on how people will forever be pawns.
- As Terrence Howard returned to his role as Arnold Pope, we briefly found out the dude had a love for ice cream back then, telling Pilcher he’ll be having rocky road when he’s off-duty. Also, since it looked like Pope was the only black person in Wayward Pines, will we see that disgraced black doctor he chloroformed anytime soon, at least just to add some local color to this goddamn lily-white town?