For one hour, Wayward Pines rediscovered its harrowing mojo. How? By bringing back its most captivating, complicated character — as well as the fine actress who plays her.
Yes, Pam Pilcher returns to the scene after vanishing at the end of last season. It turns out that she was banished to a creepy house on the outskirts of town by Higgins, after he popped a cap in her beloved brother David because, you know, he was turning into a goddamn despot.
But after three years, Pam (now rocking Stockard Channing-in-the-'70s hair) paid a late-night visit to Higgins, convincing him to welcome her back into the brain trust. While Higgins was surprisingly cool with this, nearly everyone — from the townspeople to Kerry to Dr. Yedlin to Megan Fisher, whom we learned has been vying for Higgins's maternal affections since he was a kid — was giving her the side-eye.
It's certainly fun to see Melissa Leo on this show again, basically laying out the complexity Pam embodied throughout that whole first season in just one episode. When she briefly slipped on the nurse dress and walked the (now-populated) halls of Wayward Pines hospital, she went right back into the unsettling, creepy mode of those first few episodes, making inappropriate observations about Yedlin's marriage with a beaming smile and a jovial attitude.
Of course, we learned that was all an act so Nurse Pam could pick up a syringe and swipe some concoction that's stored next to the caged abbies. When she gets home (where's she greeted by some vandals who've sprayed "Murderer" on the side of her house), she pulls out a red dress and gets ready to inject herself. At first, we think she's going to kiss this little nightmare good-bye. But as we later learn, the concoction is smallpox. She wants to take everyone with her.
Yedlin and Fisher stop her before she infects everybody, though she did plant a smooch on Higgins beforehand. (We don't know if he got the antidote or he just forgot about it.) Nevertheless, she made it clear to Higgins that he better wipe her out soon. If not, she plans to keep attempting to eradicate the failed experiment that is Wayward Pines. And why not? People are turning on each other and her baby boy Higgins, whom we learn she practically raised, has turned into a tyrannical dipshit.
And so, Higgins has to do what all children must do when they can't control their mothers: He strangles her in the woods, in the dead of night. I have to say, though, for an episode that was basically steered to shine a sympathetic light on Higgins — he was groomed to be the Chosen One at such a young age, so it's no wonder he's a power-mad dick — I still don't feel anything for this punk-ass kid.
Given how Wayward Pines has turned out, maybe Pam's plan for a mass genocide isn't all that bad. Although Higgins is ready to branch out and build communities outside those electrified walls — yeah, he's still thoroughly convinced that the abbies are gone — what's inside those walls is starting to resemble hell on Earth. The townspeople are basically prisoners. Fisher's deranged ass is encouraging underage girls to get knocked up. Even Yedlin, who has reached a reluctant acceptance about living in the Pines, is tormented by memories of his dad, whom he promised to have beers with once a week two centuries ago.
Pam's visit to Wayward Pines is disappointingly brief. I was hoping she could stick around for a few episodes and stir up some more problems. Unfortunately, her corpse is put on top of a burning fire, while C.J. looks on, deep in thought. (Did they have a thing or something back in the day?) Still, I guess she planted the seed that'll get this long-overdue revolution started.
Some Stray Thoughts:
- I don't know about you, but when the episode started off with Leo's optimistic narration, it took me back to Wisteria Lane for a minute.
- Is that fist-in-the-palm thing how all first-generation Pines kids applaud?
- Siobhan Fallon Hogan still remains entertainingly spaced-out as the practically lobotomized Arlene, shamelessly trying to pick up Yedlin and telling him it's okay since, hey, it's Wayward Pines!
- Sheriff Pope wasn't around, but Fisher did bring up his ice-cream obsession during the birthday-party flashback when she said he was bringing a new ice-cream flavor over. Rum raisin?
- "Sometimes, you just have to stop asking questions." "Yeah, I can't do that." You gotta appreciate Yedlin's brazen stubbornness. I also liked that sarcastic "Well, this is festive!" he gave when Higgins, Pam, and the rest of the Pilcher Youth marched down Main Street.
- Yedlin seems a little bitchy during those heated back-and-forths with Pam, trying to get to the mystery of how both he and his wife were chosen to be Wayward Pines residents so long ago.
- Reed Diamond's Harold Ballinger and (I believe) Juliette Lewis's Beverly get brief shout-outs during a flashback, when Pam shows a young Higgins their files and tells him about the plans in store for them.
- Put a goddamn shirt on, Higgins! We get it. You work out.
- What the hell ever happened to thirsty-ass Amy?