Ethan (Matt Dillon) thinks he’s found a way out of town.
Now we’re getting somewhere.
For a minute there, I thought Wayward Pines was going to be a serial thriller that would ultimately be done in by its own lazy indifference. The first two iffy episodes almost made it seem that the show was going to coast by on its creepy allure and A-list credentials. (Hey, we got a cast full of Oscar nominees and The Sixth Sense guy as an executive producer. So shut up and enjoy the show!)
But “Our Town, Our Law” seemed to be the first episode to detour away from Blake Crouch’s source material and become a show with its own ideas, several of them not bad. For starters, it jumps the gun and reunites our forever-unstoppable hero Ethan Burke with his wife and son, which – SPOILER ALERT – doesn’t happen until the end of Crouch’s first book. As we saw last week, Theresa and Ben were en route to Boise to track down Ethan, in the hopes that he’s okay and on assignment, not okay and with former partner/flame Kate Hewson. As soon as they got too close to the truth, even hacking into the FBI database and looking to see where Ethan bought gas last, Sheriff Pope (rocking slicked-back hair) gets dispatched to pull them over and tell Theresa that her car is leaking oil. This gives him an excuse to go under the hood and cut a fuel line.
Despite that suspenseful stop, they make it to Wayward Pines alive and well, even though Ben has a cast on his left arm and he and Theresa don’t remember much about how they got there. But even though Ethan is back together with the two loves of his life, he still knows things aren’t all right. After all, he did see Pope slit poor Beverly Brown’s throat in front of the whole town for trying to flee the place.
Everybody knows by now he wants to leave, but Burke doesn’t get his throat slit, even after he sneaks into a food truck (which he assumes is going to Wyoming, according to the plates) and ends up at a huge warehouse where he finds Theresa’s car and her belongings. (Pope sticks his ass with a needle full of sedatives, which sends him back to that dreaded hospital.)
It seems that Pines folk are trying to make Burke feel at home, with Dr. Jenkins saying that the town needs someone like him, giving him Beverly’s home, thanks to a cautious, cane-wielding realtor (Weeds’ Justin Kirk). Burke keeps trying to get Kate to come clean about what the hell is going on, even briefly meeting up in the foggy woods and getting her to explain how the hell she aged 12 years. This doesn’t sit well with Ben, who followed him into the woods and later informed mom that dad’s creeping with that woman again.
Mom’s having trouble of her own, like trying to keep Pope from showing up at her place and creeping her the hell out. Yeah, Pope spent most of the episode straight trippin’! He mostly acted like he was Matt Dillon — the marshal from Gunsmoke, not the actor he’s usually face-to-face with — constantly saying this is his town, and what he says goes.
Burke still lets him know if he goes anywhere near his family, he’ll kill him. Pope doesn’t listen, eventually slipping into the Burkes’ new home to eat some ice cream and quietly terrorize Teresa (it’s interesting how director Zal Batmanglij uses a wide shot on Terrence Howard, as Pope sits in the kitchen with just him and his big, brooding ego, while a medium but still tense close-up is used on Shannyn Sossamon) and later catching her and Ben on the road, near that impenetrable wall, when they try to leave town.
Burke kept his word as he wrestled him to the ground, got his gun and eventually put an off-camera slug in his head. (It also helped that Ben hit Pope with his own car — Walter White style — when it looked like Pope was going to shoot his old man.) But just when Burke and his fam are ready to get out of there in Pope’s vehicle, Burke opens up the wall door via the remote on Pope’s keychain and his son notices a blurry creature approach from behind the wall and snatch up Pope’s corpse. Considering they backed the hell up and high-tailed it back to town, it looks like the Burkes aren’t ready to leave just yet.
So, probably a lot of you were wondering what the hell is up with that monster. Well, that will definitely be explained in later episodes (since they also figure quite prominently in the books). Wayward Pines certainly has me intrigued now with what they’re going to do next, especially since Pope is dead and there’s a very good chance Burke will spend more of his energy keeping things out instead of finding a way to get the hell out.
SOME STRAY THOUGHTS
- I’m just going to assume Terrence Howard put the writers and producers through a lot while coming up with silly, sinister ways to play Pope. (I can’t help thinking the hat and the hip holster, along with that scarf in the opening scene, were his idea.) But, alas, Pope is no more, and I’m sure Howard immediately went to working on Empire after this. I said it before and I’ll say it again: Pope was a far crazier, more charismatic villain than Lucious Lyon.
- As for Melissa Leo’s Nurse Pam, on the other hand, I don’t know what she’s trying to do. One minute she’s menacing, the next she’s just strange. And whose baby was she holding?
- Juliette Lewis’s Beverly had a bittersweet final scene in this episode, as Burke unhooked her hanging corpse from that decaying home (which is apparently where all the residents who dare to escape Wayward Pines are kept) and told her he was going to find her daughter and tell her how brave and hopeful she was.
- Unless you count Howard’s goofy-ass theatrics, the moments of light, comic relief were provided during Theresa and Ben’s road trip, when Ben had to remind that greasy gas-station clerk that he was pushing up on his married mother, and Theresa got some brief, sisterly sympathy from that clerk at the FBI office.