Tuesday, June 16, 2015

What "Wayward Pines" Did Right!

Okay, Kiddos. Very rarely do I get to gush about something on TV unless it's "Hannibal" (which is currently the best written show on TV right now) but I've taken to watching "Wayward Pines" and in their most recent episode titled "The Truth", I have to admit I was EXTREMELY impressed with how it was handled and the impact it had on me. This isn't a review but it will contain spoilers, so if you haven't watched "Wayward Pines" up until episode 5, PLEASE GO give it a watch and come back.

So I'm assuming you've watched the episodes or don't give a crap about spoilers, in either case, WELCOME! Let's dig in! So every now and then I come across these "Mystery" Movies or Shows, you know the type. The kind of movie where our character awakens in a mysterious place with no clue how they arrived and an unseen puppet master challenges them or forces them to stay. I could list them off "The Killing Room", "The Village", "Cube", "L O S T",(the horrendous series that was) "Persons Unknown" and if we're going old school, "The Prisoner". And in these shows and movies it's up to the audience to figure out the reason behind the supposed captivity of our main characters. Are they here because they did something bad and didn't remember? Is there a group of incredibly wealthy people screwing with him for sh*ts and giggles, or (in the case of "L O S T" anyway) are they in purgatory? (which I still have yet to figure out just why in the heck people thought that).

This is usually around the time when some suit, usually a government somebody who arrives somewhere near the end of the movie or show and reveals the plot, and usually it's the "We're doing something really good, it only looks evil." Kinda thing, or "The ends justify the means." and I've ALWAYS been INCREDIBLY dubious at these reveals because the logic never seems to sync up with the actions taken by said government organization and the end result is never fully revealed to convey to the audience that their actions are necessary (that goes for "The Killing Room" and DOUBLE for "Persons Unknown"). Not the case with "Wayward Pines" and this show surprised be by hitting it out of the park in terms of establishing a legitimate mystery, establishing some very glaring questions and the best part about it is, it NEVER ONCE spoon fed the audience.

Quick summary of what's happened so far, Special Agent Ethan Burke awakens in Wayward Pines, Idaho after a car accident with his partner. He was headed to Wayward Pines to search for 2 missing agents. Wayward Pines and it's citizens are strange to him, they seem to know him by name and at every turn deny him the ability to speak to his family & co-workers at The Secret Service Officer in Seattle, his home. Deciding to remain in Wayward Pines for the time begin, he meets a Young Bartender who's eager to escape. While planning their escape, she mentions to him that she was kidnapped and taken to Wayward Pines in 1999 and that she had only been there for 1 year, of course, Ethan is skeptical at this information because it's 2015 and the young woman didn't look anywhere near 57 (based on the year she was born).

Eventually, Ethan finds one of the missing agents, a woman named Kate (whom Ethan had an affair with, I should also mention that Ethan is married to a woman named Theresa with a son named Ben), Kate also mentions a time discrepancy that she hadn't seen Ethan in 12 years, but for Ethan it was only 5 weeks ago. Since the pilot I have questioned just how such a thing was possible, where 2 characters had COMPLETELY different understandings of time and I'm thrilled to say that I wasn't disappointed with the answer. Are you ready?! Turns out, the year is 4020, Earth has all but been over run with creatures (mutated humans called Abbies  short for "aberrations) and Wayward Pines is the LAST civilization for mankind, and all of this is told to the children (specifically, "The teenagers" ) of Wayward Pines, none of the adults know (except for a few key people)! This is brilliant!

Why? For a couple of reasons, for starters EVERYTHING makes sense. In "Wayward Pines" there are RULES that everyone follows, one of the main rules is "DO NOT discuss the past.". The reason for that rules should be made evident, if you're kidnapping people from different time periods, eventually someone's gonna get to talking and let something slip like "9/11" or the death of someone and pretty soon, someone's gonna realize that they're out of sync with time and start to wonder just what in the hell is going on. So, in order to keep that from happening, ONLY DISCUSS THE PRESENT! This explains the constant surveillance and the constant mics. But why only tell the kids and force them to keep it a secret?

Well for starters, teenagers are much more malleable than adults and if they told everybody, eventually, they'd have a riot on their hands, some wouldn't believe, some wouldn't understand and others would freak out. And seeing as how they NEED a population and they NEED teenagers and a generation to rebuild the species and know what they're doing, it makes PERFECT sense that they'd tell the teenagers everything on a need to know basis and a few key people. It's just with this revelation, EVERYTHING makes sense now. But there's more! We now realize that the show was actually showing us flashbacks instead of real time events. Every moment Theresa (Ethan's wife) and Ben spent time trying to find him were all flashbacks and that Ethan (at that time) was in some kinda hibernation chamber or something. It's GENIUS and I cannot say enough good things about how this episode was handled.

Now I'm very curious about where the series will go from here, how will be the actual antagonist, are there still people left outside of Wayward Pines, what's going to happen? I'm very interested. If more reveals could be set up and handled as masterfully as this was, maybe the "mystery" genre wouldn't be so bland with people's IMMEDIATE reactions being "Oh, they're like dead or something, right?". Can't say enough good things about this episode.

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