Wayward Pines is a ten episode miniseries about Ethan Burke, a secret service agent who visits a mysterious town in Idaho in search of two missing agents. Once he arrives in Wayward Pines, Ethan quickly discovers that the town is not normal. One of the Secret Service Agents is found dead after being tortured, and the other, a woman that Burke once had an affair with, is pretending to have been a resident of the town for years. When Ethan tries to leave or communicate with the outside world – be it the Secret Service or his family – his efforts are thwarted. His wife, Theresa Burke, and their son, Ben, head to Idaho in search of Ethan. Eventually, Ethan’s mission to escape the peculiar town is amplified by his need to protect his family.
Ethan, along with his wife Theresa and former lover Kate Hewson, reveal to the townsfolk that their town is being ran by David Pilcher, a scientist that has trapped them there and visits the town under the pseudonym Dr. Jenkins. While watching the exchange over the surveillance system, Pilcher shuts off the electricity to the town. This allows mutated humans, known as Abbies, through the electrified fence that once protected the town.
“Cycle” begins with a dozen or so Abbies scaling the once electrified fence and heading toward Wayward Pines. Pamela Pilcher calls Ethan to warn him of the impending attack. Ethan, Theresa, and Kate announce to the citizens of Wayward Pines that they need to all gather at an underground tunnel that is accessible through an empty lot. Theresa heads to the hospital with Ben while Ethan, Kate, and the secessionists that are working with her head to the sheriff’s office to get weapons. The teenagers that assaulted Kate and killed her husband Harold beg to be released from their prison cells, but at Kate’s demand they leave the teenagers there.
Ben sits at Amy’s bedside as the hospital’s generator returns power. Kate arrives and explains that they need to escape the hospital because it is no longer safe. Amy’s doctor checks on her, and suggests against moving her. When the power goes out, the doctor steps away to turn the generator back on. As soon as he does, he is attacked and killed by an Abbie. Theresa, Ben, and Amy work to sneak out of the hospital but are foiled by another Abbie nearby. The Abby discovers the three and begins to attack them, but is killed as Ethan shows up just in time. He takes the three and heads out to the vacant lot.
Pamela works to protect the citizens from the mountainside compound that David Pilcher built to run the city from behind the curtains. David refuses to listen to his sister, and eventually calls on the guards to arrest and return her to cryogenic suspension. Other guards in full tactical gear storm the command center of the compound and arrest the other Wayward Pines volunteers that work to keep the city functioning. As they arrest the volunteers, a surveillance computer shows hundreds of Abbies entering the town.
After procuring weapons, Kate and her group return outside and fend off as many Abbies as they can while the citizens of Wayward Pines try to make it to the vacant lot. Numerous citizens are killed in the process, including Theresa’s former boss Big Bill. Eventually, Kate’s submachine gun jams and she is forced to take shelter in a toy shop. An Abbie breaks through the translucent skylights into the workroom, but Kate protects herself with a large tool. When she returns outside, all of her men, along with dozens of Wayward Pines citizens, are dead or dying. One of her seditionists, while being eaten by an Abbie, points to a backpack of explosives.
Pamela attempts to convince the guards that arrested her and the scientist who seems to run the cryogenic suspension machines to help her save the citizens of Wayward Pines. A random guard seems to agree, but the lead guard sneaks up behind Pamela and shocks her, demanding that no one else speak. The volunteers get their own cryogenic suits on and prepare for suspension.
Eventually Ethan, Theresa, Ben, and Kate arrive at the vacant lot and descend into the hidden tunnel with as many survivors as they can round up. They question Megan Fisher, the mayor’s wife and principle of Wayward Pines High School, about an escape route. Megan is certain that David will save them all until Ben chimes in that if David hadn’t let the Abbies in, he’d have already done something to help out. Megan, disheartened by the understanding that her savior has abandoned her, reveals a location of an elevator to the compound. Ethan and Kate scout ahead, taking the elevator and clearing out the guards nearby before sending the elevator down for survivors. Megan refuses to leave the bunker thinking that the students will need her to wait for them.
At the sheriff’s office, other teens show up and rescue the teenagers that Ethan arrested for attacking Kate and her seditionists. The lead teenager, Jason Higgins, explains that David Pilcher built an ark for the first generation, should a flood come and the need arise. The teenagers take the remaining weapons and head out of the sheriff’s office toward the school.
The Abbies break through bunker door, and kill Megan off screen. Ben, Theresa, and others try to fend off incoming Abbies while waiting on the elevator. When Ben’s pistol runs out of ammunition, they are again saved in the nick of time by Ethan. He loads everyone else into the elevator and they head up. The elevator stops when David Pilcher shuts it down, hoping that Abbies will kill Ethan and the others. They all climb out of the top of the elevator, sans Ethan, who stays behind to protect them from the incoming aberrations.
The guard that was hesitant to follow orders stays behind when the others are called to the elevator, and demands that the head scientist of the cryogenic suspension machines wake up Pamela and the others. Kate approaches David in his office and demands that he turn the fence back on.
David refuses and monologues about how his way is the only way, and tells Kate that even if she kills him, the idea of Wayward Pines will live on. David is killed, and when Kate looks behind to see who shot him, there Pamela stands in her cryogenic suit with a pistol. One of the techs moves to David’s desk to turn the security back on and rid the town of the Aberrations.
Once everyone successfully climbs through the elevator shaft to the lab, they look back toward the elevator to search for Ethan. The Abbies are too close. In a desperate attempt to save the survivors from the incoming Abbies, Ethan blows himself up. Everyone cries out when they realize that he has sacrificed himself. Ben runs to the shaft and calls out to his father, but a piece of falling debris knocks out the teenage Burke.
Ben wakes up, only to find that Amy is his nurse. Amy pretends all is right with the world, but Ben insists she reveal that they are being watched (much like the first few episodes.) She explains that the first generation started a coup and put the adults to sleep, and that no one will trust Ben. They believe that he will only cause problems like his father did. Ben demands his things and leaves the hospital to find that Wayward Pines is as uneasily bucolic as ever. Jason Higgins is the new sheriff, but everything else seems too perfect. “Cycle” ends as Ben approaches a statue of David Pilcher, the savior of Wayward Pines, and the camera zooms out to reveal multiple seditionists have been hanged. A single sign reads, “Do not try to leave.”
“Cycle” was a wonderfully exhilarating and wildly entertaining end to the Wayward Pines series. Seeing Pam turn into the good guy, David read a book to classical music as his empire burned, and Theresa and Kate making awkward amends were all very exciting. Ben waking in the hospital then walking into Wayward Pines just as he father had years before was just icing on the cake. The episode itself wasn’t perfect; the doubling down on Ethan showing up in the nick of time to blast Abbies and save his family was one time too many. Not only that, but the idea that Megan was an inside agent but didn’t know about the ark in her own school and the fact that David didn’t shut down the elevator until it was too late left me feeling skeptical.
While the show makers didn’t quite keep their promise of leaving no questions unanswered (see below), they did manage to not go the way of Lost with the series by leaving so many questions unanswered the audience is literally angry that the series is over – not because they want more entertainment, but because almost no questions were answered. By the end of the finale, we have most questions answered, even if the optimist in us is not happy with the answers. Yes, the human race lives on, but at what cost? The very end of “Cycle” was reminiscent of a Twilight Zone episode in the most complimentary way.
One very exciting thing to see that the show makers did successfully was to ignore Hollywood’s proclivity to try and extend a story line beyond it’s prime for the sake of making money on advertising. As of right now, there is no news of a sequel for Wayward Pines. Being a fan, that might sound unusual; I just don’t want to see this show go the way of Under the Dome. Sometimes a series ends at just the right time. Wayward Pines, in my opinion, hit the nail on the head!
– Why did Ethan wake up in woods in the pilot?
– How does a two thousand year old car just…work?
– I know that other cities were discovered to be wastelands, as shown in “A Reckoning,” but is Wayward Pines REALLY the only human civilization left…at all?
Violence: “Cycle” is full of violence, with the Abbies killing many innocents. Bodily dismemberment, decapitation, and even living people being eaten (a la The Walking Dead) are all present in this episode. It is not suggested for the squeamish.
Language/crude humor: After two viewings of “Cycle,” there were three expletives, including D***, B****** and H***.
Sexual content: No sexual content was shown in “Cycle.”
Drug/alcohol use: There were no drugs or alcohol in “Cycle.”
Positive Content: The positive in “Cycle” is the assurance toward the end of the episode that Wayward Pines doesn’t completely fall to the Abbies. There is a hint that David Pilcher’s way of running the town dies with him, but at the very end that hope is squashed.
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The Bottom Line
The series finale was fantastic, wrapping up the story with a wonderfully Twilight Zone-esque bow on top.