DO NOT TRY TO LEAVE.
DO NOT DISCUS THE PAST.
DO NOT DISCUSS YOUR LIFE BEFORE.
ALWAYS ANSWER THE PHONE IF IT RINGS.
WORK HARD, BE HAPPY.
AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE
IN WAYWARD PINES!
These are the rules of Wayward Pines, hung on a plaque inside every premises.
It grabs some people and puts others off, if you begin with creative lineage… However, you have to with a TV series like Wayward Pines, since it has borrowed more themes than a drunk neighbour borrowing tools. We’re not talking about a random set of ideas that are spat back out in a new form somewhere else down the line, but quite literally: a well-known fascia, a nightmare construct that we all know, repeated again, put together from a myriad of well known parts.
At the sharp end, Nietzsche might comment “The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!” The Gay Science (1887), but he was always more hardcore than most, which is why we love him, and on screen, no-one really minds if a previous concept is repeated, as long as it is done well. Mercutio forgives both houses, where also, it helps if you have a veteran actor to hold it up. They gave the right guy a call.
In Wayward Pines, previous artistic worlds have been embraced, licked up and down, knocked-up, and have produced an entertaining offspring. The worlds that have been plundered here relate directly to a universal and archetypal nightmare. It re-occurs in many places. And you can’t steal from a paradigm that is so familiar to everyone.
The nightmare is: waking up in a random place, a village, a small town, an encapsulated arena, where everyone is smiling at you like they’ve just been slamming with their favourite porn star (or renaissance poet rather, or whatever puts a smile in your walk), and you remember everything before, but no-one else does. You have no phone. And everyone flips every rational question you ask them into an endless riddle, on and up, smiling the entire time. Everything looks normal. Apart from the odd microphone hidden in a bush, and the fact that everyone seems to take their Irish coffee with Valium, Xanax, and a nip of something else.
You can either be polite, take on your new name, your new role -although fuck what you were before- and swim along in delirious dream, like Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) is told to, a Secrete Service agent. Here or before. Or. You can fight if you want. If you don’t fancy playing along, where at best you’ll get a stiff dick up the arse, or at worst, get your throat slit in a Wicker Man (1973) style gathering.
So, back to creative lineage: Franz Kafka’s book The Castle (1926), perhaps an off-the-cuff reference to mention, but one of the most human narratives about a man who has turned up to do a simple job, but is immediately lost in a quagmire of eternal left turns and delays. Then The Prisoner (1967), which was the first of the ‘experimental-paranoid, there’s just something off here’ style television shows. There would have been no X-Files, no 4400, no Fringe, and no other shows of this type if Patrick McGoohan hadn’t first dared to do something creative, unpredictable, playful, and subversive, back in the day.
And as mentioned earlier, no-one minds when the nightmare is groped again, as it was in Twin Peaks (1990). Where because of the cannon of creative minds involved in the project, and still is now -where it may come back in 2017 as one of the only truly surrealist waltzing creative strikes at the torrid mulch we have now- the lineage is still alive. Twin Peaks was fresh, and like with all dreams, a new relationship is created, between everyday life, and a warped place beyond it.
Wayward Pines spent a drunk night with David Lynch for sure, but hell, when you get into warped towns, displaced time-lines, and dreams which can’t be true: God the all powerful would have to be your lawyer to prove that creative plagiarism was involved.
(And on a side note- many watchers of the The Prisoner got so pissed off about who “number 1” actually was, that McGoohan had to stay in his house when the final episode was aired, for fear of people knocking about on the street who were confused and in uproar about it, where some were dismayed by the finale, since people used to be: that into their TV, and were trying to seek him out for a more simplistic answer, marching towards his home, more blood than conversation.)
It was genius to cast Matt Dillon as Ethan Burke, because he was born with that electric, now low groan voice, bored of shit, ‘too world weary to put up with charades’ type way about him. He wakes up, cheek on the street, fucked up, and manages to wonder over to a nearby bar in the afternoon.
Inside, Beverley is working, it’s empty, it’s Juliette Lewis, and Burke is new in town.
Burke has been sent here on a simple mission: recover and report on two missing agents, Kate Hewson and Bill Evans.
We flick back to the agency headquarters letting us know that it’s not all just in the agent’s head. Normal things are going on, people are missing Burke, and scenes flick between the city and Wayward Pines, like two separate planets. But being a professional agent, Burke won’t stand for any circular fuck offs, ambiguous dialogues, and people refusing to give him a straight answer.
He gets pissed off at the whole “Sorry, the connection isn’t available right now, how can I help you?” type banter, as quite logically: he’s attempting to call headquarters, to report back.
Funny, you can’t get past the Wayward Pines operator. She’s helpful. Warm. Jovial. But you’re not going to get connected. Burke calls bullshit, starts laughing, and tells the world to stop fucking with him, he’s ok, regains himself, then gets back to business.
“Sorry. We can’t seem to connect you.”
Laughter turns into flame.
And winds up being woken up by a middle aged Stephen King Misery style nurse, (hot in a wound-up type way actually, sharp tongue behind the fist type lass) smiling down at him. Again, smiling like she’s being constantly buggered, ready to nurse agent Burke back to sanity. And… It’s better if you just rest… Don’t worry about the restraints. Everyone is an extra from the Stepford Wives, and ready with their dosed up script.
Burke finds one of the agents he is looking for living in one of these picket houses.
Then later, Beverley, the barmaid, has had her neck slit of course, since they couldn’t quite get to her, and Burke is beginning to realise just how fucked up things are here, below the caressing pleasantries, and behind the eyes of each denizen if you disobey the rules (even just by accident).
He tried to escape with Beverly, and finally, there was only so much he could do. Although, this is only catalyst, and only amps his non-wavering attitude. It all stacks up. These people are insane. A cult. A disease. A drugged flock. A ragged dream that says I can’t be the only one with teeth, among a shower of ghosts who are still flesh, but have been convinced otherwise.
Kate, the agent that Burke has been sent to look for has been trying to escape from Wayward Pines since arrival, and has been here for 14 years. She’s held her tongue and now works in a toy shop (inside and out). She’s married to a walking, talking (fucking in an appropriate way via missionary with the lights off), type shadow puppet, and a “Hi how can I help you today buddy?” type dude. Which doesn’t make sense. Burke just saw her five weeks ago. She has aged noticeably however. He used to fuck her on the side (even though he’s married and has a son).
Yet he never questions his own sanity, and butts heads with the local sheriff, Pope, many times, who is in charge of the domestic illusion. Burke shoots the fella up. To make things even more awkward: Burke’s hot wife and son turn up, and they are somewhat reunited among the confusion, as Burke is on a mission to find a chic he cheated with in a kaleidoscopic town that behaves more like a 50s cartoon than reality. He’s already found Agent Bill Evens tied down to a bed long having decayed in a cabin, and the half finished notes stuffed in his boot which he managed to write before meeting ‘Madam Zero Safe Word’. This all says: fuck, this is what happens when you fuck with the tide.
It’s fairly clear what happens if you defy the rules, and like the references mentioned earlier on, this creates four groups: those with enough will to fuck them off, those with enough will to fuck them off and escape successfully, and those who are happy to be Sim City characters, in Sim City Infinitum, being played by a lazy moron, and those who will get chewed up in-between.
We soon find out that Wayward Pines, “The perfect place to breed, work, and relax in a comfortable environment!” is walled off by a circular perimeter.
Things pick up when we see the first of the ‘aberrations’ (abbies) in the forest. Animals from the year 4028. Vicious possibilities of what many of our species already are, deformed, beyond depravity, and formed into groups of sub-human drones, which understand only how to kill.
When we first see them in the darkness it’s genuinely disturbing, and we don’t know what to think.
They move fast.
Come for you before you think.
Have the sense abilities of higher primates, and smell your sweat before you can breathe. Shadows groan. Shrubs move. And they’re already on you. A Cheeseburger lunch as you plan to breach the fence. Maybe a beer with a mate earlier, and then, you pack up your shit ready to breach the wall later, since you’re the ‘resistance’. No such chance mate. A shadow. Your twitch: 10 times slower than your predator. Zero chance. You’re the cheeseburger.
Meanwhile, Burke’s pisswad son is causing trouble at school. He wants to acclimatise to his new school, and is busy being matched up with the peculiar curriculum of the institute. Rational. On track. He’s learnt well, accepts the propaganda bullshit he’s been fed about Wayward Pines, how to despise all those whom are non-accepting, and has a chance of getting his end away with a lass he likes.
The idea: a twisted style of eugenics where school pupils are matched up, and encouraged to mate with appropriate matches. The series flies here, bathing in Nazi hangovers of gloriously inexplicit suggestions of what has always happened throughout time, still does, always will, and will eventually be perfected, via the drive of drive human curiosity, which ironically: is counter humanity, anti-progression, originality, art, and what creates vitality. There are no clockworks in the bud, some fella said down the bar the other night, he just danced his tits off, and shattered darkness by just being there.
In class, the students are subjected to a waterfall of one perspective, where theology is aimed at creating a hierarchy among them. Wayward Pines reality, not ‘real’ reality, of course.
It would be hideous if they weren’t so cute, blushing when they look at each other, sat beside each other in the class room, and played like chess pieces. In actual reality: it is still 4028, and there are only a few thousand inside the perimeter, where outside, the world is desolate, post apocalyptic, and there is a diminutive spectacled man, Dr Pilcher, who is the ambiguously thinking gentleman behind the entire project. He works away in a decadent museum style office, as he and his operatives monitor every sigh of the unknowing populace.
Now, the full explanation of what, why, what the fuck, and how the hell does this make sense, comes across like that rabid-impatient driver which you’re squaring off against. You know that the law is on your side, but he just tucks his hand into his trouser pocket and pulls out a wad of fifty pound notes. Slaps them in your face. And walks off.
The emotion is odd, it’s unexpected, and where we find ourselves going directly from a carefully built mood and dive directly into exposition. There has been a chunk torn out of the book that this show was based on, where things are moved too fast on-screen. We want to know: how did this happen? How did humanity devolve? This is all left to the rabid blue.
Dr Pilcher has frozen so many bodies from the 1990s in cryochambers, including himself, for 2000 years, then defrosted them on timer. The reason: everyone said he was full of shit when he predicted that the aberrations were coming. These being a plague, or disease, or natural evolutionary twist in the world’s whip, which transforms human beings into a carnivorous+, carnal times nth, inhuman, rabid, psycho, over-evolved cast-off from: homo-I’mjustgonnatearyouapart-eructus.
It’s never fully explained.
The planet is dominated by these beings, that Attenborough doesn’t fancy checking out, as they’re more your distorted and clawed: ‘scream if you like it’ types.
They savage the Sistine Chapel, building flesh pyramids from their own dead bodies as they pile up, each one giving out, as more and more bones, femurs, ulnas, and biting grunts in their pursed lips amount in the cacophony, and there is one cadaver defying death at the summit, licking the ceiling in this grotesque mountain, before it dies to, and a plane flies over the Vatican City, dying too from a lack of fuel, where its nose dives into a random suburban street, where the pilot doesn’t scream, but laughs, as a champagne drunk billionaire hopes that he is reincarnated elsewhere in the wilderness, and is not, and has only that last stinging burble of coke up his nose to remind him that it’s Tuesday.
…So later on, and bit by drop, Dr Pilcher had the foresight, positional ability, and money, to create Wayward Pines. A wee minnie backwards camp town. CCTV inside your porridge.
Since: you are too stupid to get on-board with him.
Which would be true, unless, true genius would be to have the ability to do such things whilst also having the ability to outlay a rhetoric, in a simple way, to those you wanted to freeze in cryo-chambers, and then bust out later. Which he couldn’t manage. Hence dudes like Burke get a bit stroppy, and kill him.
Pilcher would definitely beat Nietzsche at chess if he could plan all that, and could add a soul, and wasn’t so lost in his own Aristotle complex.
This is where the plot seems stretched, and if honest, harder to roll with.
It’s only Matt Dillon that keeps you watching. He’s always thinking: “No actually, fuck it, you’re off your tits Pilcher, so are your staff mate, and it goes no further.”
Pilcher is killed by other rebels unwilling to be handled like lollipop humans, as aberrations begin to take over Wayward Pines, opening mandibles, and tearing the entire town apart.
No longer held back, and infinite in number, a tsunami wave of cannibals tearing the town down to nothing but screaming denizens, and crawling everywhere and up, released, making The Walking Dead crew look like fuck-up street performers, not enough guns, not enough bullets, and an obsidian wave of teeth chows happily on the populace.
There’s no-one with the balls, training, or determination, to wipe out the aberrations which are crawling up the lift shaft apart from Burke, where he sits alone in a lift.
Wayward Pines is being savaged, and the remaining survivors won’t be able to fight the aberrations off unless Burke sets the bomb off himself.
Your black dress
where we dance now
and where i know
i’ll see you there.
He closes his eyes.
And the mission is complete.
The aberrations are torn apart by fire, and the remaining denizens of Wayward Pines are saved. You shed a tear because the only actor in the entire show has blown himself up.
We’re not handed over to season 2 on this note however, we’re shown a clip of Wayward Pines after the recovery.
Ben (agent Burke’s son) walks out onto the friendly street of the small town from the hospital, still half fucked from waking up, as everyone meets him with that same: easy botox, just wanked off the horizon, apathetic, 1984, chipper, Sunday cricket, half pissed, Prozac lemonade, hypnotised spaniel, national anthem, drugged stroll, sunny, fully lobotomised, smiling, comatose- happy look in their face.
Which is fine, until he comes to a lamppost, where a body is hanging, and has long since been dead. Decrepit. Dead and stinking like what Nina Simone was singing about in Strange Fruit.
It seems that a new regime is in place.
Be happy, or dance in the breeze.
Again, it’s all up in the air like two lovers who are less monogamous than a pack of rabid dogs.
If season 2 of Wayward Pines can hold itself up without a talent like Matt Dillon around, it’ll be more surprising than a bitch in heat roaming around in the back-streets and coming back unfucked.
Wayward Pines Season 2 begins 8th June at 9pm, only on FOX