Wayward Night


Lorde’s cover of Tears for Fears Everybody Wants to Rule the World.

I want to believe M Night Shyamalan was given an ultimatum before he made The Last Airbender. I imagine a Star Chamber of Hollywood heavyweights shrouded in dense shadow, angrily demanding, “If we see a single slitty eye or someone even remotely Asian in a lead in your movie, you are finished in Hollywood! You understand?”

I want to believe this because the alternative — the possibility that M Night Shymalan like Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal, is ashamed of his South Asian heritage — is too depressing to consider. Jindal’s “American” vs “Indian American” is too serious and complex a topic to discuss here (though I have a lot to say on the matter).

I want to believe his being coerced into race bending Airbender’s East Asian and Inuit (or Yupik) characters enabled him to make Wayward Pines. Though my friends and I fretted that there would be a Village this-was-just-a-test type ending or a Shutter Island (not a Shyamalan movie) this-was-all- a-dream ending, it was all for naught. We let out a collective sigh of relief when it was revealed that the bleakness maintained through nine episodes wasn’t all just in Ethan’s or Ben’s head. The show’s dystopian ending was the Twilight Zone/Outer Limitstype ending that rewarded viewers fairly for their investment of time.

Vinnie Mancuso at the Observer is right about the cerebral Abbies that gnawed away at our common sense:

So as soon as the power went out, every single abbie ever swarms on the town. The question is: why? Do the abberations have a sixth sense for when the fence’s power is out? Is that some sort of super-evolved abbie power we never head about? Did one of he abbie’s Tweet “fence is down, bitches” and it just spiraled from there?

The abbie swarm of the town was pretty gruesomely exciting, but seriously WHY DID THAT ONE CAR EXPLODE? That was by far the funniest part of this episode. People were fleeing, and screaming, and townsfolk heads were being eaten, and then a random car just explodes apropos of nothing. It was like the director said “how do we really sell the chaos of this scene.” And the stunt coordinator was like “I could probably blow up that car or something.”

When you’re preparing to defend your life from a horde of cannibal monsters, and you’re handing someone a bomb, is the best thing to say right at that moment “Franklin wasn’t finished with it yet but he was pretty certain it would detonate.” Pretty certain? Buddy why don’t you just hold on to that.

Random thought: In all the detailed, complex planning that went into creating Wayward Pines, wouldn’t a ton of problems have been solved by building a different kind of fence? Like, at the minimum make it flat instead of chain link. The fence they built, without power, is ideal for keeping out, like, the deer population.

So Jason, who last week called shotgun in the worst way possible, gets out of his cell and meets up with the delusional sect of first generation high schoolers at the “ark.” I thought the whole town was the ark, but apparently there’s another ark. I don’t know. But anyway, these power-hungry teenagers come across a bunker filled with guns and ammo. Are you telling me they had all these guns and ammo the entire time and just put it in a bunker for the day high schoolers might need it? Because, as I’ve said and this episode proved, the abberations have two subtle weaknesses: 1) shooting them with guns and 2) blowing them up. Who would’ve thought?

However, as right as Vinnie is and as much as he made me chuckle, Wayward’s lapses in common sense didn’t make me feel like I was “Shyamalan-ed” or cheated. I saw the lack of logic as acceptable collateral cognitive damage for the sake of keeping the story within 10 episodes. I’ve not read the book so I don’t know if its fence is chainlink too. WaywardPinesBooks.com has a comparison between the books and the show that goes up to Episode Five. They also have a FAQ (including Spoilers) of the complete book series. The show has made me curious about Blake Crouch’s series and that’s one of my benchmarks of a good TV show.

I read somewhere that the First Generation, the high schoolers who have drunken Pilcher’s Kool Aid, was not a part of the book. They were created specifically for the show. I thought they were a positive addition to the story. Their roles in the story, especially Jason and his crew towards the end, reminded me of real world “children of revolution” like Mao’s Red Guard and Hitler’s Nazi Youth; youth-centered movements that took advantage of youthful naïveté to power oppressive social movements. Flashes of The Wave appear. It was a big thing in the 80s. A lot of teachers were citing it and encouraging their students to watch it when they were doing history units on World War II.

Overall, I enjoyed Wayward Pines and while I agree with Vulture’s Craig Lindsey and NY Post’s Elisabeth Vincentelli about not risking a season two, a very small, very optimistic part of me hopes for a second season. That teensy bit of me imagines a season two where we might watch Ben struggle between the assimilation into the First Generation’s world and the deep desire to change the status quo to pursue world that Pam and Kate dreamed of in the finale.

Maybe season two finds Ben in a similar situation as Kate, when we first met her. She seems to lead a normal Wayward Pines life, including outing Beverly, the bartender that helps Ethan when he first arrives at Wayward Pines. However, by mid-run we learn that she is the mastermind of the rebellion. In season two Ben might be married to/living with Amy. They might be happy. They might be expecting their first child (after all children are very important to the new world). Her pregnancy might ignite an urgency to change the status quo because he doesn’t want his child growing up in the current version of Wayward Pines. He might struggle with upending his current happiness to pursue the greater good.

Season two might also see Jason and his senior cabinet fighting amongst themselves over differing interpretations of Dr. Pilcher’s principles. Maybe the dispute escalates and as a result (assuming Jason’s side wins) Jason pens and enforces a “Pilcher’s Bible” with moral and social codes that the citizens of Wayward Pines must observe upon penalty of torture or death.

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