We’re up to Wayward Pines’ third episode, and despite its title, “Our Town, Our Law,” it features multiple instances where Sheriff Pope tells one of the Burkes that “this is MY town!” But whoever’s town it is, it’s just keeps getting weirder.
The ep picks up immediately where last week left off. We see Beverly’s lifeless body drooping on public display in the main square. A little girl, perhaps meant to evoke the daughter she unwittingly left behind, lays a flower at her feet. Sheriff Pope, having just slit Beverly’s throat while the whole town watched, delivers a sermon of sorts. A pep talk, almost. It starts off “Citizens of Wayward, we are truly blessed. Not every community is as fortunate as ours” and goes right into a call-and-response version of the town rules, which we learned last week: “Do not try to leave.” “Where else is there for us to go?”
Where, indeed? While this is going on, Ethan abandons his random race through the woods to lurk in Kate’s kitchen. Howard, visibly bummed by the night’s events, goes to bed while Kate goes to make him a cup of tea, because “It always helps.” (Jeez, how many of these public executions, known as “reckonings” in the Wayward Pines vernacular, have they witnessed?) She’s not entirely surprised to see her former partner hiding in the shadows, nor is she taken aback by his questions (“You’re not evil, are you, Kate?”) She does wait to answer honestly once the whistling tea kettle masks her words.
She and Howard didn’t turn Beverly in, she claims, though Bev dared to speak of the past at their dinner party. More importantly, though, “There are no second chances here, and you got one, so take it,” she hisses, advising Ethan to hold onto the tracking chip Beverly plucked out of his leg last week and to play ball, dammit. “You’ll never make it out of here alive,” she says. “Watch me,” replies our man of action, though he next pays a visit to the abandoned house which once concealed the corpse of another man who tried to leave: Bill Evans. It’s clearly where Wayward Pines stores its dead until... whoever... comes to whisk them away, because it’s where Beverly’s body has ended up, allowing Ethan a moment to mourn the only trustworthy person he’s met so far. Beverly’s own home, he finds, has already been completely emptied of all her furniture, and a real estate agent (Justin Kirk from Weeds!) is prowling around with repair people. But the agent, it seems, is on the level, telling Ethan “Don’t say a word!” and gesturing at an overhead light fixture that’s no doubt transmitting all sounds to mission control.
Meanwhile, Theresa and Ben are on their Find Ethan road trip, as both of them pretty much believe he’s run off with Kate. While talk radio blabbers on about the superiority of small towns versus big cities in the background (subtle!), Theresa sizes up the situation: “I think something is very wrong!” Breaking into Ethan’s Secret Service email doesn’t yield many clues to his current state, but it does reveal his last credit-card transaction is at an Idaho gas station. While Ethan’s boss worries that “Ethan Burke’s wife might be coming to look for him” to someone over the phone (IS IT DR. JENKINS?), mother and son drive right into a trap laid by Sheriff Pope (who else?).
While his family gets jumped into Wayward Pines life, Ethan, who has no idea they’re even looking for him, is still searching for a way out. He climbs undetected (he thinks) into a food delivery truck with a Wyoming license plate and is taken to some kind of bunker-like structure that consists of a long hallway and a series of loading dock-type doors. One is marked “Wayward Pines” and we see a van emerge and women dressed in housekeeping uniforms get out. Hmm. There’s also a collection of cars that’ve clearly been put through the same Wayward Pines car-crash scenario that brought him to town... and he spots Theresa’s banged-up car, which has Ben’s mangled guitar inside of it. While he’s rummaging through he wonders how this is even possible, just like the audience is, Sheriff Pope appears.
They fight. Finally, fisticuffs! “Why are you so angry? You wanted your family back!” Pope crows before knocking Ethan out. This is approximately the 10th time Ethan has lost consciousness on this show, and we’re only on episode three. He awakens back in good old Wayward Pines Hospital, to a ringing phone and an anonymous voice telling him his family was just discharged. In case you were worried there wasn’t going to be enough Nurse Pam this week, she appears, holding an infant, to deliver the ep’s most devastating/weird line. Theresa and Ben are in their new home, she tells Ethan, and aren’t they lucky, because “One of the best places in WP opened up last night. Prior occupant had a sudden sore throat, if you know what I mean!” As Ethan hauls ass back to Beverly’s former house, Nurse Pam turns to the group of candy stripers she’s with and adds, “Oh, and I am speaking more as a poet than a nurse when I say that.”
Indeed, the Burkes have been situated in Beverly’s old house; the realtor from earlier picked them up, and once again, he shows signs of anti-Wayward Pines sentiments. “Like all the houses in Wayward Pines, it comes equipped with a state of the art security system,” he announces, raising an eyebrow toward the (clearly bugged) smoke alarm. That doesn’t stop Ethan from telling Theresa, still reeling from all that’s happened, that the town isn’t safe. When she tells him they crashed their car after receiving roadside assistance from Sheriff Pope, the phone rings. Ethan rips it out of the wall and goes to warn Sheriff Pope to stay away from his family. Pope is with Pam, and they both have their own warnings for Ethan. Play by the rules, “don’t keep searching for what’s behind door number three,” and the Burkes will prosper.
It starts to get heated when the damn phone rings yet again. Pam takes the call, listens closely, and says, “Sheriff Pope, that will be all.” Ethan absorbs that exchange then flounces out, declaring “I’m talking to the wrong people. You’re not in charge here!” despite Sheriff Pope’s repeated claims that Wayward Pines is “my town.” (He’ll reassert that claim moments later, when he turns up in Burke’s kitchen to eat ice cream and menace Theresa. Yes, at the same time.)
So who is in charge? Does the mysterious Dr. Jenkins have anything to do with it? As rain pours down, he peers from under his umbrella to offer his own, more gentler advice to Ethan. “We need someone like you here in Wayward. Someone good. Please stay.” “I can’t stay,” Ethan replies. “I don’t live here” ... as the camera pulls back to reveal “Burke” freshly painted on Beverly’s old mailbox.
Ben, who’s even more confused than Theresa (wouldn’t you be, if five minutes into living in a new town, some kid bicycled by and welcomed you... and he already knew your full name?), is also surly and bored, being a teenager. Ethan instructed him to stay close to his mother, but he’s also the son of a secret agent, not above doing some spying of his own. He follows his father, whom he’s spotted passing by in the street, and unfortunately misinterprets his secret forest meeting with Kate. (Can’t really blame the kid.)
But Ethan’s meeting with Kate is an important one; she’s finally acting like herself again instead of a bobble-headed housewife, and she’s finally giving up information. She’s been in Wayward Pines for 12 years, she says, though Ethan swears he was with her five weeks ago. In her mind, those times are “a distant memory come to life,” much like the first time she spotted Bill Evans in town. It had been 10 years but he hadn’t aged a day. “I’ve tried to figure it out,” she says, but all she knows is “The only way to stay alive here is to play along.”
Theresa and Ben don’t know this. Hell, they haven’t even heard the rules yet. But once Ben blabs to Theresa that he spotted Kate and Ethan having a clandestine rendezvous, she is OUT. They’re dragging their suitcases behind them when Pope pulls up, right as they’re reaching the big-ass electric fence that’ll be blocking their escape, thanks very much. “THIS IS MY TOWN, and you have to ask permission to leave,” he shrieks.
The last five minutes of the episode are, yet again, the most bizarre and game-changing. The confrontation with Pope gets scary, then violent, and ultimately deadly once Ethan shows up. Wayward Pines’ most lactose-tolerant citizen gets to utter these dramatic final words: “You think you want to know the truth, but you don’t. It’s worse than anything you could imagine.”
Oh really? Do tell us more, Wayward Pines! As Ethan activates the garage door opener doohickey that, hilariously, opens the door on the fence, we suddenly hear a horrifying series of howls. “Something just took his body!” Ben gasps. And indeed, Pope is gone, spirited away by something we can’t quite see clearly, except that it’s loud and humanoid and very X-Files-y, and seems to have come through the opened gate. Wisely, they close the gate. Escape will have to wait, and so will explanations.