I finally watched the final episode of Wayward Pines, anticipating the epic end. I had been watching each episode the moment they showed up on Hulu.
From the beginning I was hooked on the series. The mysterious Wayward Pines, its strange people, the constant semblance of fear, and Ethan being stuck in the middle of it as he tries to learn what is going on and get to his family. I knew that this was based on a series of books, though I didn’t expect it to stick to the book.
The acting was superb. Matt Dillion as the confused, yet determined Ethan Burke was well-played out. You believed he was Ethan. Throughout the series I found myself rooting for him as he tried to get out, and rooting for him again after he learned the truth and tried to keep the town safe from the Abbies.
Toby Jones as Pilzer Jenkins did an excellent job of playing the seemingly altruistic doctor who wants to save humanity, but at his core is just a control freak with a God / Savior complex who is willing to commit mass murder in order to fulfill his vision of hope for humanity.
Excellent, excellent show, except for one thing: the last five minutes. I knew M. Night Shyamalan was going to do something like this. He always has to put in some sort of twist at the end, but this time the twist did not work. Shyamalan made us freak out with the Sixth Sense (great movie) and took us by surprise with Unbreakable(another goodie). He gave us a sense of “we’re not alone” with Signs (another good one), but after that, he’s been failing at creating something great. It started with Lady in the Water, though I will admit that I liked that movie because it was a straightforward story. The Village, was bad, well, the open-ended ending ruined it, leaving too many questions. And let’s not forget The Happening and how stupid its premise was: plants forcing people to kill themselves. Seriously?
With Wayward Pines, I thought, “Yes! He’s back in the game!” The build-up of mystery and suspense and intrigue were all there and the actors delivered, except I did not like Ben’s character at all. The epic battle in the last episode as the Abbies had overrun the town and Pilzer goes on about starting over, doing it right, and how his ideas will live on—it was fantastic! Pam shooting him, her own brother, because she saw the monster he had become. I had hated her character in the beginning, but by this time I cheered for her and sympathized with her.
Matt Dillion played out his last scene with perfection, sacrificing himself so as to ensure the survival of his family and the townspeople. I had hoped that the writers would make it where he lived; he could have climbed up the elevator shaft, set the bombs, and dropped them down the shaft, but I wasn’t surprised that they killed off his character this way. It had become obvious midseason that this would happen, but I wasn’t angry about it. I thought that, at least, Wayward Pines would survive and people would know the truth—there is hope!
Then came the last five minutes. Ben wakes up in the hospital with an older Amy as a nurse watching over him. She tells him to keep his mouth shut because “They are watching.” Ben grabs his clothes and rushes out of the hospital, just like Ethan had in the first episode, and wanders down main street to find that Wayward Pines never changed, but is worse than before. The town is controlled by the first generation kids (a Children of the Corn type scenario), led by Jason, who is more fanatical than Pilzer ever was, with bodies hanging from the trees with signs that read, “No one leaves.” As Ben comprehends the gravity of the situation, and that all that death, and his father’s sacrifice, was all for nothing, a carousel runs in the background with a man, his wife, and child in front of it, playing cemetery music, or a depressing tune, and a statue of Pilzer in the city’s center, like he is some sort of savior.
I’m left thinking, “WTMF!” All of that fighting for survival and freedom was for nothing!
This is a time where I think Shyamalan should have left out the twist ending. It ruined a great series. All you get from this ending is that no matter what you do to be free and survive, to save the ones you love, it doesn’t matter in the end because the crazy psychopaths of the world will win. Very, very depressing.
Not to mention the questions we’re left with.
1. How did Jason and his number than dog poop friend, numbering about 10, take over an entire town of a couple hundred, not to mention the amount of people that Pam and Kate were going to wake up and tell the truth to? Did those who were woken up just off themselves when they learned the truth? A little hard to believe that they all would. Did Pilzer give his fanatical followers guns in that bunker and they went all Rambo on the rest of the town? How is it these kids are in charge (Children of the Corn) town?
2. How did Jason survive? Honestly. He was shot in the back and left bleeding for hours, maybe even a day, and somehow he is able to save the first generation, survive his wound, and lead some sort of revolution against the adults of the town. Again, Children of the Corn, on steroids.
3. What happened in the last three years between the Abbie attack and Ben waking up?
4.When Ben wakes up, after his dad died he gets hit in the head and is knocked unconscious, Amy tells him that he has been in stasis for three years and that everyone still blames him and his father for the Abbie attack. She also informs him that she had to beg them to wake him up. Well, if those in charge do not trust Ben, and blame—loathe—his father, why would they wake him up? Why didn’t they just kill him when they first took over the town? Wouldn’t waking him up start this whole fiasco all over again? And what happened to his mother?
Personally, I think they should have ended the episode with Pam and Kate talking about waking the others and telling them the truth and you’re watching it through one of the cameras. It still leaves you with that uncertainty of the future, but a semblance of hope. They could have even ended it with the townspeople walking out into the streets and starting to clean up the aftermath. It still leaves you with that uncertainty, but that maybe the best parts of humanity will survive. But to end it with Ben waking up in the same manner his father did and learning that not only has nothing changed, but that it is worse than before is BS and unsatisfying for the viewer, who just wasted 10 hours watching the sow.
This is a case where the twist ending does not work. Shyamalan likes to put them in, and I think he put this one in just to have that “twist” that he is known for, but it is more like a punch in the stomach to those who watched the show. He also is teasing a possible second season to a series that was billed as a mini-series, meaning that it was supposed to have a final ending. I don’t know if a second season will be worth it. Right now, it looks as though season two would just be a rehash of season one. Also, I don’t think Ben’s character, and consequently the actor, can carry the show. Matt Dillion as Ethan Burke made the series. He carried it. You care about him and those he cared about, but Ben’s character was always wishy-washy. He gets used by his teacher, who passed on her craziness to the first generation. His character is so blah. How is he supposed to pick up where Ethan Burke left off?
But, enough of my rant. I am just angry that Wayward Pines ended the way it did. I loved every episode and had high hopes for the show, but the last few minutes ruined it all. So, I am going to pretend that it never happened and make up my own ending.
Thanks a lot, Shyamalan; you ruined another one for me.