So we’re adding to the content of our podcast presence online with reviews, articles and online content. To start with, I’m going to serenade our audience with a review of the last episode of Wayward Pines: Bedtime Stories. This was the second season finale. I comment on the climax of the season and the spirit of the show.
I view many series on Netflix I normally wouldn’t watch. I get bored and look for stuff to listen to while I work. I’d heard a few details about Wayward Pines, realized I had missed the whole wacky Twin Peaks craze, so I decided to give it a go. I mildly enjoyed the early episodes, expecting some sort of dramatic reveal. Were they inside a computer virtual reality? Was this all in his head? Another planet? By the episode with the varying aging, I realized because of the changes in aging, suspended animation was involved—and the rest of the show blossomed before me in a satisfying and disappointing array of self-congratulation. Yeah. I was a smart author.
Night is a local boy from my neck of Penn’s Woods, so I give him a little leeway; however, I do feel he can be too obvious like he’s telling stories for the little boy he was and doesn’t consider how much plot has evolved since the days of Twilight Zone. He got lucky with The Sixth Sense because no one had yet connected his name to the Twist. Now, like the song, it’s round and round and round and round again.
So great. They’re all in the future.
Still, the writing wasn’t bad, and what a tremendous character played by Toby Jones as Doc Freddie Pilcher—the megalomaniac with a savior complex who dances on the nadir between good and evil, as is so very human. I love seeing Jones, even relate to him (my friends would shudder if they heard me say that) and of course if Shammy had known that they were getting a season two, they probably would not have had him killed by sister-cide. (Still, don’t ask me how killing him turned the power to the fence back on. I don’t know why she couldn’t have held the gun and typed on his keyboard.)
So I binged it right before the 2nd season started, and I was mildly interested, after seeing the town in the hands of the SA. (Yes. Again, Shammy is indulging in childhood images of Nazis without any real imagination in his own creation. I mean, they even had the brown suits, jackboots and bundt meetings!)
Wayward Pines . . . uber alles. . .
But his writers do play the frustration well. As each episode of the limited season plays, leading the last tribe of humanity closer and closer to annihilation, you wouldn’t mind seeing the whole sleepy town burn down just to see that idiot-kid Jason end up in a ditch with Eva while the Russians bomb the Reichstag. I don’t suffer fools well, and neither did our hero, Dr. Yedlin, surgeon of Boston. Of course, Jason’s mate and mother assassinate him—at the same time. Ouch! I’m so glad Yedlin violated his medical ethics, letting him die in surgery, becoming just as villainous as Jason so our young dictator wouldn’t have to pay the therapy bills. All would now be well and good, except those pesky Abbies are marshalling their forces at the wall to take back their land and avenge the death of their tribe. Hell hath no fury . . . So no food. Crops won’t grow. A bunch of Hitler youth in charge. All their medicine spent. They decide to go back to sleep and look at things fresh in the morning—a couple of centuries later.
So I waited for this episode all week, waiting to see the big finale. I kept thinking: I can’t wait to see them do something unexpected. What’s going to happen we can’t foresee? How will Ol’Doc Yedlin save the +400 or residents whom he can’t put into stasis. Will he find a way to bridge the gap between humans and their great-great-great-great-great-great … grandchildren
This episode, Bedtime Stories, took a surprising turn beyond anything I could have foreseen. The writers decided not to do a damn thing to change the course of events, just let the entire plan unfold as it was designed in previous episodes. I couldn’t have predicted that predictability, but I should have known better as it’s a central theme to the show.
The biggest disappointment was the broken morality of Doctor Yedlin. He did nothing to save the +400 even when he had the chance. Yes. It was Jason’s selection plan, weeding out the weak and undesirables, but Yedlin does nothing to upset it when they come for the townspeople in trucks—this time reversing the old SS routine by leaving residents to die, not taking them away to machines. It was all the late Jason’s plan, so in an act of complete cowardice, Yedlin decides not to interfere, saving him from the responsibility. It’s was all the dead kid’s fault, so his ego as the good gunslinger was still intact. Of course, he does save a few people close to him with his new found power before he fulfills his plan of genocide, thus deciding a little who lived and who died.
I thought the Nazi was dead..?
One of the positive points of the show is the use of themes threaded through the plot structure. We were first opened up to the possibility of biological warfare when Pilcher’s sister tried to kill the town by infecting herself with small pox. This made for good foreshadowing for Yedlin’s final solution to the abbie problem. (See what I mean about the hero-problem? There are no heroes on Wayward Pines, which is why my wife dislikes it so much.) Yedlin in a final blaze of glory injects himself with a triple cocktail of lethal diseases that Pilcher kept in his medicine cabinet and plans to offer himself as an hors d’oeuvres to the Abbie Nation, though he might have tried offering the native population infected blankets. This, in his flawed medical wisdom, would wipe out the abbies and given the future generation of Piners a chance, which again is compete bullocks since these diseases didn’t exterminate a primitive human race. Then enters Kerry, mom-mate to the late Jason. She’s learned of what Yedlin plans and decides she should be the one who sacrifices herself. She’s had enough of second chances, and when last we see her, she’s stepping through the fence riding an opiate cloud.
In a final and rushed moment of choice, CJ is confronted with the impulse to shut down the sleeping population in the pods, but he decides there is hope because of a dead woman. He struggled with the god-like choice for about two seconds as a quick kick to the spiritual arc of the show.
And don’t forget that terribly awkward montage of about three people in the town protesting when they realized they had been left behind to a version of I Won’t Back Down (Tom Petty) sung by Johnny Cash. We never see the rioters, just hearing the couple of poor interns yelling from the side and the sound of broken glass. Phil and I put more effort into our sound effects on the podcast.
This is what I take from the final episode:
Night is a nihilist. Everyone goes bad in this show, and they’ve lost all chance of redemption. Even our heroes fail us, acting in weakness. In the end, Yedlin chooses his race over the abbies, deciding only one can survive. Hey! I’m a student of human history, and I’m depressed enough after studying our long history of war and immorality. I don’t need it on my television, too. I watched this show to see good triumph over evil, for the better angels of our nature to rise. Why couldn’t Yedlin find a way to reach out to the abbies and create a bridge? They certainly spent enough time establishing they can communicate. And why did the ground suddenly regain its fertility? Here I was thinking I was so smart because I theorized that the abbies had some kind of connection to the fertility of the land, that the earth had corrected the destructive nature of humans by bringing them closer to her womb. Nope. Hey look. Brief seen of a bean plant growing for no reason or explanation. In writing, we call that Duex Ex Machina. I’ve met 6th grade authors that know how to plot better. I am so disappointed.
I’ll watch season 3. The concept is rich enough to provide potential and possibilities to any author lucky enough to write for it. I wonder if I’d feel differently if I read the books; of course, we always say that.
So on Wayward Pines race comes first. There can be no living together or tolerance of those different from you. All leaders become fascists. And if there was a god judging humanity, no wonder she pulled the plug. The town is meant to be a microcosm of human nature, a Petri dish, and the results are in. Humans aren’t worth saving. If anything, the abbies give me hope.
My wife wanted to watch Doctor Who instead. As soon as I get my head out of the oven, I’ll go watch to give me hope. Always listen to my wife. If the network decides to do Season 3, please, a little more faith in people
I’ll see you on the mountain.