(THE FOLLOWING RECAP CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE WAYWARD PINES EPISODE "ONCE UPON A TIME IN WAYWARD PINES")
Previously on Wayward Pines ... the citizens picked some crops, Rebecca Yedlin might've built some shops, and poor Ben Burke shouldn't have messed with the cops. RIP, buddy.
Now on Wayward Pines ... Nurse Pam returns, and she has a plan! Is it a good plan or a rambly, incoherent Cylon plan? Only one way to find out!
- All the children of Wayward Pines spent at least some years living in the world that was. But not Jason Higgins. He was the first baby to only know the world as it is in Wayward Pines. And that makes him special. David Pilcher imagined a time when Jason would lead the people of Wayward Pines, so that meant Pam Pilcher spent a lot of time raising David. That also meant that Jason felt alienated from all the other boys and girls. Being special meant being alone, even in a crowd. All Jason ever had was Pam. And Megan Fisher, of course, who never trusted Pam. So, when Nurse Pam killed her brother David last season, Jason decided to exile Pam to a house on the outskirts of town, never to be seen again. And now Megan is Jason's creepy surrogate instead.
- Never mind, Pam's back LOL. Jason discovers she and Mario waiting for him downstairs in his house in the middle of the night. Totally normal behavior. But with the abbies seemingly gone and Jason feeling a lot of conflict over his responsibility in Ben's death, he decides now is the right time to bring Pam back into the fold. Together, Jason and Pam will lead the people of Wayward Pines out of the town so they can expand the human race further outward. I mean, unless Pam has ulterior motives, but who would think that, right?
- Theo Yedlin, that's who. And Megan Fisher, obviously, who basically doesn't trust anyone who isn't Jason or pregnant. Man, imagine if Jason could get pregnant. Anyway, Theo follows Pam around when she goes back to working at the hospital. Looks like she' stealing needles. Then Pam almost gets caught by Megan while stealing a mysterious vial from Wayward Pines' creepy abbie basement. Pam still gets away with the mystery vial. What could it be?
- Smallpox. It's smallpox. Pam injects herself with it and then turns up to a big meeting to decide the future of Wayward Pines and gives Jason a super-creepy kiss on the mouth. Who does that? Dr. Theo Yedlin MD must've also felt a gross disturbance in the Force, because he immediately turns up to reveal that Pam is maybe sorta kinda trying to kill everyone with a smallpox epidemic. But that can't be true, because that would be crazy.
- It's totally true. Pam's kinda crazy. But, good(?) news, turns out the pox didn't incubate in her long enough to infect Jason. However, it does turn out that Pam has secretly been Jason's bio mom all along and that some part of her always believed that he would grow up to realize that the human race doesn't deserve to go on and wipe out all of Wayward Pines. But isn't that every mother's dream?
- Jason strangles Pam to death and begins plans to expand his citizens out of Wayward Pines. But isn't that every mother's dream?
So, basically the writers of Wayward Pines wisely realized that Melissa Leo turned in the best performances they had last season as Nurse Pam and decided, if she's only around for one more episode, it's probably a good idea to focus the whole plot around her. It works, mostly.
- Melissa Leo is so magnetic, I would watch a whole show about just her, frankly. But that's part of what happens when you cut your teeth on acting doing soaps. Years of All My Children meant honing all the basics (knowing your lines, hitting your mark, nailing everything in a single take when needs be), so that there's more time to focus on all the subtleties of a great TV performance. And Pam Pilcher is, no doubt, the best character Wayward Pines has had so far. She's so conflicted between being the one that built Wayward Pines and knowing that the whole endeavor probably shouldn't have happened in the first place. Having to kill her brother in order to keep a human race surviving when she's not sure they should? It's meaty stuff, and Melissa Leo really knows how to work it for all it's worth.
- Jason Higgins is sympathy for the Devil personified. He is most definitely not a good guy, but then again he was basically bred to be a dictator, so what do you expect? And that this entire episode is dedicated to how alienating his upbringing was and how estranged he is from the woman who raised him seals his fate as a truly tragic figure. Just like I believe Pam when she says she thinks that death is the only path for Wayward Pines, I also believe that Jason's only visible path is absolutism no matter the cost. Of course he kills his own mother -- he was raised to believe that nothing can ever get in his way of rebuilding the human race in David Pilcher's twisted vision.
- Although Rebecca still isn't in the episode much, I'm still enjoying that everyone seems to know her true involvement in the town other than Theo and we, the audience. I look forward to seeing her story slowly unravel itself.
- Megan Fisher and her pregnant Hitler youth are still as distburing as ever. I kinda like it.
- The most obvious problem I think the show has right now is Theo Yedlin. His motivations are so strange to me. He seems to just arbitrarily pull decisions out of a hat. Why take the job as head of medicine? Why follow Pam around? Why save Jason when Theo seems to distrust him completely? Theo is simultaneously uneven and bland. Without him, the show's a series of decentralized narratives, but with him the entire proceeding is dragged into monotony.
- And, as an inverse to Gotham, that's the problem with a lot of the male characters on the show -- Theo, CJ, Mario...I'm not sure I understand who they are or why they are. Even Ben prior to his death was confounding in his mission of rebellion. What was that rebellion meant to accomplish?
- The problem I'm not sure is a problem yet, though, is I'm not sure I like any of these characters. Some of them are intriguing, but none of them are people I would want to grab a beer with. I'm not coming in after a game of ultimate frisbee to joke about purple stuff before sharing a cold glass of Sunny D with any of the denizens of Wayward Pines, ya know? They're all just way too intense, grim, and at times deranged. But maybe that's what works about the show -- everyone's crazy. And speaking of crazy...
- I continue to be gratified that Arlene is still part of the show. Siobhan Fallon Hogan just has such a wacky way with her line delivery. At one point, she tries to get Theo to come out for a drink with her (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, know what I mean), and when Yedlin flashes his wedding band, Arlene says, "What happens in Wayward Pines, stays in Wayward Pines". That is maybe the most hilarious way of describing the end of days ever. I had to pause the episode for a minute to absorb how ridiculous Arlene is. And that's good. Without Arlene, this show would be mighty depressing.
- So, apparently, clapping is not a thing in Wayward Pines? When Pam is allowed back into the community, there's a town square rally to welcome her and everyone pounds their fists with their palms. I guess regular type clapping just isn't menacing enough for the citizenry of Wayward Pines.
- Occasionally, CJ randomly shows up as if to remind us that, yes, Djimon Hounsou definitely was nominated for an Academy Award and is definitely still on this show for some reason. Maybe he'll have a plot next week? In your own time, Wayward Pines...
And that's all. Sad to see Nurse Pam go, but at least she got an emotionally powerful exit.