Hated It Or Loved It? The Polarizing Finale Of Wayward Pines

Photo: Courtesy Of FOX
Photo: Courtesy Of FOX

Warning: Spoiler Alert

 The FOX Network concluded their ten-part miniseries “Wayward Pines,” with an episode that’s kept social-media-sites buzzing, over the last few days. The finale divided fans of the series into two camps, those who think the show ended on a brilliant note, while others simply hated it. During the last few minutes of the finale, the show-runners pulled a “bait and switch” maneuver, altering the optimistic ending that got set-up during the hour, to a much darker conclusion. While many viewers enjoyed the twist in the final minutes, many fans got confused or disgusted with the ending.

Although I’ve yet to read any of the Wayward Pines trilogy of novels, written by author Blake Crouch, I’m aware that the miniseries ended differently than the first novel did. I’m also aware that a plot-device used in the TV show “The First Generation Of Wayward Pines,” wasn’t utilized in Crouch’s books. The fact that the mini-series used the youngsters prominently and they figured into the conclusion, has many friends of mine that read the novels, besides themselves in consternation. We’ve seen Hollywood reconfigure some incredible novels, into films that were barely recognizable to the book’s fans for decades. So we’re going to leave that subject alone, in this article and just deal with the perspective of fans who didn’t read the books.

The series and its final episode are recapped elsewhere on this site, so we’re going to concentrate on just the final scenes of Thursday’s finale. The creator of Wayward Pines, David Pilcher got shot to death by his disillusioned sister Pam, earlier in the evening. The show’s protagonist, former Secret Service Agent turned Wayward Pines Sheriff Ethan Burke, sacrificed his life to save the rest of the residents. Burke connected four bombs to a detonator and when the Abbies began to attack the elevator car he rode in, he blew them and himself up. The elevator exploded into a ball of flame and then dropped like a stone to the bottom of the shaft.

Hearing the explosion, Ethan’s son Ben stuck his head inside the shaft, looking and calling for his father. However, his search didn’t last long as a piece of debris hit him in the head and knocked him out cold.

A while later, things have calmed down in Wayward Pines, as the power’s restored, the people are safe and they’ve had a chance to catch their collective breath. Pam and Kate Balinger, Ethan’s former partner in the Secret Service, knock down all the barriers that have come between them for the last 12-years and level with each other. We see a pact formed between the two women, to help run the town and end all the secrets and lies that David insisted on using. Things appear to be taking an optimistic turn as the women attempt to put humanity in the year 4028, back on the right path. Then the screen goes blank for a few seconds, something doesn’t feel right, it seems unfinished. We soon find out that’s indeed the case.

When the picture returns we hear a female voice asking how are you feeling Mr. Burke? Ben’s in a hospital bed and Amy’s wearing a nurse’s uniform, he asks what’s going on and Amy says his doctor will be there shortly and explain everything. Ben asks her why she’s dressed like that and she replies she’s a nurse and graduated two weeks ago.

Ben soon finds out he’s been in suspension for the last three-years and four-months, along with all the adults from Group B. The First Generation Of Wayward Pines, overpowered the adults and after putting them all back to sleep, took over operation of the town. The fear and ignorance are back in full force, emphasized by corpses hanging on light-poles on Main Street, one having a sign around his neck reading “Do Not Try To Leave.”

Judging by the posts I’ve encountered on Social-Media-Sites, a sizable portion of the viewers were confused by the ending. They failed to realize that Pam, Kate, Theresa Burke and the rest of the adults from Wayward Pines, were back in their cryogenic tubes in suspended animation. Many also failed to grasp that the dozens of students that rode out the storm in the supply room of Wayward Pines Academy, had taken control of the town and running it just as the man they refer to as their Savior, David Pilcher kept things in order.

Another segment of the audience, believes that the last-minute twist was the perfect conclusion for the miniseries. Many felt that an optimistic ending, with all holding hands and singing “Kumbaya,” would have felt false and forced. This was after all the story of a psychotic genius, who kidnapped hundreds of people over a 15-year period, ripping them away from their lives and loved ones, so that Pilcher could restore humanity in the distant future. The optimistic conversation between Pam and Kate, was in fact just a mirage. A momentary feeling that they could reshape their society.

The last segment of the audience, simply hated the conclusion. They didn’t like the fact that Ethan Burke died and got more upset when they realized his death was in vain. The open and free society, that Burke envisioned never came about and in fact many folks got punished just for learning the truth. They didn’t play an active role into finding out what their circumstances were, but just by getting informed they got put back in suspension.

There were some published reports last week emanating from Internet-Based TV Sites that FOX had decided against bringing back Wayward Pines for a second season. However as of this writing, the network’s been mum on the series fate and no mainstream publication such as Entertainment Weekly, or USA Today have gone with the story running on the Internet sites. So as far as this writer’s concerned, the decision whether to bring back Wayward Pines next summer’s a 50/50 proposition and the controversy over the finale, helps the chances of FOX renewing the show.

As far as this writer’s opinion on the finale, it was far from being a satisfying episode. Had we flashed ahead and witnessed a teary-eyed Theresa, Ben and Amy at the dedication of a statue to the town’s hero Ethan Burke, for sacrificing his life to save Wayward Pines and all the residents were happy, that would have been a true “warm-and-fuzzy” moment. But the “bait and switch” conclusion, may have been the best fit. It was a dark-ending for a dark-series and 48-hours after being broadcast on the East Coast it’s still causing a buzz.

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