You’ve just seen episode 3, “Our Town, Our Law.” Now you’re really terrified. How many people are we going to kill around here? Juliette Lewis is gone and now Terrence Howard?
If we hadn’t killed Sheriff Pope, there would be no Empire.
True. We shot Wayward Pines before Empire started shooting, and if we hadn’t killed Sheriff Pope, Terrence Howard wouldn’t have been available to play Lucious Lyon. See? Everybody wins. I love that we all got to see the immensely talented Mr. Howard play two magnetic and completely different roles this season. But let me tell you something:
Terrence sang in our show, too. In this episode. You didn’t see it because it didn’t make it into the cut. Because it wasn’t in the script. But remember the first scene on Main Street when Sheriff Pope leads the entire town in the recitation of the rules? “Work hard, be happy, enjoy your life in Wayward Pines…” Well, when shooting got late that night and we were on take 7, Terrence started improvising his own town “song.” It was a spiritual chant like:
Be happy for Wayward Pines…
Something like that. Slow, hymnal. Up on the reckoning platform, Terrence just started singing as part of the scene. The director (Zal Batmanglij) encouraged the extras to sing back in a sort of call-and-response. And they did. It was quite astounding and oddly bewitching. It made me think about group behavior and how humans can so quickly adapt to a new situation, a new set of rules, a new paradigm, especially when it’s a shared experience.
Which is a big key to what’s going on here in our town of Wayward Pines. The real residents of Wayward Pines have adapted, in varying degrees, to a new set of rules. As psycho as it all is, they’ve learned to answer the phone when it rings, to not discuss their lives before, etc. Why would they go along with the rules of this insane town? Survival, clearly. The punishment for not following the rules here is public execution. But maybe there’s more to it than that. Maybe there’s something good about Wayward Pines. Okay, I can’t talk about that anymore or I’ll tell you too much.
In a town with a wall surrounding it, this episode is really about breaking down walls. Think about Ethan (Matt Dillon) and Kate (Carla Gugino). Up until now, Ethan hadn’t been able to get a straight answer from his ex-partner. In this episode, in a private conversation in the woods, Kate finally reveals her legitimate point-of-view. Her true self. Her harsh warning.
Think about Ethan’s family. Ethan was having an affair, yet his wife, Theresa (Shannyn Sossamon), and son, Ben (Charlie Tahan), set out to find him because they love him. And because they hate him. And when they find Ethan in Wayward Pines, he’s with Kate, the same woman he was having an affair with. Yet at the end of the episode, the family is bonded in a new and very intense way after they kill Sheriff Pope. Now they have their own secret.
And think about the wall between you and the show. In this episode we broke down a wall because we showed you a big truth. The warehouse Ethan finds as a result of his stowaway truck ride is part of the truth of Wayward Pines. We’re clearly not telling you exactly what it is yet, but you can tell it’s different from the town itself. I’ve mentioned the name Curt Beech before, but I will always invoke his name in moments like this. Curt is our production designer who meticulously designed the look of our world. If the town of Wayward Pines is Look #1 and Seattle is Look #2, this “warehouse” is Look #3. I love Curt’s use of orange in the palette. You’ll never see this color in the rest of Wayward Pines.
The director of this episode is a wildly talented man named Zal Batmanglij. Credit goes to Carla Gugino for introducing me to his work. When she boarded the project, Carla told me to check out a new film she’d just seen called The East. She thought the director, Zal, might be an exciting get for Wayward Pines. I obviously loved The East. So did my producing partners. The film is thrilling and strange and emotional and terrifying. It’s different from Wayward Pines, but not so different. It’s also about a group of people subscribed to a bizarre set of rules. Zal confidently embraced the beautiful craziness of Wayward Pines and brought this episode to such strong life.
My favorite scene in this episode? When Sheriff Pope is eating ice cream out of the freezer, terrorizing Theresa in her kitchen. Zal shot this scene with a very keen eye. Notice how we’re never in a close-up on Terrence. The distance is what makes you feel uncomfortable because you’re never sure what he’ll do. Shannyn Sossamon is his match, a sublime mixture of confidence and terror.
But perhaps the scariest part of this episode is when Ethan’s son, Ben, realizes there is no Wi-Fi anywhere in Wayward Pines. No Facebook. No Instagram. No Twitter. Nightmare.
But you can find me on Twitter @chad_hodge.