A man wakes up and enters a strange town. He witnesses strange occurrences. He’s told strange things. Oh for the love of Pilcher, where are we? What is this place? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!
Just kidding! We already know, because season 1 of the show formerly known as an event series revealed all. But, to recap: This is Wayward Pines, home to the only surviving humans on planet Earth, which has been taken over by devolved, vicious aberrations of humans (adorably?) nicknamed “Abbies.” And thanks to Ben’s opening voice-over, we’re all caught up on where things stand with this season: It’s the year 4032, the fascist First Generation ultimately took control of everyone’s favorite Idaho town, and Ethan (Matt Dillon) died for nothing in the end.
Not that we begin in Wayward Pines right away. Instead, we open on a man swimming on a beach, who’s apparently on vacation with his wife. In a series of flashbacks throughout the hour, we see how the two of them are on the rocks: She accuses him of micromanaging, but he, Theo, refuses to acknowledge any passive aggression. They don’t resolve anything, and the man leaves for the hotel bar, where he winds up downing several drinks with Lucious Lyon Arnold Pope, who — surprise, surprise — gets him drunk enough to be kidnapped and recruited into the Wayward Pines project. Thanks, Terrence Howard!
Centuries later, Theo awakens from suspended animation — thanks, First Generation! — thinking he’s having the worst hangover of his life. The reality’s even worse: He’s stuffed inside a car and driven through the streets of Wayward Pines, which now has a curfew, so he can put his medical skills to use. Theo, suspicious of the entire evening, dives out of the car and runs away to a neighborhood where he talks his way into a couple’s home and uses their phone to dial 911. Spooked by the explosion behind him (a resistance member named Xander used a grenade on Theo’s First Generation escorts), Theo rushes away from the house and down the street to the woods, where he ends up tripping and landing facedown among a pile of bullet casings. Oh, yeah — Theo’s not in Hawaii anymore. (I’m assuming they were in Hawaii. Sorry. It’s not like I can go through Blake Crouch’s trilogy to double check stuff on Theo.)
Picked back up by his First Generation escorts, Theo gets introduced to Jason (a.k.a. the teen who executed Harold Ballinger in season 1, a.k.a. Head Douche), who now leads the fascist government controlling Wayward Pines. Jason lies outright about what’s going on: “This town is part of a secret government study determining the psychological effects on war trauma.” Because their last physician died, Theo’s been brought on board to save the life of an “important” patient. It’s hard to read whether Theo buys any of this, but seeing no option, he agrees and voilà! The doctor is in.
Turns out, the patient is Miss Kate Ballinger, née Hewson, the season 1 heroine who ran a toy shop by day and helped the resistance by night. Theo operates as young medical students watch, and when he finishes, he receives his small bag of personal effects (swim trunks, flip flops, and ah, there’s his wedding ring!). As he walks through the immensely creepy halls of the hospital, he glimpses Arlene (saucy receptionist to the sheriff, remember?) receiving some form of painful treatment. Could it be torture?
Meanwhile, Jason and Kerry — the woman who introduced Theo to Wayward Pines — note that they’ve cleared four more rebel houses and lost two more lives. Jason broods and wonders out loud where Ben is. Come on, we know where Ben is: He’s doing voice-overs recapping what happened last season on Wayward Pines!
Okay, so no, Ben is leading the rebellion just on the fringe of town, and thanks to the downed surveillance system, Jason can’t track them. Xander, who we last saw tossing a grenade at the First Generation and then greeting Jason and Kerry warmly at First Generation HQ, now returns to Ben reporting that they’ll have to take down the system from the inside. He mentions that in the morning, he’ll have to go back to working for their enemy — but at this point, should we trust that Xander is a double agent loyal to the rebellion? He’s played by Josh Helman (as in, the actor who plays young Stryker in the X-Men films and played the creepy brother in Flesh and Bone), so I’m not sure if I’m willing to believe Xander’s a straightforward good guy.
Theo isn’t sure what to believe either. Later, Kerry brings him to see a recovered Kate, who knowingly smiles at his confusion and tells him he belongs in Group C, the latest batch of awakened residents. She guesses the lie Jason told him, and as unsettled as Theo is at Kate’s words (and at the fact that she’s handcuffed to her bed), Theo takes Kerry at her word when she says he’ll be reunited with his wife, Rebecca, soon at the hotel, so he takes off in a taxi with a driver who prattles on about the preservation of our species. You know, normal chitchat material.
But, seriously, how is Theo not completely freaking out yet? Maybe he’s stronger than he seems — and hopefully stronger than Jason, who’s beginning to show the strain of running humanity’s last refuge. Jason visits Kate, hoping she’ll tell him where Ben is, but she easily talks him down. “Things change, Jason, they evolve,” she warns. “You haven’t evolved at all. All you’ve been taught is how to control, and you can’t.”
NEXT: A bloody welcome to town