Last night’s Wayward Pines season finale brought an ambiguous end to a show that’s had a bumpy ride in its second season. It was an obvious set-up for the rumored (but not announced) third and final season, but the show would actually be much better off letting “Bedtime Story” double as the series finale.
Explaining why takes, well, a bit of explaining. First and foremost is that, as we mentioned at the midpoint, there wasn’t much tension without a central mystery or a big reveal. Instead, the show spent most of its time ticking off reasons why humanity would be better off extinct.
That is a very depressing thing to do, and didn’t always make watching the second season of Wayward Pines a particularly enjoyable activity. But it also made the show quite a bit smarter. Instead of Matt Dillon’s Ethan playing post-apocalyptic detective (which was fun), we got Jason Patric’s Theo watching ruefully as everyone around him made terrible decisions that nudged our species closer to doom (which was thought-provoking, to say the least). Every time he made any progress—as with his attempts to communicate with “Margaret,” the ominously observant abbie that allowed herself to be captured—someone, usually the town’s woefully ill-suited leader Jason, would stomp all over it.
Even more poignantly, we saw how Djimon Hounsou’s character, CJ—who volunteered to help with David Pilcher’s grand plan after the death of his wife—was tasked with awakening every few decades to keep an eye on things. He observed the slow end of humanity over 2,000 years, so he’s known loss, more than anyone else (“Was it a mistake?” he wonders somewhere along the way). As Wayward Pines declines, he’s feeling it once again.
And, of course, the abbies were revealed to be way more complex than last season had us believe. They aren’t just drooling savages—they have a reason to hate Wayward Pines, since its construction displaced their own settlement, and cost many abbie lives. They have the ability to organize and communicate. And they don’t fight among themselves over stupid shit when there’s a far more urgent issue at hand, like humans do.
By the final episode, the situation in Wayward Pines couldn’t get more dire. Food and medical supplies are dangerously low. The obsession with repopulation means that half the town’s 12-year-old girls are knocked up, whether they want to be or not—by boys who are often forced into it (too bad if you’re gay, or don’t want to be a parent while you’re still in junior high). The idiots in charge choose violence over reason, every time. And the abbie army is huge, pissed-off, and not about to be held back by Pilcher’s stupid fence.
The only solution, other than to let nature take its course, is to seal everyone back inside all of the available pods (with some unfortunates left behind, thanks to Jason’s selection process), lock down the mountain, and wait it out. An oddly calm Kerry—who finds out that Jason was her son all along (ewww) after killing him in self-defense—steals Theo’s plan to be a walking disease bomb and sacrifices herself in the hopes of killing off the abbies with bubonic plague or worse.
But there’s no flash-forward to Wayward Pines’ next awakening in “Bedtime Story.” We don’t even get the payoff of seeing the abbies attack. Instead, we end with humanity frantically starting the hibernation process, and then ... a shot of abbies in the woods, nursing babies, living life, being peaceful.
Right there is where Wayward Pines should end. A third season would just be more bullshit infighting and trying to rebuild a town/rejuvenate a species that has clearly overstayed its time on the planet. Plus, not spelling out the final ending is way more satisfying than any alternative the show could dream up. This way, viewers can imagine for themselves what happens next. Personally, I’m hoping Margaret broke into the lab and figured out a cure for the plague, then found a way to cut off the power supply to all the pods. The end, forever.