With only three episodes to go, “The Friendliest Place on Earth” turns the screws ever-tighter. Kate reveals her true nature; Mrs. Fisher digs her claws deeper into Ben; Ethan and Theresa come to a new understanding; and Pilcher panics when he realizes his utopia is on the verge of collapse (again).
After last week’s delivery-truck bomb blast, Ethan is rushing Ben and Amy to the hospital—fortunately, as we see, it’s actually got a bigger staff than just Nurse Pam and her candy stripers. Though Ethan does have the presence of mind to wonder, “Is this guy a real doctor?”, since nobody in Wayward Pines ends up doing the job they had before, Pam assures him the ER is legit. (After all, children are the town’s most precious resource.)
A horrified David Pilcher, a.k.a. Dr. Jenkins, bursts in, and Pam tries to calm him. He tells her to put out a special edition of the newspaper, which probably hasn’t had a new issue since Sheriff Pope “retired,” explaining the explosion away as a gas leak. Pam agrees, but she’s also pushing for another, grander gesture: a celebration of life in Wayward Pines, to remind everyone how blessed they are. Sure, that’ll work?
In jail, Kate flashes back to an eerie scene. Based on her short hair, it’s from when she first arrived in Wayward Pines: she’s in a padded room, raving to Dr. Jenkins about wanting to escape the “Potemkin village” she’s trapped in, as Pam swoops in with a giant syringe filled with sedatives. Meanwhile, Jenkins/Pilcher/Overlord is looking mighty worried at the gossip that’s tearing through town, as the coffee shop patrons openly dispute the “gas leak” explanation. The phone rings, and Ruby, proprietor of the Excellent Bean, lets everyone know that the town will be hosting a “Fellowship Gathering.” Mandatory attendance. Ruby’s nervous. Though we haven’t seen her engaging in rebel activities, her name came up earlier among the group, and Pilcher notices she has pine needles in her hair.
Pilcher hustles back to HQ to have a look at Ruby’s pre-work activities, and discovers her tracking chip readings are inaccurate. Obviously, she’s taken it out, and she’s not the only one. Pilcher’s now paranoid that the people, his people, who are manning the security cameras are in league with the insurgents, and are failing to report when they break the rules. He tells Pam to make sure everyone is still on their side, so she sets out to carefully grill each person working the surveillance detail. Most of them are 100 percent with the plan, but there’s one man, Reggie, who admits to blurring out certain details when people get frightened or confused about Wayward Pines. “It’s just human nature to ask questions,” he says. Pam cries and agrees. She knows he’s right. And though David is listening in, she goes back and tells him it must’ve been a “software glitch” to let the rebel activities go undetected. Nobody in surveillance was breaking any rules, she says. He smiles, but he knows she’s not telling the truth.
Speaking of rebels, several of ‘em, including Harold, are still off the grid and hiding in the woods. Ethan asks Kate, stewing behind bars, if she knows anything. (One thing she definitely doesn’t know: that Ben was injured in the ill-timed blast, and she seems genuinely shocked by that news.) So many issues here could be solved by Ethan taking an hour or so to show Kate the reality of the abbies, the control center, etc., but apparently there’s no time for that. NO TIME. “You have really good instincts, Ethan, but when push comes to shove, you will always follow orders,” she says. “These people want to be free, and I owe them that chance.”
In the forest, one man succumbs to his injuries from the blast. (We also learn that Ted, the delivery driver, died at the hospital.) Harold’s ready to dig his fallen comrade a grave right there, but the other man who’s with him insists the burial be done “in free soil,” on the other side of the fence. Uh-oh.
In the hospital, Ben blinks his eyes open, to Theresa’s delight. When she goes to check on Amy’s condition at his request, snake-tongued Mrs. Fisher swoops in, and informs him that Ethan had arrested Harold but let him go before the bomb went off, insinuating that it’s Ethan’s fault that Ben and Amy were hurt. Harold’s married to Kate, she reminds Ben, and Kate and Ethan are ... friends, right? “I guess I don’t agree with that kind of leniency,” Mrs. Fisher snips. She’s more in line with Pilcher’s philosophy of “clear laws and severe punishments.” Ben, so malleable he’s more or less incapable of thinking for himself, agrees with her.
At the Fellowship Gathering, everyone eyes each other nervously. (The whole town assembled in one place does make them a perfect target, as one onlooker observes. Anything’s possible at this point.) Ethan blusters up to the stage and grabs the mic to cut through the folksy bullshit, warning everyone about the bomb and advising them to go home, and stay home, until all the conspirators are caught.
When Ethan goes to visit Ben, the boy’s still thinking about “clear and severe,” and snarls that Ethan only let Harold go because he’s married to Kate, parroting his teacher’s line. Theresa is horrified (and she immediately knows it’s Mrs. Fisher’s doing), but Ethan wants to hear him out ... but Amy appears, as battered as Ben. She seems to be OK, but that headache is worrisome. In the waiting room, Ethan reminds Theresa that accusations of “You had the guy, but you let him go” echo what happened with the Easter Bombings—the case that was bedeviling Ethan all the way back in episode one. Theresa finally understands why Ethan went to Kate in the wake of that emotionally devastating experience, and Ethan reiterates that he’s not taking orders blindly anymore, no matter what Kate says now.
When Ethan is called away, Theresa gets a chance to rip into Megan Fisher. “You’ve got an agenda, and I want to know what it is!” Mrs. Fisher, who is sanctimonious and terrifying, won’t cave. “I simply believe that the children of Wayward Pines are the future of Wayward Pines. And to that end, I try to be as helpful as possible.” When Theresa tells her to back the fuck off (but more politely), and flounces away, Mrs. Fisher rolls her eyes ... expect she’s casting a glance skyward into the security camera’s all-seeing lens.
While Ethan investigates the theft of a dump truck, Kate has a flashback to a much calmer therapy session with “Dr. Jenkins,” in which she’s clearly faking acceptance of her new life in Wayward Pines. She snaps to when he appears outside her cell, furious about her role in the bombing. He calls her a “fanatic,” but she accuses him of being the same, and she calls him out: she knows he’s David Pilcher. When she demands to know the truth, he answers that it’s not a question of keeping people in the dark; it’s a question of keeping people alive: “Freedom, or safety, not both.” He storms back to his stronghold and calls security on poor, unfortunate, feelings-having Reggie. Pam is horrified. “Punish me instead,” she begs. Pam has feelings too! But “there will be no more killings,” David decides, before popping Reggie into one of the cryostasis coffins as everyone looks on in horror.
Soon after, he gives a pep talk telling everyone that they’re in a “time of war,” fighting “terrorists.” Ethan nabs Harold as he’s heading back into town, intent on saving Kate. But the other survivor of the bombing plot is determined to take the dump truck all the way to San Francisco, and he’s got a good head start on the road out of town.
It goes without saying that there’s something way worse than terrorists coming to Wayward Pines once that truck smashes its way through the fence, because the whole town’s now set up to be an abbie buffet of epic proportions.
SHRIEK! Let’s hope they eat Mrs. Fisher first!