Buckle up, because we’ve arrived at the episode entitled “The Truth,” and indeed, a lot is finally revealed about the mysteries of Wayward Pines. But just because we know everything doesn’t mean we have any clue about what’s going to happen next. Spoilers follow!

As we open, Ethan’s still skulking through the dark forest that surrounds Wayward Pines, ostensibly going to Boise for help. But he’s not alone out there, and all the bullets in his backpack arsenal aren’t enough to frighten the strange beasts that are tracking his movements. All he (and we) can tell are: they’re lightning fast, appear to be moving upright (but are decidedly not human), and they have long, sharp claws.

By some miracle, though, he makes it through the night, and we’ll keep checking back with his progress throughout the episode. Or lack of progress, rather; though he’s clutching what looks like a contemporary map, he keeps encountering things that don’t match up. Like ... why is that church, noted as viable on the map, in a state of what looks like ancient ruin?

With nothing else to do with her day, Theresa shows up to work at Wayward Pines Realty. Her portly, aging boss greets her with the wolf whistle of a lifelong good ol’ boy, and tells her that everybody calls him Big Bill. Like everyone in Wayward Pines, he’s more than slightly off, punctuating his inappropriate statements about his departed co-worker “Petey” (RIP) with bursts of wheezing laughter.

“Your first client,” he says, beaming broadly. Theresa pages through the folder he hands her, but all it contains is a name, Wayne Johnson, and a bunch of blank forms. He’s got no phone number, because “he lost his phone in the accident,” which the manically animated Big Bill proceeds to describe with hand-slamming-on-the-desk vigor. Theresa (who’s well familiar with the accident/lost-phone scenario) learns she won’t be selling Wayne a house ... she’ll be giving him one, as a welcome present from his “friends” in Wayward Pines. Oh and by the way, Bill is so very happy to have Theresa on the team: “Thank your husband for killing Petey, will ya?”

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Since Wayne is still recovering from his “accident” under the watchful eyes of Nurse Pam and whoever else at Wayward Pines Hospital, Theresa heads there to meet him. He is, understandably, shell-fucking-shocked. “I also was in an accident,” she tells him, offering herself as someone he can talk to if he feels confused.

“Did you see it, too?” he asks. Whut? After the accident, he says, he saw “something awful,” and he remembers “they did something to me.” And he remembers Pam was there. Theresa takes note of a piece of hospital equipment that is obviously a listening device, and leans in. She warns Wayne not to tell anyone else what he’s just said, because “this town is not safe,” which is very nearly exactly what Ethan told her when she first arrived in Wayward Pines.

But we don’t get to hear more from Wayne just yet, because Nurse/Sheriff Pam strides in, all fake niceness and barely-cloaked menace. Oh, Theresa is the new real estate agent? Taking Peter’s old job, is she? Poor Peter, Pam says. “Far too much of a free thinker.” Presumably Theresa will do a much better job at selling — uh, giving — houses to new residents. She offers to walk Wayne over to his new house, which has a big yard and is “very private,” though we all know there’s no such thing as privacy in Wayward Pines. Once they get to the house, she turns on the dryer to muffle their conversation, because she’s dying to know what he saw.

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The main focus of this week’s Wayward Pines, however, has to do with what young Ben will be learning in school today. Ben is bursting full of questions, but they’re not the same ones Ethan and Theresa are asking. Mostly, he’s wondering why he’s, like, suddenly super-popular at school. Why are all the kids being so nice?, he asks Amy, his new BFF/GF. “At my old school, everyone was different toward me,” he admits, flashing back to his former incarnation as an invisible teenage nobody. “This school isn’t like any other school,” she replies. “We’re all in this together.”

But... all in WHAT together, exactly? Get ready for some answers, delivered in a wall o’ text by teacher/hypnotist/evangelist Mrs. Fisher, in a stark white room that contrasts not just the dark Wayward Pines Academy uniforms, but the Pottery Barn homespun-ness that pervades the town in general. The otherworldly quality of the setting is appropriate, because Mrs. F is about to unload an avalanche of exposition on Ben and two other new students, Carrie and Reed, not to mention all us baffled viewers at home.

Mrs. Fisher gives a very dramatic wind-up to delivering “the Truth,” showing the three kids photos of other trios of students who’ve come through the orientation. They’ve all been chosen for the great honor of being part of the “first generation of Wayward Pines,” because they are “truly exceptional and truly ready.”

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In keeping with the town’s reliance on old-school technology (no internet, no cell phones, etc.), she’s using a slide projector to make her presentation. She shows them a photograph, taken 14 years ago just outside of town. It’s a forest scene (of course), with a figure in the background; at first blush, we could be looking at Patterson’s famous Bigfoot photograph, and that’s what the three students think at first. They’re laughing, trying to guess what the creature is. But Mrs. Fisher ain’t playing. The next photo is a close-up, and many Bothans died ... er, two Wayward Pines lives were lost, to get it. It’s not a Bigfoot; it’s some kind of snarling, demon-looking humanoid. So that’s what’s been tracking Ethan through the woods!

“We refer to them as ‘abbies,’ short for ‘aberrations,’” Mrs. Fisher explains. They are genetically mutated creatures that have evolved into the most efficient predators on the planet. If you encounter one alone, it’ll likely take you down (and devour you) within minutes. But “they always travel in herds,” she says, as the camera cuts to Ethan looking concerned at the amount of strange howls that’ve begun echoing through the trees around him. We get a little rundown of the abbie anatomy (in addition to those claws, they have super-enhanced senses of smell and hearing), and we learn the animal they evolved from was — quite obviously, once we see them in daylight thanks to Ethan’s POV — us.

As the abbies gnaw on a deer carcass in the woods, Ben pokes at his lunch in the school cafeteria. Because abbies? In broad daylight? In Idaho? How can this be? Amy appears, as always, to say just the right things to reassure Ben: “It takes some time to take it all in” and “It will all make sense soon.”

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But not... just... yet. The next revelations that Mrs. Fisher shares with the kids, once they’ve barely touched their mashed potatoes, will explain a little about what attracted M. Night Shyamalan to Wayward Pines. (You may have heard about his fondness for twists.) She hands each kid a coin, noting that while the currency doesn’t hold value anymore, it holds something way more important: “Answers.” Ben studies his coin, guessing it to be from “Roman times.” But once he scrapes off some of the centuries of grime, he realize it’s a quarter. Then he sees the year: 2095. How is that possible?

“Don’t think of it in terms of what is, or is not, possible,” Mrs. Fisher replies. “Think about it in terms of the facts.” She asks all three students what they really know about where they are, and what the last thing is they all remember before their arrival in town. All of them were in car accidents of some kind. All of them woke up in the Wayward Pines Hospital.

But they weren’t unconscious for a few hours, or even a few days, like they all assumed. It was much, much longer than that. And those car crashes? Not accidents. “You were all chosen to be part of a special community that is not part of the world you once knew,” she says. “A world where abbies thrive. Rule!” That 2095 quarter isn’t from the future. It’s from the distant past. Because this... is... the... year... 4028.

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We cut to Ethan racing through a field toward what used to be Boise, circa 2,000 years ago, rendered in kinda iffy CG, but the dramatic impact is still rather potent. And as Mrs. Fisher keeps talking about how the dramatic time shift is possible, we cut back to Theresa and Wayne, finally in a semi-safe place where he can describe what he remembers: Hibernation chambers! Filled with people!

“You were chosen to assure the survival of the human race,” Mrs. Fisher tells the kids, who are now completely clued into what’s going on in Wayward Pines, even as Theresa and Wayne (who looks like he’ll probably be a loose cannon type that won’t play by the rules) remain solidly in the dark. Over 2,000 years ago, a great scientist foresaw the coming of the abbies and the end of the human race, the students learn. He created an “ark” to “preserve a select sample” of humans. The ark, of course, is Wayward Pines.

Ethan is also about to be brought up to speed. After he gawks at the ruins of Boise, a chopper appears. Because guess who that great ark-building scientist was? Why, it’s the town psychiatrist/tree whisperer, Dr. Jenkins! Whose real name, as it turns out, is David Pilcher!

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Though David Pilcher introduces himself, using his real name, to a baffled Ethan, Mrs. Fisher tells the kids they will never get to meet the man, though he will always be watching over them. (Because they are THE FIRST GENERATION and he is their protector!) Pilcher is impressed with Ethan’s tenacity; nobody’s ever gotten so far out of Wayward Pines before. But though he’s got an armed escort, he’s nervous. “We can’t stay here,” he urges Ethan, visions of herds of abbies no doubt galloping through his mind. But Ethan ain’t budging without answers.

“Your mind is lashing out, Ethan. It doesn’t want to accept the truth. But trust your own eyes. Everything you’ve seen today. There’s nothing for you out here. The world you know is gone, and our species has evolved into something less than human.”

While Ethan takes in all that, Mrs. Fisher informs the kids that they can’t tell their parents what they’ve learned, or any adults, for that matter. “The future of this great town lies not with the adults, but with you,” she says, whipping out a (possibly made-up) tale of a kid named “Chris” who went home and spilled the whole truth to Mom and Dad, who promptly committed murder-suicide because it was too much to take in. The people on the ark can only survive if everyone follows the rules. (Ah yes, those rules.) And it’s up to the kids to make sure that happens.

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Reed and Carrie look ready for the challenge ... but Ben just looks freaked out to suddenly have found himself in a dystopian YA tale. Especially when the kids leave the orientation room and enter a darkened chamber where all the other students are standing around holding candles. Amy lights Ben’s candle, smiling beatifically. And then everyone starts pounding on their desks in unison.

Meanwhile, Jenkins/Pilcher is coaxing Ethan into his helicopter, assuring him that even though humankind (and all its associated art, knowledge, history, and culture) is gone forever, they still have Wayward Pines. It’s all they have, in fact.

“What is Wayward Pines?”

“I’ll show you!”

But dammit, they gotta GO, because the abbie war cry is getting louder. As Ethan climbs in, Nurse Pam is waiting inside the helicopter, acting like a friendly, normal person for once. As they lift off, the dreaded abbies gallop out of the woods, and Ethan heads back to the town he tried so desperately to flee. What will he tell Theresa? What will Ben’s role be in in all of this? Where can we go from this info dump of an episode, now that we’ve learned the OMG Big Secret?

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Five more episodes to go, so there’s still a lot of drama left to unfold.