'Wayward Pines' Boss on the Big Reveal That Sets Up "a New Beginning"

"In a show with as many twists and turns and things that seemingly don’t make sense, I didn’t want to have any manipulation or lies or cheats in the storytelling," showrunner Chad Hodge tells THR.
Courtesy of FOX

[WARNING: This post contains spoilers for Thursday's episode of Wayward Pines, "The Truth."]

The mystery behind Wayward Pines has finally been revealed, as Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) along with his son, Ben (Charlie Tahan), learned the devastating truth about the small town.

Thursday’s episode picked up with Ethan making a beeline to Boise, Idaho after discovering the only way out of town from Peter McCall: climbing a cliff. Upon reaching Boise, Ethan found a city forgotten to time, as Doctor Jenkins (Toby Jones), aka David Pilcher, the man Ethan was sent by the Secret Service to look for, arrived in a helicopter to reveal the truth of where (and when) Ethan really is.

Meanwhile at school, Ben was called to orientation with two other students that were new to town. During the orientation Ben’s school teacher, Megan Fisher (Hope Davis), revealed the town’s biggest secret to the newcomers: the citizens of Wayward Pines are the last of humanity.

The survivors were cryogenically kept in stasis for more than 2000 years, as Mother Nature changed the biology of mankind. Humanity was transformed into carnivorous beasts called aberrations that now roam the planet’s surface. Unstoppable and natural killers, Pilcher erected a wall around the town to keep the abberations out of the town.

The truth was kept from the adults since it was feared they would not take the revelation as well as children. For Ben, it meant he’d become part of the First Generation of Wayward Pines  a future where select children with the knowledge of the truth will rebuild humanity.

The Hollywood Reporter spoke with showrunner Chad Hodge to talk about the major revelations and what’s in store for the rest of the season.

In a series where mystery is teased about a town or a main event, you don’t normally get answers, but Wayward Pines takes this really interesting approach and gives answers in episodes five and six. What was your approach for this?

That was always the plan because the show is based on three books by Blake Crouch and the truth of what Wayward Pines is  which is what you see in episode five  is cut out of the end of the first book. It was always the plan for the truth to come out halfway through. It wasn’t so much a design of, “Oh, let’s be different from other shows and give them the truth.” For me it was the best way to tell the story, and this was the most authentic way to tell the story. In a show with as many twists and turns and things that seemingly don’t make sense, I didn’t want to have any manipulation or lies or cheats in the storytelling. So when we say we’re going to tell you the truth in episode five, we did. I wanted there to be trust between us and the viewers. Once you find out what Wayward Pines is in episode five, it becomes even more interesting. It becomes to me, the last town on Earth, the last of humanity and now what do we do? To me, this episode didn’t feel like the end of the series, it felt like a new beginning.

It is very cult-ish once the truth is learned and the door opens up to the First Generation of Wayward Pines.

The First Generation and these young people are obviously going to be the people that lead the town in the next few years, the ones who lead the last of humanity. They are a special group of people, the only ones who know the truth. It’s almost like you can look at that and it seems cult-ish, but also it’s like a fraternity, club or secret society; some group where you go to feel special and that’s a big part of what the First Generation is. Young people will take in the truth of what Wayward Pines is much easier than an adult would. A young mind is much more open and much more sponge-like than an adult’s mind. They take in this truth and they’re told, "You’re special. You’re the only ones who know. We trust you. You’re going to be the leaders of this town, the future." That’s pretty powerful, and it’s pretty important for teenagers and young kids to feel powerful. There’s a community there and a closeness that is kind of cult-y, but they are also the future leaders of humanity so they’d better forge bonds.

Megan Fisher was revealed as a hypnotherapist when Ethan went through her file. Was she chosen to reveal this to the students because she is using hypnotherapy or because she’s a teacher and she just knows how to approach revealing such a big secret?

You’ll see as the episodes go on the backstory of how Megan Fisher got to be in Wayward Pines. She’s been involved with Wayward Pines for a long time. I don’t think it’s because she’s a hypnotherapist, but it certainly helps. This person who can convince people of things, who is powerful over the mind, would make a good teacher.

Theresa is the only one in the Burke family who doesn’t know the truth of the town. Ethan learns it by escaping and running into Jenkins/Pilcher; Ben learns it from school. What’s her journey going to be?

I love Theresa’s journey. You do learn in episode four that she was formerly training to be a Secret Service agent, which is how she met Ethan. She’s been putting those skills to use. She used them in getting to Wayward Pines, and now she’s using them in Wayward Pines. But she’s doing all of this the opposite of how Ethan is doing it. She’s not climbing out and screaming at people; she’s playing along like how Kate plays along. She takes the job as a realtor and she uses her access to find out as much as she can. Her journey towards finding the truth is one she takes herself and eventually she and Ethan discuss the truth. He’s able to tell her what’s going on and their marriage is able to come closer because of it. The family becomes closer because of it. There’s an argument to be made that their family was not doing that well in the “old world” as opposed to Wayward Pines and that’s part of her journey for sure.

Doctor Jenkins first appears as the doctor in the hospital who we soon learn is actually David Pilcher, whom Ethan was investigating. What can viewers expect to learn from David Pilcher moving forward?

You’re going to learn a lot more about David. In episode five you see that he is the man who created Wayward Pines, and you will see in episode six and beyond how exactly he did that. You’ll see if whether or not the way he’s running it will work forever.

What’s Ethan feeling at this point? He spent the first five episodes trying to escape and at the end he sees what’s left of Boise and the realization sets in. What’s going on in his mind?

A million things! Ethan is overwhelmed. The viewers are watching and thinking, 'Oh my God, this is the truth. This is not what I was expecting.' Imagine if you were in it and you were 2,000 years in the future. His mind is just blown. For much of episode five and six he’s just taking it all in. Rather than fighting as he was doing the first four episodes, he’s watching, listening and learning and will then decide what to do about all of it.

In episode five, you introduce Bill and he’s clearly the worst person ever. Why was he cryogenically saved?

Not every single person is great. Why was he saved? Well, first one, he’s a person who is playing along and doing his job with a smile on his face. Those are the types of people that Wayward Pines needs most. The types of people they need least are Ethan  those who ask too many questions  people like Beverly who just cannot handle. Someone like Bill is someone who is going to come here and take the job as a realtor and do as he is told, so he gets to stay. You’ll see in episode six and beyond that there are several people like this. It’s not just people with a certain skill set who are in Wayward Pines. It’s people who might feel that life in Wayward Pines, despite the truth, might be better than anything they had in their life before.

The first book covers the first five episodes and then books two and three cover the last five episodes. Were there challenges in taking that material and shoving it into five episodes?

Of course there were challenges, but it was mostly a lot of fun. There are changes from the books  things are in the shows that aren’t in the books and vice versa. So there are definitely differences, but the show stays faithful to the books in terms of the mythology and what the truth of Wayward Pines is and the characters and so on. If I had stuck to the timeline of the first book rigidly we would have gotten to the truth much earlier actually, around episode three. Most of the story of episodes three and four was original. It was just going deeper into the town and the people before we got to the truth.

When it comes to the aberrations, you teased them with Pope when he was killed/taken. You teased them again at the end of episode four, and in episode five we get our first good look at them. What was the process in creating the “Abbies,” in translating them from book to screen? They seem very vampire-like in nature.

In the books they are described as more creature-like, walking on all fours and translucent skin, much more monster, creature-like. We talked a lot about what Abbies were going to look like and [executive producer M. Night Shyamalan] was a big part of that too. We really didn’t want them to be CGI creatures. In a show that is as big as this is, it’s all pretty grounded in reality. I think that if suddenly in episode five we were seeing CGI creatures that were made of nothing except pixels, it could have taken me out of it. At the end of the day we realized that these were devolved humans, what we would look like in another 2,000 years. We, given the environment and other factors, thought we wanted them to look more human. When you’re talking about something like a creature, you want to do it well; you want to figure out what you can do with your budget. If you misfire with something like this, it could really take you out of this show. We ended up journeying into the Uncanny Valley  that which looks most like us but is just a little bit off or frightening  more so than some hideous creature. So they are obviously played by actors with a little bit of visual effects but they are human beings.

This was pitched as an event series, only ten episodes. Was there ever thought of a second season? Or did you just want to tell a complete story in ten episodes?

That was the design of the show from the very beginning, to give the fans a full story in ten episodes so that we aren’t cheating you in any way. It’s not like we were going to say, “Oh, we want you to find out the truth, but in case we get a second season let’s hold something back.” We didn’t hold anything back. It’s all in these ten episodes. That doesn’t mean there couldn’t be a second season or more books, but everything that’s been created is here in these ten episodes.

Wayward Pines airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on Fox.

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