[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Thursday's episode of Wayward Pines. Read at your own risk.]
"You think you want to know the truth, but you don't. It's worse than you can ever imagine."
On Thursday's episode — fittingly titled "The Truth" — Ethan (Matt Dillon) and his son Ben (Charlie Tahan) both get clued into what's really going on in Wayward Pines in very different ways. Ethan climbs over the wall and, after a run-in with one of the creatures in the woods (more on them in a bit), learns that the shrink he saw in the hospital is actually a scientist named David Pilcher (Toby Jones).
Meanwhile, Ben gets a much larger download. For starters, the creatures in the woods are called abbies, which is short for aberrations — you know, genetically evolved humans that are the perfect carnivores. That's right, these bloodthirsty beings evolved from humans because Wayward Pines doesn't take place in 2014, but in 4028!
While Ethan surveys the wreckage of the abandoned world from Pilcher's helicopter, Ben becomes the newest member of "the first generation" of kids to learn that Wayward Pines is the last remaining stronghold of humans in the world. (Oh, and he can't tell any adults for fear that he and his family will meet the same grisly fate of the last kid who couldn't keep his trap shut.)
So, how do these revelations change the story in the second half of the season? TVGuide.com took our burning questions to executive producer Chad Hodge.
You promised from the very beginning of the show to give answers early. Why was that important?
Chad Hodge: The inspiration was definitely from the books. It wasn't in any way to avoid pitfalls of other shows or things like that. It was really what would be the best way to service this story and to tell this story on television? I always felt that at a certain point the truth needs to come out and it shouldn't be the end of the series because then you just have a bunch episodes and story lines of people keeping the truth from our characters, which can get a little manipulative. One thing I'm proud of with this show is that there's no cheating or manipulation or lying to the audience. When someone dies, they're dead. So, I didn't want to draw out the reveal of the truth just for the sake of drawing it out.
And I imagine it also allows you to tell more interesting stories with the characters once the truth is revealed. Hodge: Exactly. What happens after you reveal the truth is just as interesting if not more than what the truth is. The truth is so confounding and so shocking that I found it interesting then to dive into: What are these people going to do about this? What would I do about this? Is this something you fight or is this something you accept? Do you accept that you are one of the last 500 people on the planet in this town and go about your daily life? Or is this something you retaliate against. That sort of a back-and-forth debate over the goodness or evilness of Wayward Pines is what's so interesting about this story.
Why is it significant that the people who know the truth only share it with the kids of the town?
Hodge: There is a significance to it. This is the last town on earth, and these are the last human beings on the planet. Children's minds are much more open and more sponge-like. When you were in fourth grade and your teacher told you about the solar system and all the planets out there and the galaxies, as a kid, you accept that and you understand it and you learn it. But if you had never learned that and you are 35 or 40 years old and someone tells you. "Oh, by the way, did you know that there are nine planets out there and galaxies and stars?" You'd be like, "Screw you. That's complete bullsh--." As an adult, your mind completely will shut off to things like that. That sounds insane, but a younger person can accept that truth.
Also, young people want to feel special and want to feel important and heard. So, being trusted with this kind of truth, they're more willing to take that on and to be proud of it and to feel responsible for it. So, the adults are really here to have children and to take care of this young first generation until they are ready to take over the town because the adults just simply can't handle the truth, which is something that Episode 6 is really about.
However, Ethan is learning some of the truth at the same time as his son Ben is. How does Ethan use the information going forward?
Hodge: If you look at the town, most people have settled in and have taken a job. Carla Gugino's character, even though she's still trying to figure out what's going on, she is playing the part because obviously what you learn in the second episode is that if you don't play along, there are consequences like death. So, most people play along, and Ethan was almost getting there. He had taken the job of the sheriff, which you'll learn is something that they wanted him to do. But he can't just do that. He's our hero. He has to climb out. And so David Pilcher says to himself, "Maybe if I bring him on my side and show him everything, we can have Wayward Pines work in a different way going forward."
So, what can you say about Pilcher's plan? Is he hoping to ultimately use the first generation to repopulate the earth?
Hodge: This is really what the back half is about: what the plan is, what the first generation will do, and whether or not that plan is a solid one. Pilcher sees this as the last of humanity and that Wayward Pines can grow, and the first generation will be responsible for that.
How does the time warp work? After all, we saw Sheriff Pope with Theresa and Ben in 2014 before we knew he was also in 4028. Hodge: It all gets explained in the next episode. Episode 6 is really the origin story. David Pilcher takes Ethan behind the scenes and pulls back the curtain and shows him how he built Wayward Pines. You'll see exactly how the space-time continuum works. It's all explained, and what I love about it is, of course there's an element of sci-fi to this, but it all is possible. There's no magic. There's no time travel in the way that we think of time travel. It's all very grounded.
After orientation, Ben looks a little bit concerned. Is he still trying to decide whether he will go along with all this? Hodge: That's absolutely part of it. Ben also feels welcomed and special in a way that he didn't feel in Seattle. There's a girl who likes him, he starts to make friends, and he has been told, "You matter and you are part of the future of Wayward Pines." That's music to a young person's ears and there's something very seductive and special about being a part of that and not fighting it.
We also have the wild card of Theresa (Shannyn Sossamon),who is figuring out things in her own way. Will she be able to share what she knows with Ethan?
Hodge: Yes. I love the character of Theresa. As you learned in the fourth episode, she was in training to be an agent when she met Ethan, and then gave that up to prioritize her family. So, she has a background in this and has an investigative mind and a skill set that lends itself to figuring things out. So, she has her own parallel mission, and there is a download between Ethan and Theresa that comes in the seventh episode. But she has her way of figuring things out and, ultimately, may figure out more than Ethan does as the final episodes progress.
I think the most interesting thing about the reveal is that it turns the story into a post-apocalyptic drama in a way that's very different from the dystopias we see so much of these days. Hodge: When I read the book, had it started with the post-apocalyptic nature, I might not have been as intrigued by it. But what I love about this is that it comes at the post-apocalyptic thing from a completely real place and from points of view of people who are from our time and who understand things the way you and I understand them. It makes the post-apocalyptic nature of this story feel completely real and like this could actually happen and what would we do about it? It's not a big World War 4 story or anything like that. I mean, in a way it is, but from a very small human point of view.
Ah, so is there a war coming between the abbies and the humans? Hodge: I will plead the fifth on that. You have to wait to see.
Wayward Pines airs Thursdays at 9/8c on Fox. What did you think of the big reveal?