The thing that seemingly everyone but Jason expected would happen has finally happened: The Abbies are back, and they’re pissed. CJ and the others watch as the Aberrations target anyone holding a water hose, which seems like pretty definitive evidence these supposedly dumb creatures are thinking awfully clearly. Which is what makes it all the more irritating when we get two full scenes of Jason ranting about how these things are beasts, and there’s no way they’re capable of learning. How many times is Jason going to stick his head in the sand and be wrong? More importantly, how dumb do you have to be to look at all the available facts and still willfully ignore the obvious? Jason has apparently mistaken Kerry’s demand that he act like “the man born to lead” for “act like the man born to deny what’s staring you in the face.”
But there’s something even more vital that’s not staring them in the face any more, and that’s the existence of crops. “City Upon A Hill” returns full-throttle to the central narrative of the humans-vs-Abbies conflict, and by the end, it seems hard to imagine there’s much room left for anything else this season. This episode repeats the images that ended last week’s installment—the Abbies burning the crops—and then shows Wayward Pines’ frantic reaction. Once the phones start ringing, and the alarms sound, everyone is pressed into service, and the townsfolk rush to help out beyond the wall. Despite this, 35 people die (mostly members of the First Generation, it’s revealed), and in the aftermath of the bloodbath, there’s more than enough worry to go around.
Let’s start with Theo Yedlin and his hearty dose of “told you so” attitude, because the doctor has yet to really be wrong about any of his suspicions, and because his sense of humor is one of the few comforting elements of a doom-and-gloom episode/season. His masterful running of the hospital during the crisis provided everyone who saw it with clear proof the guy knows what he’s doing, and even Jason seems to be getting it through his thick head that when Theo talks, everybody should listen. His warning about the catastrophically small amount of medicine remaining is the first real demonstration of the missteps Pilcher made in planning for what his future society would require. True, Megan points out that nobody could’ve expected the Abbies to still be around, but even so, the possibility of people dying from ear infections is concerning.
Or rather, it would be, if there wasn’t the all-too-real potential for the entire town to be dead of starvation in six weeks. CJ calls out the implicit meaning of tonight’s events: “We taught them, and tonight they learned.” The theme that the Abbies are a reactive population, not doing anything until it’s done to them first, was driven home multiple times tonight. First, by the opening flashback, in which their idyllic peaceful community ended in a hail of bullets from Pilcher’s helicopter, and later by wielding the torches they had never employed until the soldiers attacked them with fire. This overt warning against ignoring the Golden Rule is giving season two a sense of rueful “too little, too late” in terms of the possibility of surviving the Aberration threat. As hundreds of them amass outside the wall, shrieking and freaking everyone out, the odds of keeping all the citizens alive are dim, to say the least.
But what makes the otherwise intense and unsettling pace of this episode (expertly handled by veteran director Vincenzo Natali, no stranger to exploring impossible situations) stumble are the strange ways other storylines gets sidelined or abruptly concluded, none more suddenly than Theresa’s. I mentioned last week that her little speech to Hassler the Geico Caveman sounded like a eulogy, and as it turns out, I was more right than I knew. She gets ripped open in the Abbie assault, but thanks to some quick medical work by Yedlin, she survives long enough to have a brief dream of Ben’s birthday back in the 21st century, and then…die? Just like that? It’s a weird way to conclude her arc, and not just because the death felt jarring after all that work keeping her alive. The show spent a decent amount of time with her this season, but we never got any sort of progression from her character, just a number of speeches about the pain of losing her family, and now she’s gone. It felt like a case of a show getting a character back for season two who had no real reason to still be there, and her fate lends credence to that theory. Adios, Shannyn Sossamon.
A number of other subplots feel similarly extraneous in light of the growing Aberration danger. Xander’s bad-boy past gets fleshed out a little more this week, both by having him banter as he gives up his gun, and by letting Rebecca be suspicious of his alleyway activities, only to have her feel like an ass when it’s revealed he was giving away apples to a needy family. (Xander is really angling for the “hooker with a heart of gold” stock character arc.) And we don’t even get to check in with Frank or the other kids, instead getting another chance to see Margaret standing in her cell, all silent menace, while the other captured Abbies roar away.
The show is really hanging a lampshade on this whole “Why won’t crops grow in Wayward Pines?” mystery, which suggests there’s a big reveal coming up about what Pilcher did to the town back in the day. At least, I hope that’s what’s coming, because otherwise it’s just more strange exposition and tossed-off asides the series isn’t going to follow up on, something we’ve had a little too much of in season two. Now that we know Rebecca has access to the mountain facility, and is willing to use it to get weapons to Xander and others, we’re likely headed on a collision course to a serious Aberration showdown. For all his idiocy and lack of people skills, Jason and Theo find themselves more and more wanting the same thing: Keeping everyone safe, and taking out the Abbies. It’s just a question of whether they’ll live long enough to take the necessary steps to save Wayward Pines—or if Margaret has something else in mind.
- Theo should sit in the bar and make jokes more often. “You know what this place needs? A town drunk.”
- Here’s hoping we get a little more insight into Kerry next week. Her ambiguous response to Jason’s suggestion they start having kids was the equivalent of a flashing light above her head reading, “This person has a secret.”
- Arlene is bananas: Inviting Theo to stay in her guest bedroom. “I just thought…I’d give you your privacy.”
- Megan, again proving she has a masterful grip on human behavior by wondering why Hassler could possibly feel bad about ripping apart the Burke family: “I thought you loved her.”
- So the part of Margaret’s brain that controls the higher functions is twice the size of a human’s; that bodes well.
- Xander can be funny, too: “Hey, I left our wife in your office.”