Wayward Pines Analysis: Where Paradise Is What?

The TV series Twin Peaks was comprised of a moshpit of genre elements including serial and crime drama, mystery, supernatural and psychological thriller. Since it aired in 1990, there hasn’t really been another show like it.

You might be wondering why I talked about Twin Peaks in regards to Wayward Pines especially if you haven’t seen the first episode yet. There are a lot of similarities, namely in the “what the hell is going on” department.

Wayward Pines kicked off last week with the first episode, Where Paradise Is Home.

If you haven’t watched it yet then don’t read anything else because SPOILERS, yo.

What Is Wayward Pines About?

Where paradise is home

The show follows special agent Ethan Burke, who becomes stranded in the town of Wayward Pines, Idaho after a pretty serious car accident. It happens while he’s searching for two of his colleagues, fellow agents who went missing a few weeks earlier.

Not long after spending some time in Wayward Pines, Burke realizes that the people are imprisoned, as is he. He also learns they have a unique set of rules for how they must live. You may not leave the town, you cannot discuss the past, you must always answer the phone when it rings, and much more.

The TV series is actually based on a trilogy of books by author Blake Crouch. Full disclosure: I have not read the books and I do not plan to do so until I finish the TV series. The two properties are said to be very similar and I don’t want to spoil the mystery for myself.

What the Hell Is Going on in Wayward Pines?

Agent Burke waking up in Wayward Pines

To be perfectly honest, I had to watch the episode several times to understand a lot of what was happening. I was in a trance the first time I started watching because the tone of it invokes a certain curiosity that caused my overactive mind to wander at times. Watching the episode again allowed me to pick apart some of the minor things I witnessed.

This is one of those shows that’s going to warrant in-depth discussion, similar to Season 1 of True Detective. Because of that, I’d like to ask each and every one of you to participate whenever possible. If I missed something, or if you feel I interpreted a particular scene wrong then please say so. We can help each other better understand this zany series.

Moving on.

Where Home Is Paradise Recap

Agent Burke in the forest Wayward Pines

The episode opens with Ethan Burke waking up in the middle of a forest, next to a stream. He’s bloodied and dressed in a suit. As he explores the surrounding area, we are served a series of flashbacks that tell us the problems Burke has been having, particularly in relation to his missing colleagues and family life.

During talks with his therapist, we learn that Burke has been experiencing hallucinations and that they’re pretty severe. It seems to be a form of PTSD developed during an event his therapist called the “Easter Bombings” in which 621 people died.

Agent Burke's Family Theresa and Ben

Back in the real world, Ethan has a wife named Theresa and a boy named Ben both of whom seem to be searching for his current whereabouts. Later in the episode, it’s revealed they live in Seattle where Burke is originally from.

Agent Burke stumbles into downtown Wayward Pines

Burke stumbles into the town of Wayward Pines, and we’re off on our creepy, mysterious journey to find out what the hell is going on. All he can remember is that he was involved in a car accident, between himself and his partner Agent Stallings.

He makes his way into a coffee shop, asks where he is and then collapses on the floor.

The nurse and agent Burke in Wayward Pines

That’s when he first wakes up in the hospital and finds out there are no other patients and only one nurse is on duty. She tells him not to leave, but he does anyway and things go downhill from there.

He visits the Sheriff’s office next, to try and recover his belongings lost in the car accident, but finds the station locked. Instead, he goes to a nearby bar and discovers Beverly, the first person he’s encountered that seems “normal.”

Agent Burke meets Beverly in Wayward Pines

She passes on two messages at the end of their conversation. One includes the address to a burnt down home — where he discovers one of the two missing agents, Bill Evans.

The other message is a note that says “there are no crickets in Wayward Pines.” Ethan explores bushes nearby after hearing crickets and finds out the noise is actually coming from an electronic box or hidden speaker of some sort.

Cricket Box Wayward Pines

Ethan’s discovery of the cricket box — that’s what I’m calling it — shows that Beverly is an ally and she can be trusted.

Decrepit House in Wayward Pines

He visits the address Beverly gives him and finds the body of his missing colleague. Naturally, he pays a visit to the Sheriff to tell him about the discovery. The sheriff doesn’t seem to care and doesn’t want Ethan to accompany him when he goes to check the property.

Sheriff of Wayward Pines and Rum Raisin cone

Ethan heads back to the bar where he finds a different bartender. This one says Beverly never worked there and it sends Ethan into a frenzy.

Wayward Pines bar scuffle

He gets rough with the bartender before getting knocked out. The bartender gets on a walkie talkie and says, “10-16-28 is not doing so well.”

More numbers? Hopefully, this won’t be another Lost and hatch scenario.

Burke gets sedatives in Wayward Pines

He wakes up in the hospital again with a Dr. Jenkins hovering over him. The doc wants to give him a lobotomy because of his head injury and hallucinations, but Ethan isn’t having it. He struggles a bit before the nurse injects him with a sedative.

Beverly helps Burke escape hospital in Wayward Pines

Beverly shows up right at the last minute and helps Agent Burke escape the hospital. They hide at her house for a while and she tells him a few things about the town.

Agent Burke finds Kate in Wayward Pines

Later in the pilot, Ethan meets up with his old partner — and lover — Kate. For some reason, she acts like she’s never met him before aside from quietly warning him that they are being watched.

Hessler meets with Theresa Wayward Pines

In the real world, we see Ethan’s boss, Adam Hessler who informs Theresa about her husband’s car accident. I half expected him to say Ethan was dead, but instead Hessler tells her there was no trace of Ethan found in the car: no DNA — so no blood or semen (thanks CSI) — no personal belongings, nothing.

Dr Jenkins in Wayward Pines

After meeting with Theresa, Hessler meets with Dr. Jenkins, the same doctor we saw talking to Agent Burke in Wayward Pines. Hessler pleads, “If there’s time, I want to call it off.”

Wait, what? What does he want to call off? Obviously Hessler and Dr. Jenkins have something to do with Burke’s disappearance and with what’s going on in Wayward Pines.

Jenkins simply replies, “It’s done. It’s all been taken care of.” Too late for Hessler to back out now.

Wayward Pines huge electric fence

By the time the episode concludes, Ethan has reached the edge of town and sees that there’s a huge electric fence surrounding the area for miles and miles. A sign warns: Risk of death. Return to Wayward Pines. Beyond this point. you will die.

Ethan rushes back to his car where he’s greeted by the Sheriff. He demands to know how he can leave and the Sheriff just replies, “you don’t.”

End of episode.

Wayward Pine Theories: What Is Really Happening?

Thanks for visiting Wayward Pines

One of the most disturbing things we discover in this episode is that the inhabitants of Wayward Pines seem to follow a distinct set of rules. Abandoning or violating these rules leads to what, exactly? We don’t know yet, but everyone sure is scared of going against the grain.

It’s too early to piece together a complete theory.

It’s probably more beneficial at this point to discuss what Wayward Pines actually is. Is it a prison? Is it a giant research facility? Is it a rehabilitation clinic for compromised agents? I’m not sure, what do you think?


  1. I was thinking some kind of research facility for wayward agents at first a la BBC’s “The Prisoner”, but now, by episode 3; it has gone much deeper than that. No one can just drive there…it seems to involve “the accident” and lost time, and now we see the beastie alien thing grabbing the body of —- and gobbling it up. So, the lost time is probably a long trip thru space and internment in some prison that tries to mock Earth, but is a bit cheesy like with the crickets and the public sacrifice. The weak are being culled, and the strong survive to breed. And we learn that Dillon’s character is special because he has his whole family there. Then there are the babies and the nurse. They are coupling people up and giving them a house with the secret wish that babies are born and delivered to the aliens. Probably the aliens are dying out and need to develop some kind of hybrid breeding stock mixing with humans of the right stock, just conjecture, but it is a much too elaborate program for just the feds.

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