Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) is a Secret Service agent haunted by an Easter bombing in which more than 600 people were killed. He feels responsible because he cleared the suspect shortly before the explosion. As he struggles with this, he begins an affair with his partner, Kate Hewson (Carla Gugino). During a session with his therapist, we see the beginning of this affair when Ethan admits he can’t talk to his wife Theresa (Shannyn Sossamon) about his struggles, but he can talk to Kate. At some point, Theresa finds out about the affair. They’re in the midst of reconciling when Ethan is called out of town. He and another agent are tasked with finding Kate and Agent Bill Evans, who’ve been missing.
Ethan’s boss, Adam Hessler, calls Theresa to tell her there was a car accident and they’re currently looking for Ethan.
The wrecked car is found and Hessler learns the GPS is missing and there’s no physical evidence that Ethan was ever in the car. The other agent’s remains were too badly burned to be positively identified.
Ethan awakens in the woods, bloody and disheveled. He stumbles down the main street of a town surrounded by mountains. When he enters a diner the waitress tells him he’s in Wayward Pines, Idaho. Then Ethan faints.
He awakens again a quiet hospital. The cheery nurse, Pam (Melissa Leo), explains he was in a car accident with his partner. His partner didn’t make it. Ethan has broken ribs and other injuries. She assures him his next of kin has been contacted and the sheriff has his belongings including his cell phone.
When she’s gone, Ethan finds his clothes in the closet and leaves the hospital. This time he finds a bar and a kind bartender, Beverly (Juliette Lewis), offers him a free meal while he uses her phone. He leaves a message for his wife and Hessler, telling them he’ll be staying at the local hotel. When Beverly slips him the bill to pay another time, he notes there’s just an address written on it. It’s her home, and she offers assistance if he needs it.
He manages to get the same deal at the Wayward Pines Hotel: he can have a room if he pays the next day, when he gets his belongings back from the sheriff. The next morning, though, the hotel clerk tells Ethan to leave when he’s not able to pay. It doesn’t help that Ethan gets a little nasty with him after learning he didn’t get any calls from his wife or the bureau.
Ethan makes his way to the address Beverly gave him, but instead of finding her, he finds an abandoned house. In one of the bedrooms is the rotting corpse of Bill Evans.
The sheriff’s office is just as dead as the hospital with only a card-playing reception and the sheriff himself around. Sheriff Pope (Terrence Howard) seems more into his rum raisin ice cream cone than taking down the info on the dead body and missing agent. Ethan offers to go with him, but Pope strongly refuses his assistance.
Ethan uses the station’s phone to call home, and leaves yet another message. Next he calls the bureau, but is told Hessler is unavailable. He yells at the receptionist, who is new, and that gets him nowhere. I swear she sounded a lot like Pam the Psycho Nurse.
When Ethan goes back to Beverly’s bar, he learns there’s no one working there by that name. In fact, there are only two people who work there and they’re both men, one of whom knocks Ethan out when he starts ranting about Beverly. The bartender reports that Ethan has been subdued, but he refers to Ethan by a number, not his name.
This time when Ethan wakes up in the hospital, he’s greeted by psychiatrist, Dr. Jenkins (Toby Jones). He explains Ethan’s been having hallucinations since the car crash and this is actually one of several times he’s woken up with crazy rantings. Jenkins says it’s due to bleeding on Ethan’s brain and they’re going to operate. Ethan is all, fuck that noise. He demands to be sent to a hospital in Boise, but Jenkins claims he’s already consulted with the surgeon there and the surgery is going down. Ethan wants to speak to the surgeon, and starts yelling and trying to get out of the bed. Pam appears with a sedative. When Ethan won’t stop struggling she threatens to stab the needle into the bone.
They leave him alone so the drugs will kick in, but Beverly arrives to help him escape. After a scary encounter with Pam – she coos that if Ethan doesn’t come out from hiding, she’ll make sure he has no anesthesia when he’s getting his surgery – Beverly knocks Pam down and the two escape. Ethan learns Beverly found herself in town much the same way he did: accident she has no memory of and she’s been there ever since 1999, which she believes was only a year ago.
After Beverly has given him clothes, Ethan goes exploring and finds a group of people partying in the park. He recognizes one as Kate, and follows her and a man to a house. When he knocks and asks to speak to Kate, she doesn’t know him, but agrees to speak with him alone on the porch. With the whir of the ceiling fan providing some cover, Kate confesses she’s been living in Wayward Pines for 12 years. Ethan thinks this is ridiculous because he’d been with her five weeks ago, and he says this after noting Kate looked older than when he saw her last. She warns him there are cameras and mics everywhere, then loudly wishes him a good life in Wayward Pines. Before she enters the house, she does take a bit of mercy on him and tells him he’s not relapsing.
Finally fed all the way up, Ethan steals a car and tries to drive out of town, but he just ends up right in the middle of it. He takes off into the woods on foot, and travels all night until he comes upon a giant wall with electric fencing at the top. It spans the whole town and has signs which read, “Turn back. Got back to Wayward Pines. There’s death beyond this point.” If it weren’t for the hum of that fence, I might have chanced it. This town is sketchy as fuck!
When he gets back to the stolen car, Pope is there and tells Ethan there’s no getting out of Wayward Pines.
- LOST moment of the week: That opening on Ethan’s eye as he’s lying in the woods is very much like how the pilot of LOST began.
- Shady Move of the Week: Hessler meets with Dr. Jenkins and says he wants to “call it off.” Too late for that, Jenkins says.
- Crazy Pinecone of the Week: Nurse Pam. Those nurses in Silent Hill have better bedside manners.
- Pope Line I Need to Hear Lucious Lyon Say: “Mmm. Rum raisin. You like rum raisin?”