ByDallin JD Schmidt, writer at Creators.co

Last week’s episode of Pines ended on a cliffhanger, which was great, considering the rest of the episode didn’t have much to offer. But I am thrilled to say that, as Wayward Pines draws near to its conclusion, episode 8 - “The Friendliest Place on Earth" - is the best one in a while.

At the end of episode 7, Ben Burke and Amy snuck out for a little makeout session in the back of a delivery van. Maybe not the most romantic place, but, hormones, right? Unfortunately for them, that truck also had a live bomb in the back. And episode eight teaches us the answer to the oft asked question, “can two teenagers survive an exploding bomb in close proximity with no long lasting negative medical effects or injuries?” The answer is apparently affirmative.

While I may not have loved how quickly Ben and Amy recovered from the blast, I dealt with it because of its importance to the episode and the remainder of the story. But what I don’t get is how the driver of the truck died, and the kids lived. Wasn’t he further away from the blast? They try to explain this away by saying that he had burns covering 90% of his body, but I’m not really buying it. But honestly, if that’s the worst thing I have to say about the episode, then we’re in pretty good shape.

After Ben regains consciousness, Principal/Teacher/Counsellor/Teen Pregnancy Advocate Mrs. Fisher pays him a visit in the hospital. Apparently the brainwashing of teenagers can’t wait. She tells Ben that the reason he nearly died is because Ethan, his father and Sheriff of the town, let the bomber (Harold Ballinger) go when he had previously been arrested. She goes further by telling Ben that not only did he let Ballinger go, knowing he was guilty, but that he continually looks the other way then the people he cares about commit crime, and his punishments for lawbreakers are not severe enough. Fisher’s little brainwashing tactic works, and Ben readily accepts that his father is to blame for his near death experience

Up in the mountains of Wayward Pines, David Pilcher is becoming increasingly paranoid and power hungry, realizing that he might be losing his iron grip on the citizens of the town. He even believes that someone working within the mountain may be aiding the “terrorists” who detonated the bomb in town. He has Pam conduct interviews and interrogations with each member of the staff, assessing their loyalty to Pilcher. One poor guy in particular, Reggie, tells Pam that he has some issues with spying in on the private lives of Waywardians through the hidden cameras, and that sometimes, when the townspeople discuss something private, he will blur the footage or erase it altogether.

Pilcher witnesses the interview, and tells Pam that poor ol’ Reggie will need to be executed so that the rest of the staff will see what happens if they break protocol. Now, here’s where things get interesting. For the first time in the series, Pam actually seems like a normal, caring, and compassionate human being. She pleads Reggie’s case, saying that he was just doing what he believed to be morally just, and that Pilcher can’t just keep killing everyone who breaks a rule. She finally gets through to Pilcher telling him that “if they start killing their own people in the name of saving humanity, then they’ve lost everything.” Pilcher tells Pam that there will be no more killings. Oh good, I thought at this point. But nothing is ever good in Wayward Pines, is it?

Rather than kill Reggie, Pilcher gathers the entire staff in the mountain to watch as he re-inserts Reggie into his cryogenic chamber, putting him back to sleep. Pam, clearly disgusted, watches on, shaking her head and comforting other staff members. Could this be the start of a major split between Pam and Pilcher?

Back in the hospital, Ethan and Theresa pay Ben a visit, and Ben wastes no time in blaming his father for everything. Surprisingly, Ethan agrees, and later recounts a story to Theresa that was previously considered classified. He talks about letting Ballinger go, which subsequently caused Ben harm. He then compares it to the case to a bombing during his career as a Secret Service agent. He tells Theresa that they had captured a suspect, but were ordered to let him go. A few weeks later, he detonated a series of bombs that killed hundreds of people. Sound familiar? Well it should, because we’ve finally come full circle! Ethan mentions this bombing in the very first episode of the series, and now some light is finally shed on the incident. Burke then tells Theresa that he is done with blindly following orders, and will begin to act for himself. We don’t really see the fruits of this decision in this episode, but certainly will later. I really enjoyed this part, and it really feels like the show is going pick up momentum and deliver an amazing final two episodes.

Finally, in the woods of Wayward, Harold Ballinger and a couple other unimportant “terrorists” hide out after the bombing incident, knowing they can’t return to town. One of the men is hell-bent on escaping the town, and Ballinger helps him steal a giant dump truck to ram the gate open and escape. At the last moment, however, Ballinger changes his mind, telling his buddy that he can’t leave without Kate. Cute. He starts to head back into town, but is interrupted by Ethan pistol whipping him in the face (awesome) and handcuffing him to a tree.

But the other guy in the truck makes a run for it, and successfully rams the gate, making a hole large enough to escape through. He lays on the ground, just outside the gate, thinking he is home free. But, yeah, abbies.

This episode was a fantastic and refreshing return to what made the show great: mystery and suspense. The last few episodes have been a lot of talk, with not much really happening. But episode eight gets the ball rolling again, and gets me excited for the finale.

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