[SPECULATION ONLY — NO SPOILER HERE] Rumor has it that on tonight’s episode of Wayward Pines, the TRUTH will be revealed! Either that or Nurse Pam is about to shoot an arrow into Ethan’s back before he gets a look at whatever’s below those rocks.
But you don’t have to wait to solve the mystery! You can figure it out using your big brain and LOGIC – without resorting to Internet spoilers! This works provided you’ve ever read dystopian science fiction, or seen a dystopian sci-fi movie or any movie with a “surprise” ending – especially any M. Night Shymalen movie. Why would you want to spend even an extra-minute of your day thinking about this? Because if you don’t, you’re going to feel so dumb when find out.
Here’s how it goes: Once you know there’s a twist is coming, you’re halfway there. Let’s call this The Sixth Sense Dilemma. (Warning: Spoilers for The Sixth Sense ahead.) When The Sixth Sense came out, most reviews mentioned a big fat surprise at the end. The trailer and television commercials offered another spoiler – the boy’s declaration that he can “talk to dead people.” That’s not actually revealed till around the one-hour mark on the film. But if you walk in knowing about it, and that there’s a twist, then as soon as you see Bruce Willis get shot in the gut, it’s relatively easy to figure out he’s dead. Except for one thing – he keeps appearing in scenes with people other than the boy, including with his wife.
However, if you stuck with YOU SAW HIM TAKE THAT BULLET, and then you examine what’s happening in those scenes, you’ll see people never acknowledge or talk to him except for the kid who talks to dead people. The stuff that tricks you into thinking he’s alive, on closer examination supports his being dead. It’s a testable thesis. Nothing happens that contradicts it.
Let’s check out this nifty table, inspired by the payoff matrix (not another sequel, but a thing in game theory):
Does this work for every film with a twist? Maybe not. Some do more than others to trick you, but in the best ones when the twist is revealed, you should react by saying, “I shoulda seen it coming.” There is a limited vocabulary of surprises. “Dead all along” didn’t originate with The Sixth Sense, and didn’t end there, but because of that movie’s popularity it became much easier to see it coming. Figuring out the genre is important. If you eliminate the supernatural and go with science fiction, that will knock out the more metaphysical possibilities and narrow the field. Artificial reality? Alien social experiment? Clones? (I’ll never tell.) Rarely, does the twist turn out to be so goofy, and counter-intuitive that when the ending is revealed it feels like a cheat. (Sadly, The Lost finale was one of those rarities.)
Solving the mystery of Wayward Pines using The Sixth Sense Dilemma as a model should be easy. In a recent episode (I won’t tell you which) we were given a gigantic clue – the visual equivalent of Haley Joel’s “I talk to dead people,” declaration. The truth wasn’t just out there. It was so close to our noses, it made some of us sneeze. There was no logical explanation for what we saw other then the one that explains everything. (Well, maybe not everything. Why people are so mean to each other may just be human nature.) As in The Sixth Sense, the revelation was followed by visual sleight of hand – curveballs designed to throw us off, but if closely examined everything that seems to contradict the correct theory, actually supports it. Furthermore, there’s a big elephant in the town square – the time shifts. How is it possible for Kate to have arrived twelve years before as evidenced not only by her recollections, but by her hair? How could Evans have shown up two years before, gotten married and had a baby? For a theory to be valid it has to account for the time shift issue. Reverse-engineer to solve that one, and you’ll have your solution.
Ridiculousness and implausibility is NOT a good reason to throw out a theory, but if it doesn’t support what you’ve seen (even if initially it seems to rule out what you’ve seen) then it’s not valid. Also if you can’t make it work without its being way too complicated, then there’s probably another more likely explanation. Some theories may be less wrong, neither provable nor improvable, but only one is correct. So make a chart as above but with several rows. Add an additional column to check-off whether or not your theory accounts for the time-shifts. List your favorite theories, and have fun. Bragging rights is the prize for coming up with the correct answer before the show airs, but don’t expect anyone to believe you didn’t find it on the Internet.
(This post should be running soon on HNTP where you can check out my recaps of Wayward Pines episodes and other television related stuff. There is NO donate button on this blog, but if you’d like to help me out, you could check out my fiction and buy something for as little as 99 cents.)