Book adaptations are always interesting to me. I love to read, as well as watch movies and TV, so adaptations are a great way to put the story in my head into visual form. Television adaptations are especially exciting to me because the screenwriters and directors have the opportunity to include so much more of the story because they aren’t constrained by time like a film is.
I devoured the “Pines” series over a long weekend shortly after the final book was released, and after I turned off my Kindle after reading the last book, I couldn’t wait to see how it would translate to the screen. Although the basic theme and story do adhere closely to Blake Crouch’s rendering, several major plot points have been changed over the first five episodes of the television series.
WARNING: book spoilers below!
Theresa and Ben’s Story
One of the biggest, and strangest, departures from the original story centers on Theresa and Ben’s entrance into Wayward Pines. The television series has the Ethan’s wife and son frantically searching for him, trekking into the mountains in hopes of finding Ethan with his lover, Kate, and settling Theresa’s suspitions once and for all. While on their trip, Sheriff Pope stops the mother and son duo and damages their car’s engine causing the car to crash. The two then wake up in Wayward Pines Hospital.
The book has a far more interesting story for these two. Shortly after Ethan disappears, Theresa is visited by David Pilcher who offers to bring Ethan and Theresa back together through very mysterious circumstances. After Theresa refuses his offer, Pilcher drugs her and Ben and takes them to Wayward anyway. By the time Ethan arrives in two, mother and son have already been living there for at least five years. It is later revealed that Harold Balinger was the reason Theresa and Ben were part of Pilcher’s experiment, allowing Harold to take on the role of Theresa’s “husband” while Ethan was still in animation.
While the idea of public execution is creepy in any form, the excitement and pageantry depicted in Crouch’s books is completely omitted from the television series. To me, the decadent reckonings were some of the most interesting scenes in the story. Donned in elaborate costumes, the citizens of Wayward pines reveled in the anticipation of capturing and killing the wanted citizen. And Sheriff Pope’s costume was particularly ominous, putting Pope’s psychopathic personality in complete perspective.
Ethan’s rise to Sheriff
Although Ethan does become sheriff in Crouch’s book, his path to the position was a long and winding one. His post was, in fact, a sort of reward for defying the conventions in Wayward and showing Pilcher how strong-willed and intent on finding the truth Ethan really was. Two big deviations occurred that lead to Ethan’s promotion much sooner than in the book version.
First, the death of Sheriff Pope. Neither Ethan nor his family were involved in Pope’s death. Pope was killed on the orders of Pilcher to make way for Ethan’s rise to power.
Second, Ethan’s trip out of Wayward Pines. Ethan was forced out-of-town during the reckoning. The entire town was searching for him, hoping he would meet the same fate as Beverly. Ethan did climb the wall, but the escape lasted several days and nights and ended with Ethan climbing through a ventilation shaft into the Wayward Pines command station (which he discovered by sneaking on to a delivery truck on the television show). It was during his escape that Ethan discovered, and killed, an Abbie, which showed Pilcher the importance of bringing Ethan into the loop and giving him power within the town.