Wayward Pines: The Road So Far

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By: Ashley Binion (@ashleybinion)

As Wayward Pines is halfway through its ten episode run, let’s drop in and see how the series is doing.

Warning: Major spoilers ahead.

Wayward Pines, I think I love you.

Up until “The Truth,” I would have said the show is a solid summer series; of course, it isn’t without its faults. But, after watching the fifth episode, “The Truth,” I’m all in. Wayward Pines showed they are willing to make out of the box and completely insane narrative choices.

If you would have told me that there would be an episode, which wasn’t the pilot, that was 95% exposition and that one character would monologue for 20 of the 40-ish minute episode run time, I would have told you that show is completely bonkers and it sounds terrible. Guess what, that’s exactly what Wayward Pines did in the fifth episode, “The Truth.” It was downright bold.

Besides the first episode of a series, you just don’t do that. Other shows have tried it and failed miserably. Let’s take Lost’s “Across the Sea” for example. (Speaking of Lost, the opening scene of Wayward Pines was almost shot for shot the same as Lost’s opening scene. As a huge Lost fan, it was fun to see a series pay homage to the trailblazing show.) Sometimes knowing answers isn’t all that. But, somehow Wayward Pines absolutely nailed it.   

In “The Truth,” three different points of view are observed from Ethan, Theresa, and Ben, and the viewer watched as each Burke got different pieces of the same puzzle. It allowed the audience to come away with a fuller picture. This is something great ensemble pieces do: allow the story to be told through different points of view. Up until “The Truth,” this was rarely done on Wayward Pines. Only once in a while was Ethan not the main focus of a scene, but in the fifth episode, he was barely shown.

Wayward Pines is a series focused on the mystery of the town and its people. Between episodes two and three, it felt like the plot was stalling a little bit. That changed when Ethan’s wife and son arrived in the town. All of a sudden the two dullest and most useless characters on the series had a purpose, especially Ben.

Another narrative chance they are taking is relying so much on the younger generation. Instead of the town “elders” knowing the secret of the town (That they are actually in 4028. Oh, you thought the series was set in 2014? Well, not even close.), they are creating a society where the children have the power. It’s actually an interesting concept.

At the beginning of the series, they had a great cast with five known actors in Matt Dillon, Carla Gugino, Melissa Leo, Terrence Howard, and Juliette Lewis. In the first three episodes, two of these actor’s characters died. They weren’t given much to do and the writing wasn’t elevated to the place it should be with those actors. Mostly it was just Matt Dillon’s character walking around looking for answers while the others would look at him and act like cardboard cutouts of humans.

The series isn’t really interested in the characters and their development, and that’s okay. There are a few townspeople that are extremely interesting, namely nurse Pam. (Although how much of a nurse is she? She’s obviously in on the secrets as she was in the helicopter with the town’s founder David Peltier.) On this show, the characters are there to help move the narrative along. More often than not, it’s the other way around. The narrative helps move the characters along.

Wayward Pines is a series making bold moves in its limited run. It is the definition of a fun summer show that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Series rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


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