Thursday, May 28, 2015

Wayward Pines

I'm of two minds about Wayward Pines. This is kind of surprising, since I'm usually pretty decisive.

I can typically tell in the first few episodes or even minutes if I am going to like a show. But Wayward Pines is proving a difficult nut to crack. Not to say that the plot is particularly complicated, but when the best way to describe a show is "Twin Peaks meets LOST," you can pretty much guarantee there is going to be some wacky stuff going on. 

Here's the official description from FOX (cue press release voice):
Based on the best-selling novel, “Pines,” by Blake Crouch, and brought to life by suspenseful storyteller M. Night Shyamalan, WAYWARD PINES is an intense, mind-bending new thriller in which nothing is what it seems. Secret Service agent ETHAN BURKE (Academy Award nominee Matt Dillon, “Crash,” “City of Ghosts”) arrives in the bucolic town of Wayward Pines, ID, on a mission to find two missing federal agents. But instead of answers, Ethan’s investigation only turns up more questions. Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the life he knew, from the husband and father he was, until he must face the terrifying reality that he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive.
That's not really super specific, so here's my short version of the plot. Matt Dillon is in a car crash while investigating the disappearance of two fellow Secret Service agents. He wakes up in a hospital in Wayward Pines, Idaho, where everything is super creepy. There are hardly any phones that work, he can't find his wallet or any possessions, and everyone seems to be part of some vast conspiracy. Mostly a conspiracy against allowing him to leave. And it turns out one the agents he has been searching for (and had previously had an affair with) has been living in Wayward Pines for years...even though she just went missing a short time ago.

Wayward Pines has the "Federal agent finds himself in a super strange small town filled with crazy people where supernatural things happen" vibe of Twin Peaks combined with the "seemingly normal people find themselves trapped in a super strange place that doesn't seem to follow the laws of physics and is part of a must deeper mystery" aspects of LOST

Normally this kind of thing would seem like a slam dunk, but Wayward Pines meanders just enough that I'm not sure it will sustain the intrigue of the pilot. A plot twist at the end of the second episode is enough to keep me watching for now, but if episode three doesn't step up I might consider dropping it. But let's be honest--there's not a heck of a lot on TV this summer and my OCD will probably kick in so that I feel obligated to finish the season.  

It certainly looks good though; everything about the show, sets, and characters works and is just slightly weird enough to be off-putting. And the performances are downright great. Props to Terrence Howard for playing the local Sheriff with just the right amount of ambiguity that I am super interested in finding out his part in the overall conspiracy. I was also really excited to see Carla Gugino in the cast as the missing-now-found Secret Service agent. 

In sum, Wayward Pines has a great creepy feel that hints at a much larger mystery, but it's going to have to work to keep up the momentum established in the pilot. If you're looking for something to watch this summer, you could do a lot worse. 

Wayward Pines airs on FOX Thursdays at 9:00 PM EST. You can catch up with the first two episodes on FOX's website or on Hulu.

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