TV Review: “Wayward Pines” – Way Good

Written by Michelle Young July 12, 2015

Wayward Pines

Summer-time programming is usually pretty hit or miss. Networks tend roll out shows that they’re unsure about, which results in a few solid months of mediocre TV. Fortunately, “Wayward Pines”, a limited run FOX series produced by M. Night Shyamalan and based on the novels by Blake Crouch, is actually pretty decent. With so many twists and turns, this psychological thriller offers up some great intrigue and mystery without getting too overcomplicated, stale, or strung out.

Secret Service agent Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) has come to Wayward Pines in search of two missing service agents, but ends up getting in a car accident. While stranded in the quaint Idaho mountain town, and with the help of Beverly Brown (Juliette Lewis), a former software sales rep trapped in the town as well, he quickly learns that things are not as they seem. As Ethan’s stay grows longer he soon learns more about the strange workings of Wayward Pines, from its sadistic public executions conducted by Sheriff Arnold Pope (Terrence Howard), to the giant electrified fence keeping everyone in place. His goal now is not only how to escape, but also to find out why this town is here and what its purpose is.

“You think you want to know the truth, but you don’t. It’s worse than anything you could imagine.”

The aspect of “Wayward Pines” that I really appreciated most was the appropriate pacing, which is probably largely due to the fact that it’s a network show with a limited run that has to bring back viewers every week. Unlike shows from streaming services that tend to drag out their mysteries so slowly that it often results in unbearable tension that doesn’t add anything to the show (“Sense8”, I’m talking to you), “Wayward Pines” gives you answers at each weekly pass. This show proves that if your story is good enough, giving away breadcrumbs to the viewers won’t hurt the shock value of the twists.

wayward pines

The acting was also really great, as it should be with such a packed all-star cast that includes Toby Jones, Hope Davis and Melissa Leo among others. Melissa Leo particularly stood out as her character, Nurse Pam, tows the line between kindly church lady and sadistic cult leader perfectly. With a show that focuses a lot on human behaviour and relationships, the portrayals of the characters needed to be solid and they were.

“We don’t really like nosey nellies around here.”

One thing that initially worried me about the series was that it was tied to M. Night Shyamalan, whose recent work has been less well received than a root canal. “Wayward Pines” is certainly very Shymalan-esque, with a lot of twists and unexpected turns, but thankfully without a lot of the Shymalan-esque crap coating the walls. There were a few spots I felt that a little bit seeped through, but for the most part, it didn’t happen very often. The show constantly keeps you guessing, never really knowing whom to trust, what is real, what is genuine. Just when I thought I had a grasp on where the series was going, a reveal came that completely flipped the switch.

wayward pines

“Wayward Pines” is ultimately a spooky combination of “The Matrix”, “Under the Dome”, “Twin Peaks”, and “The Truman Show”, but with its own original spin. There is enough going on to confuse you a little, but still keep you interested and invested in the story and the excellently portrayed characters. There are still two episodes left to air, so the conclusion still remains unknown, but I will for sure be watching.

My Rating: 8/10

wayward pines

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