Fox’s surprise summer 2015 hit Wayward Pines returns to confront dubious opinions of a sequel season
I will be the very first to admit that I was at the front of the “anti-Wayward Pines season two” line. The beauty of Wayward Pines season one was the way it deftly handled its Twilight Zone-like premise, well-acted melodrama, stunning deaths, and major, logic-defying revelations at every turn. Watching season one was, to use a cliche, truly like peeling back the layers of an onion – each mind-blowing layer brought about tears of joy. I was hard-pressed to see what season two could offer with early press and trailers giving more of a Wayward Pines, 90210 vibe than something equally as sinister as season one.
Funny thing about expectations… They’re so often wrong. Wayward Pines season two may not prove to be as ultimately fulfilling as season one, but the premiere was far better than I ever imagined it would be.
The season begins with Jason Patric stepping into the lead role as Dr. Theo Yedlin, a “Group C” doctor who was recruited in a flashback by the departed Sheriff Pope (Terrence Howard). After the events of season one, the citizens of Wayward Pines are at war with each other: the Revolution, led by Ben Burke (Charlie Tahan), against the First Generation, led by Jason (Tom Stevens). The two camps immediately had an amusing, likely unintentional allusion to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Yedlin is thawed out to operate on Kate Hewson (Carla Gugino), a former revolutionary leader injured in the season one fallout. The episode is also peppered with flashbacks to Yedlin’s strained relationship with his wife (Nimrat Kaur).
What’s missing thus far is the sense of mystery and discovery that the first few series episodes had in spades. What exactly was Wayward Pines? Season two throws us back into that mindset through Yedlin’s perspective, but that doesn’t exactly have the same end result. The surprise fact is gone, and what’s left is a somewhat routine militaristic thriller where the First Generation rules through fear and oppression.
That said, surprisingly, there are still surprises to be had in Wayward Pines. Somewhat adjusting for the loss of Melissa Leo, Hope Davis makes a welcome return as Megan Fisher, the full-on believer in the Wayward Pines mystique. This time, she’s confined to a wheelchair after near-death at the hands of the creatures that lurked outside the fence. We don’t yet know how the First Generation retained control after season one (or how Megan survived certain death), but that’s almost incidental. What’s left is a remarkably art directed (clearly someone has been playing Fallout 4) and well photographed piece of drama that still manages to throw up a surprise or two at the end of the episode.
The jury is most definitely still out on Wayward Pines. But the biggest surprise season two has offered yet is that it doesn’t completely stink. It could prove to be more dumb, suspenseful summer fun.
That’s the best you can hope for in Wayward Pines…