About midway through the first season of Wayward Pines, a handful of you may have decided to check out the series, executive produced by M. Night Shyamalan, based on positive reviews from myself and others.
For that, I am sorry.
After a very compelling setup, Wayward Pines proceeded to shit the bed in the back half of season one after the big reveal in which we learned that the residents of the small town had all been frozen for 2,000 years while the rest of human civilization evolved into aberrations, freaky little man-eating monsters. The back-half ratings were solid enough (in spite of the decline) to resurrect what was meant to be a one-off limited series for a second season, even though the first season had covered all of the territory that made up Blake Crouch’s original trilogy of novels.
However, since so many of the characters from the first season died — included the lead, played by Matt Dillon — the second season has had to essentially reset. At the end of the first season, we flash-forwarded three years to see that the First Generation members have taken over the leadership (the First Generation, as you may recall, encompassed all those who were born in Wayward Pines). That’s where the second season picks up, with another man from the past — and his wife — being unfrozen and thrown into a new life of which they have no immediate understanding.
The lead this season is Jason Patric, who is the dollar store version of Matt Dillon after he’s been thrown into the markdown bin and had the price slashed to a quarter. He’s a doctor. He’s conveniently unfrozen in order to perform surgery on Kate (Carla Gugino), one of several first-season cast members who return to essentially show their face for the television ad spots (Terrence Howard, likewise, makes a brief appearance to recruit Patric’s Dr. Theo Yedlin). Spoilers: Gugino’s character doesn’t stick around for long: She slashes her own throat because she couldn’t bear the thought of sharing more scenes with the criminally used Hope Davis.
In this second season, it’s the son of Dillon’s character, Ben, who has started a resistance movement. In the three years since his Dad died, he and the resistance managed to knock out the surveillance system, which has made guerrilla warfare with the First Generation somewhat easier. The First Generation, however, plays upon the sympathies of the resistance and begins the reckonings (executions) again to pull them out of hiding.
Meanwhile. Dr. Theo has to go through the experience that Matt Dillon’s character did when introduced to Wayward Pines in the first season (Theo also has a troubled marriage to contend with), but the learning curve here is much quicker. In fact, by the end of the pilot episode, the series has basically moved ahead to where the first season was midway through: Pitting Theo and the resistance against the First Generation.
In other words, all the mysteries of the first season have been answered. There’s nothing new here, only an opportunity for the characters to learn from the mistakes of the previous insurrection and get it right this time. Or not. The series could repeat itself again in a third season.
Without the mysteries, however, the series has to rely on the acting and the writing, and that was never a strong suit for Wayward Pines. That continues to be the case now that it’s working without the source material. The acting is wooden; the tone is grim; the suspense is nonexistent. It’s essentially a series that is going through the motions; a different verse of a song with a never-ending chorus.
With summer here, you’ve probably got plenty on your plate, and Netflix already has an abundance of new television to keep up on. There’s no reason to return to a Fox series that had already sputtered to a disappointing first-season finale once only to see the series return and sputter from the beginning of season two.