VIEWSCREEN WAYWARD PINES
Struggles to find its way
That difficult second season.
UK Broadcast Fox, finished
US Broadcast Fox, finished
Episodes Reviewed 2.01-2.10
How do you continue an “event series” after you’ve blown the big secret, killed off the lead, and offed the antagonist? This rather tricky situation was exactly the one facing Wayward Pines’ incoming showrunner. Unfortunately few of the solutions devised for this second run work all that well.
Not seen the first series? Then clear off and catch up – it’s well worth watching, and it’s impossible to discuss season two without spraying spoilers. Still with us? Then you’ll be aware that halfway through season one it was revealed that the titular small town is all that survives of humanity hundreds of years in the future, home to both volunteers and people abducted and placed in cryogenic suspension against their will – like Matt Dillon’s Secret Service agent Ethan Burke.
With season one’s finale disposing of both Burke and the town’s creator David Pilcher (Toby Jones), season two defrosts a new protagonist: surgeon Dr Theo Yedlin (Jason Patric). Thankfully, the show doesn’t waste time making him play guessing games for long, with the reality of Wayward Pines laid out for Yedlin in episode two by Pilcher’s young heir Jason, who now rules the town with an iron fist – but always with tears welling up in his eyes, because hey, fascists can still be sensitive and dreamy, right? This boy-band Oswald Mosley seems like a transparent attempt to inject the show with teen appeal, and makes for a pretty implausible ruler. You keep hoping Yedlin will clip him round the ear and send him to his room.
With no mystery to solve, how to keep the viewers occupied?
Often seems to be struggling to find a reason to exist
Well, flashbacks come in handy. On the plus side, this means more Toby Jones – always a good thing. But they tend to answer questions no one particularly cared to ask, such as “Who was the architect of Wayward Pines?” Other characters left standing at the end of season one – like Burke’s wife, his son, and former colleague Kate – also return, but are briskly dispensed with. Who knows whether the belated commissioning of a second season meant actors had already committed to other projects, or whether on being offered the gig they spluttered, “Write me out quickly, this sounds pretty pointless”… but you wouldn’t be too surprised if it was the latter.
That yawning narrative gap is also filled by jamming it full of soap. So Yedlin has to deal with the fact that his wife has found a new lover, while other characters discover they’re gay, or – in the season’s most bat’s-arse development – find out that they’re related. You may find yourself sarcastically imitating an EastEnders cliffhanger drum roll.
The one path taken which has some success is expanding the show’s mythology by taking a closer look at the society of the mutated “Abbies” who live outside the town’s walls. After a rarelyseen female Abby is captured, it’s discovered that she’s a leader, is intelligent, and has telepathic abilities. But ultimately this story thread doesn’t really go anywhere. Similarly, while Yedlin’s character darkens towards the end, this evolution comes about too late to be explored in any great depth.
It all makes for a season which is intermittently entertaining, but often seems to be struggling to find a reason to exist. Next time the alarm goes off for humanity to awake, maybe it’d be best to hit the snooze button. Ian Berriman
And it looked like such a nice neighbourhood.
More reliable than Spinal Tap’s.
No wonder it says “Danger” on the door.