Previously on Wayward Pines ... human civilization died out, 2000 years have passed, a mad scientist put a bunch of people in stasis (most without their consent), yada yada yada ... welcome to Wayward Pines, a 1950s-esque sleepy little hamlet hiding out after the end of everything.
Now on Wayward Pines ... did you not watch last season? Don't worry, pal, this Bud's for you!
So, yes. This is basically a second pilot for those who did not watch the surprisingly successful first season of M. Night Shyamalan's Wayward Pines. Basically what you need to know is that there was this guy, Ethan Burke, who wakes up in Wayward Pines, is real mad about it, but still winds up sacrificing himself to save the joint from these degenerated human ghouls of the future that are all over the planet (we think) called "Abbies." Now Ethan's son, Ben, is fighting a revolution in Wayward Pines to usurp absolute power from The First Generation, aka the members of the community who are young and hence have the least attachment to the world that was.
If that all sounds very complicated, don't worry -- there's a brand-new protagonist who just woke up from his millennia-long slumber to do this confusing dance with you.
If, however, you have already watched Wayward Pines' first season, this new pilot is gonna feel like a real retread. But we're here anyway, so! Shall we?
- Dr. Theo Yedlin and his wife, Rebecca, are on vacation, but it's not exactly paradise. They seem like they're on the verge of splitting up because Rebecca wants children and Theo does not. However there's a familiar face for those of us who watched last season -- Sheriff Pope, played by Fox's favorite rap emperor, Terrence Howard. Pope's got a good feeling about Theo, who is a talented doctor/surgeon, which only means the one thing on Wayward Pines ...
- Hey, what's up? It's me, ur boy, the future! Nah, not Future, I mean, like, the actual, literal future year 4032. How it is? Pretty bad, actually. Civilization is destroyed and whatnot, but Dr. Theo Yedlin just woke up in Wayward Pines. He doesn't know where he is yet, but there's no time for that, because he needs to perform life-or-death surgery on someone who has been shot. Theo does not trust this situation on account of it's real weird, so he rolls out of a moving vehicle and books it just in time to hear some explosions. There's another plot detour, but it doesn't last long.
- Theo gets to the hospital and meets Jason Higgins, who seems to be toward the top of the First Generation's chain of command. He tries to allay Theo's concerns by explaining that Wayward Pines is a secret government experiment designed to test the psychological affects of war trauma on civilians and convinces Theo to operate on another familiar face, Kate Hewson, who was part of the rebellion force against Wayward Pines last season. Cool, cool. Theo saves Kate's life like a baller.
- Meanwhile, how about that Ben Burke! Unsurprisingly, he and his team of renegades were responsible for the explosion earlier. Slightly more surprising is that one of Higgins' right-hand men, Xander, is a double agent working with Ben to shake things up from the inside. Xander thinks that, over time, Higgins can be worn down and made to compromise, but Ben says he won't be satisfied until every citizen in Wayward Pines can live however they want to. They wanna watch Zootopia on an endless loop? Let 'em!
- Shortly after Kate tries to tell Theo his actual situation, he witnesses a woman being rounded up for some reason and then gets locked up in a "hotel." Xander to the rescue. Sort of. It's more like Xander to the "Hey, let's go watch some renegades get executed in the town square." As Theo begins to make his way toward the executions, a few things happen all at once, including his wife showing up, one rebel being shot, and then Ben also showing up to stop the killings. I hope someone at Wayward Pines stored away one of those Staples "That was easy" buttons for Jason Higgins to press.
- Jason is not happy with Theo's show of support for the rebels even though Theo has no idea what they were rebelling against. So Xander, Ben and Theo all wind up in a truck with Sheriff Mario, who promptly launches the truck outside of the town and into Abbie territory, because I guess that's how they deal with even the most minor forms of dissent in this town. Jeez.
- Oh, and Kate slits her own throat while lying on top of the First Generation's teacher from last season, Megan Fisher. That'll show ... somebody.
Does it sound like a lot happened? I mean ... not really? It's a pretty slow episode designed almost enirely for new viewers. So if you already knew most of this stuff, it's pretty dullsville.
For the Gotham recaps, I used to split things up between the good, the bad, and "the Gotham," but for this first episode, that third spot is going to be filled with my personal hopes for this season of Wayward Pines. So without further ado ...
- These young people struggling to maintain order for no other reason other than because it's what their father figure "would have wanted" is an intereting conceit. I actually get Jason's position a little more than Ben's right now. Sure things are strict, but Ben's plan seemed to be "blow things up and seee what happens" so that's not a much better solution. There's a genuine struggle, though -- how do you keep the human race going after the end of everything if there's no order? Sure, Wayward Pines takes things to a seemingly impossible extreme, but I kinda get it? Sort of? With the current understanding that there's no one else left on Earth, there's a lot of presure to keep people in line, keep them following rules, and keep the human race going.
- Also, who saw Kate's suicide coming? Not I, said the bear. At first I thought that was pretty dumb, but the more I considered it, the more I realized Kate was just out of hope for herself. By bleeding out all over Megan I guess Kate hoped she'd make Megan reconsider the path she and the First Generation are taking. And, I mean... you'd be pretty haunted by someone slitting their own throat on top of you, right? Eithe way, I can't lie -- I like me some gore and that throat slitting was gnarly slasher movie levels of good.
- Theo feels like a real Ethan Burke retread right now. I just don't understand why this was the character the writers went with. Just because Matt Dillon wasn't going to stay on doesn't mean you come up with a 2.0 version of his character. Right now the biggest reason it feels like we're treading water is because Theo just doesn't stand out.
- The only major narrative change from last season to this is that last year the audience was figuring out what's up at the same time as Ethan and this year we all know what's happening before Theo does. I get the need to re-explain everything, but the fact that Theo still isn't informed by the end of this episode makes the whole story drag.
- I know the show is called Wayward Pines, but I hope we move away from the town a bit. We've already been aware of three revolutions there and I'm not sure this latest one is going to be any more different or interesting. I'd like there to be more to the outside world than what we've seeen.
- I hope that we get more types of abbies. Wayward Pines reminds me a bit of the Fallout series and, you know, not all the ghouls in those games are feral. Some of them are perfectly functional. Wouldn't it be cool if there was some kind of civilization that survived without being placed into stasis? Then we'd be experiencing a much larger world.
- More gruseome death scenes, please! Kate's suicide was, well, pretty killer. Clearly this show has some talented makeup effects artists -- use 'em! Blow some people up! Let some abbies tear some citizens apart! Get a little bit of that 80s slasher vibe going! It's fun!
Anyway, that's episode one. Not bad, but not great. What did you think, though? And what are you looking forward to this season on Wayward Pines?