Tweetable Takeaway: #WaywardPines starts to go off the rails in the second episode.
Airtime: Thursdays on FOX 9/8 central.
By: Jeff Iblings, Contributor
The second episode of WAYWARD PINES raises a lot of questions. The series flies through plot at an incredible clip, but will it burn itself out before all ten episodes air? I’m afraid it might.
What I liked most about the pilot was the mystery of Wayward Pines and how Ethan became trapped there. Everything was off kilter, and the whole town was a place to be explored. Now I’m not so sure I like where this is going. This episode picks up where the last one left off, with Sheriff Pope arresting Ethan after he’s found out there’s no road out of Wayward Pines. Not only has Ethan confronted a huge wall that surrounds the town and woods, but also he’s now under arrest for stealing a car. “Don’t try and leave Mr. Burke, that’s rule number one.”
The sheriff and his secretary are beginning to get on my nerves. Their entire attitude toward Ethan has been lifted from, and is an exact copy of the off kilter sheriff’s station Chris Isaak wanders into in Fire Walk With Me. I don’t mind an homage, but I’m beginning to feel that even though Ethan is a fish out of water, his Secret Service training would almost surely give him the upper hand on a sheriff and a kooky town. If Pope holds the town under his thumb, how hard would it be for Ethan to eliminate him and take over? This is the thought that pops into my head every time sheriff Pope plays the tough guy card on Ethan.
Remember the hotel Ethan was kicked out of and clearly not welcome at in the pilot? He’s now supposed to be under house arrest in the hotel, which doesn’t have a working computer or any copies of a newspaper at all. Right after being arrested for stealing a car, Ethan ends up heading back to the house that holds the charred body of Evans. He finds a notebook in Evans boot, but is unable to take it before the sheriff shows up and makes him leave at gunpoint.
Beverly is the only person he can really trust in the entire town. She gives him some money to use, and tells him there are microphones and cameras everywhere, so be cautious. He uses a phone to call the Secret Service headquarters in Seattle again. He gets the same receptionist, but catches her in a lie about what floor the desk she sits at is and hangs up on him. Now he knows his calls are not getting out of Wayward Pines.
The biggest problem of the entire show, is that Ethan’s wife and their son are not sympathetic in any way. In fact, every time they appear onscreen, the show dies. The only real purpose they serve is to remind the audience that Ethan has vanished from the outside world without a trace. Their storyline is almost completely useless. The whole Ethan and Kate affair storyline is tired, and I don’t see it being integral to the storyline at this point.
Speaking of Kate, she works at a toy store with her husband. Ethan drops by to talk about Evans and the fact that all the money in Wayward Pines is counterfeit. She clues him in on a few more of the town rules: Never discuss the past, and always answer the phone when it rings. She obliquely tells him Evans was married, and where to find his wife. I’m not sure why she gives him this hint, since later in the episode she seems to be clearly working against Ethan.
When Ethan confronts Evans wife, she tells him he killed himself in front of her. Ethan pops over to the morgue and retrieves the notebook from Evans body. It contains a map of Wayward Pines and Evans original escape plan, along with supplies he’s hidden. Beverly tells him that Pope slit Evans throat in front of the whole town. He didn’t commit suicide. Beverly and Ethan decide to escape later that night, but not before they get invited over to Kate’s to have dinner with her husband. Before they go, Ethan cuts a tracking device out of his arm, and figures out the cameras follow the chip, but if he walks by without it, they don’t even see him.
The escape plan completely falls apart when Beverly brings up her daughter in Oregon. DO NOT TALK ABOUT THE PAST! Beverly flees, and Ethan makes an excuse to go after her. Kate and her husband clearly work for the town. He says, “Do you think they’re going to run?” “Absolutely” she tells him. Once Ethan finds Beverly outside, all the telephones in the town start ringing at once. Everyone searches for the two of them, so they split up. Ethan gets away, but Beverly is strung up in the town square and Pope slits her throat.
- In these two episodes, Wayward Pines has blown through plot like crazy. On cable these two episodes could have been stretched out into an entire season, with Beverly’s death being a season one cliffhanger. Instead, the show pisses away the opportunity to let the town be a character, or to let Ethan explore and discover the nuances and ins and outs of Wayward Pines. It feels like a big mistake. I read that the show will burn through all 3 of the books in its ten episode season, but right now the pace seems way too hasty.
- At one point we see an aerial view of Wayward Pines, and it appears the whole town is inside the crater of an old volcano. It would’ve been way more interesting if Ethan were allowed some time to figure this out, instead of cheaply showing us this twice in the last two episodes. We’re missing out on some really great story opportunities.
- In the cemetery, there are tombstones with no names on them, and Beverly tells Ethan that one day she just woke up in Wayward Pines inexplicably. They convinced her she had a brain trauma and that she’d lived there her whole life, but her real memories came back.
- With Beverly dead, who in the hell is going to help Ethan? He’s on the run, and it looks like he’s killed a man. Clearly Kate isn’t going to be very helpful.
- The nurse and doctor are back and just as creepy as ever. They try to convince Ethan he’s having hallucinations, and if he just gives them permission to do brain surgery on him it will all go away. By the end of this episode I was wishing someone would do brain surgery on me.
For six months out of the year Jeff is holed up in his home with nothing to do but shovel snow, watch television, write, and dream of warmer climates. Twitter: @OfSoundnVision