Good old humanity.
Even when they’re handed a nice bright and shiny chance to save themselves, they manage to soil it, scuff it and break in two, all the while holding a knife to their own throats.
The good citizens of Wayward Pines, trapped in a future oasis of humanity 2000 years distant from the present around which crudely-evolved bipedals known as Abbies carnivorously patrol, have demonstrated time and again that whether they’re given the truth (Group A), have it shielded from them (Group B) or are dictatorially controlled by the first generation born in what is essentially an ark for Homo Sapiens, that they will self-destruct.
It doesn’t justify the current regime that’s in place in the Idaho town, headed by Jason Higgins (Tom Stevens) of course – although to be fair if you’re the only ones who know the truth, and have been taught from birth that it’s your founder’s way (now dead) or the highway, then you’re inclined to be a tad, or a LOT fascist – but it makes sense that it might occur to those in power that the only way to keep things in touch is to rule with an iron fist.
History shows us, and by this stage there’s a lot of it to look back on, that all repression really does is build up a resentful powder kegs that explodes in rebellion and sedition, which is exactly what Wayward Pines is in the grip of three years after the death of FBI Agent Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) when Dr Theo Yedlin (Jason Patric) from Group C is awakened to operate on a septic Kate (Carla Gugino).
With his last memories being a slow-burning, intractable argument with his wife Rebecca (Nimrat Kaur) in the middle of a Hawai’ian vacation followed by drinks with a fellow guest – good old Sherriff Arnold Pope (Terrence Howard) in recruiting for the apocalyptic ark civvies – Theo is understandably confused, in ways more trenchant and less easily modified than his protagonist predecessor.
So enroute to the hospital in the company of Higgins’ right hand woman and romantic partner, Kerry Campbell (Kacey Rohl), he makes a break for it, running through alleys, side streets and pine trees until he discovers …
A wall covered in blood.
Not in Hawai’i or 2016 anymore are we Theo?
Theo of course realises that pretty quickly although there’s a nice long drawn-out period of barely-disguised conceit when he’s assured over and over that his wife is inbound, he’ll be back home in Boston in no time and life as he knew it will resume uninterrupted.
Of course, we all know that can’t ever be the case – that small matter of 2000 intervening years throws a rather humongous chronological fly in the ointment – and Theo, being a pretty smart guy works out that’s all a great big pack of lies in no time flat, earning him an episode-ending trip outside the wall with a bunch of rebels including Ethan’s son Ben (Charlie Tahan) and double agent Xander (Josh Helman).
And so begins another trip down the rabbit hole created by Wayward Pine’s founder David Pilcher (Toby Jones) and now maintained by the repression-inclined First Generation, which by necessity feels like a retread of the series pilot.
But that stands to reason – new central characters is tipped into a twisted Alice in Wonderland dystopian world where up is down and down is up, and it makes sense that he must go through many of the things that Burke went through.
The key difference here is that Patric gets up to speed really quickly, setting the stage for season 2, in which we have been promised a riproaring narrative ride, while playing things pretty close to the vest throughout, something that good old heart-on-his–sleeve Ethan Burke didn’t quite manage.
It doesn’t stop him getting into a whole world of trouble but at least he absorbs enough to know that Wayward Pines is a whole other kind of Stepford Wives-esque nutjobbery and that if this is what it takes to save the human race, then should it survive at all?
What makes the premiere episode of season 2 work so well is that it both manages to succinctly set the stage for the rest of the season, despite a great deal of expositionary weight – it begins three years after the Abbies ran amok in the town and lots has happened in the interim – and bring us back into the bleak, is-this-the-future-really-oh-god world of Wayward Pines where true believers like Megan Fisher (Hope Davis) hold poisonous sway over young, impressionable minds.
Keeping a series like Wayward Pines going after the big reveal – in this case that it’s a far-future bastion of humanity with no counterparts – can be a challenge but provided it can extend the world it inhabits, explore the politics and morality of survival some more (what is the point of surviving, for instance, if everything that makes you human is sacrificed in the process?) and give us more of a look at the dystopian landscape beyond the town (critical because it keeps threatening to crash on in anyway), then the series could be with us for quite a while yet.
Unlike humanity of course who is pretty much on a short road to nowhere …
- What lies ahead in Wayward Pines you ask? In next episode “Blood Harvest”, Theo, Ben and the others find themselves up against the Abbies out beyond the wall and as you’d expect, it ain’t a whole lotta fun …