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TV Series Review

Wayward Pines seems like a pretty place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there. Not that anyone has much of a choice in the matter. This quaint little Idaho mountain town is an impossible place to leave, you see, not because of the spectacular views or the charming residents or the mighty fine pie they serve at the local diner, but because the whole hamlet is surrounded by an electric fence. The one road into town never leaves on the other side. And some of the residents are quite insistent—murderously so, it would seem—that visitors stick around.

You Can Check Out Anytime You Like …

Ethan Burke learned this the hard way in Season One. A Secret Service agent with a history of mental illness and hallucinations (the Service's screening procedures must be more forgiving than I'd imagined) landed in town after he and his partner were hit headlong by a semi. Alas, the other guy didn't survive, and Ethan somehow wound up in Wayward Pines—a village filled with sweetly sadistic nurses, creepily lethargic sheriffs and handfuls of huddled townsfolk who may or may not fear for their own lives.

The town is a little like the island in Lost—only a whole lot weirder. And it turns out Burke jumped ahead about 2,000 years and landed in the last presumed outpost of humanity, a village locked in the past and surrounded by humanity's naked, mutated, bloodthirsty descendants. Pollution and climate change have resulted a downward evolutionary spiral of sorts, turning us all into raging animals with cannibalistic tendencies. Wayward Pines was humanity's last gasp to preserve a form of humanity that still knows what to do with a dinner fork.

But Wayward Pines has its own problems. The town's run by the so-called "First Generation," a legion of young 'uns born in the town who rule it through a blend of idyllic Confucianism ("We all have our place") and brutal fascism ("And if you don't know what that is, we'll have to kill you"). Leader Jason Higgins may mean well, but he's made it pretty clear: If you're gonna live in Wayward Pines, you're going to have to do what he, and Wayward Pines Academy teacher Megan Fisher, say. "Clear rules and severe punishment," Megan reminds Jason. "It's the only way."

Alas, Ethan didn't survive the first season. But his son, Ben, is on the scene doing his best to lead a revolt against Jason's extremism. Meanwhile, the city's brought in a new doctor from the past, Dr. Theo Yedlin, to patch up its oft-injured residents. But he's not yet on board with the program either.

Meanwhile, the ravenous aberrations outside—not-so-affectionately called "Abbies" by Wayward Pines residents—continue to clamor at the door, looking for any weakness in the walls so they can walk into town and have a most excellent feast.

... But You Can Never Leave

Fox's summertime mystery, full of inexplicable time shifts and inscrutable motives, comes with an impressive pedigree. M. Night Shyamalan, director of creepy twisteroo movies The Sixth Sense and Signs, helped create the thing. And while Wayward Pines hasn't yet earned the raves of, say, Mad Men, it's been pretty well received.

David Lynch's early 1990s series Twin Peaks was clearly an inspiration for Wayward Pines. And at least early on, the latter show seemed to embrace what most would think of as early 1990s levels of grit and grime—not squeaky clean, not even close; but also not the viciously bloody 21st-century template set by The Following and Hannibal.

But in Season Two, Wayward Pines seems to be growing bloodier by the day. Murder and suicide and blood-splattered walls are all-too frequent in this quaint little town. Infidelity is also a big theme.

I mean, hey, the show is called Wayward Pines, after all.

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Episode Reviews

Wayward Pines: May 25, 2016
Wayward Pines: May 14, 2015



Readability Age Range



Matt Dillon as Ethan Burke; Carla Gugino as Kate Hewson; Toby Jones as Dr. Jenkins; Shannyn Sossamon as Theresa Burke; Reed Diamond as Harold Balinger; Tim Griffin as Adam Hassler; Charlie Tahan as Ben Burke; Juliette Lewis as Beverly; Melissa Leo as Nurse Pam; Terrence Howard as Sheriff Pope; Hope Davis as Megan Fisher; Tom Stevens as Jason Higgins; Jason Patric as Dr. Theo Yedlin; Kacey Rohl as Kerry Campbell; Nimrat Kaur as Rebecca Yedlin; Josh Helman as Xander Beck; Djimon Hounsou as C.J. Mitchum; Christopher Meyer as Mario






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On Video

Year Published



Paul Asay

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