Wayward Pines, season 1 episode 2, Fox - review: Please, not another Lost

The questions that are piling up seem tantalising, rather than frustrating. This bodes well, as long as Wayward Pines knows where it's going

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The Independent Culture

If you’ve not yet caught up with FOX’s eerie new thriller Wayward Pines then I can explain. Basically it’s Twin Peaks meets Shutter Island meets The Truman Show meets The Prisoner meets Iain Banks’ The Bridge meets Lost. And Matt Dillon’s in it. And M. Night Shyamalan is executive producing. Make sense? Good, because so far Wayward Pines doesn’t.

Having discovered that, like Royston Vasey and Portmeirion before it, no one ever leaves the creepy ‘perfect’ town of Wayward Pines, Special Agent Ethan Burke (Dillon) has been working on ways to escape. He is not tailed by a giant yoga ball like The Prisoner’s Number Six however, but Terrence Howard’s ice cream cone nibbling Sheriff Pope. Which is worse in a way, as he has a gun. As do all the townsfolk it seems, who also do a neat line in pitchfork-inspired mob justice.

Having been introduced to the ‘rules’ of Wayward Pines (‘Do not try to leave. Do not discuss the past, etc’) and forewarned of what happened to his missing colleague Agent Evans, you’d have thought that Burke might have put a little more thought into his first escape attempt. The plan, which was essentially ‘run away’, ended in a way that consumers of big budget TV dramas are now familiar – use a big name to get the show rolling, kill them off right at the top, watch audience pick jaws up off floor.

However, while we witnessed Juliette Lewis’ fellow escapee Beverly have her throat cut by Sheriff Pope, don’t count on her involvement in the show being over. In short, don’t trust Wayward Pines. Nothing is as it seems (plus Burke isn’t the most reliable narrator in the whole world, what with the hallucinations and the bleeding on the brain) and this is a show that clearly delights in wrong-footing its audience at every step. Also, there’s a big Shyamalan shaped thumbprint on Wayward Pines and we all know what his stock in trade is….

Hammy acting? No, don’t be rude. Twists, of course. So we can safely assume that sooner or later the world of Wayward Pines is going to get turned on its head. What, though, will it be? We know that no one can leave, we know the Secret Service is involved, and we know something trippy is going on with time (Beverly thought it was 2000, Burke 2014). Is Burke dead? Unlikely. In a coma? Possibly but that doesn’t explain the scenes involving his wife and son outside of Wayward Pines.

Is he on a really close-to-the-bone reality TV show? Is Wayward Pines part of some kind of government experiment? A really fancy prison? A tarted up Guantanamo Bay? A rubbish theme park?

Whatever the case it’s barrelling along at a rollicking pace at the moment and in these early stages all the questions that are piling up seem tantalising, rather than frustrating. Just please Wayward Pines, please tell us that at least you know what’s going. I can’t take another Lost…