Well, we’ve reached cruising altitude. I refrained from reviewing last week’s episode of Wayward Pines because even with my minimum word count of 400 I had next to nothing to say about the follow-up to an episode that still remains the high point of the series. With last week’s “Our Town, Our Law” and this week’s equally mundanely titled “One of Our Senior Realtors Has Chosen to Retire,” Chad Hodge’s show once again feels like it possesses all the familiar ingredients but is nowhere close to serving something new and exciting. Not that everything has to be new and exciting, but it does have to be engaging. Wayward Pines engages on the most minimal levels, and that’s perhaps more of a crime than being incredibly dull.
Last week saw Ben’s wife Theresa and son Harold, easily the show’s low point in terms of writing and acting, make their way into Wayward Pines. Much like Ethan’s entrance into Wayward Pines, they were in some sort of accident and don’t seem to remember any of the details. Meanwhile, Ethan spends most of the episode uncovering more generic mysteries about the town hellbent on imprisoning him. Whereas “Do Not Discuss Your LIfe Before” was an episode which increasingly built suspense and led to a thrilling climax, “Our Town, Our Law” threw a shocker ending in at the last minute in hopes of canceling out the mundanity that preceded it.
The absence of Terence Howard’s Sheriff Pope isn’t as much of an issue as I thought it would be, and if anything his admittedly unexpected death gives me even more of a reason to catch up with Empire. Equally unexpected though still minimally interesting is the choice of Ethan as Pope’s replacement. That Ethan’s new position of authority allows him to continue his investigation into the mysteries of Wayward Pines suggests convenient plot contrivances rather than interesting developments. Again, why would a town with eyes and ears everywhere let Ethan just continue to wander the town? Gotta drive the plot forward somehow, I guess.
Chad Hodge’s show continues to slumber through checking off plot points rather than providing interesting characters, and the performances continue to engage even when the writing doesn’t. Zal Batmanglij returns to direct his second episode in a row, providing steady direction and ample artistic flourishes. Again, these are things that engage on the most basic of levels. Wayward Pines is missing a key ingredient, and I’m not sure if Chad Hodges even has it in his arsenal.
For a show that seems dangerously close to going on eternal autopilot, there was one particular development that showed some interesting promise. Hope Davis gets her first onscreen credit in the show as Megan Fisher. As is the custom in Wayward Pines, Ben is all but forced to start attending school. The show teases that the education of the town’s children is essential to its function, and two scenes involving Ben’s education are a nice blend of dark humor and incendiary intrigue. It’s not enough to save the show, but with more stuff like it perhaps things could start changing for the better.
Speaking of changing for the better, next week’s episode is titled “The Truth.” With the series reaching its midway point, Hodge has the perfect chance to liven his show back up. But will it be enough?
For a show that seems dangerously close to going on eternal autopilot, there was one particular development that showed some interesting promise.