For a show that has spent every second of its marketing hellbent on selling itself as a mind-blowing ride bursting with suspense, Wayward Pines just pulled its biggest trick yet: it was actually mind-blowing and suspenseful. With one solid episode and far too much dead air and tepid world building under its belt, Wayward Pines has finally revealed itself to be a show bursting with intrigue and tantalizing plot developments. Though its new developments do the show’s previous plot points no favors in hindsight, Wayward Pines has put itself on a path to becoming innovative, can’t-miss TV.
I’ve written in past reviews for Wayward Pines how hard it has been for me to take an hour out of my life each week to watch this show. It takes a lot for me to stay invested in a TV show. I’ve quit watching a good number of TV shows even though I still count them among my favorite shows. Honestly, if I hadn’t voluntarily chosen to watch this show and crank out weekly reviews (I’d never reviewed TV before, and thought this was a good as starting point as any other), I probably would have quit by the third episode. I came incredibly close to giving up on Wayward Pines after last week’s snooze fest, so much so that I only caught up with the episode four days after the latest episode aired. I’m glad I decided to give the show another chance.
The first four episodes of Wayward Pines were burdened with unnecessarily long and wordy titles, another failed attempt by the show runners to hide the fact that this was something that had no business taking up precious DVR space. It’s fifth episode, simply titled “The Truth,” pulls such complete 180 that I was certain I was watching a different show. Like its title, this new episode is straight and to the point. But those points are fascinating.
From its opening moments, “The Truth” has an immediate, palpable increase in quality. Not as sprawling as previous episodes, this latest trip to Wayward Pines follows three different plotlines involving Ethan, Ben and Theresa Burke. House of Cards regular James Foley slides comfortably into the director’s chair, expertly weaving in and out of his trio of stories in a way that masterfully amps up suspense and intrigue. The story builds and builds, culminating in multiple unexpected and exciting revelations.
Stylistic flares have made previous episodes watchable when the story is all but stillborn, but this is the first time in Wayward Pines where both style and substance shine together. It’s hard to gauge how much of the writing’s quality should be attributed to Chad Hodges, particularly because he is adapting something I haven’t read. Purely from a storytelling standpoint, this is really the first time where it feels like Hodges is actually creatively turned on by this material, and everything and everyone in the show has greatly benefited as a result.
By the time the episode ends, we are 2,000 years into the future, hold a bigger picture of the world in which Wayward Pines exists and have been introduced to a mutated form of humans that are incredibly dangerous. I’ve been asked by a handful of people whether or not they should start watching the show or binge the whole thing when the season concludes. At this point, I still don’t have enough information to give you that answer. This particular episode of Wayward Pines sets up some pretty exciting stuff, but that fact that it took five episodes to get to this point causes me to worry. “The Truth” feels more like the end of a first act than it does a mid-season marker.
Though its characters still have less depth than a kiddie pool, I am more invested in this show than I have ever been. One of the greatest things that this episode has done is take reset the playing field. Chad Hodges can take his show anywhere now, and that could make more some really great television. I am very excited to tune in next week to see what happens. But Wayward Pines has let me down many times before, so I will be doing so with guarded optimism.
I am very excited to tune in next week to see what happens. But Wayward Pines has let me down many times before, so I will be doing so with guarded optimism.