First Impressions

Wayward Pines

Aired on: FOX

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            I had been watching the season finale of Empire when I was offered up my first taste of a new FOX series entitled Wayward Pines.  Touted as a ten episode event, the series boasted such stars as Empire's own Terrence Howard, Matt Dillon, Juliette Lewis and Melissa Leo.  The premise was very Stephen King-ish which attracted my attention.  Then I learned it was being directed and produced by M. Night Shyamalan.  This could be good or bad if we look at Shyamalan's track record.  I decided I would check out Wayward Pines when it aired on 9pm on May 14, 2015.

Based on the novel Pines by Blake Crouch, Wayward Pines begins eerily enough with United States Secret Service Agent Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) waking up beaten and battered in the woods.  Confused and in severe pain, Burke wanders into a town and collapses.  He reawakens in a hospital and is told by a rather strange nurse (Melissa Leo) that he was in a car accident and is being cared for in a hospital in Wayward Pines, Idaho.  When he asks for his phone and his wallet, he is told that the town sheriff has them.  When he asks to make a call, the nurse advises him that there are no phone outlets in the patients' rooms, a method used to create a peaceful environment for patients to heal.

Burke becomes immediately suspicious when he doesn't see any doctors, any other nurses or any other patients.  He decides to leave the hospital.  While out, he begins to remember why he is here - two Secret Service Agents are missing and he has been assigned to find them.  He tells this to Beverly (Juliette Lewis), a bartender who decides to help Burke on the sly.  Slipping him an address with a note on the back, she tells Burke that he can stay at her home if he has no other arrangements.  Reading the note on the back - a mysterious sentence about Wayward Pines and the lack of crickets, Burke discovers that, though he can hear crickets, they aren't real.  The noise is created by a mechanical device hidden in the bushes.  Strange...but the whole town has appeared strange to him thus far.

After an unpleasant stay in the town hotel, he decides to take her up on her offer.  But instead of Beverly's home, he discovers an abandoned home.  Inside, he finds the decomposing, tortured and mutilated body of one of the missing agents.  Going to the Sheriff (Terrence Howard) is no help - he can't even provide Burke with his phone or wallet.  Going back to the bar, he finds Beverly if she never existed.  Scared that he may be slipping - we learn through flashbacks that Agent Burke has had psychiatric issues in the past - he becomes out of control and ends up back in the hospital, this time shackled to a bed.

Told he is about to have surgery because there is bleeding on the brain, Burke becomes extremely scared.  But what can he do?  That is, until Beverly appears once again and rescues him, bringing him to another abandoned location until he can sleep off the sedative the hospital has given him.  She gives him some clues about Wayward Pines and some new clothes, then disappears.  When he reawakens, he heads back into town and finally finds Agent Kate Hewson (Carla Gugino), former partner and lover.  Unfortunately, when he approaches her, she pushes him away, telling him that she is putting him and the man she is now with (Tim Griffin) in danger.  Burke again attempts to leave town, but this time, he discovers that what everyone has been telling him is correct - leaving is not an option.

Viewers learn that Wayward Pines is some sort of project...something the government knows about...something Agent Burke's handler tries to pull him out of...only, it's too late.  Burke's part in whatever this strange project is has already begun.  Whatever it is that they have gotten Burke into, viewers only want to know one thing: will he be able to get back out alive?

I have to say, I am extremely intrigued by Wayward Pines.  I find myself wanting to know what the experiment is about and why they have chosen the various people who find themselves stuck in this town.  I find myself actually caring about certain characters like Burke and Beverly (Lewis plays a much more likable character this time around - her character in Secrets & Lies left something to be desired.).  I've got a feeling that this experiment has something to do with creating agents who will perform exactly as ordered with no deviation from their mission...or something like that.  The hint might actually be in the name of the town - Wayward, as in difficult to control.  Only time will tell.  I definitely want to see more of Wayward Pines!


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