May 26, 2016

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “Wayward Pines”


WAYWARD PINES:  Wednesday 9PM on FOX

WAYWARD PINES was never intended to be a continuing series, especially once FOX dumped what was once intended as a prestige project from Executive Producer M. Night Shyamalan into its summer line-up.  But these days, networks can’t afford to leave ratings on the table, and once Wayward proved to be modestly successful by summer TV standards, there was a scramble to figure out how to bring it back.  That led to the version that premiered tonight, under new showrunner Mark Friedman (creator of Believe and the aptly-named The Forgotten, neither of which lasted more than a season on the air), and a mostly new cast led by Jason Patric, with Hope Davis as the most prominent returnee, although several of the original cast members will make guest appearances in Season 2.

The action picked up 3 years after the events of Season 1, with Wayward Pines no longer really pretending to be bucolic, now under the boot of the totalitarian First Generation, the young people born in the 41st century who were raised to defend mankind at any price against the “Abbies,” or abnormal mutant humans who control the rest of the world.  Patric plays Dr. Theo Yedlin, a surgeon thawed out to operate on Kate Hewson (Carla Gugino, whose guest appearance didn’t survive the episode), now a leader of the resistance, from whom the First Generation hoped to gather some information.

This initial hour was rather dull, because while we learned what was going on at Wayward Pines alongside Matt Dillon’s character in Season 1, here we were always several steps ahead of Theo.  Since First Generation leaders Jason (Tom Stevens) and Kerry (Kacey Rohl, a regular off-center presence in shows shot in Canada like Hannibal and The Magicians) were in no hurry to fill Theo in on where and when he is, one quickly became impatient as he gradually figured out that something wasn’t quite right.  (The mass public executions were a clue.)

We won’t really know what this incarnation of Wayward Peaks is until Theo gets his exposition download, but it’s already clear that Season 2 will lack much of what made the initial season distinctive.  The dark Twin Peaks-ish humor of a small town hiding its terrible secrets is gone, and the atmosphere now is simply low-budget horror.  Friedman and the other writers will be hard-pressed to come up with a twist that matches the one from Season 1, and none of the characters or performances seem particularly notable at this point, with Patric basically doing a reprise of Dillon’s work.   We didn’t see any Abbies until the last minute of the episode, and it’s not clear whether, now that they’ve been introduced, they’ll be more prominent, or if budget considerations will keep them absent much of the time.

FOX would be satisfied if this Wayward Pines stayed within a few tenths of Season 1 in the ratings, and in the world of summer TV, that’s certainly possible.  Whether the series will justify its continued existence creatively is a different question, and the initial hour didn’t provide much basis for off-season excitement.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."