Fox’s Wayward Pines, brought to us by M. Night Shyamalan, is off to a solid and promising start, introducing us to an engrossing storyline and a mysterious set of characters. Shyamalan has had some trouble engaging fans with his films as of late, but Wayward Pines is just what audiences needed. So what makes Wayward Pines so special? Firstly it's a genuinely creepy and suspenseful series, that gives you more questions than answers.
Through-out the course of the premiere I found my stomach in knots at how at moments it was out-rightly creepy and then shifted to a more subtle tone of hair-raising moments. I'm also a sucker for a good mystery and that's exactly what Wayward Pines is.
Wayward Pines opens with a close-up of our protagonists eye; a scene that awakened my inner nostalgia by reminding me of Lost’s opening moments. Our "hero," Ethan (Matt Dillon), staggers to his feet and finds himself in the middle of the woods with no idea how he got there in the first place. As he stumbles through the woods, the scene switches back and forth, showing us a conversation Ethan had with his psychiatrist who mentions Ethan having hallucinations; a fact that is brought in later in the pilot.
We also learn Ethan is an Special Agent who is suffering from a crippling guilt due to a bombing he couldn't prevent that took the lives of many civilians. We cut back to the present, where Ethan arrives onto the streets of a mysterious town; the town’s name is Wayward Pines Ethan learns from a waitress before promptly passing out. Wayward Pines introduction not only shows a disoriented Ethan, but also succeeds in basically disorienting its viewers with its eerie and perplexing atmosphere.
Ethan wakes up in a hospital that’s void of any signs of life other than his scary nurse, who I address as Nurse Pam McCreepy. We’re greeted with a flashback that takes place just minutes before Ethan’s car accident which leads to the events at the beginning of the episode. Ethan was discussing the disappearance of two agents (one being his partner and possible former lover) with a colleague before the car is hit by a big-rig truck.
Ethan asks the nurse about his colleague and here’s where things truly start to become unsettling. Nurse McCreepy at first acts confused about Ethan’s inquiry before saying the agent with him passed away. When asked about using a phone and where his stuff is, she indirectly refuses his request for a call and informs him that his stuff in at the sheriff’s office.
Ethan, after hours of waiting, becomes impatient and leaves the hospital, but not before having an unnerving face-off with the nurse whose parting words are that she’s “concerned” about him. Major props to Melissa Leo who sufficiently frightened me; I hope to see more of her through-out the run of Wayward Pines. Ethan wanders to the sheriff’s office which seems to be coincidentally closed so he heads to a local bar where he meets Beverly (Juliette Lewis), a bartender who seems curious about Ethan. She lets him use the bar’s phone which he uses to contact his wife Theresa, who doesn’t answer the call.
Beverly writes her address for Ethan along with the message: “There are no crickets in Wayward Pines.” A statement that’s true enough since Ethan finds a device in the bushes that’s emitting cricket chirps. Just what in the seven hells is going on? Ethan suffers a string of bad luck as he’s kicked out of his hotel and then discovers a dead body at Beverly’s written address. The body happens to be of Agent Evans, one of the missing agents Ethan was looking for. Was Beverly leading him to the surface of the truth about Wayward Pines?
Back at Ethan’s work, Agent Adam Hassler (Ethan’s boss) and one other are in a panic because Ethan was missing from the crash site whereas the driver was burned beyond recognition; there was no sign of Ethan in the surrounding areas. Aside from these agents, we’re introduced to Ethan’s wife Theresa and their son Ben briefly, before Agent Hassler calls her to let her know about Ethan’s disappearance. Theresa is clearly distressed, but trying to maintain some semblance of a hope that her husband is alive.
Things continue to get weirder and weirder as Ethan meets Arnold Pope (Terrance Howard), the sheriff of Wayward Pines, who is just as odd as the other people inhabiting this mysterious town. Arnold seems slightly amused and nonchalant about Ethan’s concerns and findings of the tortured agent’s body. His pretense soon fades when Ethan mentions wanting to accompany him to the body. “I don’t want you to,” Arnold states in a severe and no-time-for-nonsense-kind-of tone. Creeeeepy! Ethan uses the sheriff’s phone to make some calls that all go to voice-mail; it is later shown that no-one has been receiving Ethan's calls or messages.
Back at headquarters, Agent Hassler is told troubling news: there was no sign of Ethan even being in the car at the time of impact; the vehicle's tracker also appears to have vanished. Frustrated beyond belief, Ethan goes back to the bar from the previous night looking for Beverly only to have another bartender inform him that no-one named Beverly works there. Ethan flips out and is knocked out before he can do anything drastic. The bartender who knocked him out pulls out a walkie-talkie and says, “Number 101628 is not doing well.” Is Ethan part of an experiment?
Ethan wakes up, chained to a hospital bed. Dr. Jenkins, a psychiatrist, tries to convince Ethan he’s suffering from severe delusions due to a head injury and he’ll be operated on momentarily. Nurse McCreepy makes a reappearance as she sedates Ethan and wheels him away to his foreboding surgery. Ethan is recused by the elusive Beverly and the two try to find a way out of the eerily empty hospital. Ethan is close to passing out, but that doesn’t stop him from subduing Nurse McCreepy and escaping the hospital with Beverly who takes him to a crypt where she tells Ethan “they’re” trying to break his mind and Evans was killed because he tried to leave.
Beverly reveals she ended up in Wayward Pines after a motorcycle accident, with the doctors telling her she’s suffering from head trauma just like they told Ethan. Here’s the real twist: when asked when she arrived, she responds by saying October of 1999, it’s been one year since she arrived at Wayward Pines. Ethan is startled by this piece of information as he claims it’s 2014 before losing consciousness. So Wayward Pines seems to have hints of a possible time-loop/time-travel.
Ethan wakes up alone and changes into the clothes Beverly left him before venturing into town where he find Kate (Carla Gugino), the other missing agent he’s been searching for. Kate seems to be leading a seemingly happy life (a happier life than the deceased Agent Evans). A flashback reveals that Kate and Ethan were more than just partners, they were lovers. Ethan follows Kate and Harold (whose relationship to Kate was not made clear this episode) home and finally gets a chance to speak to Kate who initially acts like she doesn’t know who he is.
Kate cautions Ethan, claiming someone’s watching them. The show messes with our heads even further after Kate admits she’s been living in Wayward Pines for the past 12 years much to Ethan’s disbelief because she went missing 5 weeks ago. Kate sends Ethan away in a subtle panic and tells Ethan he could be happy in Wayward Pines.
Ethan thinks the opposite as he attempts to leave the town via a stolen car, but finds the road is going in circles always leading him back to Wayward Pines. He gets out of the car and travels through the woods on foot where he discovers a huge, secured wall that circularly encloses the woods and Wayward Pines. What exactly is this place?
Meanwhile, Agent Hassler has a discreet meeting with none other than Dr. Jenkins (the psychiatrist from Wayward Pines). The two have a crypt conversation in which it’s implied Hassler knows what’s happening to Ethan and he’s feeling guilty about it. Ethan rushes back to the car just in time to see the sheriff show up. Wayward Pines stellar premiere episode concludes with Ethan asking “How do I get out of here?” To which Arnold responds, “You don’t.”
I've been looking for a show that would replace the void Lost left; a show that presents me with a creepy atmosphere and a curious mystery to solve. Wayward Pines may just be the show I was looking for since Lost’s finale. Wayward Pines is off to an amazing start and I’m looking forward to the journey it’ll take me on. This series is a definite must watch!
What were your thoughts on Wayward Pines? And for those who haven't seen Wayward Pines, check out the trailer below and watch the premiere ASAP!