Wayward Pines (2015) s01e01 – Where Paradise Is Home

My favorite part of this episode is when M. Night Shyamalan’s name comes up for the director credit because there have already been so many terrible shots, it seemed like it had to be a named terrible. Shyamalan’s direction throughout the episode will be godawful, both with his composition and the direction of the actors. For instance, if I never see Shannyn Sossamon in anything again, I’ll be fine, and it’s entirely Shyamalan’s infinitely lousy direction of her performance.

He even manages to get a lousy performance from Melissa Leo, which I didn’t think was possible. At least, not this wretched a performance.

Shyamalan’s also one of the show’s executive producers, with Chad Hodge getting the creating credit. The show’s based on novels by Blake Crouch, which I haven’t and would need to be paid to read at this point, so it’s unclear who wrote all the terrible dialogue. I’m assuming Hodge. Though maybe Shyamalan gave the stars license.

Speaking of stars, “Wayward Pines” has a motley crew of “used to be movie stars” traipsing across the screen, starting with Matt Dillon. He’s a Secret Service agent on a secret mission somewhere in the Pacific Northwest who wakes up injured and stumbles into Wayward Pines, Idaho. Outside the one Black guy—Terrence Howard as the sheriff—the show’s strictly as white and exclusionary as you’d expect from real Idaho.

Except Dillon soon discovers Wayward Pines is no regular town. For one thing, there are no crickets, rather noise boxes making cricket sounds.

He’s trying to get in touch with Sossamon, his somewhat estranged wife (Dillon stepped out on her with partner Carla Gugino, who he’s now on assignment looking for), but she never seems to get any of his messages. He doesn’t call her cell phone because he’s a shitty husband and doesn’t know the number. All of his personal possessions are missing, so it’s a little weird when everyone just takes it at face value he’s not lying about his identity.

Though we find out this episode while things aren’t what they seem, some things—people being out to get Dillon—are actually happening.

The only friend Dillon makes in town is bartender Juliette Lewis, who fronts him a cheeseburger and the address to a mysterious house where he makes a horrifying discovery. Sort of. If Shyamalan could direct, if Hodge could write, if Dillon could run the show.

Dillon’s a bad lead. I’m not sure how much of it’s Shyamalan or the writing, but he’s a charm black hole. He’s not as bad as the forced quirky going on around him, like Leo, but he’s not good. He’s a little better than Lewis, but Lewis’s performance feels like someone’s constantly distracting her from doing her job like Shyamalan was yelping every time she had a delivery and throwing her off.

Maybe he was chirping like a cricket.

Howard’s better than anyone else. He seems to know it’s bad.

Reed Diamond comes in towards the end and does fine. He’s apparently impervious or just knows how to work on bad TV.

The worst part of the episode might come at the very end, when the show gives away the mystery, promising the rest of the show will just be watching a bunch of unlikeable characters poorly acted.