Wayward Pines (2015) s01e03 – Our Town, Our Law

Despite a gory exit last episode, Juliette Lewis is still in the opening titles. It initially made me wonder if “Pines” is going to kill off a main actor every week and just leave them in the titles to remind who’s already gone. She shows up for a moment later, no lines; I wonder if she got paid for it.

It’s a better episode than the two previous ones. The writing’s still Chad Hodge and still insipid; Zal Batmanglij is the director, and Batmanglij has some good shots, which are the first good shots in “Wayward Pines.” There are still some bad CG composites, but there are only so many miracles competence can bring.

The plot’s a bit of a surprise, just because of how much they get done.

The episode opens with lead Matt Dillon—somewhat more comfortable as a TV star, but not much—recovering from last episode’s adventure and pestering ex-partner, ex-lover Carla Gugino, even though she tells him he’s in great danger and needs to chill out. He’s been given a second chance in “Wayward Pines,” he needs to take it.

Dillon’s arc for the first half of the episode involves trying to stow away in a food delivery van. It seems like it will have a predictable conclusion but actually doesn’t. Not in a good way.

The real plot of the episode is Dillon’s wife and son, Shannyn Sossamon, and Charlie Tahan, respectively, coming to town to look for him. Tahan’s convinced he’s run away with Gugino, which leads to some turmoil once Sossamon and Tahan find out Gugino’s there, and Dillon hasn’t provided them any context. They don’t realize they’re in a Stepford town; they just think Dillon ran out on them.

Meanwhile, sheriff Terrence Howard is getting more and more fed up with Dillon refusing to get with the program, despite all the chances Dillon’s getting. It boils over when even Sossamon is rude to Howard, and they all end up on the unpredictable collision course.

Also, a surprise is another of “Wayward Pines”’s secrets. The show’s very much doing the “It’s not just dragons… It’s zombies and dragons” approach to its mythology.

Howard lets loose this episode, performance-wise, which provides a lot of personality and actual tension. Sossamon’s better than she’s ever been before, Toby Jones has a good moment, Gugino’s solid. The end is a big twist, but the show’s definitely not as bad as it’s been to this point.

It’s not good—and it’s bitten off a lot to chew at this point—but it clearly could be worse.