There’s so much going on this episode I didn’t even realize Carla Gugino isn’t in it.
It’s a brand new day in “Wayward Pines,” with Shannyn Sossamon starting as a realtor—working with caricature male chauvinist pig Michael McShane, which is actually fine; the show couldn’t even manage caricatures before. Son Charlie Tahan is still in school, but he’s about to find out the capital T truth (hence the title) from intense, manipulative schoolmarm Hope Davis. Matt Dillon’s busy trying to escape to Boise to get help. His plot ties into Tahan’s, whereas Sossamon is separate. She’s living the ominous but mundane while Dillon’s in danger. Davis is explaining that danger to both Tahan and the audience.
This episode is where “Wayward Pines” pulls back the curtain to reveal what’s actually going on in the town. The kids get to know about it because they’re the future. Unfortunately, they need to keep it from their parents, who aren’t well-adjusted enough to cope.
It’s also where “Wayward Pines,” the show, explains why Wayward Pines, the town, is such a cracker-ville, and it’s not because they’re trying to mimic the racial demographics of real-life Idaho. Whether the show’s intentionally lily-white or if it’s just, you know, Hollywood, it ends up being a flex. I suppose the show could address the lack of diversity—there are no Black or brown students at the high school, so the future’s very white with maybe four Asian girls–but I don’t expect them to address it.
Maybe it’ll surprise me. If it’s not just another MacGuffin, the big reveal is a surprise. And has some interesting connotations for how all the pieces fit in the previous episodes with the timeline. They didn’t do it well; they could’ve leaned into the time disconnect much better, but… still. It was a surprise.
Dillon running through the woods with a gaggle of Gollums chasing him was not a surprise. It’s on par for the show.
The episode’s got an interesting creative team—James Foley directs, with the script credit going to novel writer and property creator Blake Crouch and then Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer (credited as The Duffer Brothers, which is obnoxious but whatever).
Foley’s direction’s okay. I was expecting more from him, but both he and the script focus the episode around Tahan, who gets a literal slide show exposition dump. If Davis had looked into the camera and asked, “Any questions,” it wouldn’t have been a surprise for how much they info dump. Also, the teen actors aren’t bad. Sarah Jeffery’s still good as Tahan’s new girlfriend, but he’s in class with Sarah Desjardins and Samuel Patrick Chu, who get a lot of reaction shots and sell them.
The guest star this episode is Scott Michael Campbell, who’s new to town and needs a house, so Sossamon shows him one. Their arc compliments Dillon and Tahan’s, but it’s got nothing to do on its own. Except give Melissa Leo a scene. She’s still not good, but she’s getting less dreadful as the series goes on. It’s still a weird miss for her.
Oh, and then Sossamon’s other scene has Tahan being really shitty to her because she wants him to listen to her and treat her with respect, and he doesn’t have to do it anymore since he’s in “Wayward Pines.” It’s interesting because Tahan’s “better” as a little shit than when he was a thoughtful kid, and also, he seriously doesn’t remember running someone over with a car two episodes ago. He really does think they’re in an ordinary little town, at least until Davis truth bombs him.
I’m not interested to see if they’ll make this material, post-reveal, good, but it’s a compelling hook. Four episodes is too long to wait for it, though. Especially those four episodes.