“Wayward Pines” makes a lot more sense now. Not because of the revelations in this episode, but because of what’s better and what’s worse. Well, who’s better and who’s worse. Unfortunately, the show’s got no idea when it’s good or what makes it good.
Also, can’t forget–the racism’s intentional. More on that delightful aspect in a bit.
The episode opens with Toby Jones standing amid a wrecked downtown “Wayward Pines.” Something terrible has happened, and since Jones hasn’t started talking yet, it’s not his acting. It soon will be. Jones will get a lot to do in this episode—including numerous flashbacks to when he was a rich genius who no one paid any attention—and he’s lousy.
However, we also get Melissa Leo acting a lot better. Turns out her regular characterization on “Pines” is her acting like Nurse Ratched to keep the townsfolk in line. Her regular medical professional, sister to genius with a plan Jones is a lot better. Not great, but not profoundly terrible and borderline incompetent.
Their part of the episode is telling Matt Dillon what’s really going on and showing him various things while Dillon confronts Jones about the cult-like nature of the program. Well, sort of confronts him about the cult-like nature. It’s a cult-like nature; Dillon identifies problems but doesn’t expressly say it’s a cult. But it’s culty.
Dillon’s better this episode, which would be great if it didn’t apparently mean Carla Gugino would be worse. This episode introduces a whole new plotline for Gugino and her husband, Reed Diamond (who inexplicably shaved), and it’s bad work from Gugino. It also means she’s entirely unreliable because the new plotline directly opposes what she told Dillon a few episodes ago. It also reveals things about now-departed guest stars, changing the context of their appearances and participation.
Without giving those actors the chance to act that plot.
Though having departed cast come back isn’t necessarily a good thing. Terrence Howard shows up to reveal before he was the “Wayward Pines” sheriff. He was a standard Black man with a hidden criminal history who peaked in elementary school—Jones recounts it to him—and needed a magnanimous, albeit megalomaniac rich white man to pull up his bootstraps for him.
At first you feel bad for Howard because he’s got to act opposite Jones. Then you feel bad because of the scenes’ content.
Meanwhile, Shannyn Sossamon—the only one in her family who doesn’t know the truth of “Wayward Pines”—investigates real estate mysteries and trades barbs with Gugino.
Son Charlie Tahan spends the episode staring out the window thinking about the last episode.
Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, and Brett Conrad get the script credit, which isn’t as bad as some of the worst episodes, but certainly isn’t turning the ship around. Though there’s only so much anyone can do once Jones starts talking. He’s awful.
Though someone included a great deep cut reference to Barry Lyndon in the episode, which really made me want to watch Barry Lyndon again and instead.