Second-to-last episode of the season, and it turns out “Wayward Pines” has waited this long to introduce the fascist teenagers who want to shoot the normies. Tom Stevens plays the leader. He’s both too much and just the right amount of despicably intense. Unfortunately, the show doesn’t really know what to do with him—introducing him this late—but there is a great scene where sheriff’s secretary Siobhan Fallon Hogan stares him down. It’s nice for Fallon Hogan to finally get something to do on the show, despite the “terrorized woman” trope.
Thanks to Hope Davis riling up the teenagers—with Charlie Tahan’s help in shitting on his dad, Matt Dillon—Stevens and his bros are going to execute Carla Gugino and her friends. They’re all locked up in the police station, where they sit around moping; Gugino assures them Dillon isn’t going to execute them in town square, but we’ve already seen what happens a few hours later—Dillon’s going to execute them in the town square.
The episode starts with a recap (making sure to remind viewers Tim Griffin was on the show at one point so he can “appear” later on), which ends with the monsters about to breach the wall. The action then cuts to Dillon and his gallows, finally ready to embrace his position as killer sheriff. You’d think he’d have been more worried about the breached wall.
And he will be, after the opening titles, when the show turns back the clock a day. It’s a very traditional narrative device, but it’s a little weak for “Wayward Pines,” which spent the first four episodes spinning the narrative around from twist and gimmick to twist and gimmick. Also, there’s no “twenty-four hours earlier” title card, which would’ve helped. But, just to confirm, the show’s taking itself seriously enough.
Overall, it’s definitely one of the better episodes. Some of the moments are cheap, but there’s a lot of good acting in them. The show finally lets Gugino and Shannyn Sossamon in on the secret, which immensely helps their characters and performances. “Wayward Pines” has enough problem with a single narrative distance; trying to maintain a half dozen have been a disaster.
Credited to Duffer Brothers Matt and Ross, the script gets a lot done. It would’ve been better if they hadn’t had to do so much—the insurgency is only two episodes old, and they’re resolving that storyline, but they’ve also got to insert the teenage Neo-Nazis into it. Whoever wrote the season outline did a lousy job.
Speaking of significant immediate changes—Melissa Leo. She plays her part totally straight now, no more Southern Gothic Nurse Ratched, but given how she acts around Sossamon, there’s this implication she only acted so weird in front of Dillon at the beginning of the season. I mean, there were some other scenes, but it’s like someone finally told them to stop using M. Night Shyamalan’s performance direction guidelines.
There’s a lot more with Toby Jones getting even jerkier; he’s turned out to be an even worse Bond villain than it seemed like he’d be earlier, and he seemed like he was going to be bad.
Nimród Antal directs, which is a downgrade from his theatrical work, but okay. I was expecting a little more, however. Definitely not the gimmicky structure.
There’s a good cliffhanger, and the stage is set for an intense finale. It only took “Wayward Pines” three-quarters of its season to get compelling, but it’s finally arrived.