Wayward Pines (2015) s02e01 – Enemy Lines

The season two premiere opens with Charlie Tahan, set up as the new lead in last season’s finale, narrating a recap of the first season. It’s a terrible recap, writing-wise. It does not bode well.

But then the first real scene is Jason Patric in Hawaii, in the middle of a spat with wife Nimrat Kaur, heading down to the bar and happening to meet Terrence Howard. Howard apparently got to go to fabulous vacation spots to kidnap people and put them in cryosleep for two thousand years. Good for him.

It’s an overwritten scene, but Patric and Howard are both good, so it’s mostly fine. Howard leading Patric into the bushes to knock him unconscious is a little much, but otherwise, it’s okay. Patric’s immediately a strong lead.

One fade out later, Patric wakes up in the fifth millennium, and he’s confused. A severe young woman, Kacey Rohl, tells him they need to get to the hospital so he can perform surgery. “Where am I?” Patric asks. “‘Wayward Pines,’” Rohl says. Cue opening titles and the new regular cast list, which suggests a lot of people who seemed like they’d be back aren’t back.

Instead, fascist white boy murderer Tom Stevens has been promoted to regular. And Hope Davis, who very clearly died last season, gets the “with” credit. Djimon Hounsou gets the “and” credit, suggesting “Wayward Pines” is finally getting some Black people, but he doesn’t actually appear in this episode. Though Christopher Meyer is Black, and he gets a lot to do, it’s mainly carting Patric around town and being a really good little boot-stepper.

There are some familiar names in the special guest star list: Tahan, Carla Gugino, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, and Greta Lee. Last season, Lee was a fourth-tier recurring character but a reasonably recognizable one. Fallon Hogan’s the awesome secretary; she’s barely in this episode. Tahan and Gugino get full arcs, though Gugino’s confined to a hospital bed (she’s Patric’s mystery patient), and Tahan’s barely in the episode like they just weren’t willing to pay his rate. Adult John Connor has more presence in T2.

Gugino’s around for the first season transition wrap-up. The show’s done a three year-jump ahead from where the main action left off, though last season’s cliffhanger was a jump ahead tease. So now we find out Gugino led a resistance against Howard, who militarized his Neo-Nazi sidekicks, and they rule “Wayward Pines” with an iron fist. And Davis, now in a wheelchair (she’s so nasty the monsters wouldn’t eat her), whispering in his ear. But Howard and Rohl are a couple, which complicates things a little.

Patric finds himself in this bewildering setting–Lord of the Flies with girls and guns—and isn’t sure what’s going on, especially not when they keep promising he’ll see wife Kaur in just a scene or two.

It’s a very different show than season one. It feels like a sequel from another production company, which is doing a much better job. The regular cast isn’t anywhere near as expensive (Patric and Davis are the only real names). Howard’s an A-number one creep, but in a good way (think evil Wesley Crusher).

But the other big chance is Patric. Well, Patric and the audience knowing what’s happening to Patric and not them discovering it all simultaneously. Patric’s a great lead.

There are problems, of course. Even though the show’s very different from when M. Night Shyamalan directed the pilot, episode director David Petrarca brings back his terrible framing techniques. And the writing’s way too dismissive on Gugino.

But the teenage fascist dictatorship stuff? It’s “just genre,” but in a good way.

Or maybe it’s just all worth it for a Jason Patric TV show.