blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Wayward Pines (2015) s02e06 – City Upon a Hill

Vincenzo Natali directs this episode. I’ve never seen any of his movies, but he’s far and away the best director of the season so far. He even knows how to do a Toby Jones cameo—as few lines as possible, as short of a scene as possible.

Jones shows up at the beginning for a flashback to before the construction of “Wayward Pines.” He’s in a helicopter gunship, shooting at the monsters in the forest as they frolic and tend to their young. They’re in the way of the wall, and so he has them shot dead.

Can’t imagine why they don’t like the humans.

Natali does a great job with the primordial bliss sequence, but where he really shows off is during the action sequence in the present. The monsters have gotten fire, and they’re burning down the town’s cornfields, so all the able-bodied civilians have to firefight while the soldiers provide cover. There’s a startling thirty-five killed, which ends up just showing how disposable the humans are in the show. Though they don’t even bother to track any of the casualties’ stories.

Well, not if they’re not special guest stars.

This episode has Tim Griffin’s flashbacks pre-season one, when he’s setting up Matt Dillon (and possibly Carla Gugino), so he can get together with Shannyn Sossamon. Sossamon returns for a really lousy final appearance; “Wayward Pines: Season One” had an absolutely disastrous plot outline. In season two, Sossamon ends up with the poopiest end of that stick.

Even worse, Griffin’s got scenes without his glue-on beard, which means it can’t do his acting for him. Instead, he’s got to try to keep up with… well, Hope Davis, sure, but Griffin can’t even successfully stalk Sossamon when he’s inserted into scenes from season one. Real lazy.

However, it’s another “Wayward Pines” where someone on the writing staff heard my dismay from the future and had someone comment on the Nazi uniforms all the bros wear. Unfortunately, it’s Josh Helman making the observation to Christopher Meyer. Helman’s white, Meyer’s Black, and the scene has Meyer defending Nazi uniforms (ignorantly because they wouldn’t have been taught world history or the Nazis being bad). Since “Wayward Pines” is a Fox show… makes you wonder if the News department made some requests.

Also, it turns out Helman is supposed to be playing a scoundrel a la Han Solo, which just makes the whole thing worse. Helman is better than Griffin in this episode. Griffin without his fake beard is worse than Helman; a surprise, but also maybe not. What they really needed was a glue-on beard for Helman.

There are a lot of scenes at the hospital—Hassler and Sossamon are both injured—and Amitai Marmorstein gets some great scenes with Jason Patric. Marmorstein’s such a good twerp, and Patric finally fully engages, leading to some great moments.

Other plot points include Kacey Rohl going a little Lady Macbeth with Tom Stevens, who’s doubting his chosen one status as the world literally burns thanks to his policies (making him more self-aware than, what, ninety-five percent of politicians), and then Davis and Patric doing some tests on the captured female creature. Turns out their brains are big in all the right places.

There’s a soft cliffhanger, but it’s also clear “Pines” is gearing up for the final arc. Everything is very dramatic, very consequential. We’ll see if they do better than last time. Regardless, I hope Natali’s back for more episodes.

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