Mr. Smith Visits WAYWARD PINES. C’mon Baby, Let’s Do the Twist!

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Episode 101 “Where Paradise is Home”

M. Night Shyamalan. Remember him? He turned us inside out over and over again with twist endings, one after another. For me it started with seeing dead people, and the very breakable Mr. Glass, but the allure wore off for me long before Avatar: The Last Airbender, which I’d rather not discuss at all if that’s all right.

M. Night returns as Executive Producer of an new mini-series called Wayward Pines, a screen adaptation of a trilogy of books by Blake Crouch.

WAYWARD PINES:  Ethan (Matt Dillon, R) meets Arlene (guest star Siobhan Fallon Hogan, L) in the "Where Paradise is Home" Event Series Premiere episode of WAYWARD PINES airing Thursday, May 14 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.  ©2015 Ed Araquel/FOX
Ethan (Matt Dillon, R) meets Arlene (guest star Siobhan Fallon Hogan, L). ©2015 Ed Araquel/FOX

The first episode, “Where Paradise is Home,” is the only episode of the series directed by Shyamalan, and since the IMDB page lists him as Executive Producer of only three episodes, I’m left confused as to why this series is associated with him, other than being a name you’ve heard of. That happens a lot in the entertainment industry, though. Personally I’m fine with it. Chad Hodge, creator of the series, pens the pilot. He’s done quite a bit of writing for television, apparently, so there’s that.

The following will contain spoilers, so go watch the show if you haven’t, then come back here. You’ve been warned.

Spoilers_WaywardPines

Wayward Pines stars Matt Dylan as Secret Service agent Ethan Burke, Carla Gugino as Kate Hewson, one of two missing agents Burke has been trying to find. She’s also his former lover. Toby Jones, my pick to play Billy Quizboy in the film adaptation of The Venture Brothers, plays Dr. Jenkins, a psychiatrist at the Wayward Pines Hospital. Shannyn Sossamon plays Ethan’s wife, Theresa. I bet she was pissed about Kate. Charlie Tahan plays Ben, son of Ehan and Theresa. He’s awkward, but then, he’s a kid. Juliette Lewis (I really liked her dad, may he rest in peace) plays Beverly, thus far Ethan’s only help as he tries to get his bearings. Melissa Leo plays Nurse Pam, I do not like Nurse Pam. At all. She scares the bejeepers out of me. Terrance Howard is Sheriff Pope, the law in them there parts.

WAYWARD PINES:   Ethan (Matt Dillon, L) meets Dr. Jenkins (Toby Jones, R) in the "Where Paradise is Home" Event Series Premiere episode of WAYWARD PINES airing Thursday, May 14 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.  ©2015 Liane Hentscher/FOX
Ethan (Matt Dillon, L) meets Dr. Jenkins (Toby Jones, R) ©2015 Liane Hentscher/FOX

The series opens with Burke getting absolutely pummeled in a head on collision with a semi truck, and waking up in a hospital room, unaware of what has happened or where he is. He apparently remembers who he is because he tells everybody. Nobody seems to care though. He’s got no phone, no wallet, and no help at all.

After leaving the hospital, without consent from the creepy Nurse Pam, Ethan finds the sheriff’s office closed, so he hits the local tavern to use the phone. That’s where he meets Beverly, leaves a message for his wife, and grabs a raw burger. Gross. Beverly leaves him a note with her address in case he needs a place to stay, but when Ethan is “evacuated” from his hotel, he heads over to Beverly’s to find it’s not actually her house. It’s a crumbled abandoned shack inhabited only by the decomposing body of the other agent he’s been searching for.

WAYWARD PINES:  Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon, R) meets Sheriff Arnold Pope (Terrence Howard, L).  @2014 Fox Broadcasting Co.  Cr:  Ed Araquel/FOX
Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon, R) meets Sheriff Arnold Pope (Terrence Howard, L). @2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ed Araquel/FOX

Ethan finds the Sheriff’s office open this time, and the receptionist is barely helpful, even after he announces being a secret service agent, which I thought was supposed to be a secret. Whatever. Sheriff Pope seems stunningly disinterested in anything he’s got going on, and forbids Burke from going back to the shack with him. Nurse Pam was apparently mistaken about Ethan’s personal belonging being with the local constabulary. I’m beginning to think there’s something fishy going on.

There is. I mean, of course there is. That’s what we’re here for, isn’t it?

WAYWARD PINES:  Beverly (Juliette Lewis) in the "Where Paradise is Home" Event Series Premiere episode of WAYWARD PINES airing Thursday, May 14 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.  ©2015 Liane Hentscher/FOX
Beverly (Juliette Lewis) in the bar. ©2015 Liane Hentscher/FOX

Ethan is hospitalized again after getting sucker punched in the tavern. He went to look for Beverly, but she apparently doesn’t work there. Had she not handed him that nasty burger, I’d think she was a hallucination. Apparently Ethan has hallucinations. My least favorite plot device, it’s a flashback to an earlier counseling session that plants the seed of doubt. The implication is that Ethan might be totally nuts.

Whether or not he’s nuts, the town wants him to think he’s nuts. That’s where the very cerebral Dr. Jenkins comes in. He tells Ethan his brain needs to be worked on because he’s been seeing things and is bleeding internally. I don’t know why they bothered. Ethan, with the help of Beverly, escapes and finds himself face to face with his ex-lover and missing agent ladyfriend. When he confronts her, she tells him he’s being watched and is putting everyone in danger. She also corroborates the idea that no one really knows what year it is in Wayward Pines, because she thinks she’s lived there for twelve years. She’s been missing less than one.

WAYWARD PINES:  Ethan (Matt Dillon, R) has questions for Kate (Carla Gugino, L) in the "Where Paradise is Home" Event Series Premiere episode of WAYWARD PINES airing Thursday, May 14 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.  ©2015 Ed Araquel/FOX
Ethan (Matt Dillon, R) has questions for Kate (Carla Gugino, L). ©2015 Ed Araquel/FOX

Ethan steals a car and tries to escape, but find no way out of the town, which is surrounded by an electrified fence. Sheriff Pope finds him. End of episode.

Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s a pretty basic wrap up, but this show has more twists than a bar that only serves gin and tonics. I’m so glad there are only ten episodes. If they start asking who killed Laura Palmer for the next five years, I’m gong to write a strongly worded letter.

There were a couple things I didn’t care much for, just a couple of cinematography choices that were sloppy, but for a pilot episode that’s to be expected. Really didn’t like the shot of Ethan’s son blowing out candles. Awkward. Not just awkward, NAMBLA awkward.

All in all though, I’d say this show is going to be pretty solid. The casting seems right, and the story seems compelling, though incredibly complicated. Mysteries abound. So many mysteries. I don’t know what this show has to offer later on, but I hope it doesn’t end in a gunfight or something expedient. We’ll see how the other executive producers handle the rest.

I dislike descriptions based on something meeting something else, but this show seems so similar to Lost, or The X-Files, or anything David Lynch ever barfed out. Maybe there’s a little Northern Exposure in there. We’ll see. It’s worth hanging in there for.

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Curtis Smith

Curtis Smith, a native of Curtistan, is an actor, whip maker, and musician.

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