The auteur who brought you After Earth and the network that brought you Gracepoint unite to waste the world’s time with a plot hole-riddled Lost ripoff starring Matt Dillon as a plank of wood.
People like to accuse Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof of being “the king of disappointing, over-complicated, pretentious mystery sci-fi television” (ain’t that a mouthful?), but M. Night Shyamalan (usually only hated on for directing After Earth and The Happening) should really possess the crown. Wayward Pines is a 10-part miniseries, adapted from Blake Crouch’s apparently good novel (I don’t intend on finding out for myself), and one of the worst wastes of 10 hours i’ve ever experienced. At least The Slap was amusingly awful. Wayward Pines is just misery.
It all starts quite promisingly. Matt Dillon’s character Ethan Burke awakens in a hospital bed in a small town called Wayward Pines. He encounters several quirky characters: Melissa Leo as an evil nurse, Juliette Lewis as a friendly barmaid, Toby Jones as Toby Jones, Terrence Howard as Token Black Man. It’s all very mysteeeeeriouuus, and the set is reminiscent of Twin Peaks. Hey, this ain’t too bad! We could get into this show!
9 weeks later. Cheaply animated zombies are tearing the streets of Wayward to shreds. Dillon’s performance has been reduced to occasional intense facial expressions, little dialogue and the most stiff interactions with other actors you’ve ever seen. Ethan Burke is a horrifically wooden creation, and the fact that Dillon signed up for Pines is a sign of how bad a spot his career is in (note: I once met Matt Dillon in New York. Lovely guy). Carlo Gugino, a walking sock puppet of an actress, is shooting said zombies (they aren’t referred to as zombies). The year is 4028. We are not making this up.
The worst thing is: there are people who actually think this is good television. These people have never seen Lost, Twin Peaks or even something as bad as Under the Dome (a masterpiece compared to Pines). They are being taken advantage of by evil network executives, and M. Night.
Apart from Dillon, the other generally talented actors in the cast are given horrifically bad material and are forced to try their best to make it seem the slightest bit ingestible. Leo, Jones, Charlie Tahan (who takes over from Dillon as the main character halfway through, is given a ridiculous love interest in the form of Sarah Jeffery’s extraordinarily uninteresting character, and – upon waking up in the finale’s final scene – becomes the protagonist of any potential though unlikely future season 2). Lewis and Howard are disposed of briskly (lucky them) despite being the most interesting characters in the first episode.
When the show tries to engage us emotionally is when it is as its worst. For example: in the final moments of the finale, Dillon’s character is killed in an elevator shaft. His son (Tahan) looks down and screams in horror. The audience is interested. This is pain; sorrow; mourning. After half a second, an object flies out of nowhere and whacks Tahan in the face. The emotional moment is destroyed by… a comedy bit? But it isn’t funny. Why is he hit in the face? Please, someone tell us!
To go into detail in examining Pines‘ plot holes would be a waste of human breath/pencil, as pointless public executions, the aforementioned zombie creatures, a school that teaches nothing of use, a teacher who encourages underage sex, a real estate office run by a pervert, an unexplored exterior nuclear wasteland and an impenetrable electric fence (… until it isn’t) are all thrown at the screen in the hope that the audience will be blinded by bullshit. The show’s mythology is as poorly constructed as it is imbecilic.
If you’ve read to this part of my review, you’ve already spent more time thinking about Wayward Pines than any person should. I spent almost 10 hours of my life enduring Wayward Pines. God help my soul.