Most of us are fortunate enough to have a place we can call home. It’s earned this title not because it is where we live, but the significance it carries. Material things aren’t what make a home, it’s the people there and the feelings it illicits. Getting rid of the people and those familiar feelings just leave an empty shell of a place you once knew. Most of you will all soon discover why season 2 of Wayward Pines can no longer be considered home.
Same place, familiar people, but a completely different story is what highlights the new season of Wayward Pines. The set up for the second season feels too rushed to be at all satisfying. The elapsed time and events between the seasons are hurriedly explained in a few sentences during the opening of the first episode, completely betraying the tone from the first season. Season one prided itself in remaining cryptic by building a trail of breadcrumbs that lead to some answers, but ultimately more questions.
The mystique that shrouded season one delivered an onslaught of intrigue that easily overpowered some of the more laughable plot turns that Shyamalan is notorious for. The tone has changed from one of mystery to a more common militaristic one. There were militaristic elements in the first season, but they were only used in a supporting role. Season two uses them as a nostalgic crutch hoping to introduce an element from season one to connect the two seasons together. Does it work? No, sir, no.
Season two starts off with a whimper, loosely explaining why the shows lead character focus shifted from Ethan (Matt Dillon) to Ben (Charlie Tahan). As you already know, Dillon won’t be returning to the show. To wrap up this obvious change, you are told in the first minute of the recap that he died trying to defend the city like we always knew he would. Aside from feeling slighted from such a cheap send off to a pivotal character, you also are much less invested in the story from the very beginning.
Wayward Pines is more than its characters, but like the atmosphere is created, the characters were part of its original appeal. Dillon brought an effortless charm and rugged, moralistic sense of duty that felt natural to his role. He provided a strong enough on-screen presence to propel the story forward. His replacement Dr. Theo Yedlin (Jason Patric) is much less compelling, on the verge of feeling like a secondary character. As of the first episode of this new season, no one has filled the powerful vacancy that actors like Matt Dillon and Carla Gugino inevitably leave in their wake.
Chad Hodge left the series as showrunner, and M. Night Shyamalan is really only given executive producer credit but isn’t returning to direct any of the episodes this season. With a lot of the cast and crew either leaving, having their characters killed on and off-screen or just completely fading into obscurity, there is a vacuum created in the show. New showrunner Mark Friedman attempts to fill this vacuum with many story arcs, following several characters rather than focusing on one. This on-screen power struggle for control of Wayward Pines unfortunately comes off as a power struggle for Wayward Pines.
The position that Dillon’s character left is noticeably staggering, and every character feels like they are trying their best to fill it, but they all feel like they’re coming in second place with no clear winner in sight. The character of Ethan was essentially what we all came to like about the show. Through his investigatory skills and tenacity, the story’s exposition was well-paced and enjoyable. We only knew as much as he knew. We experienced everything at the same time he did, usually with the same reactions he would have. This relatable everyman and his curious exploration of this not so idyllic town is what gave the show its sense of purpose and a fantastic vessel for exploring it.
The tonal change between the seasons is enough for it to officially change genres. The first season relied heavily on misdirection and mystery, making it more of a mystery sci-fi. The start of this season seems to have shifted focus to the government processes and totalitarian rule. The children have finally inherited/taken by force the colony of Wayward Pines and are fighting a rebellion to keep it. This may as well be a CW show like The 100 because the show is now only about trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world where there are things and people always trying to kill you. The greatest casualty in the war for season two was the Wayward Pines we grew to love in season one.
Rating: ★★★ (3/10 stars)