The network season is over, and outside of the HBO Sunday night shows, Halt & Catch Fire (which is rebounding nicely), Inside Amy Schumer, and maybe the Showtime Sunday night series (meh), there hasn’t been a lot to watch on television lately (thank God Hannibal returned last night). One of the best midweek shows going right now, however, is Fox’s Wayward Pines, which comes from producer M. Night Shyamalan.
Don’t let Shyamalan’s name dissuade you from watching it, however, because Shyamalan didn’t write it (it’s actually based on a book series), and he’s neither the creator nor the showrunner. He directed the pilot episode, and that seems to be his only significant contribution to the series.
It’s a wildly enjoyable mystery show, though, and with only a 10-episode limited run, it’s not the kind of show where we’ll have to wait five seasons to find out what the big mystery is (in fact, previews suggest that the WTF twist may arrive next week, in episode 5, and the rest of the series will show how the townspeople of Wayward Pines are dealing with the “twist”).
If you’re not watching, here’s a very brief synopsis: Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon), a secret service agent, gets in a car crash in which his partner is killed, and he wakes up in the town of Wayward Pines, Idaho. He quickly realizes that he can’t leave the town; not only is he being discouraged from leaving, it’s physically impossible to do so (the entire town is surrounded by a mysterious wall that keeps people out). The townspeople are entirely comprised of people like Burke, who became stranded in the small town and were eventually forced to settle into new jobs and forget about their old lives (in fact, one of the major rules in the town is that the citizens are not allowed to talk about the past). If you break any of the rules, you will be executed and they do not screw around with second chances.
We also know that someone or something is watching and listening to everything through hidden cameras, and that someone/something is apparently controlling who gets in. Mysteriously, there’s something weird going on with the timeline, as well. For instance, Kate Hewson (Carla Gugino), the secret service agent (and former mistress) of Burke, who Burke was sent to track down, has only been “missing” from the real world for several weeks, but she’s somehow been living in Wayward Pines for many years. We do not know who is controlling the town, and we do not know why.
It’s fun, and mysterious, and because I haven’t read the books, I don’t know what the hell is going on (though, because the books do exist, I won’t make a fool of myself by trying present any theories). However, there’s at least one thing I don’t have to worry about, and that is — as some have suggested — that the townspeople are already dead, or that they have been dead all along.
They are not. I don’t know if the ending will ultimately be satisfying or if the twist will be moronic, but the people behind the show want everyone to know that they are not already dead.
In fact, Shyamalan only agreed to do the show on the condition that the reveal wouldn’t be “they were dead all along,” via IGN:
That’s a story I’m not interested in telling. If the answer is, everyone’s having a surreal experience because they’ve all passed away or something, that’s not interesting to me — especially me doing it. It’s not for me.
Chad Hodge, the showrunner/writer reinforced it in an interview with NPR: “They’re not all dead,” he said.
So, no: There will be no Sixth Sense ending. Wayward Pines is not a purgatory. We can also safely assume that it’s not a coma dream.
I just hope that the people who have died so far continue to remain dead, so we don’t have a Ryan Murphy problem, either.
Either way, I’m really excited for next week’s episode.