TV Review: Fox’s Wayward Pines Is A Hit Mystery

Fox’s new miniseries Wayward Pines hits all the right creepy notes for an excellent summer mystery series.

Matt Dillon starts as Secret Service Agent Ethan Burke, who wakes up in the quaint small town of Wayward Pines, Idaho, following a car crash. As Agent Burke begins to take in the town, he begins to discover there isn’t really a way out of town. In fact, there seems to be a conspiracy at large, bent on keeping him in Wayward Pines indefinitely.

Wayward Pines, based on the trilogy of novels by Blake Crouch, is billed as an event series, kept to a limited run of only ten episodes. Chad Hodge (The Playboy Club) has expertly adapted the books to the small screen, calling to mind the tone of other creepy mystery programs like Twin Peaks or Lost. With only ten episodes, Wayward Pines is expertly paced, with questions and answers doled out as the show streaks forward. The show does have its slow moments, specifically those dealing with Burke’s family, his wife Theresa (Shannyn Sossaman) and his rather grating son, Ben (Charlie Tahan). Despite these moments, after screening half of the series, Wayward Pines is shaping up strongly. By the midpoint of the series, Wayward Pines seems to explain exactly what is going on, if you think that can be trusted (although I’d argue that if you aren’t sold by the end of the third episode you won’t be).

Tight storytelling isn’t all Wayward Pines has to offer, with a cast packed with talent. Matt Dillon turns in an engaging performance as Burke, driven to answers and perplexed by what he discovers. Carla Gugino keeps things on an edge as a resident of Wayward Pines and Ethan’s partner who went missing. Terrence Howard contines his star turns as Wayward Pines’ sheriff and Juliette Lewis checks in as a bartender who strikes up an alliance with Burke. Add to the mix Hope Davis, and this cast is ready to explode. Fox is also making the choice to play up M. Night Shyamalan’s role as an executive producer and director of the pilot. But fear not, thise of us burned by Mr. Shyamalan in the past: his strengths are on full display in the pilot, rmaping up tension and creepiness. As far as I know he plays no significant role in how the series ends, which is the filmmaker’s weakness. If his involvement threatens to turn you off, I implore you to give Wayward Pines a shot.

Wayward Pines might just be a place you never want to leave.

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