The Roush Review: Wayward Pines Is Definitely No Lost

Wayward Pines Episode 1
Ed Araquel/FOX
Wayward Pines Episode 1

Like an especially blatant copycat poseur who yearns desperately to be seen as one of the cool kids, Wayward Pines borrows from the best, which only makes this 10-episode “event” series look worse as it goes.

Bearing the past-its-prime imprimatur of director M. Night Shyalaman, the show reveals its pretensions from the very opening shot: a close-up of Matt Dillon’s bloodshot eye, which goes on to reveal our suit-clad hero lying disoriented in the woods. Pines’ pining to be seen as the next Lost is so obvious it would be sad if the show didn’t turn out to be so laughable—and unlike Lost, thoroughly lacking in full-bodied characters. Later we meet the town’s quirky sheriff (Terrence Howard, his presence explained by the fact that this property sat on Fox’s shelf for ages, long before Empire started filming), and his fetish for ice cream cones may be meant to evoke the weird cherry-pie-and-coffee whimsy of Twin Peaks. It doesn’t.

There are also derivative elements of cult classics like The Prisoner at play as the hokey premise asserts itself. A haggard Dillon plays Secret Service agent Ethan Burke, who awakens from a mysterious car accident, trapped in a quaint woodsy Idaho town where everyone’s being watched, communication with the outside world is blocked, time itself seems to make no sense, and no one’s who they appear to be—including his former partner/lover Kate (an ill-at-ease Carla Gugino), who warns him to play by the town’s oppressive rules, or else. Worse, there’s apparently no exit.

We’re told there are no crickets in Wayward Pines—even nature’s soundtrack is somehow piped in—but that’s OK. There were plenty of crickets in my head as I plodded numbingly through the show’s minefield of clichés: the chipper but sinister nurse (Melissa Leo) who seems to know all, the loaded dialogue (“You think you want to know the truth, but you don’t. It’s worse than you could ever imagine”), and even the Big Reveal, which occurs midway through the series in the fifth episode and turns out to be more stupefying than stimulating in its preposterous illogic.

“Don’t think too hard, sweetie,” a local warns another of the town’s newbies. Excellent advice if you decide to enter Wayward Pines.

Wayward Pines premieres Thursday, May 14, 9/8c, on Fox