Wayward Pines

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domino harvey
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Wayward Pines

#1 Post by domino harvey » Sat Jun 13, 2015 5:03 pm

Anyone else watching the limited run Wayward Pines? Time is fast running short for not having its well-concealed high concept ruined for you, but needless to say the show is, five episodes in, utterly unpredictable at every turn. I'm not kidding, I can't think of any show that completely upended all my guesses of where it was heading, offing cast members who are credited leads with a disturbing regularity and then dropping a huge game-changing reveal in the fifth episode that recasts all of the previous events in a different light and raises its own, new set of disturbing questions. The series looks at the outset like it's going to be a show like Lost, dropping crumbs in an effort to pad itself out over years' worth of TV, but this show just goes for it. It helps that talented directors like M Night Shyamalan, Zal Batmanglij, and James Foley have helmed episodes so far too. Highly recommended, especially since the show's on hiatus for two weeks and all episodes are up for free On Demand/Hulu/&c

(Please remember to use SPOILER TAGS if you want to discuss the big reveal in the last episode)

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kidc85
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Re: TV of 2015

#2 Post by kidc85 » Sun Jun 28, 2015 1:28 pm

Caught up to episode 5 of WAYWARD PINES, I'm surprised that there's not really been much backlash against its twist. I'm sure there will be further explanations and maybe even additional twists, but their plan just seems to be incredibly inefficient. Out of every single option, this was the best one? And this is coming from someone who had no major issue with the twist to THE VILLAGE.

Incidentally, the FAQ section on IMDb is rife with spoilers. You're SOL if you visit the main page without having seen ep 5.

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denti alligator
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Re: TV of 2015

#3 Post by denti alligator » Mon Jun 29, 2015 10:58 pm

So yes, Wayward Pines was The Prisoner meets Kafka's The Castle until episode 5. Now I don't know what it is, and I don't quite see how anything makes sense anymore.
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It makes no sense to keep everyone but the kids in the dark. What need is there for the secrecy and the security apparatus?

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denti alligator
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Re: Wayward Pines

#4 Post by denti alligator » Tue Jun 30, 2015 1:31 pm

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Also, it now makes no sense at all to stop the wife and son from getting to Wayward Pines, since in 2014 there's nothing there but a small town. A cheap plot device. It's not as if they would have been able to uncover anything. This show's got some explaining to do, and if this (episode 5) really is the big reveal, I can't see how they will sustain the show's forward momentum.

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domino harvey
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Re: Wayward Pines

#5 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jul 01, 2015 4:36 pm

Since there's only ten episodes total and only will be ten (it's based on a trilogy of books and the limited run series is it for adapting all three), I see no reason to not wait to see if the show will answer or satisfy "problems" like the above in the remainder of its time. It may not, but I've seen a lot of comments similar to yours decrying the show for a whole slew of missteps based on presumptions that the show can't possibly explain itself now without giving it time to do so. And, case in point, your questions in your first post are answered in episode six...

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denti alligator
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Re: Wayward Pines

#6 Post by denti alligator » Wed Jul 01, 2015 5:19 pm

domino harvey wrote:And, case in point, your questions in your first post are answered in episode six...
True, I watched it last night, and was surprised at how well they addressed this question. Not sure how convincing it is, but it was a good try. I'll continue watching.

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pzadvance
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Re: Wayward Pines

#7 Post by pzadvance » Wed Sep 30, 2015 2:27 pm

How did everyone who stuck with it end up feeling about this show? After being pleasantly surprised by The Visit, I've been re-visiting (ugh) the early Shyamalan films I loved in high school and figured I might check this show out if it didn't manage to lose its way.

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bdsweeney
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Re: Wayward Pines

#8 Post by bdsweeney » Wed Sep 30, 2015 7:12 pm

pzadvance wrote:How did everyone who stuck with it end up feeling about this show? After being pleasantly surprised by The Visit, I've been re-visiting (ugh) the early Shyamalan films I loved in high school and figured I might check this show out if it didn't manage to lose its way.
As others have mentioned. the show changed its tone regularly from episode to episode. I know others admired this, but I kind of wish it had stuck with its 'paranoid thriller', Twilight Zone-like style.

More annoying were the plot threads that went nowhere ...
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What was the purpose of the thread regarding Ethan Burke's affair with Kate Hewson that was essentially dropped by the third episode?
and the lack of consistency with characterisation.
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The ultimate plot twist (at the end of the final episode) was also a real annoyance and made no logical sense. And this for a series where I was willing to go along with a lot of illogical moments.
But I did enjoy those first three or four episodes, which were a fun watch.

When I later read that the 10 episodes were based on a trilogy of books, a lot of the problems made a lot more sense. If more time was allowed to develop the character and story arcs (as I assume they were in the books), the awkward shifts would have probably been far less noticeable. Maybe they should have created a season for each book?


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ccfixx
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Re: Wayward Pines

#10 Post by ccfixx » Tue May 24, 2016 9:10 am

Was it always known that this would be coming back for a second season? I haven't had cable for a few years, but I watched this on Hulu last year, thinking that it was a one-off series, which the previews led me to believe. However, the ending definitely left me cold and had me thinking that the show's creators were rushed to tie things up before it ended.

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domino harvey
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Re: Wayward Pines

#11 Post by domino harvey » Tue May 24, 2016 9:45 am

It was supposed to be a one off series but it was so well-received that Fox asked for a second season. Unsurprisingly, many of the big names from the first season weren't interested in coming back for what could potentially be a recurring series. The first season felt rushed because they adapted two books' worth of material into the last five episodes, and the ending was definitely underwhelming, though I enjoyed most of the finale apart from it
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as I don't really need another Children of the Corn

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HJackson
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Re: Wayward Pines

#12 Post by HJackson » Sat Jul 23, 2016 3:55 am

I went through the first season of this in the last week. It plays on the same kind of political and moral problems that drive The Walking Dead at its best, albeit without concern for the competitive tribal politics that characterise TWD from season three onwards. It also does so much more successfully by playing with the audience through frequent plot reveals that alter the situation significantly and expose the reality that reasonable political principles are utterly contingent on circumstance - much more interesting in that respect than TWD, where sane viewers can recognise the necessity of Shane's approach from the very beginning. Although I found the entire season enjoyable, the last two episodes drove me up the wall.
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As above, I think the show's greatest achievement was in successfully justifying the existence of a repugnant totalitarian state by revealing new information of circumstance, placing the town as a final remnant of lawful civilisation in the midst of an unavoidable, dangerous, and chaotic Hobbesian state of nature. Pilcher is transformed in E5-6 from a petty tyrant - perfectly cast physically for the role too - into a sort of Strausian philosopher-king with esoteric knowledge that justifies elite political control through a noble lie. Burke plausibly sides with him for a couple of episodes, eventually gaining an emotional stake in the project after his son ends up the victim of the destructive terrorist gang that wants freedom in a world where we, the viewer, now know it is absolutely impossible. The problem then becomes how to refute that in the remaining episodes, but the case is so well built that the eventual resistance is characterised by complete unreason and emotional incontinence.

At first I hoped that Pilcher's exposition of an A Group that had been told the truth and had been unable to cope with it was itself a lie to justify his tyranny, but they avoided that path by having him speak privately with his then co-conspirator sister about the need for a C Group. So Burke's desire to reveal the truth to the townsfolks is totally contrary to real evidence that Pilcher had acquired through the very softer approach that Burke and the truthers start frantically pursuing in the last two episodes. Then the ingrates stand in the middle of the street and denounce a man who had the foresight to recognise an existential threat to the entire species and who devoted years of his life to conceiving and executing an unbelievable sophisticated plan of action - which judging from the scale of the operation must have been a logistical nightmare to say the least - yet still feel entitled to the resources and infastructure that he provided them without remaining open to the possibility that they might reasonably have obligations to him in order to preserve the society he's built.

The premise of the show could be written: group of idiots heroically attempt to foil evil plot to save humanity from complete extinction.

The cultish aspect with the youth is probably the most important aspect in turning Pilcher into the villain that I think the show wants him to be by the end, but again isn't this offered at least some justification by his failed experiment in openness and transparency with the A Group? By the end of the show, as viscerally disturbing as the final reveal is, it sort of seems like a good investment.

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domino harvey
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Re: Wayward Pines

#13 Post by domino harvey » Sat Jul 23, 2016 11:15 am

Interesting perspective and thoughts! I think a lot of the problem boils down to the source material-- like a lot of recent dystopian fiction trilogies, the author doesn't seem to know how to finish everything (the last two episodes are the last book), and as a result we get a bit of a mess.
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Pilcher is an interesting character, especially once the twist is revealed and he is shown to be the mastermind / savior of the human race, but it's not hard to see the problem with letting any one man become God on Earth-- maybe the transition to pure villain would have been more natural with more than two episodes to adapt an entire book, but even his comic book-level moustache-twirling doesn't do enough to quell the obvious wrongness of the revolting townspeople. In a way it reminded me of Snowpiercer (and this is a spoiler within a spoiler, so feel free to stop reading here if you haven't seen it), which far more cynically showed what happens when ideological purity is held up as the ultimate metric: society fucks itself but gets to be "right"-- though at the cost of the continuance of the human race.

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HJackson
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Re: Wayward Pines

#14 Post by HJackson » Tue Aug 02, 2016 4:26 pm

I've not read the source material so I can't comment on how successfully it was translated to the screen but, strictly in terms of episodic television, the first five episodes were quite impressive and it's hard to see how they could have compressed the first novel any further to give the second and third a chance to breathe. That leaves the production in the difficult position, I guess, of choosing between cramming the remaining books into five episodes (which they did), extending the series out for another two or three episodes and asking for a greater commitment from viewers, or running them as seperate seasons - stretching out the first novel (and robbing the start of the actual season of its tremendous pace) and risking cancellation too.
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If you've read these books I wonder if you could shed any light on whether or not the source material actually has the resources required to make Pilcher a more effective villain, ie plot details or character reveals that were trimmed out of the show for time, or if it's simply a matter of letting the natural repulsion at the form of government simmer away for longer? I totally agree with you about the inherent problems in Pilcher's government, which the show nonetheless fails to bring to the fore in a sufficiently credible manner. I was certainly wondering towards the end if the show was actually attempting a conscious critique of ideological purity of the kind you indicate in Snowpiercer (which definitely sounds interesting!), but it seemed to commit to drawing our sympathies towards the rebels to such an extent that I don't see such a reading as credible.

Although having asked that, I do appreciate that it must be over a year since you watched the first season!
Have you been following the second season? I'm six episodes in and it's certainly watchable, but it seems to be lacking a lot of what made the first season interesting.
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There are obvious narrative problems. Yedlin isn't as compelling a lead as Burke was since the scenario doesn't fit a medical doctor as easily as it fits a secret service agent, and he's so far behind the viewer in terms of knowledge that there's not any great sense of detection and discovery. Jason Patric doesn't have the same screen presence as Matt Dillon either.

More generally there just aren't as many great discoveries to be made full stop. With Pilcher gone and the story of the founding pretty much resolved, the show has cut itself off from the big philosophical questions that made the first season so interesting to me, exploiting this naturally interesting tension between protection and obedience that echoes through western political philosophy from Plato through Hobbes to Schmitt and Agamben. Any ambiguity that the first season fostered is gone with the town government, adorned in unsubtle Nazi uniform, pushing a creepy child sex cult.

The new season does touch on some resonant political themes but they're totally under-developed. The concerns are generally much more practical, and almost seem contrived. The sense I got from the first season was that Pilcher had created a kind of arcadia where all the material needs were well cared for and people were rewarded with great comfort for their lack of questioning. Suddenly the new season introduces resource scarcity within the walls to trigger a Machiavellian and classical republican tension between domestic stability and constant expansion. The problems are a) internal disharmony seems increasingly to be reduced to minor characters sassing some uniformed First Geners and b) most of the interesting problems associated with this option of an empire for increase simply aren't available since this society is the only one on earth - there is no real threat of inter-state jealousy since there are no other states, and then it merely becomes a practical question of resource allocation to properly secure the land and eradicate the hostile species without any obvious connection to internal order. In fact it almost seems as though outward expansion is absolutely necessary to internal order in this case, collapsing the tension - consciously hinted at in discussion between Jason and Megan - into an uninteresting coherence.

Questions about personal and professional identity raised by Yedlin and his wife are immediately undermined by Yedlin's own behaviour on arrival, in which he seemed totally uninterested in his duties as a doctor and leveraged the satisfaction of his professional oath to acquire information. It's undermined further by the reveal that Yedlin's wife was involved in the planning for the town, which in some ways could be reasonably seen as the fullest possible fulfillment of her prior professional identity anyway.

This tighter dependence of the thematic material on plot and world detail actually exposes the series quite significantly. There's no longer a big picture which supports these questions, but now it's about this child who can't survive on rations or this boy who might be gay and can't perform in bed (actually one of the more intresting sub-plots so far!) Suddenly a lot of organisational questions are raised, the sort of detail that didn't cross my mind during the first season. At the outset, why are any of the adults from the B Group still around, even after leading a rebellion? Why did Pilcher encourage a personality cult around not only his name but his image, given his desire for anonymity during the first season? Why are young children being forced to have sex when there are older members of the First Generation who don't seem to have done so? Why was the architect of the entire town not unfrozen until the C Group?

I'll keep watching though. I see they're heading in a new direction with speculation on the nature of the abbies, which is interesting in an entirely different way and has a traditional sci-fi appeal.

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