Thursday, 3 May 2018

TV Shows #16 - Part 2

Wayward Pines Season Two (2016)
Developed By: Chad Hodge Starring: Jason Patric, Nimrat Kaur, Josh Helman, Tom Stevens, Kacey Rohl, Hope Davis, Djimon Hounsou, Charlie Tahan, Shannyn Sossamon, Tim Griffin, Melissa Leo, Carla Gugino, Toby Jones

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 42-44 Minutes per Episode, 10 Episodes

Tagline: "Who shall inherit the earth?"

Even though the first season was expected to be the only season, and despite it ending with what could be considered a (fairly) satisfactory conclusion, a second season of Wayward Pines did nonetheless stagger into view eventually. As we discovered around the middle of the first season, the shocking truth mentioned by Sheriff Pope was indeed 'worse than anything we could imagine', or worse than the poor old residents of the town could imagine at least - namely, that it's now the year 4028 and the human race is all but extinct, having evolved (or devolved?) into snarling carnivores with sharp claws and fangs known as 'abbies' (short for aberrations) who now run rampant over, presumably, the entire planet.

The town's founder, David Pilcher (Toby Jones), had predicted this happening and created the town as a way for us to start over. I'm not sure how realistic that is with the town, our only colony on the planet, surrounded by hundreds, thousands, even millions of seemingly-primitive but very hostile creatures who are very keen to gain access to the town and chow down on its occupants, and that of course is exactly what happened in the gripping finale of the first season.

The toothy miscreants apparently did not prevail though, as we are again faced with a town of humans at the start of this new season! Unfortunately, it took so long for the season to be confirmed that much of the cast had moved on to new projects in the meantime. A handful are here in reduced roles (Leo, Sossamon, and Tahan), while others are gone altogether (Dillon and Howard were, as I understand it, killed off in the first season due to the show's uncertain future). A problem to be sure. Solution? Well, in addition to being set a few years later, we also get a mostly-new main cast this time, consisting of either minor characters from the first season or totally new ones. Among them is Dr. Theo Yedlin (Patrick) who soon finds himself at odds with the new authority in town, namely the so-called 'First Generation'.

These oafs are the first group of residents actually born in the town and are led by Jason Higgins (Stevens), and they rule with an iron fist, hunting down and executing anyone who defies them. This includes a new rebel group which Ben Burke (Tahan) finds himself mixed up with. Jason and his group of Gestapo-wannabees soon find they have a bigger problems than a few seditious nincompoops though.

Indeed, due to the chaotic events at the end of the first season, most of the town now knows 'the truth' about Wayward Pines, but so do the dangerous creatures that roam the exterior - they've had a taste and they apparently want more! Some have even been captured and are being studied by both Theo and Megan (Davis) who have rather different attitudes towards them. They are clearly very dangerous regardless of how smart they may or may not be though, but despite this, a small farm has been set up outside the gate to address the dwindling reserves of food under the watchful eye of C.J. Mitchum (Hounsou), a former engineer hand-picked by Pilcher to oversee humanity's final days and prepare for the awakening of 'Group A', the first residents of Wayward Pines, all chosen (whether knowingly or not) for their particular skills or knowledge to make the ambitious town a reality.

This actually makes for what is in my view one of the best episodes of the show as we get to see, from CJ's perspective via a series of flashbacks, the gradual decline of mankind, the first signs of the mutation which turned us into Abbies, and how the town originally came into being under the tutelage of Pilcher and C.J. It might not pack the punch of some first season episodes in terms of action or drama but it's very well done and is fascinating to see. Imagine how you would feel if you were effectively the only (conscious) human on the entire planet!

It's also C.J. who is my pick for the best character of the season too. We don't see that much of him but he has some important scenes and always seems like he knows what he's doing, unlike many of the other nincompoops running around like headless chickens! As far as the other major characters are concerned, Jason Patrick makes a fairly likeable lead, at least partly due to him frequently getting lairy and defying the buffoons in charge - something he gets away with on account of being the only doctor left in town. He's basically this season's Ethan Burke and, while he doesn't hold the screen like Matt Dillon, he does okay. We see a lot more of Hope Davis this time around but I'm sorry to say I've never been that keen on her, and her character here is irritating even for her usual standards.

Mainly though, the season is about Jason and his cronies who just aren't particularly interesting. They spend most of their time trying to impose their rule on dissenters while apparently remaining blissfully ignorant of how to actually lead or govern. This may have been the intention - they are basically the main bad guys after all (not counting the Abbies of course), but sadly the result is a much less compelling season than the first. You'll (almost) want them to get eaten before long!

It's still most likely a show you'll want to continue watching though, if for no other reason than its unique set-up and the lack of predictability that comes with it, and the story certainly has a few twists left. Like the first season, it has a reasonably conclusive ending too, and it's just as well this time as, much like before, there was so much faffing around with regards to a potential third season and it dragged on for so long that just recently the show was formally cancelled. It's a shame as a third season certainly at least had potential. I would personally have liked to see more flashback episodes, for example, perhaps looking in more detail at how the town was formed. We know the who and why now, but not the how - how did Pilcher and his select group of cronies actually construct the town, for example? But alas - the bizarre, uncompromising world of Wayward Pines is no more.

In spite of its troubles though, it's well worth visiting for us lucky souls who can actually leave! The first season is excellent and definitely worth your time but this season has its moments too. Some stronger lead actors and a more polished story would've helped but it's still too intriguing to ignore altogether. Besides, whether you like it or not, you're unlikely to see any other shows like this!

RKS Score: 6/10


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