Martin Carr reviews the fifth episode of Wayward Pines…
As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive; and as, consequently, there is a frequently recurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected. From the strong principle of inheritance, any selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form.
(Charles Darwin ‘Origin of the Species’ 1859)
So the show opens with Ethan atop an outcrop overlooking Wayward Pines. From there we switch between scenes of suburban serenity and Burke’s increasingly wayward wanderings. There are biblical references to be culled from ‘The Truth’ alongside more blatant examples, illustrating Blake Crouch is a fan of certain classical authors who will remain nameless. Suffice to say ‘The Truth’ remains a game changer which never drifts into the realms of the ridiculous. No mean feat which Pines has achieved over four hours with solid character development, considered plot devices and subtle segues.
That the audience is this engaged after only a short time is testament to the precision on display here. Remember Wayward Pines only has ten hours to make things work. That all important opener needed to be concise yet interesting, mysterious but not confusing, whilst the casting was always key. From there on in it needed to give away little but do so often. Step too far one way or the other and it would drift into the arena of bad fiction. Which is why as ‘Pines’ continues on towards its midway point the same care needs to be applied.
One thing I can say with certainty, which has been said before, is that this cast signed on for a reason. Wayward Pines continues to take expected narrative approaches, challenge expectations yet maintain a degree of quality lacking elsewhere. This ensemble continues to impress, in a show that proves good writing still attracts more talent than great pay cheques.
In all fairness, I remember writing something similar about Constantine when that was airing on NBC. There again was a programme with depth, verbosity and a sense of self beyond the influence of mainstream focus groups. Sadly Constantine lost a battle that Wayward Pines will never need to wage. But then it’s nowhere near as dark, nor so overt in its unconventional sensibilities as Jamie Delano’s Hellblazer. Ultimately, what will continue to ensure the longevity of this show is consistency. Something show producers are doubtless well aware of. So far they have managed to maintain tone, wrong foot audience expectations without condescension yet keep things entertaining. Roll on number six.