Martin Carr reviews the third episode of Wayward Pines season 2…
Building character, creating backstory and broadening the creative canvas sounds pretentious mainly because it is. Before any of that other stuff can be done you have to make people care about something. Conjure up a person who is defined by dominance, instills fear but remains inherently weak and you have yourself a dictator in the making. Give them a warped sense of the world, unwarranted feelings of superiority and features just off being handsome and your home free. Such people exist in this world of that I am sure but most are ferreted out and learn to temper their less favourable traits, if only for the purposes of self-preservation. Others go the other way and end up running for political office.
What makes Wayward Pines interesting this week is how they have chosen to go about humanising their most unlikeable character. It would appear that the best way to make an audience like the unlikeable is make them a victim of circumstance. In soft focus flashback you must paint your character as a brainwashed dolt, groomed from birth to be superior, overbearing and unwavering in their belief system. A trick the writer of Wayward Pines has more than pulled off with Jason Higgins.
Nothing more than a man child playing army games, Tom Stevens has breathed life into someone at odds with his surroundings. Thrust into a position of power for which he is ill prepared and yet incapable of walking away from. Jason is shaping up to be the ultimate victim in a town defined by them. And that he remains optimistic in the face of extreme adversity while others are trying to destroy everything remains a big problem for Pines.
Although there is a decent amount of conflict created by character clashes, apposing beliefs and the presence of aberrations Pines remains in danger of fizzling out. Once you get beyond the shock factor of procreating pre-pubescents, flagrantly obvious Orwellian overtones and toys out of the pram melodramatics, Pines still lacks a viable threat. Although the character acting will keep it going for a while, there needs to be something more substantial beyond the fence.
As we venture into episode four and there are more than a few hints of life beyond the perimeter, there is a distinct impasse looming large on the horizon. In any drama you need to have people you care about not feel indifference towards. It is unfortunate to note that Jason Patric’s Doctor Yedlin is wearing much the same face as any television audience which tunes in. Namely one of disbelief, confusion, mild frustration which will make way for resignation before long. Unless there really is something series defining hiding out amongst the trees beyond those electric fences, this could turn into hard work for no reason.