It’s funny, I read some reviews of the pilot for this series before I watched it myself, and many of them complained of slow, repetitive pacing. Well, maybe I had the advantage by watching the first three episode is one sitting, but slow is not exactly the word I would use. Repetitive perhaps, what with the amount of times Ethan’s wife wavers between wondering if he’s dead or with “that woman,” or maybe with how many times the sheriff makes it clear that this is his town. But definitely not slow.
Because let’s be real, only three episodes in and (SPOILER ALERT) two of the stars are dead and Ethan’s wife and son have already made it to Wayward Pines. I was completely prepared for Sheriff Pope to act as the main protagonist for the majority of this season, but I guess Ethan was right with his scathing remark to him and Nurse Pam. Why is he even bothering with them if they’re “not the ones in charge.” Something much bigger is going on.
The show has gotten a lot of comparisons to Twin Peaks, but too be honest, other than the somewhat creepy, small-town setting I’m not quite feeling it. I know the author of the novels admits to some influence, but I’m much more inclined to compare it The Prisoner: secret service agent retires and ends up in a Stepford-like town that ends up being a crazy prison. I worry about the Twin Peaks comparisons. On the one hand, the show could lean in too far, trying to gain a similar cult status, and not really stand on its own two feet. On the other hand, people who loves Peaks could be disappointed with the tenuous connection. They’re going to have to find a good balance.
For my part, I never actually was a huge Twin Peaks fan, so I don’t have to worry about that when it comes to my own enjoyment of the series. And so far, I’m finding the creepiness quite on point: the idyllic setting, every off-puttingly saccharine bon-mot dropping from Nurse Pam’s sinister smile, all the town’s rules. And I appreciate that the creepiness isn’t stagnant. Like, in some instances things just seem a little off putting, the Sheriff Pope’s secretary, for instance, or Dr. Jenkins. Other things make my skin crawl, like every time Nurse Pam speaks or Sheriff Pope aggressively sending Ethan’s wife back into the vehicle as he helps her with her car trouble. But than there are moments that are truly terrifying. I was shocked when Beverly was hauled up on the scaffold in front of the whole town and publicly executed. Seriously, my blood ran cold during that scene. And all because she spoke about the past.
I’m a bit of an odd duck in that I love rules. Seriously, board game night with me can be an absolute trial for some people, and I have a hard time with all dystopian fiction because I want to understand how Panem and the Hunger Games works far more than I want to see Katniss revolt. So I kind of hope we have an episode or two of Ethan calming down and playing nice and learning all the rules to the game before he tries to break out again. Slow and sneaky often works better than rash brawn, so I think that could help him in the long run. Not to mention, with the death of Sheriff Pope and whatever the hell was behind the electric fence, the rules that we’ve heard so far are definitely not all there is to know.
So, yeah. I’m intrigued. I’m baffled as to what’s to come. And I’m definitely want to find out what’s going on.
Unfortunately, while the creep factor and the mystery are definitely positives, the one major thing against the series are the characters. So far…I don’t actually like anyone. Nurse Pam and Sheriff Pope are creepy enough that I enjoy their scenes I suppose, but I don’t know enough about them to actually say either are a character I like. Ethan has been positioned as the hero (I think?), but he’s pretty blank. Not funny or desperate or guilty or anything other than a stoic brick wall. And I truly hope that we’re not gearing up for a love triangle between his wife and his mistress, because seriously, both are so bland I cannot at this time even remember the wife’s name. I think I liked Beverly, but maybe that was just that I like Juliette Lewis, because it’s not like I missed her in the third episode.
I tend to be a character first person, so the creep factor and the mystery will only hold me for so long. These characters need to be fleshed out a lot more to keep me on board in the long term. But for now, I’m in.