M. Night Shyamalan’s first foray into television is a trip to Wayward Pines, a psychological thriller that’s everything you’d hope for from the director of spooky-suspense fare such as The Sixth Sense, The Village and Unbreakable.
When being wooed to take on his first TV project, Shyamalan had just one rule: “As long as everybody isn’t dead, I’m in,” he joked to TV reporters while promoting his new miniseries, premiering Thursday, May 14th at 9 pm/ET on FOX.
Matt Dillon stars in his first major TV role as Secret Service Agent Ethan Burke, who’s investigating the disappearance of two Federal agents – one of whom is his former partner and mistress (played by Carla Gugino). His search leads him to the sleepy little town of Wayward Pines, Idaho, where a truck slams into his car and lands him in the hospital.
From there, things get weird. The creepy doctor and even creepier nurse taking care of Ethan after the car accident are trying to keep him from leaving the hospital. As questions arise about Ethan’s mental health, it soon appears that no one wants him to leave town either. Like, Ever.
There’s an unsettling strangeness to the smiling townsfolk. The phones don’t seem to connect with anyone outside of Wayward Pines. And as bartender Beverly (Juliette Lewis) points out, “There are no crickets.” When Ethan checks out the chirping on the sidewalk, he finds a speaker hidden in the bushes. What is going on?
The mystery will soon have you hooked, Matt Dillon told Bio. That’s what lured him into taking the role, at least.
“I thought it was an interesting character. I liked where it was going and I just jumped in with both feet. I learned a lot,” Dillon said.
“The word I learned that is my favorite word, is verisimilitude. Because that’s what the story is about,” Dillon explained. “This show is about the search for truth — and the acceptance of truth. Everything appears one way, but there’s something else underneath.”
“Ethan has to find out what the hell is going on,” he continued, “why are these things happening, and he needs to learn what the boundaries of the game are.”
“It’s entertainment, this thing,” Dillon grinned.
Here are 5 Other Things to Know About Wayward Pines:
1. It’s a 10-episode “limited series” event.
Translation: If you have series commitment issues, this one will not require an enormous amount of your time and is poised to play out as a wild summer road trip worth watching.
2. It features a terrific cast.
Here’s the line-up: Matt Dillon is your leading man, an agent, who may or may not be crazy, trapped in a bizarre town; Terrance Howard (Empire) is a ruthless Sheriff who is no ally of his fellow lawman Ethan Burke; Juliette Lewis plays a bartender who appears to be the only “normal” person in town; Oscar-winner Melissa Leo plays intense Nurse Pam (think Nurse Ratched, Lite); Toby Jones is the mysterious Dr. Jenkins; Carla Gugino plays Kate, Ethan’s missing ex-partner with whom he had an affair; Shannyn Sossamon is Ethan’s wife back in Seattle, who’s now trying to figure out what happened to him; and then there’s Hope Davis, who enters the picture in Episode 4 in a pivotal role.
3. There’s a Twin Peaks influence and a Village vibe, with a dash of The Prisoner.
Wayward Pines is based on Blake Crouch’s trio of best-selling books, adapted for TV by Chad Hodge and executive produced by M. Night Shyamalan, who also directed the pilot and infused some of his eerie trademarks. But the series is undoubtedly and unapologetically inspired by Crouch’s love for David Lynch and Twin Peaks. He even wrote about his affinity for the cult show when he was a kid in the afterword to the first book.
4. If you’ve read the Wayward Pines books, will you know all the twists and turns or will the series deviate from the source material?
“It’s something, I think, that’s going to be a real asset for us,” Shyamalan said, “because as you watch the show and if you love the show, you’ll go back and read the books, and there are differences in the book and the show.”
5. The mystery WILL be solved.
“It was very exciting to see a jigsaw puzzle and then see what the jigsaw puzzle actually becomes, because we’re seeing all the pieces out of position,” Shyamalan said of how the storytelling unfolds for Pines.
But viewers won’t be left hanging without answers like some shows, everyone involved swears. In fact, expect the core mystery to be revealed relatively early on.
“You do find out the big truth halfway through the season, and then we continue our story after that with where Book 2 and Book 3 go,” Hodge promises. Of course, a few new questions will arise that carry the rest of the episodes to the conclusion.
The big reveal promises to be worth the wait.
And here’s a secret that Matt Dillon let slip: You do not want to miss Episode 5, people!
Wayward Pines premieres Thursday, May 14th at 9 pm/ET on FOX.