Come Back To Us
by DICK CHENEY
creator Chad Hodge
When he breathes out, Matt Dillon's face resembles a puffy blowfish. Matt should have been on Lost. As Secret Service agent Ethan Burke, Dillon is fantastic at the only thing ever required of him on Fox's Wayward Pines, which is to bristle at unexpected developments in his life. When you think about it, Matt Dillon, 51, could have been much better than Matthew Fox or Henry Ian Cusick in their respective roles. By the way, I still wonder what happened to Matthew Fox. Did he die from remorse after his creative involvement with Damon Lindelof?
Matt's wife Theresa Burke is played by Shannyn Sossamon. She seems an unlikely choice for a long suffering wife, but director M. Night Shyamalan finds something in her androgyny. Wayward Pines is, I am not sorry to say, better acted, better cast and better performed than anything J.J. Abrama has been involved with. Matt is drawn to the town of Wayward Pines searching for his missing partner Kate (Carla Gugino). One day he wakes up into an idyllic and charming town. Naturally, the only thing he can think of to do is leave.
Carla became a little too close to Matt Dillon on the job. It is a bit too soon for another adulterous hero, but Dillon is also perfect at conveying the properties of mistakes. He is no more responsible for their occurence than God is responsible for the tragedy of The Mindy Project's cancellation. Unlike other actors, his errors all come across as feckless, guiltless.
Things manifest differently for a woman. Dressed up in the style of decades earlier, Gugino looks like a strumpet even when she is Taylor Swifting about how conflicted she is about having sex/intercourse with another man's wife. Gugino, 43, is finally beginning to look like a woman in middle age, but her girlish appeal is still intact. Wayward Pines wins you over with its perfect casting and pace more than any actual substance.
In a bar in this mysterious, final town Matt Dillon meets Juliette Lewis. It feels like Lewis has been around for so long; the shocking news is that she is only 41. Her chief talent consists in making manufactured surprise look completely genuine. The fun comes when we simply watch her react to Matt's loopy questions. She gives him her address if he needs somewhere to stay, and it is at that address where he finds the body of a missing cisgender federal agent.
Looking for answers — as well as his wallet and firearm — Dillon heads over to the sheriff's office. There Terence Howard is quietly fulfilling his contract with Fox, the same way Nucky's brother on Boardwalk Empire has magically been cast on every single HBO show since. Matt eventually has a breakdown and winds up in the hospital, where his real troubles begin. He cannot drive out of the town of Wayward Pines, since there is a massive electric fence circling the habitat.
Say what you want about M. Night's questionable taste in material/Scientologist actors, but he is fantastically talented at atmosphere and tension. Wayward Pines is incredibly fun for this reason. Here Chad Hodge (The Playboy Club) has an actual mystery that will deliver according to the novels it is based upon, rather than the strategery of Carlton Cuse taking notes for Lost's direction from message boards.
Mr. Cuse recently bestowed upon us the rather dull third season finale of Bates Motel. The prequel to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho succeeds entirely on the charisma of its star, the brilliant Vera Farmiga. In contrast, Cuse's newest show The Returned, also airing on A&E, is about as exciting as Lost-Jin flashback episode. You will not be surprised that The Returned concerns a massive cast of people all returning to a locale after they are believed to be dead.
In what is a major step forward for Carlton, there is barely anyone from Lost on the show, not even Nestor Carbonell. (Michelle Forbes was too good to exclude on this basis.) In what is not a major step forward for Carlton, The Returned concerns a group of white people from very different backgrounds and circumstances struggling with a mystery that has left them in an isolated place. Apparations and figments of their imagination recur, and they cannot make sense of the specifics of their lives. Lost should have died a long time ago.
There is actually something deeply wrong about these many reincarnations of Twin Peaks. For all its perfection in mood and atmosphere, Twin Peaks was actually tongue-in-cheek, which many of these projects seem to ignore entirely. There is not really even one joke in Wayward Pines or The Returned — like Lost, they are utterly sincere interpretations of the same basic theme: understanding human beings at the level of a community rather than at the level of a person is a waste of time.
Treading over this ground might seem a little dull, but as long as Matthew Fox and Evangeline Lilly remain on the outskirts of employment and general good will, I suppose I can accomodate this trend.
Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is most known for his disgust with the ending of Lost and being the former vice president of the United States.
"Just Saying" - Jamie xx (mp3)
"Stranger in a Room" - Jamie xx ft. Oliver Sim (mp3)