WonderCon: Highlights from the ‘Wayward Pines’ Panel

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Wayward Pines is coming back for a second season, along with new faces, and lots more abbies.  At WonderCon,  new Season 2 stars Jason Patric and Djimon Hounsou; Executive Producers M. Night Shymalan, Donald De Line, and Ashwin Rajan; and Executive Producer and book series author, Blake Crouch, were on hand to discuss what’s in store for the more-than-meets-the-eye town of Wayward Pines.

The Endgame

Season 1 was originally designed to be a close-ended 10 episode series. Due to the destruction of the planet, human beings devolved into aberrations, or abbies. It is now the year 4028, and the citizens of Wayward Pines are the last remaining humans on earth, having been recently woken up from a two-thousand-year suspended animation nap to rebuild the human race.

Crouch and Shymalan met last summer just as the show was starting to find its audience and asked themselves whether they should continue the story. They didn’t want to stretch the storytelling beyond what was necessary, so they mulled on it for a few days and came up with a compelling continuation of Season 1. The two developed an end game and worked backward. But there is a definitive ending to the series. Shymalan and Crouch mention if they are lucky enough to have a successful second season, the story would conclude in the third season.

New Faces in Town

Patric plays Dr. Theo Yedlin, a new resident and accomplished surgeon, who wakes up from suspended animation in the middle of a town rebellion. Shymalan teases that Theo was woken up for a specific reason. There’s only a handful of people left on the planet, and when someone is introduced that is able to take care of everyone, he immediately becomes very important and disrupts the existing balance and order in the town.

Hounson is CJ Mitchum, an original resident and historian of Wayward Pines, someone with a unique perspective on the past and current worlds and how they are connected. On joining the world of Wayward Pines, Hounsou compares it to getting on a roller coaster that you don’t necessarily like, but you can’t get off.

The Actors Know as Little as We Do

On his character’s journey in Season 2, Patric points to the EPs and says, “You’d have to ask these guys…a couple days in advance.” Hounsou said he knew just enough about his character based on the description, but there is so much happening that he just stays in the moment.

Shymalan jokes that in Season 1, Terrence Howard (Arnold Pope) portrayed the one character who actually knew what was going on, but the actor didn’t want to know the big secret and ran out of the room during the table read of the reveal.

Shymalan has a track record for being extremely detailed in creating visuals, building characters, and telling stories, and television gives him more time to do so (compared to films). On working with Shymalan, Hounsou says “I try not to dive into his brain,” and Patric notes “Three and a half weeks in, I’m still in Episode 1.”

Directing and Writing are Lonely Jobs

Shymalan says directing a film can be a very lonely. With Wayward Pines, there are a bunch of different directors and it’s a collaborative medium with a team of writers and actors. Crouch counters with, “What’s really lonely is writing novels. There is a moment where you want to talk to human beings again.” Crouch doesn’t have plans to write a fourth Wayward Pines book, but does have an upcoming novel out later this year, Dark Matter.

Where We Left Off

The second picks up right after Ben wakes up, three years after the abbies invaded the town. Ben represents Ethan‘s legacy as well as a dissension in the First Generation. He’s not technically First Generation and shares our current morality, and that is confusing to his cohorts whose only purpose is to extend the human race.

Other returning characters include Kate (Carla Gugino), Megan (Hope Davis), Pam (Melissa Leo), Theresa (Shannyn Sossamon), and Jason (Tom Stevens). There are essentially two time periods  — the current and past — so there are always two different casts.

Some things from original book trilogy will make a return in Season 2 – Adam Hassler, for example, had a small part in Season 1 but has a critical understanding of the world in Season 2. Overall, Crouch says we’re out of book territory, so the new season will feel like a new show and start, but they still wanted to bring the existing characters’ stories to a close. Time, of course, will continue to be a big theme.

A Shymalan Cameo?

On the possibility of a came, Shymalan jokes that he was the fourth abbie in the season finale; “That one that was really buff, that was me.” Acting would take him away from other parts of making the show, so don’t count on an acting cameo anytime soon. Also, the fact that the show shoots in Vancouver presents some logistical challenges. If it shot in Philly (Shymalan’s hometown), he says, “You’d see me all the time…there’s that Indian vendor again!”

Season 2 is All About Abbies

The abbies, says Crouch, as us. They are devolved humanity, so the team wanted to create monsters that are repulsive but are also familiar (think uncanny valley). The abbies show us where humanity could potentially go. The make-up process takes about two hours, but the creatures are fairly naturalist and require minimal visual effects, so that we can better see ourselves in them.

The reason to continue the show is to explore more of what the abbies are. We don’t know that much about them, and they are up to more than we realize. They have specific goals, and this is their planet now. We’ll see how the citizens deal with them in the face of this mounting knowledge. After much whispering between Shymalan and Crouch, Crouch teases, “This season, watch the abbies very closely.” We will learn more about the abbies with each episode, and once we see abbies on Main Street, “just know the fate of Wayward Pines has taken a huge turn.”

Hounson on facing the abbies this season? “I’m ready for them.”

Wayward Pines Season 2 premieres this summer on FOX.

See all our WonderCon coverage here.

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