M. Night Shyamalan made his name shocking moviegoers with unexpected twists on the big screen, but the decision to shift to television for the upcoming Fox thriller “Wayward Pines” was an easy one.
During the panel, “The Sixth Sense” mastermind recalled reading the pilot script for “Wayward Pines” and being perplexed.
“I didn’t understand how any of this could make sense,” Shyamalan said.
Confusion aside, it came down to one criterion for Shyamalan.
“I called everybody and I said, ‘Listen, as long as everybody isn’t dead, I’m in,” Shyamalan joked.
The show, which is based on the book series by Blake Crouch, is set in a seemingly idyllic town with only one drawback — its citizens are unable to leave.
While the subject matter seems solidly in Shyamalan’s wheelhouse, the format of serialized television is definitely new territory for the filmmaker — specifically in that, where a film is targeted toward reaching a specific ending, series are an ongoing proposition. Shyamalan admitted during the panel that taking on a television series was a somewhat scary prospect for him.
“Yes, it was daunting and challenging and intimidating for sure,” Shyamalan said, citing “the amount of long-term thinking and the amount of immediate content you have to get out” involved in television storytelling.
While “Wayward Pines” has a book series as source material, Shyamalan and fellow executive producer Chad Hodges noted that the series deviates from the first book, particularly with one big twist that’s worthy of a Shyamalan project: Where the central mystery is revealed at the end of the book, the reveal is made on Episode 5 of the ten-episode series.
The early reveal carries the potential for a very anticlimactic second half of the season, but the “Wayward Pines” cast members and producers assured that the suspense will continue even after the cat’s out of the bag.
“If you asked me what’s the thing that’s groundbreaking about the show, the thing for me about the show is that halfway through the season it becomes an entirely different genre,” Shyamalan said. (And no, Shyamalan would not reveal what the second genre is.)
Carla Gugino, who plays Kate Hewson on the series, noted that, after the big mid-season reveal, the suspense will revolve around “the mysteries of human beings; the complexities of who these people are and the circumtances they’re in.”
As for whether the series will go forward with a second season, Shyamalan was optimistic — though cautiously so.
“If the opportunity is there, we won’t do [a second season] unless its organically and creatively correct,” Shyamalan asserted.