Will 'Wayward Pines' Return For Season 2? The Finale May Be Your Last Chance For A Visit

The biggest mystery of FOX's M. Night Shyamalan-produced Wayward Pines isn't the creepy town or its bizarre inhabitants or even the monster lurking outside its fence — it's whether or not the freshman series will live to see a second season. From its beginning, the mystery/sci-fi/horror show has been billed as a "limited series," meaning a series with a pre-planned beginning, middle, and end; but other shows with this designation — like ABC's American Crime — have defied expectations to return for a second season. (Or even a third, in the case of CBS' Under The Dome.) So will there be a Wayward Pines Season 2?

While American television audiences aren't used to seeing their beloved shows come and go in one short season, there's obviously an attractive element to a limited series. Not only does a conclusive ending promise definitive answers to viewers who have been burned by one too many prolonged mystery shows, but a limited series is also able to attract top talent that might not necessarily want to sign on for a multi-year-long project. (I'm sure you've noticed that the small town of Wayward Pines, Idaho is inhabited by such heavy-hitters as Matt Dillon, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, Carla Gugino, and Juliette Lewis.)

But as early as January — four months before Pines even premiered — there were rumblings about extending it past Season 1. At FOX's panel at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, Variety reported Shyamalan and star Matt Dillon as saying that they were "interested in an anthology format," but would "wait and see how they feel about a potential second season and make sure the story is solid." "If the opportunity is there," the producer was quoted as saying. "We won't do it unless it's organically and creatively correct."

On June 11, the night of the season's midpoint (the game-changing fifth episode titled "The Truth,"), showrunner Chad Hodge told TVLine that there was an opening for a second season. "The promise that we’ve been making — which is that there’s a beginning, middle and end in these 10 episodes — is a real promise and we deliver on it," he said. "Could there be a possibility of a Season 2? Sure, of course, and you’ll see a window to that, but it also is a complete ending as it is."

Two weeks later, Deadline reported that Pines had set a record for the biggest DVR ratings bump ever for a summer series, increasing a whopping 118 percent from a 1.1 in the coveted 18-49 demographic to a 2.4 once the DVR numbers were tallied. With numbers like that, a renewal is only a technicality, right?

So why are headlines suddenly trumpeting the announcement, " Wayward Pines Cancelled By FOX After One Season"? First of all, even if the network chooses not to green-light a second season of Pines, it's tough to make the argument that a show that has aired all 10 of its intended episodes has been "cancelled." But semantics aside, those headlines are correct that it appears Pines is going to be a one-and-done phenomenon. And that's thanks to this promo for the Season 1 finale, "Cycle."

See those giant letters spelling "Series Finale" — as opposed to "Season Finale"? Yeah, that's a pretty clear signal that this Thursday's episode will indeed by the last one ever. I guess Hodge was never able to find a "solid" story that felt "organic." Since Pines' ratings have been so solid, it must have been a creative decision — and not a financial one — to not continue it. So while it may be disappointing that we won't be revisiting this creepy town next summer, you have to respect Hodge's integrity in not stretching the property out past its natural expiration date. (Under The Dome could learn a thing or two from Pines' example.)

That being said, in this day and age of revivals and reboots, it's never prudent to write anything off completely. Just because FOX put the phrase "series finale" in their promo doesn't mean Pines could never be resurrected. If Hodges were ever to come up with an idea for a continuation, FOX could easily advertise a "brand new series" titled Wayward Pines: The Next Chapter or something similar — especially if they go with Shyamalan's idea of doing it as an anthology with a brand new cast the second time around.

But in the meantime, I would go ahead and assume that this week's episode will be our last helping of Pines weirdness; that way, we can only be pleasantly surprised if there turns out to be more.

Images: Liane Hentscher (2), Frank Ockenfels/FOX