Image: Sergei Bachlakov/FOX

Wayward Pines was a surprise hit last summer, and the M. Night Shyamalan-produced drama ended with an explosive finale that left the door wide open for a second season. But now that everyone’s in on the show’s central mystery, why should you keep watching? The first two episodes—discussed here without spoilers!—has a compelling answer.

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Understandably, the new season begins with some exposition. Reminder: it’s two thousand years in the future, and Wayward Pines only looks like a regular small town. In fact, it’s the last pocket of humanity on the entire planet; all its adult residents were poached from the early 21st century and put in stasis while the centuries ticked by. Earth is now populated by “abbies,” ferocious humanoids that lurk just outside the town’s massive walls. Mastermind Dr. David Pilcher perished in season one, but his message looms everywhere thanks to Wayward Pines’ upstart rulers, the “First Generation,” who favor Pilcher’s terror tactics.

It’s a deeply uneasy regime. The town has lost a good deal of its Pottery Barn sparkle from last season. Things are grimier. (Even the opening credits have gotten more bleak.) Both the streets and the people have seen some serious shit go down, and there’s a sense that all hell could break loose at any moment.

Image: Sergei Bachlakov/FOX

Understandably, Dr. Theo Yedlin (Jason Patric) is confused and more than a touch hostile when he opens his eyes in a strange town ruled by kiddie fascists in the year 4032. Theo, a gifted surgeon, has skills that the town desperately needs, and that gives him a valuable bargaining tool; thankfully, he gets up to speed on Wayward Pines in record time —unlike Matt Dillon’s character last season, who spent weeks and weeks figuring everything out. Theo seems destined for a leadership role, though he’ll have to contend with the formidable Megan Fisher (season one returnee Hope Davis), who’s fond of doling out horrifically wrong-headed guidance to the kids who see her as a Pilcher stand-in.

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But there’s another teacher figure introduced this season, played by Djimon Hounsou; he’s in charge of the town’s food supply, and is a more spiritually-minded character than we’ve ever seen on the series. This is a guy who has thought long and hard about the state of the human race—and may be starting to suspect that Wayward Pines’ continued existence is going against what nature intended. He’s a great addition to the show’s roster of characters, and it’s quite clear he’ll have a big influence on this season’s events and themes.

But if for no other reason, I’ll keep watching to see what those creepy abbies do next. Last season, they were basically unknowable monsters who attacked whenever human error gave them an opportunity. In the season premiere, we see them exhibit some rather extraordinary behavior for the first time. Though Wayward Pines has already hammered in the idea that the greatest threat to humanity is, uh, humanity, the abbies’ heightened presence might just add another wrinkle to that whole survival-of-the-species plan.

Wayward Pines season two premieres May 25 on Fox.