Monday, June 29, 2015

Five Things About Teen Wolf 5x01, "Creatures of the Night"

  1. Though we don’t have much more than a bubbling glass case and a couple of gas masks to go by, it’s pretty clear that this season, Teen Wolf is going to do its version of the “secret organization that does science experiments on magic.” Possibly the first, and definitely the best -known, plot line like that was The Initiative in Buffy the Vampire Slayer season four. Every teen fantasy show eventually does The Initiative. (Even some non-teen fantasy shows do; Being Human, for one.) On the one hand, it’s rarely a good idea. On the other hand, since literally no one does it well, it’s actually kind of ripe ground for Teen Wolf to explore, since at least people are less likely to say, “Buffy did it better.”

  2. Another thing Teen Wolf will apparently be doing this season: nonlinear storytelling. I mean, maybe we won’t see any more of the Eichen House Lydia bits. (That would be pretty much par for the course, given Teen Wolf’s penchant for introducing things, forgetting about them for seasons at a time, and then picking back up on them seemingly at random.) But whether it gets picked back up or not, flashforwards seem like a terrible idea for Teen Wolf, which has a hard enough time constructing a sensible narrative when everything’s going in the right direction.

  3. “Fun like bowling, or fun like sex with other guys?” Stiles and Malia are THE BEST, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. (Also, Stiles and Malia got the scene that sets up the theme of the season. It’s nice to see that Teen Wolf is continuing its grand tradition of having Scott be the guy super special things happen to, but Stiles be the actual protagonist of the show.)

  4. Despite the glowy-handed werewolf fight and the creepy Eichen House flashforwards… nothing happened in this episode. I sort of get the idea of taking an episode to “get the band back together,” especially in a season that is presumably about testing the longevity of friendship, but seriously, Kira spent half the episode sitting in a car. Teen Wolf episodes often end about halfway through whatever the hell story it is they’re trying to tell (see “Anchors” and “More Bad Than Good” from the beginning of season 3B), but it’s worth pointing out, because literally all Kira did was sit in a car.

  5. The most successful scene of the night, by far, was the Senior Scribe. It showcased all of Teen Wolf’s best qualities: its attention to detail in character work, its attention to continuity in backstory, and its occasional bursts of real, visceral emotion. Stiles lingers longest on his initials, thinking of those who have passed through the school before them, and what happened to them; Malia hesitates over which initials to use, a moment made more poignant by her adoptive father’s appearance earlier in the episode; Scott memorializes Allison alongside himself. Stiles’s pause at Derek Hale’s initials might be read as queerbaiting (though I go back and forth on the degree to which I think the show is doing that, and the degree to which I think they legitimately just have fun playing those two characters off each other) but it’s also a nod to a character who Teen Wolf could just as easily not have remembered. At a time when Stiles is remembering the past and worrying about his future, it makes a great deal of sense for him to think about the only friend he has who’s graduated high school, and it was a fairly seamless way to reference a character who was once a huge part of the show. Scott writing Allison’s initials is an even clearer example of Teen Wolf’s long memory. Teen Wolf takes a lot of flack for “forgetting” Allison, but she was a huge presence throughout all of season four, and the show actually deserves some praise for continuing to make her loss felt.

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