Another week, another disappointing episode of Teen Wolf. Le sigh.
Let’s bitch it out…
It’s beginning to look like the magic of the latter half of last season was either a fluke, or held together entirely by Dylan O’Brien’s acting abilities. Whatever the reason, the shine has come off of MTV’s flagship drama; so far S4 has been a bit of a hot mess. We’re only two episodes in, so I’m not ready to sound the alarm, but if this trajectory continues, we’re in for an incoherent, poorly executed, poorly paced season.
On paper, ‘117’ looks good. The mystery of why Derek Hale (Ian Nelson / Tyler Hoechlin) has been transformed into a teenager has promise, but the execution is surprisingly aimless and the resolution is shockingly dull. So all Kate (Jill Wagner) wanted was to use him to open the family vault under the school so that she could get her hands on the Triskelion? Zzzzz. Way to reach for the sky there, girl! Why not just chop off one of Derek’s hands, or blackmail Peter (Ian Bohen), or something immeasurably easier? It seems like a shit-ton of effort to turn an adult into a teenager in a remote earthquake-flattened were-panther Mexican temple, hope like hell that his friends rescue him and bring him home so that you can seduce him and get him to open the vault door. It’s like the writers aren’t even trying…
Add to this an appallingly poor fight scene at the school. Peter, Scott (Tyler Posey) and Malia (Shelley Hennig) figure out Kate’s plan, but once on site they’re confronted by Berserkers. Peter, as always, immediately bails, leaving Scott and Malia to fight – poorly…in slow-motion (naturally). The choreography is really bad, though, and Scott, Malia and eventually Kira (Arden Cho) all just kinda hang out on the ground like they’re waiting to be rescued. It’s extremely out of character, especially when young Derek takes on two of the attackers at once and they do nothing to help him. (Side Note: the costuming on the Berserkers loses all impact when it’s not in motion or heavily edited like last week. It ends up resembling the outfits of the Grounders from The 100 and I don’t mean that in a complimentary way).
Thankfully the show’s trademark comedy offsets some of the disappointment. Stiles’ desperation to cover up young Derek’s identity in front of Scott’s father (Matthew Del Negro) leads to some amusing dinner table antics. Similarly Sheriff Stilinski’s reaction at the station confirms where Stiles gets his manic responses from. No one does frustrated/confused quite as well as Linden Ashby on this show, and the exchange between father and son about time travel and the truth about the jaunt to Mexico is the episode’s highlight.
Unfortunately the humour can only carry things so far. So much time is taken up with the nonsensical mythology and actions of Kate, whose monosyllabic performance thus far has proven incredibly underwhelming. As mentioned, we’re still barely into this fourth season, so there’s still plenty of time to make this into something memorable, but these early episodes certainly don’t offer a great deal of promise.
- I’d forgotten all about cute Deputy Parrish (Ryan Kelley). The writers should do more with him.
- We’re still not entirely certain what Kate has turned into, but judging from her child abduction/seduction techniques here, are we sure she’s not a cougar?
- The underwhelming fight scene at the school made me wonder if the choreographer had taken off. Even worse, however, is the moment when young Derek unlocks the vault by twisting the placard and blue electricity seems to shoot out. It looks so cheap and phoney, I also wondered if the FX team had vacated the premises. Perhaps they all ran away together (with Daniel Sharman and Crystal Reed?)?
- Lydia (Holland Roden) drives straight to the scene of Kate’s murder victim at the gas station and, just in case we don’t make the connection that this is the work of her banshee power, Kira dramatically observes that they have a full gas tank. Sigh. But seriously, did we need to spend the equivalent of two scenes there to figure out that Kate is having difficulties controlling herself? Wasn’t there a more expedient way of addressing this? It’s like some scenes are encased in molasses…
- Malia’s inability to understand basic social conventions – week 2 = still not funny.
- Finally, poor Dr. Deacon (Seth Gillam) tries to treat young Derek and gets slashed for his troubles. And that accounts for his two minutes of screentime. The man who played Detective Carver on The Wire deserves better than what this show is giving him.
- Sheriff Stilinski (after realizing who young Derek is): “Is time travel involved?”
- Malia (when Peter inquires why no one stays dead): “I think they were hoping you would.”
Your turn: am I being too harsh (again!)? Did you find the school attack underwhelming? Is Kate a boring villain? Were you happy to see Peter again? Was young Derek too easily resolved? Is anything non-Stiles simply less interesting? And does Malia need to acclimatize faster or what? Sound off below.
Teen Wolf airs Mondays at 10pm EST on MTV