Teen Wolf is back, baby! The mid-season premiere brought with it all the shirtless werewolves, exaggerated lighting, unsubtle product placement, and cheese, cheese, cheese we’ve come to expect. But after a disappointing first half of the season, does the show look to be back on track?
Let’s find out.
Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Yes so far. The full magnitude of the mess that was 3A didn’t become apparent until we got a few episodes in and it became clear that no one seemed to be planning what the hell was going on. (Still waiting for an explanation on why the Darach attacked the werewolves at the motel, Jeff Davis. Any day now.) But this episode was good, and it gave us a new character I might be swooning over.
Davis has said before that this half-season will have more of a psychological horror bent, and that was clear from the very first scene. The show opens with Stiles nightmaring it up, stuck in a locker in the high school. He gets out and starts wandering around, which never ends well for anyone in this show. He comes across the Nemeton stump in a classroom, because apparently someone on the school board has some interesting ideas about interior design. A vine from the Nemeton grabs his wrist (“OMG STILES I LOVE YOU!“), and he wakes up… to find Lydia in his bed.
He’s confused as to what he’s doing there, which is our first clue that he’s still dreaming. Thank goodness. Stydia is my brOTP, emphasis on the bro. He explains that he’s been having dreams within dreams (BRRRRRM), and when he goes to close his creepily-cracked-open bedroom door Lydia tries to get him not to go. He walks through it and ends up in the forest with the Nemeton again. Realizing that he’s still asleep, he panics and forces himself to wake up.
The next day at school he goes all SCIENCE on Scott, explaining that he’s been suffering from sleep paralysis and it’s probably a result of the crazy stuff with the Nemeton and the druid power (ya think?). He says he’s not even sure what he’s experiencing right now is real.
Which is when he wakes up screaming. Turns out the school scene, despite looking perfectly normal, was also part of the dream.
You got me, show. You got me good. I jumped in my seat.
We already know from Deaton that Allison, Stiles, and Scott sacrificing themselves for their parents at the end last season (or the first part of this season… whatever, this is season 4 to me. It’s a completely different plotline) opened some sort of door to ultimate darkness in their souls. We know how that’s messing with Stiles: Creepy, crazy-ass nightmares. For Scott, it’s losing control of his wolf. As he gets ready for school he sees his shadow start to grow claws. Isaac, still living at Casa McCall, timidly asks Scott whether the fact that he’s dating Allison now means the newbie Alpha might want to, IDK, punch him or rip out his entrails or something like that. Scott doesn’t know that he’s over Allison 100%, but he seems OK with her and Isaac dating… until Isaac makes a fairly innocuous reference to wanting to kiss her and Scott pushes him into the wall. Mama McCall yells at them to cut the werewolf shenanigans out, because she is the best.
As Stiles get ready for school he notices at the words a textbook have gone all fiddly. Furthermore, his dad’s acting suspicious, carrying a box of files around and acting all shifty when Stiles asks what they’re for.
Allison’s back-to-school routine involves some lost time of her own: She hallucinates herself into a creepy abandoned hospital, where her Aunt Kate (we get a helpful flashback montage in case anyone’s managed to forget she was Allison’s friend/aunt/mentor who was revealed to be an evil werewolf murdered before Peter Hale slashed her throat) crawls out of her body locker at the morgue and attacks her.
When she comes to in the school it’s to Lydia asking whether she’s OK. Lyds very quickly realizes that something’s wrong with Allison, Scott, and Stiles, and she’s determined to help them, but she’s also glad she’s not the “crazy one” anymore. Preach it. After one and a half seasons of bearing the burden of psychological distress on this show, Lydia’s vocal cords need a damn break.
At about this time we meet a new character: Kira Yukimura (Arden Cho), an awkward new-kid-on-the-block whose embarrassment is made more complete by the fact that her dad, the new history teacher, points out in class that she’s basically a social outcast with no friends. Awww. I like her. Scott does too, apparently, because he goes all googly eyed at her before being distracted by the fact that his normal human shadow is turning into a MURDEROUS WEREWOLF SHADOW.
Meanwhile Lydia and Allison are sitting in art class talking about another crazy thing that’s been happening to Allison, namely that since the night she sacrificed herself she’s been struck with a case of the wobblies, meaning she can’t shoot arrows with any degree of accuracy. Stiles has more trouble reading—the numbers on his locker go all wonky. And Scott’s troubles controlling his inner wolf come from the shadow realm to the real one as he wolfs out in the middle of school and has to be ushered by Stiles into one of Beacon Hills High School’s 2926 empty classrooms. He’s only able to make himself come out of it by digging his claws into his hands. Stiles loses all ability to read, which makes him scared that he’s still dreaming, because you can’t read in a dream.
Lydia takes Allison out to the woods for some target practice—man, I want her to be my best friend. She knows about different techniques to hold a bow and arrow. And she knows her horror movie tropes: When Allison sees someone running around in the woods and takes off after them, Lydia’s response is pretty much “Are you fucking kidding me?” The mysterious person, no surprise, turns out to be Aunt Kate. Allisos lets an arrow fly at her charging crazy relative, and whatever happiness she might have felt because her aim was dead-on is washed away by the fact that she was hallucinating and actually almost shot Lydia in the face. The only reason her friend’s not dead is that Isaac pulled a werewolf ex machina and caught it just in time.
As has been pointed out in a post on Tumblr, Allison, Scott, and Stiles are all losing the things that make them integral to the Scooby-Doo-Patrol-of-Fighting-Evil-Monsters: Allison her ability to shoot arrows/right, Scott his ability to control his werewolf/lead, and Stiles his ability to read/research/be the Willow of the group.
Later Isaac tells Scott about the whole whoops-Allison-hallucinated-and-almost-shot-Lydia thing, and instead of being concerned for his friends Scott gets pissed that Isaac was invited to Allison’s arrow party and pushes him against he wall again. The first time I wasn’t bothered by it, but the second time… I dunno. It seems a little out of character for Scott. When Allison broke up with him at the end of season two he understood it. He wasn’t possessive. He never would’ve physically attacked a new boyfriend. Then again, maybe I’m reading too much into it. It was played for comedy, after all. And Isaac’s not some frail human. Maybe pushing each other around is just how werewolves interact with each other? Gee, I really wish we’d seen more of Scott and Isaac hanging out with Boyd and Erica before they were both killed.
(Maybe I’m still a little grumpy.)
When Stiles drops by his dad’s office to bring a flower arrangement for (presumably) his mom’s grave (you just haaaaad to throw that in there, didn’t you, show? Had to.) he finds out that the Sheriff has been going through all his old cases to see if his newfound knowledge of the supernatural might shed light on of them. That’s… that’s really sweet, actually. There’s one case in particular that he’s focusing on, the first one he tackled after becoming Sheriff. A mother and two daughters were in a car wreck, and while the bodies of the mom and one of the daughters were found, the second daughter’s body was not. The supernatural element is that the two recovered corpses had claw marks all over them, and the accident took place on the night of the full moon. Survey says: Probably werewolves.
The next day in school Stiles has his weirdest dream yet. He gets to class and everyone, including the Coach (heyyyyy, Coach) is completely silent and saying something to him in sign language. But that’s not the freakiest part. The freakiest part is that when he comes to Scott tells him he was never actually sleeping. Scribbled on his notes is WAKE UP over and over.
This whole episode had better not be taking place in one of Stiles’ dreams, I swear to God. I don’t think it is, because that would require some long-term planning in terms of plot, and… well, that’s not Teen Wolf‘s style.
The Teen Wolf Scooby Gang—Scott, Stiles, Allison, Isaac, and Lydia—are hanging around at the lunch table trying to figure out what the heck’s going on. Stiles and Isaac are sniping each other, and Isaac mentions that he spent half his childhood locked in a freezer, so maybe he’s not so great with peacefully working with others.
Stiles’ response: “You still milking that?”
Still milking…. his history of child abuse? I know Isaac was being a jerk, but really, Stiles? That crosses a line. Though it does fit in with Stiles’ previously established tendency to be a massive asshole at times.
Kira overhears their conversation—she also saw Scott freak out earlier, though presumably she didn’t notice the red eyes—and offers up the info that in Buddhist mythology there’s something called “bardo,” a state between life and death where peaceful or wrathful deities (aka demons) can enter into someone’s brain. Wait, wait, hold up, because I want to emphasize this:
Kira overheard their conversation.
One of the loud, obvious conversations this group is always having about supernatural shenanigans.
“Yo, I couldn’t help but overhear you, because you were talking about secret supernatural stuff really really loudly in a public place.”
Someone finally said it.
There’s a bit o’ banter between Kira and Lydia—Lydia doesn’t take too kindly to someone else being the Trivia Queen for once and quizzes the new girl on whether she means Tibetan or Indian Buddhism. Kira counters that it doesn’t matter and mentions that the final stage of bardo is “death. You die.”
She delivers that line so cheerfully!
Kira, it is official. I love you. Please do not die. You’re both a female and POC, and both those groups have a suspiciously high mortality rate on this show. It’ll be an uphill battle, I know. But I believe in you.
Stiles and Scott go visit Giles Deaton, who tells them that Stiles’ hallucinations are his subconscious trying to communicate with him. He translates the sign language in the latest dream: “When is a door not a door?” Answer: When it’s ajar. Deaton tells them that having a door open in their minds is risky, and he doesn’t have any advice for what they should do, but they should really try and close it ASAP.
Thanks, Deaton. So helpful, as always. I take it back. You’re not Giles. Giles actually told the Scoobies things instead of being maddeningly cryptic until the very last second.
Outside the animal clinic the Sheriff rolls up and asks for Scott and Stiles’ help on that cold case involving the werewolf and the car wreck. Stiles asks whether it’s maybe better left alone, but the Sheriff refuses: If the family was murdered then the killer needs to be brought to justice, even if it’s a werewolf.
Mr. Tate—husband of the woman, father of the two girls—doesn’t agree. In fact he’s really pissed that the Sheriff reopened old wounds by waltzing in and saying “FYI, we think maybe your family was murdered.” I forgive you, Mr. Tate, because this is your first episode and you haven’t had time to learn that the Sheriff is better than everyone and is (normally) right about everything. Scott’s job is to pick up the scent of the missing/presumed dead daughter, Malia. He’s unsuccessful—it has been eight years, after all—but more concerning is the fact that he can’t even Alpha the family dog into submission after it starts barking up a storm. Luckily the dangerous-looking Rottweiler is more a family pet than a guard dog, because Mr. Tate just yells at and it shuts up.
Turns out the reason the Sheriff is so fixated on this case is that Scott’s long-absent, FBI agent, jackass dad is leading an investigation to get the Sheriff impeached. Something about “lack of resolution and an inability to close cases,” which is technically accurate, even if Agent McCall’s not working with all the info. But still:
You don’t mess with the Sheriff! I don’t care if you’re fictional, I will have your head.
But really. Don’t mess with the Sheriff. He was suspended last season. I can’t handle it again.
Scott proceeds to unleash unholy verbal hell on his dad, sticking up for Stiles and the Sheriff because that’s Scott McCall, folks. Only he starts Hulking wolfing out, and it takes Mama McCall pulling him into another room and talking him down to stop him from transforming in front of his dad.
I really want to know what Agent McCall was thinking during this scene, BTW.
Mama McCall Mama McCalls it up, which basically means she’s smart and comforting and wonderful and has all the right answers to whatever trauma her teenage son’s going through at the moment. (Mama McCall and Sheriff Stilinski need to reproduce. Can you even imagine how competent that child would be?) Turns out part of Scott’s control issues stem not from the Nemeton but from the loss of Allison as his anchor. Mama McCall bestows upon him the pearl of wisdom that Allison may be his first love, but she won’t be his only love, so he needs to learn to be his own anchor.
Scott comes into Stiles’ room and night and tells him that they need to go out into the forest and find a body… A DEAD BODY. I see what you did there referencing the pilot, show. There’s a quick scene of Allison dreaming that she’s macking it with Isaac, only to have Kate show up and garrotte him. Oh, and Allison stabs him too. It’s effectively creepy, and it’s always good to have Aunt Kate back, but look me in the eye and tell me that the whole point of that scene wasn’t to showcase Daniel Sharman‘s naked torso.
Scott and Stiles schlepping it around the forest is the jump-off point for season 3A’s first instance of Really Unsubtle Product Placement: Stiles bumps into Scott, who drops his phone into a puddle, but it’s OK, because the Samsung Galaxy is a really sturdy phone and it can get wet without dying and did I mention I love the Samsung Galaxy and also Reese’s and Macy’s. Ohhh, Teen Wolf. C’mere. Hug plane coming in for a landing.
Going to get the phone (the wonderful Samsung Galaxy) leads Scott and Allison to the wrecked car from eight years ago. There are claw marks on it that definitely belong to a werewolf. We get a brief shot of a baby doll saying “I’m hungry”—really? There have to be creepy dolls, too?!—before Scott catches the scent of a werewolf and goes running after it. Turns out it’s a full-werewolf, meaning it has an actual wolf form, not one of those humanoid-where-are-my-eyebrows deals. I can’t decide whether this is meant to mean something in the context of werewolf mythology in Teen Wolf or if Jeff Davis just didn’t feel like bringing on Malia Tate’s human actress yet. Because Malia Tate (the girl from the crash—she’d be about 15 now, assuming a normal standard of aging for werewolves) it indeed is.
Scott texts Derek to say heyyy, something’s going on here, maybe come back? I love how people are actually communicating with each other about he crazy things they’re going through this episode. Let’s hope it keeps up. That lack of communication was one of my biggest problems with 3A.
But Derek can’t answer, because he and Peter are tied up (shirtless, natch) and being electro-tortured. It looks like the same place Derek was tortured before, meaning it’s the basement under the Hale House, aka the place where Derek Hale’s family burned alive. Of course he’s being tortured there again. Such is Derek’s life. We don’t know who’s doing it, though the location and style of torture matches up with the Argent MO.
So. That’s the mid-season premiere. Anyone wanna take any bets as to where Cora is? We know the actress jumped ship to star on the CW’s Reign, but as for the character…. abducted by aliens? Got sick of Derek’s bad mojo rubbing off on her and decided to set off on her own to start a chain of kickboxing gyms? Was never really Derek’s sister after all? An ignominious off-screen death? Starbucks?
Knowing this show’s treatment of her her disappearance will get one line of explanation. It’s not like where she was after the Hale fire, why she came back, or the impetus for any of her actions was ever deemed important enough to expand on in the first place.