Saturday, July 27, 2013

Talking Teen Wolf: Lazy Writer’s Exposition

I know, I know I’m late and I’m lazy but I only just got One Direction’s “Best Song Ever” out of my head… and damn now it’s back again. Not to mention I have been working through a whole new set of fantasies since we heard that Tyler Hoechlin could be up for the role of Batman. I’m using that image to help deal with the fact that I didn’t really love this week’s episode (flashbacks dude). Okay so it wasn’t the worst episode, in fact I enjoyed it enough while I was watching it, just it wasn’t really emotionally satisfying. But it’s still Teen Wolf so let’s talk about it.

Before I go into what was wrong with this episode let’s talk about what it did right because it wasn’t all bad. I actually love unreliable narrators and I loved that the story was being told by the two supposedly benign big bads from Season 1 and 2. Unfortunately the unreliable narrator idea lost some of its appeal for me because this whole season feels like it’s been told by an unreliable narrator and we have reached the point where I would really like some reliable information so I know that I’m not wasting my time on bad storytelling. While the teen romance was pretty cliché it was well performed and I was dragged along with the emotional journey to a certain extent.

The casting was exceptional. Ian Nelson was perfect as young Derek. Madison McLaughlin was fantastic as always. Madison and Ian had a whole bunch of chemistry that is unacceptable for people that young. Alicia Coppola made Talia Hale something spectacular despite the fact that she didn’t have much to do in this episode (what a waste). Well done TWCD you guys keep knocking this out of the park. Gold stars all around.

Here’s the thing, I am probably biased against this episode because I am not a fan of flashbacks. They interrupt the momentum of the story and are mostly fanservice. That’s not to say that flashbacks can’t be done well, because when they’re good, they are really good (“Frayed” was great). Flashbacks are often just thrown in – an easy excuse for exposition and a lazy form of character development: like saying look how much they have changed. Isn’t it sad that Derek is no longer the charming jerk he once was? Well yeah that is sad but we already knew that.

Now I’m not saying that the point of this episode was just to give Derek the most cliché origin story ever – there was clearly deeper significance – but the thing is until we get the information necessary to decode the real meaning of this story we still need to care about the surface level narrative. It still needs to be an interesting story, even without knowing that Bruce Willis is dead. Before the twist ending it still has to make sense, we still have to care, and I think that’s something Jeff has lost sight of this season.

Don’t get me wrong, I am thoroughly enjoying this season’s mystery. It’s been fantastic watercooler TV because there is so to talk and speculate about. That’s fun and all but on the other side the emotional journey has been incredibly unsatisfying.

In the first episode they set up the character arcs and they were really intriguing. Scott juggling his new better self with the increasing supernatural drama. Stiles and Allison’s obsession with the supernatural. Lydia’s determination to ignore everything that is going on and Derek’s acceptance of his inevitable death.

But since that first episode we haven’t really seen these ideas develop (with the exception of Stiles and Allison who I am loving this season). We haven’t actually seen Scott struggle to combine the two aspects of his life – all we have really seen is him dealing with the supernatural stuff. Lydia’s been confusing because sometimes she wants to ignore it at other times she wants all the answers. And Derek, Derek’s storyline is just the worst. He was already at rock bottom and so they started digging holes of angst and pushing him in.

The mystery will only carry me so far I need a deeper emotional connection and Teen Wolf just isn’t giving it to me this season. I didn’t fall in love with this show for the storyline – it was always pretty weak and predictable. I fell in love with these characters. They’re emotional journeys were compelling so I was able to forgive the plot holes and ridiculous macguffins because it wasn’t really about that, it was about people. This season cares more about the mystery than it does about the characters, which is the opposite of what I wanted. I want to care about more that just who did it.

This episode was a perfect example of everything this season is doing wrong. It obviously has a bunch of significance for the season arc but character wise it was utterly pointless. The only thing in this episode that could be called character development was the fact that Scott didn’t believe Gerard. That made sense, that was good. Scott is no longer the same naïve boy he once was, he no longer believes there is good in everyone. Everything else was terrible.

Derek didn’t need a tragic backstory – he already had one, a really interesting and very sad one. He certainly didn’t need the most generic mangst origin story ever (I will never not be annoyed by this). We were already aware that Peter was a manipulative asshole that shouldn’t be trusted and we definitely knew that Gerard was evil (they should just let Lydia and Allison kill them both). This episode added nothing to their characters emotional journey. In fact in Derek’s case it was actually detrimental.

What it did was give us a bunch of information that will no doubt be significant later on but at the moment is kind of boring. It told us about the Druid tree (where there have been characters) and then killed Paige under it. It told us that Deaton and Morrell are emissaries and werewolves are linked to druids because mythology. We learnt that Talia Hale could shift into a full wolf and Deucalion was kind of like Scott. And we now know that wolves that have blue eyes have taken an innocent life. This is why I hate flashback episode: it’s lazy writers exposition.

Anyway, now that’s done why not see what other people have to say on the matter. Read my review and/or recap. Heather Hogan’s is here. Price Peterson’s is here. Hello, tailor here. And of course my fave Heath is here. Enjoy!


Bits and Pieces:

  • A complete list of Teen Wolf spoilers from SDCC here. Some vids here and here.  Interview with Dylan and Hoechlin here.
  • Interview with Jeff Davis. What says about Scott staying a true Alpha is really interesting – what happens to his true Alpha status if he kills another Alpha? Also apparently we’re getting another badass lady hunter in 3B (my body is ready for her to not be tied to Derek’s mangst).
  • If you are as concerned about the whole wolf age thing check out this post about moon cycles. Even if it doesn’t turn out to be true I’m just taking it as gospel because it’s probably better than whatever nonsense Jeff comes up with.
  • For those you that like their Teen Wolf discussions to be a little more critical then you should check out The Bite Podcast. The girls that do it both love Teen Wolf but are still willing to call out the problematic crap. It’s well worth a listen.
  • Watch the FANtastic show with special guest JR Bourne here.
  • Jeff said this to TVline: “Scott is well on his way to becoming an Alpha. Whether he remains a True Alpha — one who doesn’t have to kill or steal the power — and who survives to make up his pack, might be the important questions.”

Who is the Darach?

It seems that our questions will finally be answered next week so there is just enough time to throw your guess into the ring. Before the big reveal, let’s have one final look at the options:

Peter Hale: He’s evil and probably up to no good. He used Druid-like magic to resurrect himself and he might have lied about the Paige thing (there is definitely something suspicious about the whole story).

Cora Hale: Mysteriously survived the Hale fire without anyone knowing about it and somehow ended up with the Alpha pack. Also Derek’s not allowed nice things.

Gerard Argent: The most evil person ever. Leaking black goo and looking for a way to make it stop. Knows a lot about mythology and always has a plan. And again he’s very very evil.

Chris Argent: Knows a suspicious amount about Druids. Had a map showing where the sacrifices would turn up and he’s lying to Allison. Also he’s keeping Gerard alive for some reason. 

Jennifer Blake: Likes Derek. Arrived in town at the same time the sacrifices started. Thinks faking your own death is a good idea. Likes Joseph Conrad. Also looks suspiciously like Paige.

Paige: Liked Derek. Died under the special Druid tree and her body was taken away by Peter to do god knows what (Peter is creepy man). Also looks suspiciously like Jennifer.

Lydia Martin: Losing time. Finding bodies. Hearing dead people and mysterious chanting. It’s not looking good for Lydia. Also even Stiles thinks it might be her and Stiles is usually right (remember Matt).

Alan Deaton: Didn’t get sacrificed but there was a back up ready. He’s just generally suspicious. Who talks in riddles all the time? It’s just not helpful. Also a Druid emissary. 

Maran Morrell: Suspiciously mysterious. Morally ambiguous. More cryptic information. Unknown intentions and she’s also a Druid emissary.

Bobby Finstock: His whistle was filled with wolf’s bane powder and didn’t die despite the fact that he breathed that shit in for a whole day. Also it makes about as much séance as everything else this season.

Really though, I could pretty much list every character because it could be anyone – although there are a few that are more obvious than others. So who do you think the Darach is?

Everything Derek loves gets fridged!

Last week I wrote a very long rant about how we have reached the limit of Derek’s manpain… and then this week yet another character was fridged for Derek’s mangst. So it got me thinking about how many characters have died to make Derek the most depression character ever written. Well when the list begins with his entire family you know it’s all down hill from there.

Right so we have:

  • Eight Hales (including the lovely Talia).
  • Laura Hale.
  • Peter Hale (even though he comes back he did die).
  • You could probably count all of the Kanima’s victims because Derek bit Jackson.
  • Victoria Argent.
  • Erica Reyes.
  • Vernon Boyd.
  • Paige no-last-name.

That’s a pretty big body count for one man’s angst and really after Laura’s death everything else is kind of excessive. And when you consider that either Cora or Jennifer (maybe even both) is probably going to die by the end this season it’s even worse. Seriously, I love manpain. Manpain is one of my favorite things. Angsty men with issues losing everything they love… yes please. Give it to me. It’s the reason Derek is my favorite male character on this show but even I have reached the point where it’s just not worth it. The more people you kill for Derek the less I care and I want to care.

To help demonstrate the extent of the damage caused by Derek’s mangst I have made a video. (This video also combines my two favorite things, Enrigue Iglesias and Hoehclin’s face).


Because I am obviously in a viding mood I made a video to demonstrate how my life was taken over by an MTV show about teenage werewolves and their friends. It all started with one moment of weakness and it spiraled from there. 

And that’s all we have time for this week. Don’t forget to place your bets on who you think the Darach will be.