Thursday, August 1, 2013

Talking Teen Wolf: The Darachifer is revealed!

Big week Teen Wolf fans! We finally got some answers (yay Darahifer) and 3B has started shooting! Now I have a lot to say about storytelling this week but before I do I just want to say that despite the fact that sometimes I like to pick things apart I am actually enjoying this season over all (especially questions and speculation – this is great watercooler TV even if it isn’t hitting all the right emotional beats). Plus our cast are knocking it out of the park this season (I’m especially impressed with Hoechlin), and it’s nice to see them grow as performers. So bare that in mind because this week’s Talking Teen Wolf get’s a little ranty.

Bit’s and Pieces:
  • Haley Webb has been all over the place this week (which makes me endlessly happy because I am completely in love with her). First she hung out with the Not Another Teen Wolf Podcast girls – keeping tight-lipped about Monday’s big reveal. Listen here. Then she appeared AfterBuzzTV’s Teen Wolf after show! Watch it here! She is so pretty I’m gonna cry.
  • Wetpaint interviewed Tyler Posey here and he said: “there will always be possible love interests for Scott McCall, whether it be men or girls… You never know.” Oh Posey, don’t ever change.
  • This terrible article happened at EOnline. It involves an interview with, Crystal Reed, Tyler Posey and Daniel Sharman but pushes the love triangle, starts with a definition of shipping and calls Scisaac McLahey. It’s like when someone’s mum tries to hang out with the teenagers, it’s just embarrassing.
  • Watch a vid of the Alpha twins, Max and Charlie Carver being interviewed at Comic Con here.
  • Jeff Davis did another Tumblr Q&A this week – and it wasn’t all hearts and flowers. Important notes: Jeff had planned for a relationship between Erica and Boyd. Stiles and Lydia will kiss in 311 “Alpha Pact”. Apparently Cora spent the last 6 years in South America. The Carver Twins are sticking around for the second half of the season. Stiles first name is Polish (not that his name is actually “Polish” just that it is of Polish decent).
  • The cast of Teen Wolf were honored at The 2013 Young Hot Hollywood Awards! Well that certainly fits, they are in Hollywood, they are young and they are most definitely hot! I didn’t watch the show on account of I am not, young, hot or in Hollywood but I saw pictures, we certainly have a very attractive cast (although why Holland chose to dress up as a carpet I’ll never know).


News from 3B!

The second half of Season 3 has begun production and while we’re still in the midst of episode fever we should probably keep track of what’s going on. At Comic Con Jeff revealed that they would be introducing a new female character of Asian decent (YAY!) called Kira and this week EOnline announced that Kira would be played by Arden Cho. We don’t know much about Kira yet but chances are that she is linked to the kitsune myth (Japanese werefoxes), which we know will be making an appearance in the second half of the season.

While everyone is assuming that Kira is the kitsune we don’t actually know anything yet. Personally I like this piece of Meta by slydig on Tumblr, which suggest that the kitsune is actually none other than everyone’s favourite goalie/trumpeter Danny!  Whatever happens I’m just excited for a new female character (lord knows we could use an estrogen boost). Anyway follow Arden Cho on Twitter and remember to be nice!

In other news: Jeff said during his Tumblr Q&A that Derek “has a very different arc for 3B” (thank god). Here are a couple of vines from the set. Look out for more onset fun and spoiler surprises soon but we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves.

Plot twist… or not: Decoding the Daraifer!

So we finally know who the darach is… Jennifer Blake! I know, I know a lot of people called it but let’s talk about that and how the audience played right into Teen Wolf’s trap.  

When building to the big reveal of a mystery narrative: there are two different audience reactions a writer can hope for.

One is shock: “WHAT? I didn’t see that coming!”

The other is validation: “OMG! I knew it!”

Both are satisfying in different ways. It’s pretty clear that Teen Wolf was working towards the second reaction and they used the audience’s own prejudices to do it – while I have some issues with what they did, I do think it was interesting.

They pushed the idea of a ‘love interest’ for Derek Hale very hard and very early. Haley Webb was pinned in this role from the moment she was cast, which was really interesting because we literally knew nothing else about her character. I always tell you guys – although I don’t know how many of you actually listen – that with marketing and promotional material, what’s important is what they are not telling you. It was pretty clear they wanted us to think of Haley Webb as a ‘love interest’, the question was why.

You don’t have to be particularly savvy to know that any character introduced as a ‘love interest’ for a well-liked male character (especially one that is part of a popular slash ship) is probably going to be received negatively. Plus audiences – that are increasingly genre savvy – expect ‘love interests’ to be pretty two-dimensional. So if you want a character to be well received by audiences it doesn’t make sense to promote them as a ‘love interest’.  

Say what you want about Teen Wolf but the marketing department is exceptional; they don’t do anything accidentally. If we knew Haley Webb was a potential ‘love interest’ for Derek, we knew it for a reason. The reason was that they wanted us to be looking for reasons not to like her. They wanted us to not trust her. There were very few actual hints in the text that suggested Jennifer was the darach – apart from the fact that she arrived at around the same time - but pretty much everyone suspected her anyway.

In fact the first eight episodes of the season were spent trying to convince us that she wasn’t the darach. This is where we get the feeling of validation from, if there had been a lot of hints in the show then we wouldn’t feel special at having figured it out. There is no validation if the answer is too obvious. So instead they presented Jennifer as a character that the audience would automatically mistrust without actually tell us that she wasn’t trustworthy.

This is incredibly problematic because it plays into – and ultimately validates – inherently misogynist reactions to female characters but from a narrative perspective, it actually works really well.  No matter how problematic it was the audience played right into their hands. Congratulations! If you didn't suspect Jennifer you are not sexist! 

The problem is that, while the big reveal worked on one level because it gave the audience a feeling of validation, like so much of this season, it failed to achieve the necessary emotional impact. This season of Teen Wolf has done a lot of great things – and I am blown away by the pure ambition of the storyline – but it’s been so focused on the big picture that it’s forgotten about what’s important. Ultimately it doesn’t matter how good the mystery is if I don’t care about the people that involved. 

This all comes back to Derek’s manpain. I know I talk about this a lot but Derek’s mangst has been the main emotional storyline this season and it has been really unsatisfying. In order for the Jennifer is the darach reveal to have emotional impact we have to care about the effect this will have on Derek because Derek is the only one that has any connection to Jennifer.

Now I have been pretty vocal in my disappointment with the Dennifer storyline, I know I’m supposed to feel validated because I was right but I just feel cheated. For starter even if this romance was believable does it really matter that another one of Derek’s girlfriends ended up evil? As I said a couple of weeks ago Derek’s mangst has already reached the limit of effectiveness everything else is at best excessive and at worst detrimental to his characterization.

This whole storyline would have been so much more emotionally effective if even part of me believed it (less cliche please!). It’s pretty clear they wrote all the Dennifer scenes with the big reveal in the back of their minds. It’s tied to tactic I discussed above, playing on the audiences mistrust female ‘love interests’ but while I feel somewhat validated in my perception of this relationship I’m still pissed off that I had to experience such an emotionally unsatisfying journey.

It’s about the journey not the destination!

Congrats on the acting Hoech, too bad we know nothing about your relationship with your sister. 
Emotionally unsatisfying is a pretty good way to describe this season. It’s exciting, intriguing and ambitious but underneath the twists and turns the characters that we fell in love with are lost. The worst part is that it would have been so easy to fix. The season is literally missing 4 key moments. If these 4 moments had been included this season would have been so much better.
  1. 1.     Derek and Cora’s reunion (303).
  2. 2.     Derek and Boyd bond over Erica’s death (304).
  3. 3.     Scott (and the rest of the pact) reunite with Derek after thinking he was dead (307).
  4. 4.     Everybody reacts to Boyd’s death (308).

On paper these scenes might seem unnecessary but they are incredibly important to the emotional impact of the big moments. If we had seen Derek and Cora’s reunion, we would understand their relationship and we would be care so much more about what is happening to Cora at the moment. If we had seen Derek and Boyd bond over Erica’s death it would have made Boyd’s death so much more emotional and it would have made Erica’s death mean something. If we had seen the pack reunited with Derek after they thought he was dead we might have understood why Boyd and Isaac suddenly decided to help Derek. And finally if we had seen how everyone reacted to Boyd’s death we would better understand the emotional state of the characters as we move towards the final battle.

Remember when Scott almost died because he felt so bad about Derek... this show sure doesn't. 
You can’t just keep throwing terrible things at characters and then not us how it effects them! These missing scenes are the reason that the transition between episodes has been so jarring at times. There are a bunch of other moments that would have been nice but I would forgive their exclusion if they had given us the moments above. 

Look I know I complain a lot – and I swear to goodness I am overall enjoying this season immensely. It’s got everything summer TV should have and because I already care about these characters far more than is healthy, the missing emotional beats don’t actually bother me that much. In fact this week’s episode was awesome and I’m super excited that my lovely lady Jennifer is the darach (evil ladies are my crack dudes). But I can’t help but hope that 3B manages to combine the emotional resonance that I loved in first two seasons and the ambitious experimentation we’re seeing in 3A. With everything that has been happening we might not get a Season 4 so 3B could be Teen Wolf’s last chance to reach it’s full potential.

Parting note!

Let’s leave things on a positive note because next week’s episode look as though it will be very emotionally satisfying. Don’t believe me? Check out the extended promo here. Also proof that Tyler Hoechlin and Haley Webb are the two most adorable people ever check this out:

They are too cute and does it make me a bad person if I like the Dennifer relationship more now that Jennifer is kind of evil? It certainly makes it more interesting… especially considering what Haley Webb said about the couple:

“Her love for him is real, I will say that. You’re definitely gonna find out more, and what you find out is very, very cool, and I think a lot of things will sort of, be brought to light, but I think their connection is definitely very real. Her love for him is certainly very real, and I think his love for her is also real.”

Now Haley’s a bit of a troll so take what she says with a grain of salt but it does make Jennifer much more interesting if she actually loved Derek (of course he means the awful Dennifer storyline was just a really badly written romance and that makes me sad).

And because sometimes I just have to be a fangirl and squee about shippy things – I am what I am and I will not be ashamed of how loudly I screamed “NOW KISS” when I saw this in the promo:

Finally check out this theory because it’s really good