Saturday, June 28, 2014

Teen Wolf 4x01: Glow-Stick-Nun-Chuks

Teen Wolf came back this week with an hour of exposition and recapping that doesn’t make much sense and yet somehow manages to be incredibly entertaining. Sure “Mexico” looks like it’s made out of cardboard, they keep conveniently forgetting that wolf’s bane is poisonous for people too, not just werewolves, and they seemed to think they were shooting a make-up commercial rather than a television show at one point. But who cares because the pack came together to rescue Derek and nothing else matters.

This episode could have been a total mess (well even more of a mess than Teen Wolf usually is) and I wouldn’t have cared because we have finally reached a point where not only do Scott and Stiles notice that Derek is missing but they go all the way to cardboard Mexico to save him! Remember when they were indifferent about whether he lived or died? Not anymore. Derek finally has people that care about him and I’m not even a little bit ashamed for crying about it. Of course the Derek they found doesn’t remember that he’s the president of the Scott McCall fan club because Jeff Davis has been reading too much fan fiction again.

Seriously though – de-aged Derek? I have literally read at least 30 fics that use that trope. It’s so ridiculous and I love it. I also love when the opening credits spoil the big twist at the end of the episode. Lol at legalities forever preventing television from presenting a perfect story. Whatever, it was still awesome because it means that we are one step closer to getting a canon ‘fake dating’. THEY MUST PRETEND TO BE MARRIED TO SAVE THE WORLD. I don’t even care who is in the fake relationship but bonus points if it’s the Sheriff and Deputy green eyes undercover to solve a supernatural crime. I guess we almost did get fake dating a little bit with Malia and Kira’s sexy dance.

There were so many different reactions happening as I watched Malia grab Kira’s hip and pull her in that I’m not even sure what to say about it. I mean the angry feminist in me is pretty grossed out by an exploitative male-gazey faux-lesbian dance scene. On the other hand as a bisexual woman I kind of stopped function for a little while because holy goodness that was so fricken hot. It went on a little long and the way that kept focusing on that guy watching and circling made me kind of uncomfortable but at the same time I SHIP IT SO HARD! And I’m not the only one. Yes I know that a lot people are only shipping this because they hate Malia with Stiles but I don’t care how they got here as long as it results in a massive influx of femslash fic.

This episode was so chock full of fantastic female character it could usher in a whole new error of femslash. There were more women than men. It was beautiful. I might have shed a tear or two. Women in positions of power. Braeden the mercenary fighting along side Scott. Malia and Kira taking down hunters together in the club and then acting as bodyguards for Lydia and Stiles as they fixed the jeep. Mama Calaveras choosing to talk to Lydia over anyone else. This episode didn’t so much pass the Bechdel test as smash it. Hopefully the season will continue with this trend. Then all we need to do is get everyone to stop bashing on Malia because she’s smooching Stiles.

Since this episode aired reactions to Malia have tended towards the extreme. People have either jumped into the role of protector whole-heartedly or spent their time picking her characterization to pieces. In this case I definitely side with the Malia defenders because I have seen some grossly misogynistic crap said about a character that was actually pretty entertaining. If you don’t like Malia because she messes with your ship that’s fine just admit to it. Even if that’s not it, she’s new – new things are scary, negative reactions are understandable just PLEASE stop writing cringe worthy meta about Malia being ‘mentally 8’.

Every time someone says that Malia is “mentally 8” I get closer to giving up on the earth completely and shooting myself into space so I can rest in peace away from this stupidity. I guess I kind of understand what you’re trying to get at, with the whole ‘feral children’ idea but even though Malia’s cognitive development was probably stunted by her lack of human interaction, she’s still not ‘mentally 8’ (you sound like a total dickhead when you say that BTW). She didn’t stop aging or developing just because she was a coyote, she just developed in a different way. So yeah, her social and linguistic skills are definitely better than they should be but that happens ALL THE TIME in fiction.

There are SO MANY fictional characters that have been ‘raised by wolves’ (or in this case coyotes) that end up having only minor social issues when they finally interact with people. Think Mowgli from The Jungle Book, or if you’re looking for a contemporary television example The Hunstman from Once Upon a Time. Oh yeah and FRICKIN TARZAN. Waving a magic wand over the social and linguistic development of supposedly feral children is popular fictional cheat because it’s kind of important that characters are able to communicate with each other on relatively equal footing. It’s the same reason that alien’s are usually vaguely humanoid with strange yet still recognizable customs.

Part of me just wants to keep ripping apart the misogynist assholes that have been bitching about Malia all week. Most of the arguments against her are completely ridiculous and could be avoided if people were a little more honest with themselves. You’re allowed to have an negative emotional response to a character for whatever god damn reason you want just don’t try to pass it off as logical criticism.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that I really enjoyed Malia in the premiere there is something about her that I find kind of troubling. So far she has basically been a textbook example of the ‘Jungle Princess’ trope. The ‘Jungle Princess’ is kind of like Tarzan, she’s raised in the wild yet still manages to have perfect grooming habits although her social skills leave a lot to be desired and she often causes trouble with her brutal honesty. The ‘Jungle Princess’ is happy living in the wild until she falls in love with the first random white guy that comes along. Usually she’s hostile at first, but invariably recues him for some reason. Then they bond because he teaches her how to human (especially the sexy stuff). Sounds familiar right?

The trope of the straight male taming the wild woman is hugely problematic and depending on how Malia’s storyline plays out, it could become an issue.  Jeff Davis uses A LOT of sexist, and overused, tropes in fairly unoriginal ways (*cries about the mess that was “Visionary” forever*) BUT every so often he actually challenges them. Allison Argent’s journey from generic love interest to sacrificial hero was truly beautiful and I’m really hoping he does something like that with Malia's ‘Jungle Princess’ storyline. “Echo House” was almost as bad as “Visionary” with the whole introducing female characters as fodder for manpain thing, but that was before Shelley Hennig was contracted as a series regular and I’ll admit Malia was pretty fun in this episode. Sure she’s a cheap Anya knock-off (I love Jeff but he’s not Joss) but that’s not the worst start point for building an awesome character.

As far as her relationship with Stiles, well it’s about as interesting as all the other romances on this show. Why they feel the need to shoot every single kiss in the exact same way I will never understand. Then again, Teen Wolf has always been about as subtle as a teenager’s love poem so it’s not that surprising that they feel the need to hit us over the head with a giant light up sign that says “TRUE LOVE” every time two characters are headed for romance. Malia’s attachment to Stiles and his condescending lessons might become problematic in the future if they continue like this but at the moment it works.

Stiles was a bit clingy though – is he going to freak out like that every time she runs off? Because that’s not really cool. A girls got to have a freedom she doesn’t need to be reassuring some guy that she’s coming back every time she goes for a run. Get out while you still can Malia, you can do so much better.

The positive is now that Stiles’s creepy romantic tendencies have been transferred to Malia his relationship with Lydia has become everything I always hoped it could be. I always wanted them to be best friends so they could combine their ruthless smarts to get their werewolf friends (mainly Derek, let’s face it) out of whatever trouble they got into. And that’s what happened. They failed miserably of course but that’s understandable because it’s only the first episode. If they solved the problem now there wouldn’t be much a story this season. It turned out okay anyway – hunters just have this thing were they like to torture teenagers to teach them lessons.

Whoops I spent way to long talking about Malia – here’s hoping I don’t have to do that in the future.

Other thoughts:
  • How did the Jeep make it all the way to cardboard Mexico? They should have taken Derek’s soccer mom Toyota, it would have been much more comfortable.
  • Did they just stop attending school or is some kind of break? Is there a special exemption for supernatural problems?
  • If Scott can just use his Katy Perry roar to scare away Kate’s berserkers then they are not really much of threat are they. When they turn up he can just roar and they will run away. Problem solved.
  • Stiles didn’t seem very proficient in car maintenance so I like to imagine that Lydia is actually the one that got the Jeep started. She just pushed Stiles out of the way and two minutes later the car started.
  • Stiles and Derek talking trash about each other is my lifeblood. Especially when they do it because they’re trying to protect each other.
  • Slightly dubious about Stiles being someone’s moral guide. Pretty sure he’s only teaching Malia not to eat the people he cares about.
  • Derek only answering one of Scott’s texts is amazing because it either means that Derek is a technological novice or he was just really annoyed by all of Scott’s texts.
  • Malia said she would eat Lydia. No context is needed. Just fan fiction. Lots and lots of fan fiction.
  • Derek Hale costs 50,000 dollars… we could raise 50,000 dollars for a good cause and this is definitely a good cause. 
  • I am 100% here for Malia’s excitement about violence. I am also 100% here for some kind of Beacon Hills supernatural girl gang. Make it happen Teen Wolf.
  • Scott picking up that walkie-talkie and telling Stiles to take 10 off the table was the hottest thing ever. Yes, it was even hotter than Malia’s booty shorts.  I have never been more attracted to Tyler Posey than I was in that moment.
  • Not really sure why they decided to make Malia and Kira’s first appearances look like a L’Oreal commercial but I’m guessing it was to remind the audience that this is the cheesiest show ever so that we’re not shocked when the glow-stick nunchuks appear.