Welcome to Teen Wolf! The show where the shirts are off, and the pants don't matter. Last year's season finale saw about 9000 things happen, including one character stripping naked and turning into a lizard, and Evil Grandpa Argent roaring "MOUNTAIN ASSHHHH!!" in one of the most magnificent line-deliveries in TV history. What a masterpiece. (Teen Wolf showrunner recently described this episode as a "clusterfuck", but let's not dwell on the past.) I could recap all that stuff for you, but it'd require too much googling, so let's just watch that MOUNTAIN ASHHH clip again, shall we? OK. You're ready.
Season 3 opens with a subject close to all our hearts: curly-haired cuteboy waif Isaac clutching onto someone dear life. This time round, it's a badass lady with a motorcycle and a dubiously plausible lightning taser gun. "Into every generation, a slayer is born," she explains, back-flipping off a burning building onto her motorcycle. "She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness." OK, I kid, but seriously. She's awesome. Plus, she shares a gloriously ridiculous new plot point: Some alphas can steal your memories just by touching you, because what Teen Wolf really needs is a magical amnesia subplot. But apparently that isn't enough, because she immediately moves on to introduce the latest male models to join Teen Wolf's cast of top-tier ab-actors (abtors?). These guys were cast via an open call from (I kid you not) TeenWolfTwins.com, and they rip their shirts off within five minutes of appearing onscreen.
Actually, to be 100% accurate, they rip their leather jackets off to reveal precisely zero shirts underneath. This actually makes a lot of logical TV sense because they then glue their torsoes together to make a kind of Alpha Werewolf Megazord. A legit reason for shirtlessness! Thanks, science! BUT WAIT. What happened to the pants? Were they just kinda sucked into the double-werewolf icecream swirl, like how the Animorphs could always turn into animals without taking off their clothes? WHAT HAPPENED TO THE PANTS.
I'm a big fan of the ~hidden meanings~ in the Teen Wolf intro, so I'm 100% ready to hear fandom's theories about the new changes. Shirtless Derek is still shaking off the powdery ashes of his dead family and Stiles is still just kinda standing around, but there are a couple of major alterations. Firstly, Jackson is gone (to "London" -- AKA a lucrative recurring role on the CW's Arrow, where he and John Barrowman are now BFFs), and Lydia's intro now includes her being split in two, which is certain to be ~meaningful. Also, Scott levitates, a hand bursts out of a grave (that classic staple of the horror genre) and the sequence ends with a (MOUNTAIN ASH?) tree. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?? Answers on a postcard, please.
CROL-ing silently as Scott/Tyler reveals his new tattoo of... two black stripes across his arm. "No, I just like it," is the answer. To be honest, I'm with Scott on this one. Any tattoo idea that seems meaningful at age 18 is definitely gonna be an enormous embarrassment in later life. Best to just stick with your minimalist black stripes. Which turned out to be a more meaningful choice than Tyler Posey ever suspected, since Jeff Davis decided to write the tattoos into the show, imbuing them with some kind of ~mystical symbolism.
Conveniently, the teen show genre includes a ready-made explanation for the chronological gap between seasons: school holidays! What have you been doing for the past four months, Allison? Oh, I've been in France. (Beacon Hills' summer break is apparently four months long, perhaps to balance out the school's intensive curriculum of lacrosse games, teen romance, and dramatic showdowns in the boys' locker room.) And what have you been up to, Lydia? Just making the most of living in a town populated by Calvin Klein underwear models, no biggie. "Freshmen," she purrs at Allison, as they return to school. "Fresh... Men." Because in addition to the existence of werewolves, Teen Wolf's fictional universe features 14-year-old boys who look like ripped 23-year-olds. Just go with it.
|"Lydia, they're fourteen." (source: mamagwendo.)|
One of Teen Wolf's most impressive feats is making us like Scott McCall, a character who might otherwise have been one of those bland leading men surrounded by a supporting cast of more interesting characters. In Season 1 I might have been bored by a Scott-centric episode like this, but now I'm totally into it because Scott's Word of the Day calendar? ADORABLE. Luv ur face, Tyler Posey.
If I'm gonna be irritated by any Scott-related development, it's the implication that he's somehow important to the alpha pack. One of the things I really appreciate about this show is the lack of "destiny" vibes. Like, Scott McCall isn't the Chosen One: he's just a guy who was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and now has to deal with the consequences. If they introduce some kind of plotline where he's prophecied to be the enemy of the Alpha Pack, I won't be happy. While I do love Hero's Journey stories like Buffy and Harry Potter, Teen Wolf is a refreshing change in that it's a story about normal people choosing to fight against chaos rather than heroic superhumans battling a sworn enemy because it's their Fate.
- Sterek rating: 2/10. Sorry, shippers.
- I'm already super into the animal-related Signs and Portents. But if they mean Lydia's gonna go through even more agony then I already need pre-therapy to prepare me for that shit. I LOVE YOU, LYDIA.
- Luv that Beacon Hills includes what seems to be several square miles of deserted and poorly-lit industrial warehouses. Can someone please draw a map of that town? HERE is the abandoned subway car where Derek used to live, despite the fact that the town has no subway. HERE is the tattoo parlour and the gay bar where Jackson turned into a lizard. HERE is the giant, mysterious forest that is somehow right next to the school but also miles out of town, depending on the episode. HERE is the Sheriff's office where every single deputy was viciously murdered four months ago.
- Does Sheriff Stilinski really not know about werewolves, even though Mrs McCall found out last season? Did I miss something?? IS HE JUST TROLLING EVERYONE NOW?
- I've listened to this song like 500 times already today. It's almost like this show is on... MTV...
- Isaac's douchey surgeon was one of my favourite moments of the episode. Jeff Davis is brilliant at writing these weird, memorable little one-shot characters, which always kinda puzzled me because Teen Wolf's main characters can often seem oddly lacking in background. Like, where are Lydia's parents while she's skipping the first day of school to have morning sex with some random body-builder? How did Derek Hale shower or get internet access when he was living in the burnt-out shell of his family home? Shhh, don't think about it.
- Glad to see that they're maintaining Derek's agonising combination of sassy one-liners and crippling survivor's guilt. I always got the distinct impression that if he wasn't constantly on the brink of emotional collapse, he'd be one of those guys who finds literally everything hilarious. "I need a favour," says Scott, which in Beacon Hills usually means disposing of a body. Happily, all Scott wants is some werewolf tattoo advice. "LOL," whispers the tiny corner of Derek's mind that isn't occupied by thoughts of his dead family and imminent werewolf territory disputes. "LOL," he thinks, mournfully.