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Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Teen Wolf: Tattoo.

Previously: Teen Wolf 101: An introduction to the eighth wonder of our world.

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), 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.
Teen Wolf is one of those shows that definitely improves once you know something about the cast and crew. For example, Stiles and Scott's conversation about Scott's new tattoo seems a lot like something Dylan O'Brien and Tyler Posey would say in real life. "Don't you think your first tattoo should, like, mean something?" asks Stiles/Dylan, 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.)
This episode was very light on Stiles, which I think was a smart decision. Stiles is enormously popular, but that doesn't necessarily mean he deserves a great deal more screentime. The structure of the show still relies on Scott being the main character, and too much Stiles might have been overpowering for the introductory episode of a new season. Instead, Tattoo focuses on Scott's summer vacation makeover, a wise choice because he ended season 2 by acting like an utter bag of dicks. Thankfully he's a teenager, so poor decisions and abrupt personality changes can be explained away, more or less.

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.
It's still unclear to me whether this episode's attitude to the Season 2 finale is "Let's pretend that never happened," or if there simply wasn't enough time to tackle it while introducing the Alpha Pack. The finale saw Scott betraying Derek in a pretty horrifying way, but this season Derek has either forgiven him... or he's so beaten down by the horrors of life that he just doesn't care any more. At the moment I'm leaning towards the latter, because Derek's kind of a slow-burner. At first you think he's just this tall-dark-handsome loner who only has one facial expression, but the more you watch, the more you realise that he's being slowly crushed by the weight of years of trauma. Derek's newfound "This is my problem," attitude doesn't so much seem like he's protecting Scott, but rather that he's just given up on trusting him.

Miscellaneous thoughts.
  • 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. 
Previously on Teen Wolf. 


  1. Okay, your last para made me howl. :D

    The Sheriff doesn't know about werewolves yet, no, no! He's not trolling, just genuinely in the dark. Melissa McCall apparently has kept her son's secret. :)

    I grinned at your "sorry, shippers" line bc I don't think I've seen many sterek shippers unhappy about any lack! There's already a few ficlets around about what they did together while Scott was passed out, the wink, Derek insisting to have Stiles hold Scott down, etc etc. Shipping finds a way, to paraphrase that ol' dinosaur movie.

  2. I sincerely hope that Sheriff is trolling because Stiles already told him everything. It would be awesome.

    Also, it takes some balls to face a whole alpha pack alone.

  3. The Sheriff was knocked out cold when Melissa found out--even though they were in the same room...

  4. I want to know more about Isaac's The Girl she is a BAMF and I love her . also Ship Isaac and her hardcore

  5. LOL, Scott is the main character?! I only know the show from fic so I assumed he was like a minor "wacky best friend"-type guy.

  6. lol, a lot of people make this mistake. stiles is the wacky best friend! derek is a supporting character!

  7. SAME. i really hope she didn't die.

  8. hahaaa. I totally thought Stiles was the Buffy, Derek was the Angel, and Scott was the Xander.

  9. Nah, Stiles is the Xander if anyone is. Although some of us are hoping he'll slip into a Willow role at some point.

  10. An integral part of Teen Wolf for me is reading your reviews, so funny, accurate, and true! It's been a long time (like 9 months) since I'd watched the train wreck of the season finale so I had definitely forgotten all about it and what happened in it so it didn't bother me, which is what I think the writers were assuming about the audience. I found the whole word of the day thing very amusing; now I want Scott to have a special vocab word for every episode and try to awkwardly fit into his everyday interactions. I also appreciated the fact that Scott was trying to smarten himself up, maybe he had finally realized his own potatoeness and was trying to correct it.

  11. Jeff has given hints over the last 9 months that they are reigning in the Sterek stuff, and replacing it with more Danny. At least for the first 12 episodes. So such slim Sterek pickings as was in episode 1 will be completely devoured by the fandom. A break might be good, but the Sterek push really really helped Teen Wolf gain momentum generally, so I hope it's not pushed on the back burner forever!

  12. Personally I found this episode anti climactic and clunky, as mentioned in your review about the "freshman", that was ridiculous. If they were 14, then the guy Lydia slept with must have been what, 12 and a half?

    The tattoo scenes towards the end were also incredibly poor, perhaps using a special type of ink would have been better suited, but instead a blow torch was wedged in just to give meaning to the "This might hurt" season theme.... Hell even special ink plus a blow torch to seal it in would have worked. How can anyone draw straight lines using a blow torch? Just reeked of rushed writing.

  13. "The finale saw Scott betraying Derek in a pretty horrifying way, but this season Derek has either forgiven him… or he’s so beaten down by the horrors of life that he just doesn’t care any more. At the moment I’m leaning towards the latter, because Derek’s kind of a slow-burner. At first you think he’s just this tall-dark-handsome loner who only has one facial expression, but the more you watch, the more you realise that he’s being slowly crushed by the weight of years of trauma. Derek’s newfound “This is my problem,” attitude doesn’t so much seem like he’s protecting Scott, but rather that he’s just given up on trusting him."

    Do you even read what you type? The gross mischaracterization of both Scott and Derek is, well, gross. Why do you woobify an adult predator all while vilifying a teenage boy? Let's feel bad for Derek Hale because his family died and he's all alone, but let's shit all over a teenage boy who is a person of color, was raised by a single mother, and was turned into a werewolf against his will. What sense does that make? Derek has nothing to forgive Scott for. Scott's plan to defeat Gerard subsequently saved Derek, Peter, Isaac, Boyd, Erica, himself, and the rest of his friends from being killed by a homicidal, self-loathing lunatic. What do you think would've happened had Gerard become a werewolf? Here's a hint: death to everyone who crossed him and death to any and all werewolves so he could gain more power. God forbid Scott have Derek bite Gerard. You could call that "a taste of his own medicine". You don't get to sexually, physically, and mentally abuse teenagers and then turn around and expect them to be nice to you.

  14. Who was the actor who played the guy that Lydia slept with in the Tattoo episode? He's not listed in IMDB.....

  15. sunshineditty .22 July 2013 at 20:57

    Totally meta moment - we only get to see part of Tyler Posey's tat. The whole thing is actually the first musical note to his favorite song (on the inside of his bicep is the note). He has SIX tats! I saw a YouTube video where he talked about them - ironically, he has a "Derek" tattoo on his leg because it's the name of one of his real life brothers (Jesse is the other one).

  16. Just saying but the tattoo actually means something as it is similar to one Tom Delonge from blink-182 has who Tyler idolizes.

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