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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Teen Wolf: "Alpha Pact".


This episode would've been really excellent if not for these three factors:
  1. The idea of Derek (or indeed anyone) trusting Peter about anything now stretches credibility to breaking point. I realise that Derek is desperate, emotionally vulnerable, and an idiot, but even these traits shouldn't be able to completely overrule his other distinguishing feature: his paranoia when it comes to trusting anyone. Why on earth listen to anything Peter says, when Peter is so obviously a Disney villain of the first degree? Whenever he gives anyone some "useful advice", the camera immediately pans round to show him rubbing his hands together in glee, and/or dropping arsenic into their wine glass. COME ON. No one is less deserving of a second chance than Peter.
  2. On a related topic, Peter and Lydia's bizarre, 10-second non-scene at Derek's apartment was atrocious. Not only has NOTHING been resolved with regards to their backstory as victim and abuser, but there was comedy music in the background of them just sort of blinking in embarrassment as if the last time they'd seen each other, Peter had done nothing worse than accidentally seeing her in her underwear or something. This is one of the worst continuity issues of the season, made even more unpleasant by the fact that Jeff Davis literally just forgot about it.
  3. The entire cast's inability to keep each other informed of what's going on. Teen Wolf sometimes manages to be pretty genre-savvy about using cellphones etc (ie, in the hospital scene where Allison and Isaac use video chat to see what's going on inside). However, there are also A LOT of problems that could be solved with very simple communication. Basically, everyone needs to learn to text everyone else AS SOON as they find out any information about the Darach/the Alpha Pack/evil relatives coming to town, and also everyone needs to start wearing GPS tracking chips in their shoes. Actually I'm sorta surprised the Argents don't already do that.
Source: Teen Wolf Tumblr.
There were a bunch of great things in this episode, though. The minor character appearances were back on form, featuring Morrell as a total badass (I almost find her interesting now), Shantal Rhodes being flawless as per usual (LUV HER), and Scott McCall's douchey deadbeat dad showing up and being instantaneously dislikeable. Honestly, introducing him via Stiles was an inspired idea, because if Stiles doesn't like someone? Then we don't like them either. DEADBEAT DAD MCCALL IS THE STEVE CARLSBURG OF TEEN WOLF.

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Regarding the Hale scenes, I don't care if Cora lives or dies. Also, Derek's ongoing ~internal conflict~ over whether to sacrifice his alpha-ness (OR WHATEVER) suffered thanks to a problem that we see quite a lot in this show. Because there are so many characters and the last three episodes have taken place over a single 36-hour period, the structure is allllll over the place. Derek and Cora were essentially put on hold for most of the episode while Stiles and Lydia inexplicably went to school and everyone else ran around trying to find their kidnapped parents. As far as I recall, it was permanently nighttime in Derek's apartment (probably because it's located in Gotham City, where the sun doesn't shine), while Ms Morrell, Scott and the Alpha Pack were only seen during what were presumably flashbacks to the night before. This disjointed chronology didn't necessarily make the episode difficult to follow, but was kind of a mess. The best thing that came out of the Hale scenes was the idea of Derek lovingly chewing up and then regurgitating raw meat into Cora's mouth in order to cure her mistletoe poisoning. A beautiful family moment.
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ISAAC LAHEY PERSONALITY ROULETTE RETURNS. A couple of people on Twitter mentioned that they think Isaac's characterisation is totally legit, but I'm still not 100% on that one. I mean, I do understand why he'd be angry at Derek? But in this scene in particular, it just seemed like his dialogue was being written directly from Derek's internal self-loathing, with a Greek chorus in the form of Peter Hale's Voldemortian bad advice. Still, the show seems to be pushing Allison/Isaac, of which I can only approve, and he did get a characteristically hilarious Werewolf Manicure moment towards the end. (Sorry. I'm still obsessed with all the Werewolf Manicure shots in this show.)

I guess I have to talk about the panic attack scene because it's an important character moment, but I kinda feel like we all already know that Dylan O'Brien is a brilliant actor? Not to mention the fact that Stiles is the most consistently well-written character on the show, bar none. In season 1 I would've been majorly annoyed at any hint of Stiles/Lydia because it's just too reminiscent of "nice guy gets the girl" bullshit, but now they actually know each other and value each other's presence in the supernatural shitstorm that is Beacon Hills, I wouldn't mind if Stydia actually happened.
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Finally, I'd like to talk a little more about the glaring absense of a Peter/Lydia scene in this episode. To me, this is representative of this season's failure to recognise what is an important emotional/character arc and what isn't. Huge amounts of emphasis have been put on completely unnecessary details, such as the bizarre addition of the Derek/Paige backstory. (Unecessary both because Derek already has enough manpain and because there's no need to attach the Darach to the Hales. NOT EVERYTHING HAS TO BE ABOUT DEREK HALE.) Boyd, Erica and Cora were all completely ignored, despite the fact that a sibling reunion and the death of a two characters should've had a major impact in the lives of Derek and his pack. Likewise, Lydia and Peter's backstory has been cast aside, leaving the audience to wonder what, exactly, is meant to be the painful emotional driving force we were led to expect this season? If Jeff Davis was truly dedicated to the concept of "This Might Hurt", we would've had an entire episode of angst and trauma re: Boyd, far more conflict surrounding anyone's decision to trust Peter after what he did to Lydia (and others), and a longterm focus on the developing relationship between Derek and Cora.

Miscellaneous
  • HAHAHA RIDICULOUS ICE BATH BULLSHIT TIME. LOLLLLL Teen Wolf Science. 
  • Glad to see they're maintaining the Teen Wolf canon trend of people curing Derek's injuries by punching him. Actually, we should've known that Jennifer was evil from the start, because she healed Derek by using the perverse and ridiculous method of actually tending his wounds and showing him physical affection. Hellllooooo, didn't she realise that Derek only responds to rage, violence, and fear?
  • "There might be a way. But it's dangerous. And we'll need Scott." -- you could replace literally every Deaton dialogue scene with this one line.
  • When Chris Argent was all, "I'm used to getting tied up," I totally thought Melissa or the Sheriff was going to make a bondage joke. Basically, I assumed that he was referring to the massive quantities of kinky sex he was obviously having with Victoria. You know, before she died and turned into Allison's Obi-Wan Kenobi Force Ghost. 
  • I also LOLed at the thing with the elevator doors because I read it as "ARG"... "ENT".
  • That whole guidance counsellor scene was just amazing. I STILL DON'T UNDERSTAND THEIR MOTIVATION FOR GOING TO SCHOOL THAT DAY, THOUGH. In terms of the narrative they "had" to be there in order to figure out the thing about the tree, but from a character standpoint IDK why they weren't just helping everyone else go on the Great Parent Hunt.
  • CHRIS ARGENT, GUN NUT. I will never stop being entertained by scenes where people just unload gun after gun after gun onto a table. GUNS. GUNS EVERYWHERE. VERY USEFUL. VERY TOUGH. THANK YOU. GOODNIGHT. (If you don't understand what I'm talking about, watch this video.)
  • Lydia has a mother?? Someone on Twitter informed me that her parents appeared briefly in episode 1x05, which I'd clearly forgotten in amongst the flurry of 27 new characters and plot arcs (or alternatively because I drank solidly throughout season 1). Anyhow, I'm pretty surprised that Lydia's mum seems so nice, supportive, and non-neglectful, and they had a good scene together.
  • Re: Jeff Davis and the downward spiral of Teen Wolf season 3, I wrote some more meta last night.
Previous Teen Wolf posts.

13 comments:

  1. I completely and 100% believe Chris was referring to kinky sex. First and only thought about what he could have meant.


    I also really hope that Jeff Davis is aware of how much the first half of this season has failed and is working to fix it for the second half, but... I'm also unsure how much I really care about watching the second half, which is a bad sign. TW doesn't know what to do with villains and the fact that we already had two bad guys and now the BEACON TREE is clearly going to be summoning MORE? Do we NEED more? PS: no. Hasn't Davis seen Spiderman 3??

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  2. There is no way Chris didn't mean kinky sex and I weep bitter, bitter tears that we didn't get a smirk or a saucy wink or anything from either of his fellow captives at his admission. I also weep tears that are far more bitter about that stupid comedy music in the Peter and Lydia scene. It was almost, ALMOST salvageable, and there there was ridiculous clown music in the background and I was disgusted. How do you forget that one of your characters spent an entire season being mentally tortured by another of your characters? For that to happen I think it's safe to say you need to kill some people off.



    I thought that Stiles and Lydia were at school because it was one of the places that was most likely to be full of sacrifices and they split up to cover more ground? I'm not entirely sure, because the set-up was really weird and no one seemed to be looking for tied up parents, so maybe not.


    I honestly enjoyed a lot of the character stuff this episode (Peter and Lydia's reunion aside) but it didn't feel like a penultimate episode to me. There is SO MUCH up in the air, I don't even know what to hope for in the finale. And I hate the lunar eclipse thing, because it invalidates so much of the shit they spent so much time on this season. Scott's super special true Alphaness isn't going to matter worth a damn. Derek's potential Beta-ness (which IDK, his eyes went blue for a second when Peter was resurrected, too). None of it.

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  3. The only question I have about the failure of this season is...well, did it actually fail in the demographic they're aiming for (IE, teenagers.) Because a lot of the fandom on tumblr still seems pretty happy with the show/pleased with the way it's going. And I think I'm going to go check viewership.

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  4. I think Isaac's characterisation is pretty consistent, actually: his personality is always reflective of the strongest nearest influence - he attaches himself automatically to strength, and takes on the patterns and characteristics. Post-bite, he tries to be Derek, with leather jacket and violence and
    moodiness and lurking. When Erica and Boyd leave at the end of Season 2,
    he tries being Scott for a while - kind and bashful and honest and sort
    of adorable. In 3x03, he ends up being Peter almost by default -
    snarky, eye-rolling, ‘wouldn’t it be easier to kill them?’ - since he can't reflect both Scott and Derek at the same time. In this most recent episode, he's patterned after Chris Argent. That scene with Derek is pure Argent, IMO.

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  5. Totally unrelated bullet points:

    I don't think that Stiles and Lydia went to school, except in that they went to the school. If I am looking for something nefarious in Beacon Hills, that school is my very first stop, no matter the situation. If nothing else, a significant portion of the people involved will probably be there during the day. Hm. I'm guessing Jennifer called out sick that day? Does your final set of human sacrifices fall under "emergency personal day", or "screw the job, I only needed it for my nefarious plans anyway"?

    No mention of the Stilinski family backstory? I mostly find it interesting for what it left out - for instance, Claudia's (Claudia? Really? I haven't been picturing her as a Claudia) cause of death. Do we think that the psychic dying girl was another ex-Alpha Pack Emissary? Otherwise, there must be a heck of a lot of magic workers in Beacon Hills. Was Claudia possibly one, too?

    I also found it interesting that the Sheriff drinking too much has been elevated from fanon to possibly canon. Unless that was actually spelled out in Season 1 or 2 aside from a drinking scene and Stiles' hallucination, and I just missed it via never watching those.

    Did anyone else get the impression that Scott's Douchey Dad knows about the nightlife in Beacon Hills? Just me then.

    By the way, I, too, thought that the dad intro was really well handled. One line, and suddenly all of his and Stiles' interactions in the episode go from weird to making perfect sense.

    I predict a lot of soul bond fic based on the Ice Baths Of Death.


    I honestly think that Derek would be happier as a beta.

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  6. I'm pretty sure Lydia went to school like a normal teenager after recuperating from the strangling while everyone else was running around the hospital. I thought Stiles only went to school to talk to Lydia.

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  7. I like the concept of Jennifer Blake as a character, and as the Darach; I also like the concept of her staying, and building an arc around her being a badass with a skin problem, and possibly teaching Derek and his pack the ways of which to defend themselves without Peter giving terrible advice, because just imagine that. Considering, though, that she and the Alpha pack (which I have never liked the concept of, and the writers didn't ever convince the audience that they should) have done basically what Peter did without the excuse of a nervous breakdown, I don't want Jennifer or any of the Alphas from the Alpha pack to stay. Jeff Davis and co. will just write all of them into the story without dealing with the consequences of their actions. They have all killed dozens of people without guilt or empathy, and even ignoring the horrific plot hole about the lack of police enforcement, Jeff and co. should really think about the message that sends to the audience.

    For someone who's queer, it always strikes me as really strange that Jeff wants to shove hetero normative relationships at the audience like it's going out of style. And yes, a lot of 15-, 16-, and 17-year-old girls do want to have relationships, but a) Lydia was mentally abused by a old dude with no one -- besides Stiles -- actually taking notice that something was wrong, and b) Allison lost her Mother by way her committing suicide on her bed, and then being manipulated by a really old dude to believe it was Derek's (and by extension, his pack) fault. As you have pointed out several times throughout several posts, Jeff and co. never actually address the damage that this has done, and worse, we're all supposed to be invested in Lydia realising she does have friends that aren't Allison (and then kissing them when they're having a panic attack), and Allison suddenly seeing Isaac as a ~love interest~, out of the left field and without confronting both their issues.

    I just want Lydia, Allison, Isaac, Scott, Derek, and Stiles to have counseling -- or something that equates to coping with the deaths and/or abuse that have happened -- and I want them to all do it without a relationship. A relationship is fun, it makes people happy, but the character doesn't need to be defined by it or experience it to cope with things that would stop most people from having one in the first place.

    (In terms of the ~let's kiss while you have a panic attack over your Dad possibly being dead~: I understand why she did it, but having gone through panic attacks and anxiety attacks for almost 14 years, I can safely say that is not the way to stop one. It's just another example of how Jeff clearly doesn't do his research, or doesn't really care about the logistics of something that happens to people in real life.)

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  8. Well, for one, they went to school to talk to alpha twins (Lydia mentions that her "boyfriend" doesn't answer the phone) about something. Plus Lydia was making a statement.

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  9. That makes a lot of sense. Isaac really does seem to try to be like the person he's currently looking up to.

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  10. "...Scott McCall's douchey deadbeat dad showing up and being instantaneously dislikeable. Honestly, introducing him via Stiles was an inspired idea, because if Stiles doesn't like someone? Then we don't like them either."

    Not to mention that the dislike wasn't just a knee-jerk reaction or a first impression. Stiles knows this guy pretty well, so we know his opinion must be based on something.

    "I wouldn't mind if Stydia actually happened."

    Maybe I've just seen too many gifs of Holland petting Dylan's hair recently, but Lydia's body language struck me as more maternal than romantic. And that is something I would actually like to see, because Stiles seems to be taking care of everyone all the time, but when he needs help the only person who's consistently there for him is his dad. I would love it if one or more of his friends stepped up and was more emotionally supportive.

    "Lydia has a mother??"



    She's been in a handful of episodes before this one. Her scenes have all been super short, but I remember them because I'm a long-time Linden Ashby fan and the actress who plays Lydia's mom, Susan Walters, is Linden Ashby's real-life wife.

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  11. Just as a heads up. While I dislike Jeff Davis's handling of this season - he has said he did not make up the "This Might Hurt' Tagline, but the marketing department of MTV did.


    So while he did make this season OVERLY angsty - he wasn't doing it for the "This Might Hurt" tagline

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  12. fun trivia: Susan Walters, who plays Lydia's mom (or at least she definitely did in S1 and I'm pretty sure it's the same person) is married to Linden Ashby.

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