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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Teen Wolf: Lunar Ellipse.

Previously on Teen Wolf: Alpha Pact.

I wasn't gonna write a review this week, but then Marie reminded me of the many stupid things in this episode that needed to be catalogued for posterity. Not that I didn't enjoy it, but that enjoyment was helped along by the fact that I was a) playing the Teen Wolf drinking game, and b) watching it with someone who had never seen the show before, thus rendering everything hysterically funny. (Try explaining three seasons of convoluted Teen Wolf soap-opera subplots in one minute or less. TRY IT.)
The Alpha Pack/darach storylines are more or less wrapped up, THANK GOD, hopefully leaving the show to do a better job with season 3B. And the episode ends with the satisfying combination of parental survival (duh, they weren't gonna kill them off, hello), Stiles/Scott friendship, and Derek and Cora shipping out to a group therapy retreat together. It's just too bad that there are a ton of problems lingering on from earlier points in the season.
Regarding the treatment of all the villains/antagonists in this episode, I can't help but feel that Teen Wolf is going in a distinctly Supernatural-esque direction. When I wrote the Teen Wolf drinking game yesterday, most of the rules were basically affectionate jokes about all the dumbass shit that happens in this show, but one was pretty serious: the rule about female or POC characters being killed off while the white men survive. The two permanent deaths of the episode were Jennifer and Kali. Deucalion's survival was mostly down to Derek and Scott's distaste for coldblooded murder, but from an audience perspective it was both unsatisfying and pointless to see him walk away unscathed. Not to mention frustrating when 75% of the main character deaths have been women, in a show where the main cast is already about 75% male overall.
The twins were definitely the worst for me. I've never been able to get my head around the Aiden/Lydia relationship in particular, despite the many comments/messages I've had from people who basically say, Lydia is kinda fucked up and attracted to dangerous/abusive men. I agree that Lydia probably has bad taste in men and also has some issues with regards to dating and relationships, but I also think that the depiction of her relationship with Aiden has been VERY poorly written. She expresses shock when Stiles reveals that Aiden is an evil murderous werewolf, BUT she never really confronts him about that, or indeed seems to struggle with it internally. Her decision to keep hooking up with Aiden can be interpreted as self-destructive, but it's definitely not explicitly portrayed as that, and her motivations are very unclear. Aiden's "redemption through love" storyline has been even less convincing than Ethan's, because he was always the more aggressive/amoral of the twins. He seems to like Lydia and wants her to be OK, but not enough to a) actively protect her, b) tell her anything about what's going on, c) explain his reasons for joining a murderous werewolf gang, or d) do anything other than mildly protest to other Alpha Pack members that he likes her and doesn't want to have to kill her.
I find it actively irritating that Ethan and Aiden were included in the friendship montage at the end of the episode. They have functionally replaced Boyd in the teen social circle, except moreso because Boyd was never fully part of the gang, whereas the twins have links in the form of Danny and Lydia. Except, remember how they KILLED BOYD? An action for which their ONLY EXCUSE was that they were "just following orders"? Remember how they never expressed remorse for this, and Ethan is the only one of the two who even appears to have basic moral qualms about the Alpha Pack? Boyd was killed off for a Derek-related manpain reason that only lasted until the end of that specific episode. Nobody really mourned him. Nobody seems all that bothered that the twins are directly responsible for his death. Lydia is now dating a murderer who only went to highschool in order to seduce her for information. Cora (the ONLY person who really cared about Boyd's death after it happened) actually helped save the twins in this episode. Everyone is friends now and it's all fine.
Redemption arcs are a massive problem on this show. It kinda seems like Jeff Davis got the memo about heroes and villains being more interesting if they're "shades of grey" characters rather than 100% good or bad, but then didn't really think things through after that. Allison had a great redemption storyline where she did some ~bad~ things for reasons that, emotionally speaking, made sense. But also, she's one of the good guys, so she kind of HAS to be redeemed. Also, Gerard Argent is arguably the most compelling and watchable villain on Teen Wolf, and he is unabashedly evil in every way. He can't possibly be redeemed at all. And that's fine. Ditto Kate, whose backstory with Derek is more interesting than the rest of his more recent manpain crap combined. But with characters like Peter, Deucalion, Jennifer, and basically the entire Alpha Pack, I'm stumped.
This episode proved that the simple point made by that drinking game rule holds true. The twins are already on the road to redemption, with hardly any effort on their part whatsoever. Deucalion survives and is treated with relative kindness and respect, mostly because Derek and Scott are (understandably) squeamish about killing him. Meanwhile Jennifer is left for dead and is eventually finished off by Peter, who turns out to still be evil in a "revelation" that will surprise precisely zero viewers. So just to tally that one again, Jennifer and Kali are dead, while Deucalion and Gerard survive as spare villains to be brought back in future seasons. Deucalion is particularly annoying, since he turned out to be a surprisingly uninteresting villain this season, and I can't imagine that many fans find him engaging as a character in general.
Derek in this episode was... IDK. Was it just me, or was Tyler Hoechlin's acting noticeably way more terrible than usual? I feel like a douchebag just saying that, because he seems like a sweetheart in real life, but seriously. In some episodes he does pretty well and you do actually feel the ridiculously overwrought Derek Hale Torment, but this week he was soooo clunky. Usually there's like one line delivery per episode where he sounds like an automaton and just sort of stares at a wall or something, but for some reason this happened like six times in the season finale, presumably making up for his far better acting in several other episodes?? Anyhow, character-wise, I have no idea what was even meant to be going on between him and Jennifer. Where are Derek's emotions at? Does he identify with Jennifer's need for revenge? Who knows. (I'd say "who cares", but I was pretty invested in the idea of Derek getting into a serious relaysh with a mass-murderer with no face. That would've been a far better ~ridiculous redemption~ storyline than Deucalion surviving, or the twins galumphing around Beacon Hills High without a care in the world.)
There were two things I really liked this week: Allison, and the relationship between Scott and his parents. I love that Scott's relationship with his mother is so good, and I particularly love that he RECOGNISES THAT. Melissa McCall is an amazing mom and amazing woman, and she and her son have a lovely, trusting relationship where he admires her and thinks she awesome. What a great depiction of a divorced family that is the exact opposite of a "broken home". Agent McCall is portrayed as a douchebag from day one, and Scott clearly recognises that he and his mother are better off without Dad in the picture. Love it. Actually, there are so many great single parents in this show that it kind of makes me wonder if Jeff Davis is writing from experience? But then again, it might just be because dead parents are mandatory in this type of show. As for Allison, she was brilliant throughout the episode, and I'm SUPER INTO the implication that she's gonna go fully-fledged Buffy the Vampire Slayer next season. PLEASE LET THAT HAPPEN.

Miscellaneous
  • WHY DO ALL THE MEN IN THIS SHOW WEAR EXACTLY THE SAME CLOTHES? Stiles is marginally different in that he wears more plaid, and Isaac has the whole snood/scarf/knitwear thing going on, but seriously. EVERY SINGLE DUDE IS JUST WEARING A GREY HENLEY AND TIGHT-FIT JEANS. Arrrrrghhhhhh. I think Teen Wolf has had the same costume designer throughout, so I'm not really sure why she's gone from each character having a relatively distinctive style, to all the men being dressed in a chorus line of identical monochrome henleys. Plus, that's gonna make it difficult for new viewers to tell the characters apart, because nearly everyone is a slim/muscular, good-looking white guy, and most of the show takes place in the dark. Don't fall into the cheesy American TV trap of making everyone look like a clone!!
  • I totally should've put "I'm the Alpha!" in my drinking game, but I was soooo sure that they couldn't possibly use that line again. But it happened TWICE!! In ONE EPISODE!
  • Not impressed by the fact that Lydia's banshee storyline was, as either @snazdoll or @MLDavies put it, reduced to her acting as a human dog whistle for Jennifer. 
  • Jennifer healing Deucalion's blindness before he died was bullshit. What a garbage idea. Bleurgh.
  • Loved the Matrix parking garage scene at the beginning. They should've left the Nemeton tree there and told everyone it was installation art. 
  • Why did Scott and Stiles get changes of dry clothes but Lydia had to wear that dress throughout the entire episode? Someone give her a jacket at least! I guess Scott and Stiles must've been wearing Scott's spare clothes that he leaves at Deaton's office...??
  • I'm inclined to believe that Tyler Hoechlin can act, mostly due to the fact that his IRL personality is so different from Derek in every way. However, this episode made me reeeeally hope that he does actually get cast as Batman in the Man of Steel sequel. I hated both Man of Steel and The Dark Knight Rises, so the idea of Tyler Hoechlin having to deliver Chris Nolan/Zach Snyder dialogue sounds hilarious to me. CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE.
  • I liked the cinematography in the final scene with Deucalion, where they made him look really small and weak by comparison to Scott and Derek.
  • The flashback scenes were fun to watch, but this show really needs to get out of the habit of trying to ~tie everything together~ in the past. EVERYTHING DOES NOT NEED TO BE CONNECTED. In a show like this, there is no point in trying to link everything together in some complex backstory web. Particularly if your storylines require the audience to quickly forget terrible and/or stupid things that happened only a few episodes ago. 
  • What is up with Jennifer's darach outfit?? When we were watching the episode, my friend who doesn't watch Teen Wolf was like, "Why is that woman wearing a leather corset?" Why do any women in any TV shows wear a leather corset, I replied.
  • SIXTEEN HOURS LYING IN AN ICE BATH, AND DEATON, ISAAC AND LYDIA ALL JUST WANDERED OFF INTO ANOTHER ROOM? Never change, Teen Wolf Science. Never change.
Previous Teen Wolf posts.

21 comments:

  1. I love that Deaton and Lydia were around while the trio were lying in their ice baths, even if they were doing something else, but Isaac had clearly run out to the 7/11.


    Some good moments, as you point out, as well as Stiles reuniting with his father (bawl!) and Scott finally referring to his friends as "his pack." But yeah. Having the Jennifer/Kali relationship end that way was a waste of revealing that they were once close, plus Peter killing Jennifer? What, there's not room in the box of "ex-villains chilling around Beacon Hills" for her? BOO.


    (Although watching Peter yell into the night THAT HE'S THE REAL ALPHA FOR REALSIES HAS BEEN THIS WHOLE TIME was pure Teen Wolf melodrama.)


    As for Season 3B, if Allison ends up hallucinating the conflicting ghosts of her mom and her aunt, I am so down. I didn't realize how much I liked Victoria until she came back as a hallucination.

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  2. Really liked your review and the mention that once again Boyd's death was just narratively dropped. I was wondering about your thoughts on replacement characters though. It seems like, especially with who they end up with, that the twins were more of a replacement for Jackson then Boyd. They basically represent the two sides of his character: Adian--the love interest but abusive boyfriend to Lydia and Ethan--the caring and loyal partner to Danny. Then their is Cora who seems like an under-developed replacement for Erica.

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  3. You forgot an important thing in your drinking game:
    Anytime someone does a stunt and lands in the Three-Point Pose.


    They live for that on Teen Wolf!

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  4. I just keep wanting to like this season and it just keeps MAKING IT IMPOSSIBLE. Whichever way I look at I get more and more irritated, particularly by the way it's becoming another 24/7 White Guys Doing Stuff show. I have wasted more time than is logical working on net gains and losses per season to demonstrate the change. In the first season, we lost one woman (Kate) and one man (Peter, later to be returned, but for the purposes of this, he was a negative at this point). At the end we had four women (Allison, Lydia, Mama McCall, Mama Argent). We had eight men (Scott, Stiles, Jackson, Danny, Deaton, Papa Argent, Papa Stilinksi, Derek.)


    Then in season two we add two women (Ms. Morrell, Erica) but subtract one (Mama Argent) net gain +1, while adding five men (Boyd, Isaac, Peter, Grandpa Argent, Matt) and subtracting one (Matt, the only white male tangently related to the main cast to die and stay that way), net gain +4.


    Season three got wacky. We added (Kali, Ms. Blake, Cora, 'the girl') but lost all of them but Cora AND lost Erica, for a net gain of 0, or possibly -1, if Ms. Morrell is dead. We got (Deuc, Ennis, the twins, Papa McCall) and lost Ennis, Jackson (but not dead), and Boyd, for a gain of 2, which doesn't seem so bad except we keep exchanging minorities for more white guys.


    And to that my continued irritated over Scott's Super Special Alphaness, and the general let down of the finale and...idk about january, I just don't.

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  5. At the end, I'm rather sure that being Alpha is an euphemism for having huge penis. All the white dude werewolves just love yelling that phrase too much for everyone's sanity.
    Also, like you mentioned, I'm kinda 'meh :-/' with the choices of death here. And we don't know if Mis Morrell survived!?

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  6. What annoyed me was Scott and Derek "letting" Deucalion go. I wished Jennifer killed him. He is still the frigging demon wolf except now his ONLY weakness is healed, good job there Derek... He is still ridiculously strong and easily more than a match for betaDerek and Scott. It felt weird... it was like looking at two toddlers telling off an adult.

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  7. Screw Kate (even though I loved her moral ambiguity), Deucalion, Peter and Gerard, Victoria was the scariest bad guy on the show.

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  8. I think I read somewhere that Jeff Davis' parents divorced when he was little and he was raised by his mom. I think he implied that Scott's issues with his dad are a direct reflection of the strained relationship he had with his father.

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  9. Bit disappointed you didn't enjoy the episode very much. Once again I thought this was one of the best episodes to date, I will give you that you need to suspend some of the poorly thought out plot ideas earlier on. On the whole though. Entertaining!



    Pros

    - Victoria was back!

    - Pre credit scenes were awesome. They were so well polished and directly they were quite possibly half the episodes budget.
    - Reasonable big reveal and satisfying "cliffhanger"
    - So much blood and gore that you can tell your friends with confidence this is not a "teen" show.



    Cons

    - ... OK, yeah what you have written in the article.

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  10. I am a second-hand viewer (meaning I read your reviews and other stuff Tumblr to get my fix three and half episodes of the actual show is all I could handle, but I love y'all's reviews/reactions), and I have been meaning to ask someone in the know for a while now why Peter hadn't been killed again because every single thing about him sounded like a Bad Idea. I thought maybe I was missing out on his usefulness or something, but evidently no? So not only was every fan not shocked at Peter being ultimately evil all along, even non-fans figured that was the case long ago.


    Sometimes I still want to watch for the good things about the show you guys dredge up, but mostly I just want you to watch it and tell me what happened. So thank you for doing that!

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  11. My biggest issue with this season has been how the main characters didn't actually need to be there. Any conflict between "our pack" and the darach and the alpha pack really turned out to be a conflict between the darach and the alpha pack. Deucalion killed Ennis, the darach killed Kali, and Deucalion basically killed the darach (let's face it, Peter pretty much just took her last hit point--there's no guarantee she would have survived or that there was any power left in the giant stump).


    Our pack completely failed to save any of the darach's victims, except for the parents at the end and the wolves in Motel California. If you take our pack out of the story, it would've played out pretty much the exact same way, except that the guardians (and they could have been anybody) would have died too, and possibly a few more of the alpha pack. Heck, Jeff Davis had to leave Stiles unconscious in his Jeep for half the finale because there was so little for our main characters to do.


    I hope 3B sees new characters added in a manageable number and more of an integration between Team Human and Team Werewolf, who each seemed to spend a lot of time doing their own thing in 3A and not so much time working together.


    And I desperately want Stiles to start training to become Scott's emissary, but that's my issue and I don't actually expect to see it happen.

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  12. I think that the reason Tyler Hoechlin was not doing a super job was because he also had no freaking idea what Derek was supposed to be feeling. I mean, they made such a damn mess of his character this season, how do we know he had any more guidance in what Derek's feeling about Jennifer than any of the viewers do? How is anyone supposed to compellingly deliver the lines he had when they make pretty much no sense?
    I feel for him.

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  13. I don't know if there would have been room for more of Lydia's banshee powers in the finale. I don't think they're going to drop the plot line just because there wasn't time to highlight it in this episode ...


    I agree with a lot of what you've written, but my main irk with this season so far is Cora. The only reason the character exists is as a vector for Derek to lose his alpha status. I can think of a half-dozen ways to accomplish that without adding a paper-thin, pancake-flat character whose existence makes no sense and whose HIGHLY IMPLAUSIBLE BACKSTORY is never addressed or explored.
    Also I'm not bugged with Kali's death. The character had no where to go and the actor was ... uninspiring. Of course, the same could be said for the dull-ass twins so ... never mind.

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  14. oh i like that they let Deucalion go...cuz now i can hope for someone to lock Deucalion and Gerard in a room together for ever and ever (kinda like Michael and Lucifer in the Cage in supernatural?) cuz come on! they r both utterly detestable and they so deserve to be put in hell on earth :D

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  15. I think among the many, MANY things that were wrong with this episode (and the season in general) was that the episode ended with Deucalion as the big bad that was defeated and given a chance to redeem itself... when it was Jullifer (Julia/Jennifer) who actually had the redeeming storyline potential! She was looking for vengeance as someone who her loved one had wanted to kill her - out of a power vendetta, no less - and that had deranged her into trying to kill all the werewolves that crossed her (hence Motel California). All that we knew from Duke was that he had once been a good leader who got blinded by Gerard and... that's it. We didn't understand how he started to gain the following of other Alphas or how he managed to manipulate them into killing not only the members of their packs, but their emissaries as well (and if going by the legend of the Lycaeon, the ones that tether them to their humanity). He was a two note villain, while Jullifer had been properly (if clunkily) developed. She was the Faith of this season, and instead of leaving her alive to bring open a true story of remorse and atonement, they killed her and left the cardboard twins alive.

    I do think that Davis had the right idea in putting Scott and Duke as polar opposites: Duke was a cult leader who had managed to manipulate many into killing their own families/packs (just because we didn't see those murders it doesn't mean that they didn't happen, and as far as we know each Alpha had at least one Beta, and Visionary showed us many more) for his own personal vendetta against a hunter. Scott, on the other hand, is the leader of a group of people that came together as a family and recognize that while he may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer he's still the one that keeps them together and leads them into battle, but they go willingly to him. But even if that was Scott's story: A) it wasn't properly developed (I had to review the whole season in several people's recaps, including yours, to finally get it) and B) it wasn't the ensemble's story. The ensemble's story (which has by large taken the place as protagonist over Scott because of Posey's acting abilities - otherwise why does everybody keep asking about Danny?) was what is the best way to survive, and honestly, I always thought that Jullifer was the less of the two evils.

    But Davis has acknowledged that he enjoyed working so much with the Carver twins that he decided to switch their story line just to keep them around.



    P.S. Thank you so much for your Teen Wolf 101 post. Now I can go to my friends and show them why the hell I've been following this show since I started watching it a month ago. Stupid Netflix recommendations and I hope Dylan O'Brian gets something much bigger because yes, I watch only because of him. His acting is TOO good.

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  16. I have a feeling that the writers are trying to divide the characters to "good" and "evil" by means of having killed someone. So far the only people who killed any villains are ... other villains (Derek can be considered the only 'gray' character here - he killed Peter, but not permanently, and he was used to kill Boyd). The Beacon Hills pack is starting to look like a bunch of losers, who can't deal with a threat, and have to wait for someone more evil to do the job for them. Right now it is only 'frustrating' and 'predictible', but it's a close step to 'boring'. And I don't think people will want to watch 'boring'.

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  17. Beryl Autumnramble28 August 2013 at 02:33

    A Glorious Velociraptor.

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  18. hi there, just read a couple of your tw posts today, and just curious as to whether you're still watching? because i will agree that 3A was alllllllll kinds of terrible (OH GOD the terrible was capital "T" Terrible) but 3B is literally BLOWING MY MIND and we're down to the final episodes and oh god, nothing is beautiful (except the cast) and everything hurts but damn, does it hurt good. i sincerely hope you're still watching because hot DAMN 3B is awesome

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  19. At the end, I'm rather sure that being Alpha is an euphemism for having huge penis. All the white dude werewolves just love yelling that phrase too much for everyone's sanity.
    Also, like you mentioned, I'm kinda 'meh :-/' with the choices of death here. And we don't know if Mis Morrell survived!?

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