Let’s talk about: Teen Wolf

Teen Wolf is four episodes into its sixth and final season, and I have thoughts and theories. Some of them are flat out contradictory. Some of them evolved and changed as episodes progressed. But really I just want to talk more about Teen Wolf, because for everything it’s gotten right and everything it’s gotten wrong over the past five years, it’s one of the few shows I’ve never fallen behind on (unlike pretty much every other show I’m watching this season).

This post contains spoilers through last week’s 6.04 Relics and speculation for the rest of the season.

Who is that red-eyed, helium-sucking physics teacher?

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Pete Ploszeck

This guy burst out of a jar at the Dread Doctors’ lab, apparently. And then for some reason decided high school physics was the way to go. I try to stay spoiler free, and honestly, when he first showed his red eyes, my initial reaction was that he was a red herring for a major or minor season baddie, and would end up working with Pack McCall and being the alpha who stays behind to shepherd the Baby Pack when Scott and Co. go off to college.

But then he started cracking open skulls and snacking on pineal glands and that seems less likely. But he has a real season one creepiness about him that I’m liking.

Edit: While finishing up this post I realized thanks to some previouslies that last season this guy was teased as being an evil Nazi werewolf being kept alive in a jar by the Dread Doctors. OK then.

Oh, what a beautiful budget

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Tyler Posey as Scott McCall in Teen Wolf. It seems like the show has had a lot of trouble with his wolf eyes since Scott became an alpha, but since he’s the star and a super special “true alpha” it’s nice to see them looking like glowing red eyes and not flashlights (Derek, season 2), barely glinting rubies (Scott in most post 3B seasons) or dull colored contacts (a budget necessity I’m sure of previous yellow-eyed seasons).

I don’t actually know what the budget is like for this season of Teen Wolf, but they seem to be spending a lot of money on some pretty good effects. See: Skull-cracking brain eater,  Ghost Riders’ “Erase You” bullets and a return to glowing wolf eyes that actually look really good.  Of course, if a lot of money is going to those big sequences like last week’s fights, that might explain why in some of the other episodes (*cough*Sundowning*cough*), nobody seemed to remember they were werewolves and opted instead to throw lamps than use their claws and fangs.

Baby Pack

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Michael Johnston, Khylin Rhambo, Dylan Sprayberry and Victoria Moroles in Teen Wolf

I’m not sure where the announcement that this would be the last season fell in relation to when season six started filming, but it seems like the show is pushing hard on the idea of it carrying on with the pack of newbies. And I’m really not sure how I feel about that.

I don’t have anything against the Baby Pack, really. It makes sense that they’d form their own little group, given that they’re all younger than the original characters — and after all, Derek was waxing poetic about Scott being like an alpha of his own pack way back in season two when Scott and friends were essentially the same age as Liam and friends are now. But, I mean, the show was built around Scott. We spent a lot of time watching him — and his pack — grow. Liam, Hayden, Mason and Corey feel kind of shoe-horned and lacking in gravitas. And there is something a little disappointing about losing time with the original characters to prop up the new ones. It makes me feel a little like when Bartlet meets Charlie for the first time on The West Wing just before addressing the nation. “I don’t have time for new people!”

But I will say, I think it was someone at the Previously TV forums who dubbed Scott, Stiles, Lydia and Malia The Scooby Pack and Liam, Hayden, Mason and Corey the Scrappy Pack, and they kind of nailed it.

But overall, it seems like Teen Wolf is setting the end-game up to have the originals leave Beacon Hills while Liam – or maybe Hayden – take over as the leader. But I’m really hoping that it won’t just be “Okay, [whoever], you’re the default alpha now!” Even though it’s very doubtful that the Brain Eater up top will be the one in charge, I hope — I really hope — the Baby Pack is left with some adult supervision. Linden Ashby, Melissa Ponzio and JR Bourne are all in the main credits now. Give them the keys to Beacon Hills’ supernatural society. Deputy Parrish is a hellhound. He can help.

My heart. My poor shippy heart.

I’m not much of a shipper. Generally, I’m just way more into friends and family dynamics than I am romance (which puts me at odds with approximately 98 percent of fanfic writers, apparently). But, I’ve legit been shipping Melissa/Stilinski for five years. It was teased once at a con that their relationship was super slow burn, which made me SO HOPEFUL that this would have to finally be the year…

And now they’re clearly, clearly teeing up for Melissa/Argent. And, I mean, I love Chris Argent, and I don’t dislike the idea of Melissa/Chris in general. They have chemistry and poor Chris needs some good things to happen in his life for once. But…just look at them! Look at my babies, they’re so adorable!

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I just really love Melissa/Stilinski, okay?

Having said that, unless Teen Wolf reverses course, like now, on Melissa/Argent, and if this whole thing with Stilinski’s dead wife being not dead isn’t resolved soon…I hope Melissa and Stilinski remain just besties for life. Because I like all of these characters too much and despise love triangles FAR TOO MUCH to want to see any drama on that front.

Oh, hey. There’s an actual season arc happening here…

So, I feel like Teen Wolf often earns As for its characters (maybe Bs for the Baby Pack), but sometimes falls short on its grand story-telling, oftentimes introducing great ideas but resolving them by having the characters pull the correct conclusions out of a hat in a fit of exposition.

And this season isn’t shaping up to be very different. Ghost Riders (admittedly creepy looking dudes) are wandering through Beacon Hills, snatching people up and erasing their existence. And that’s fine. You know there’s going to be some way to undo it all, our heroes will figure it out and rescue Stiles, who was taken in the premiere.

But one thing Teen Wolf struggles with from time to time is managing its own details. Usually it seems to be an issue of losing track of its characters. I can’t tell you how many times in previous seasons Scott’s pack has been in a situation where it would have been really helpful to have Deaton or Argent or Derek but they were nowhere to be found, with their absences only occasionally explained by “I couldn’t reach him.”

But the details have been particularly egregious this season, and we’re only four episodes in. It was just in 6.02 Superposition that Corey went out of phase and found the ID of a student who had been taken and it was explained as having something to do with Schroedinger’s Cat and the ID not existing and not existing until Corey found it while he was invisible, and whatever the hell, some things you just have to go with.

But now two episodes later that’s all been forgotten in favor of a conservation of mass theory by saying something of people who were taken has to be left behind, whether that’s the friendship bracelet one girl has of her taken sister or Stiles’ Jeep sitting unnoticed in the school parking lot. And not only does that fly in the face of Corey having to go invisible to bring the other students’ ID back into existence (an ID that started blank and then filled in once the bar code was scanned), I’m pretty sure it’s very bad science. And if you’re going to use bad science , don’t name-check real science while you do it.

Missing people

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Dylan O’Brien

I really like how the show has treated Dylan O’Brien’s absence during filming/recovery from his Maze Runner accident. He’s not there — the character’s not even remembered entirely — but he still has significant presence. I was really worried for a while that the first half the season would just carry on as if Stiles had never existed at all, and we’d be halfway through before anyone realized something wasn’t right.

So, that’s where I am on Teen Wolf. Like most seasons, it has some issues, but overall I feel like its shaping up to be one of the strongest. I’m thinking about rewatching season 5 in the off days, once I’m not so far behind on my other live shows. I’ve only seen it once, and I suspect the Dread Doctors arc will eventually be significant again for Brain Snacker. Plus, I did my first rewatch of season four recently, and it was a little better than I remembered, so it’ll be interesting to see if season five is less of a hot mess a second time around.

Teen Wolf airs at 9/8c Tuesdays on MTV.

Leisure Time is on Twitter! Follow @theLTtweet for post updates an smaller fannish thoughts.

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