Listen, I’m attached to this show and not in an ironic, too cool for this type of way. I’m genuinely invested in (some) of the characters, I enjoy (most) episodes and overall, it’s a silly mindless show that allows me to destress. I’m a long suffering fan and I’ll stick it through until my favorites are no longer on the show.
That being said, there is just about nothing I can say to defend this episode. Sure, I’ve noted before that Teen Wolf is abysmal at crafting good premiere episodes and season finales. They always spread their storylines too thin and create a setup for the season that typically is forgotten a few episodes in. There are two narrative threads in this episode that are wonderful in theory, and had the writers allowed those to play out in full, rather than somehow managing to squish every single subplot they could think of into the 40 minute running time, then it would have been a very strong way to kick off the season. No, that’s not what they did, but I’m going to utilize by ability of selective watching.
Here’s the episode I saw.
The entire storyline between Scott and Stiles and Stiles and his dad were beautifully done and this was based on two, critical things: one, the fact that we’re invested in both of the relationships and they’re both easily the best developed on the show, and two, Dylan O’Brien continues to home his skills as an actor.
Last season ended with everything and everyone in a disarray as Theo somehow managed to get under everyone’s skin enough to royally screw things up. This means that Scott somehow believes that Stiles is capable of sadistic murder, they’ve essentially broken up and Stiles’s dad lays inches from death after being attacked by one of Theo’s cronies. The premiere sees the characters either trying to pick up the pieces, or actively acting on spite.
You can guess what side Stiles falls on.
Stiles’s arc this episode is genuinely the most interesting the show has been in a while because it feels earned. It also makes great use of what is O’Brien’s best acting mode, which is stillness. Remember why we loved him so much as the Nogitsune? It’s because he calmed down, stood still and watched. O’Brien turns into a different actor when he’s rid himself of his jittery tics, and seeing his rage at Scott and Theo and his spirit crushing concern for his dad is terrific to watch play out.
I would like to believe that by the end of the episode, some of the relationships are already on the mend (Stiles and Scott, Scott and Malia, Malia and Stiles) but I’m sure episode two will have the characters taking a step backwards in order to prolong the drama. The show has always worked best when the characters come together and work as a unit and off one another’s skill sets and charms, less so when they all have individual narratives.
The episode also ends with the Sheriff seemingly out of the woods, and while I enjoyed the flashbacks to Stiles and his dad and his mom’s funeral, and a call back to it with the Sheriff telling him when he awakens that “he still has him,” it’s one storyline that I think could have been extended further than one episode. There was never really any fear of the Sheriff dying, but the show was able to catch some stylish shots in the process of the narrative, some of the only non standard shots of the entire episode, most pointedly when Stiles sits alone in the waiting room, two empty chairs flanking him.
So, the Sheriff is safe, Scott and Stiles are on the very tentative mend and the episode, like all season premieres, ends with everything being solved and set for the upcoming season…
Okay, so, that’s the episode in my mind, how I would have liked to see it turn out, with Argent (oh, hello) returning to save the day, Malia and Scott being blown away by his bad-assery against the dread doctors and the happy music playing as our heroes return to the hospital, a little bloody and beaten, but better than how they began the episode.
But oh there is so much more that I just can’t work myself up to care about.
Not a great or promising start. Yet, I’m still curious to see what happens, to see how Scott, Stiles and Malia end up being able to rescue Lydia, but beyond that, I hope they begin to remember what made their show popular in the first place, and what characters deserve the screentime.