'Teen Wolf' Season 4 Premiere Recap: Can They Rescue Derek Hale?
'Teen Wolf' Season 4 Premiere Recap: Can They Rescue Derek Hale?
Morgan Glennon
Morgan Glennon
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
This week on the season 4 premiere of Teen Wolf, the gang takes a scenic tour of Mexico, including some light torturing and a tour of a historic Aztec tomb. Their tour guides include murderous hunters and a cold-as-ice, but oddly romance-savvy, mercenary. The kids on Teen Wolf do vacations much differently than most people.

Of course, there's a big surprise in store when they finally do manage to find Derek. Something terrible is happening to Derek Hale? It must be a day that ends in "y" on Teen Wolf

What would be truly shocking is if something good happened to Derek. If Scott punched open the tomb to discover a giggling Derek Hale surrounded by a mass of wriggling puppies, then I would be truly shocked. A little Benjamin Button-ing is nothing to the guy who once lived among the vaporized remains of everyone he ever loved. 

A lot of terrible things have happened to Derek, but this is by far the weirdest, I'll give the show props for that. How did Kate Argent manage to turn Derek back into his 16-year-old flashback self? Did Kate find the fountain of youth under that tomb? And what does this mean for poor Derek? 

A New Direction

For Teen Wolf, season three was a bloodbath. Several major characters died or were shuffled off the show, including Alison, Boyd, Cora, Isaac, Erica, and the twins. It also meant season three became much darker than previous seasons, especially as Stiles went evil and Allison breathed her last. 

Based only on this premiere, it looks like there was a creative decision made to course correct to something a little lighter. Sure there's still danger and torture and death around every corner, but now there's a lot more bantering between the action sequences. In fact, the opening hour had more of an action-adventure feel, like Teen Wolf's version of Indiana Jones, than it shared in common with the mythology-heavy third season. Thus far, this seems to be to the show's favor. 

Teen Wolf is a surprisingly good series for a show called Teen Wolf, and it does best when it loosens up and has fun. The problem with much of season three (both parts A and B) was the show tripping over its own overly-complicated mythology. Take a few minutes to think about the nemeton or the nogistune and you'll probably remember how little of those storylines actually hung together in a way that ultimately made sense by the end of the season. 

Teen Wolf is great at introducing scary villains, having fun, finding every opportunity for shirtlessness, and connecting the characters together in interesting and meaningful ways. Complicated mythology based loosely on existing cultural legends, however, is not a particular strong suit. It seems too early to say that the show is moving back from this storyline mold, but at the very least they seem to be having much, much more fun with it. 

It's also worth nothing that for much, if not most, of its run Teen Wolf was a very dude-heavy show. Most of the main characters, and even most of the side characters, were men. This first hour of season four was the first time in possibly the show's history that female characters handily outnumbered the guys. Given the sad loss of Allison, it's good to see some other awesome ladies picking up the slack, and I hope this emphasis on the female characters continues throughout the rest of the season. 

Welcome to Mexico: Let's Rave

The episode starts in media res, because why not, with Stiles and Lydia walking around Mexico. The two are bantering about how their plan is the worst plan ever, which seems unlikely because the worst plans are always Derek's and he's not around right now. The two show some scary guards a skull symbol and before you know it they're in a weird, slightly gay rave. 

Only on this show must you pass through a rave filled with hot, shirtless men before you can save your friend. The first test in the hero's journey on Teen Wolf is always "shirtless rave." 

Speaking of saving friends, it's some time into the episode before we get a flashback explaining why Derek needs to be saved in the first place. "So Derek hasn't texted me back, he's not sending any Snapchats, and he hasn't taken his turn on Words With Friends. This means he's either in the middle of binge-watching Orange is the New Black or he's dead," Scott declares, handing Lydia some bullets to use her Banshee powers on. "And I don't think Derek has a television, so dead seems the most likely option."

Lydia takes the bullets, rolls them around and then declares that she can't get a good reading. Derek's not dead but something weird is definitely going on with him. 

Back in the present at the rave, Lydia and Stiles are in full on Ocean's Eleven mode, offering the older hunter lady from last season a stack of yakuza money in exchange for Derek. These kids are going to have some amazing college application essays someday. 

In the club, Scott, Malia and Kira are hiding out by being sexy and blending in with all the other sexy people. It's really a genius plan. 

Kira is bad at dancing and Malia convinces her to loosen up by dirty dancing all up in her grill and the girls have fun in the longest dance sequence to ever exist for no apparent reason. I'm not complaining, Malia and Kira are the greatest, but it definitely felt like this episode came in short and the obvious answer seemed to be "more dancing!" 

They're eventually discovered, which is when Kira proves to be the coolest character on this or any other show. She whips out a pair of rave-appropriate glow-stick nunchuks and goes to town on the guards. Kira really does pack for every occasion. 

Kate's Alive!

Of course, the hunters outsmart Scott and his pack and soon Scott and Lydia are tied to electric chairs. The head hunter woman wants Scott to figure out who took Derek, since the hunters don't have him. They force Kira to shoot Scott full of electricity, while in the Saw basement nearby Stiles and Malia share a kiss so she can focus and listen in. 

Scott remembers a briefly overheard conversation between Argent and Kate about scratches having the ability to turn someone into a werewolf. He puts the pieces together and realizes Kate is still alive and very much a were-something now. 

"Good job," the hunter woman says, giving Lydia some tea and throwing knives into her guards. "I could have just sat you down and told you this information without the torture, but I'm obviously insane, so I chose this instead." Scott nods, because no one in Beacon Hills imparts important information without a little light torture, so he's used to it.

Then she sends Scott and his pack off with a tour guide, who is equipped to take them to the lovely abandoned Aztec werejaguar tombs of doom. And who exactly is their guide? It's Braeden of course, who popped up for a few memorable scenes last season and is generally the coolest person in any particular scenario. As a mercenary, Braden is pretty much down to do whatever she's paid for, even if sometimes that involves babysitting Scott McCall and rolling her eyes at his stupid love life. 

On the way to the tomb, Malia and Kira are generally confused about who Kate Argent is, so it's flashback time. They explain why Kate is a nasty customer, and also how she managed to live. It turns out the hunters came all the way from Mexico to check up on Kate and make sure she was dead. When they noticed her turning into a weresomething, they hopped across the border in order to convince her to kill herself per the hunter's code. Kate was like, "Thanks but no thanks homies," and killed a ton of people in her escape. 

At some point I suppose she dropped by to pay a visit to Derek, give him Benjamin Button pills, bring him back to Mexico, bury him behind an ancient Aztec tomb, and then probably go for a spa day or something. Kate Argent might be psychotic, but she gets things done. 

Stiles' poor Jeep gets a flat and he urges Scott to continue with Braeden on her cool motorcycle without the rest of the group. As Scott is getting ready to leave, Kira comes up and awkwardly but adorably tells him to be careful. They share a charged hug and moment while Braeden rolls her eyes in the background waiting for Scott.

Derek's Confusing Rescue

Braeden shows Scott the abandoned church built over an ancient Aztec burial site associated with were-jaguars. I'm going to take a stab in the dark and guess Kate might be a were-jaguar. 

In the cavern below. Braeden asks Scott why he didn't kiss Kira, at which point Scott fumbles about how he and Kira aren't actually dating. "You should have kissed your girlfriend," Braeden says, dropping some realness on Scott. 

I would love to see Braeden have her own advice column in the Beacon Hills Gazette or something. "You have to commit, because you never know what tomorrow will bring or when you'll be mauled to death by a were-jaguar in an underground ancient Aztec tomb. Life is short! Carpe diem!"

Meanwhile, out in the desert Stiles refuses to leave his poor Jeep even though there is obviously something hunting them out in the dark. He and Lydia banter over the flashlight beam, while Malia and Kira form an excellent lady adventure team to see what's stalking them in the desert. 

Kira gets out her samurai sword because, again, she packs for every occasion, and uses a life hack to turn the blade's reflective surface into a flashlight. They see something out in the desert and Malia gives chase with Kira following after. Whatever it is wounds Malia, and she notes that the creature smelled like rotting death. 

Back in the Aztec tomb of good advice, something is also stalking Scott and Braeden. Scott roars really loudly and scares the creature away. Braeden and her amazingly resilient eardrums, finds an Aztec carving on the wall and behind this carving they find Derek.

But there's a twist! When the pack reunites and Derek is brought out into the light, it's not the ruggedly handsome and emotionally tortured Derek Hale we know and love. Instead, there's a teenage Derek in his place. 

The Shirtlessness Count

There is shirtlessness immediately, as if the show was welcoming you back into its warm, muscled embrace. However we'll skip the best pecks of the week this week, since all of the shirtless action came courtesy of extras at the rave party. 

Elsewhere Around Beacon Hills...

-- Malia is still adjusting to life as a human being instead of a werecoyote and it makes for some awkward yet amusing moments. Like when she admits she would just leave Lydia in the wild, unless she was hungry, and then she would have eaten her. As Stiles continues to explain, the whole human adjustment is still a work in progress. 

-- Speaking of Malia, it seems her connection to Stiles has only grown stronger since their time together in Eichen House. In the Jeep, she tells him she would never leave him behind. 

-- Lydia seems to be getting slightly better at using her powers, but she still hasn't figured out what it means to be a Banshee.

-- "If the money was good, I'd kill you," Braeden tells Scott. Can we keep her around for awhile Teen Wolf? Please? 

What did you think of the season premiere? Did you like the new lighter tone or do you miss the darkness of last season? What do you think of Malia and Kira? And what in the world is going on with Derek? Sound off in the comments! 

Teen Wolf airs Mondays at 10pm on MTV.

(Image courtesy of MTV)