For a show about teenage supernatural creatures, Teen Wolf has rallied up quite the ensemble cast of characters over the years. There’s the kids, the parents, the big bads, the ones who get caught up in the mystery, other supernaturals, the new generation, etc. It can forget meaningful background and secondary characters almost as soon as they introduce them or they are of no use — see: Jackson, Danny, Coach, Isaac and dozens of others. The only really meaningful departure — RIP Allison — is a sharp reminder of the peril these kids face every day, but even then, that gets lost in the shuffle of recurring characters.

What I’m saying is that Teen Wolf has way too many characters; it’s part of its charm, and their curse of ambition and 12-episode seasons makes it tricky to fit all of them in. When, really, five seasons in, we’ve invested in Scott, Stiles and Lydia and now the newer peeps like Kira, Malia and maybe even Liam.

The smartest thing Teen Wolf employs every so often is to strip away a lot of our favorite secondary characters to focus on our band of heroes, who are having a rough start to senior year. Everyone has their own issues with either their identity or their relationships with one another, and finally these independent storylines have room to breathe in a way Teen Wolf rarely does.

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I’d Watch a Standalone Stiles Episode

Honestly, sometimes I wish Teen Wolf would forgo the serialized storytelling and put those horror writing talents to use by just focusing on one neat, little story that starts and ends. It sort of had one in the season 3 episode “Hotel California” (arguably the best episode of the show), and the first 20 minutes of this episode has that same tight, standalone quality by focusing on everyone’s favorite character, Stiles.

Stiles was in a bit of a big pickle when last we left off — getting attacked by the psychopathic Donovan (who threatened Sheriff Stilinsky), who’s now a wendigo. He injures Stiles, chases him through the school to the library (man, are they milking that set or what?) and, after a quick game of cat and mouse, Stiles accidentally impales Donovan in self-defense. 

The move for one of our heroes to kill someone (an innocent, Scott would argue) is a smart decision that’s been a long time coming — one of our heroes had to cross a line and it’s a no-brainer to give it to Stiles. Sure, Stiles was possessed by a demon that one time and killed plenty of people (like his friend Allison — seriously, I doubt that Stiles does not partially blame himself, not that the show has ever mentioned it), but this time Stiles is fully responsible and fully freaked-out.

I gotta give some praise to the direction for this sequence, which made some very interesting and smart calls. We get a creepy and wise decision from the director to hold over a voicebox of the 911 call Stiles makes over the body. We get to see Stiles’ brain go numb from shock as he is just reminded to grab his cell. And we get to see Stiles pull his Jeep out, headlights off, and watch what happens, only to realize the body he’s just killed is missing. 

We see Stiles try and rationalize this, even as Scott rejects the self-defense argument (which, by the way, is understandably narrow-minded), and to watch Dylan O’Brien internalize all of this is just great to watch. After last season’s mess, it’s great to see Stiles (and all of the characters, really) have something important to do again.

What’s also curious about this episode, since we have time to breathe deeply instead of in the spurts Teen Wolf gives us, is we get to watch these crime-fighting friends lie to one another. Stiles hides his injury and lies to Scott, Scott lies to Kira about her frighteningly strong kitsune aura and Malia is hiding her attraction to Theo. The pack’s strength is threatened with these new developments, and without Liam and his “new generation” crew, we can watch how friends in senior year can drift apart.

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Return to Eichen House

So the Three Dreaded Doctors is actually a book, written by Dr. Valack. Remember him? Drilled a hole in his head to put a magic eye in? Resident and former roommate of Peter Hale at Eichen House? Creepy as hell? That guy.

The senior pack, sans Malia, heads over there to investigate what’s going on with the big bad, and as we learn from Theo (who continues to be the worst) it’s all part of the plan, which I’ll get to in a bit. Teen Wolf‘s selective history comes in again to remember that Stiles and Lydia both have a traumatic history with Eichen House when they were captured and tortured by that cray cray orderly last year.

I forgot how great a team these two are together; they’re both smart enough not to reveal anything to Dr. Valack, even when he wants Lydia’s scream in a bottle (more or less). The writer and director are clearly fans of the Hannibal Lecter films, and the scene gives off that vibe, albeit a dumber, less skilled manipulator vibe. Anyway, Valack explains that he wrote the book as a way for people who were affected by the Doctors to reclaim any memories they have of any of the doctors’ procedures. Since Lydia was in the ICU in the previous episode (though she’s fine now? I guess…), this is particularly concerning for her. 

While these two work out their issues, Scott and Kira reminisce over what was once Stydia until Kira’s latent electrical powers overtakes her and the facility, providing the perfect path for the Three Dreaded Doctors to swoop in and get what they came for: Dr. Valack’s insertable eye. 

Who knows what the doctors want, but also, can I posit this: who cares? Really. I like the mysteries of Teen Wolf well enough, but I’m watching for the characters I’ve grown to love to grow into new abilities and themselves. More centralization of these characters, please!

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Other Thoughts

  • Oh, and Malia’s having a driving lesson with Theo, who she’s shown to be attracted to, before flashing back to the night her adopted mother and sister were murdered/when she transitioned into a coyote. The Desert Wolf was there that night. I hope she comes into play sooner rather than later and we drop this whole Theo attraction business. 
  • I will say that I’m disappointed we didn’t get a little check-in with Peter, but then I’d have to eat my own words about focusing on the first characters.
  • I like how realistic Scott and Kira’s relationship is, despite her electrocuting him. 
  • I didn’t miss Liam/Scrappy-Doo one bit, but one of the perks of Teen Wolf‘s forget-me-not characters is that you almost don’t notice when they are gone.
  • Wolf Watch is so much better with Tyler Posey as host. I hope Posey gets his own talk show or something on MTV one day.

Teen Wolf airs Mondays at 10pm on MTV.

(Image courtesy of MTV)

Emily E. Steck

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV