There’s something rotten in the state of Beacon Hills and it’s the Dread Doctors. The season five Teen Wolf baddies started out with a lot of promise. They have a haunting costume design, creepy sounds signal their arrival and they are literal mad scientists. This all sounds like a perfect recipe for villainy. Yet as Teen Wolf season 5 progresses and all these aspects remain, the Dread Doctors still haven’t been entirely successful as villains. In fact, it’s pretty easy to qualify them as failures. Now as Teen Wolf goes into its ninth episode of the first ten episodes of season five, is there anything that can save the Dread Doctors storyline?
Why The Dread Doctors Aren’t Working
Obviously there is going to be some dissension of opinion when it comes to the Dread Doctors, they are far from universally hated. On a personal level though, I can’t help but be bored by nearly every scene they are involved and the reason is very simple. The Dread Doctors are simply too powerful and mysterious.
Teen Wolf’s best villains are ones with personality, villains who get to deliver long monologues and love doing it. These characters are usually flanked by some kind of impressive goons. Kate had her Berserkers and Gerard gained a kanima but the focus was on them as charismatic leaders not on their hulking monsters. The Dread Doctors don’t have a front man. They don’t have anyone to function as their “voice.” This could be because unlike most Teen Wolf monsters, they aren’t completely silent. Their voices are so heavily altered that it almost doesn’t matter. I’m incapable of understanding anything The Dread Doctors say without subtitles because they sound like Darth Vader drowning at the bottom of the ocean whilst having a seizure.
The Dread Doctors don’t have to be charismatic and talky to be interesting though. They could exist as a completely ideological and unstoppable threat and things would still be fine but Teen Wolf has not taken that route with them. It’s true that Dread Doctors have been largely successful this far in Teen Wolf with their plans. Their plans and motives are forever shrouded in secrecy but there is really nothing that Scott and his pack can do to stop them. Unfortunately the Dread Doctors are targeting completely inconsequential characters.
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Most of the Dread Doctors victims have been characters that have been introduced and died in the same episode. There is no moment to relate to any of these people before they are brutally killed off. If I don’t care about the people The Dread Doctors are after why should I care about them? The Dread Doctors are the first villain in Teen Wolf history that seem utterly unconcerned with Scott McCall and that just makes for really low stakes television. We as the audience want Scott to succeed in defeating the Dread Doctors because it’s the right thing to do but there is no personal investment.
The Kira and Hayden Wrinkle
Teen Wolf did make some strides in giving Scott and the audience some personal motivation to bring the Dread Doctors to heel in the last few episodes. Liam’s love interest, Hayden, being targeted definitely kicked in the alpha pack into high gear when it came to defense but it wasn’t enough. Hayden is certainly more developed than the one-off already dead characters like Tracey, Lucas and [some forgettable blase millennial name to be inserted here] but she’s not a fully defined character. Hayden’s only real unique feature is her relationship with Liam and that she’s a “tough” girl. So while the idea of her being turned into a monster against her will is sad, we don’t know enough about her to make a potential loss of her life seem really tragic.
It’s not just Liam’s love life that the Dread Doctors are after, they’ve also messed with Kira and Scott’s. The reveal that Kira’s season-long instability was caused by the Dread Doctors in the season premiere is exactly the type of revelation the Dread Doctors needed to become a proper threat. If the execution of that moment had been better this article probably wouldn’t even exist. Instead though Teen Wolf rushed the reveal of the reason for Kira’s problems. Teen Wolf showed us Kira getting experimented on by the Dread Doctors and deciding to leave Beacon Hills in all about the span of five minutes. It was a huge moment but played out in this most anticlimactic way possible. Kira’s secret past with the Dread Doctors was less of an “oh my god” moment and more “so that’s what you’re going with, huh?” moment. Yet despite the incredibly sloppily execution of the moment did still happen. With Kira and Hayden Teen Wolf is making important steps to fix the problems with the Dread Doctors. The Doctors might be on dramatic life support but they’re not dead, at least not yet.
Draw Back the Curtain Immediately
It shouldn’t be that hard for Teen Wolf to course correct the Dread Doctors but they have to act fast. First things first, all mystery of what the Dread Doctors are planning needs to be wiped away. The biggest problem with this season of Teen Wolf overall is the obscene amount of lying and secrets that are going on among the group and for real no reason other than to lazily drum up “tension.” There’s Stiles’ guilt over killing Donovan in self-defense, the mystery of whatever Parrish is and Theo’s unknown allegiances. It’s all just too much for a ten episode half-season and the Dread Doctors just are getting progressively lost in the deceptive shuffle. Since the ninth episode of season five is titled “Lie of Omission” it suggests some of these secrets are about to come out but the Dread Doctors have to be at the top of the list.
With a solid explanation and back story a lot of the Dread Doctors more problematic elements can be excused. There is certainly a more than adequate reason to be found as to why the Dread Doctors have been basically just toying with Scott and the alpha pack. It would explain why they are not going after him and not even killing him off for convenience. There is probably even a reason for why they let Liam live when they captured him and Hayden when it would seem much easier and safer for the Dread Doctors to just kill him.
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Terminator-esque villains can be enormously successful but their mission has to be clearly defined. The Terminator movies, the good ones at least, wouldn’t be as successful as they were if Arnold Schwarzenegger’s goal wasn’t clearly stated. The initial mystery of the Dread Doctors was fine but their repeated routine of showing up and turning teens into monster hybrids has long stopped being scary and has become repetitive and kind of boring. All Teen Wolf needs to do is have Deacon pop back up with all the answers as he often does and the grand history of the Dread Doctors will all make sense. It will give them some context and retroactively make their scenes make more sense.
Establish Who Theo Is and His Relationship to the Doctors
Theo is a kind of a paradox as a character. We simultaneously know way too much and too little about him. It was mistake to reveal Theo’s nasty ulterior motives so early in the season and make all the other characters almost oblivious to it. It’s made for frustrating watching where Theo can’t be doing anything really interesting to sabotage the group because then they would appear like idiots. So it basically resorts to him smirking and making evil eyes at the camera which is just every kind of nauseating.
That being said, there is something sort of intriguing about Theo’s connection to the Dread Doctors. Initially it appeared that Theo would be the one in control of them, that charismatic figure head that would chew the scenery and give the oh-so-important evil speeches. Yet as of “Strange Frequencies” things have been showed to be not that simple. Theo and the Doctors have some kind of partnership or understanding but he is nowhere near to being the one in control. In “Stranger Frequencies,” Theo yells at the Head Doctor that at one point that he is supposed to keep him in the loop. This is a threat which the Doctor shrugs off. Thereby suggesting that Theo is at the mercy of the Dread Doctors not the other way around.
As annoyingly one-dimensional and straight sociopathic as Theo has been clearly spelling out his partnership with the Dread Doctors could do a lot for both factions. The Dread Doctors betraying or selling out Theo could be a nice reversal for a season that has been pretty predictable thus far. It could also even come to be that the Dread Doctors actually believe they’re helping Beacon Hills but just have very Machiavellian methods. They’ve given Theo the illusion they’re working with him but really are more aligned with Scott and the powers of good than anyone realizes.
What do you think though? Are the Dread Doctors already working for you? Or do you have problems you’d like to see Teen Wolf address? Who are your favorite Teen Wolf villains?
(images courtesy of MTV)