I’ve watched a lot of teenage supernatural shows in my life. Probably too many. You can blame Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, which served as the laugh-tracked gateway drug to the Buffys, the Vampire Diarieses, the Smallvilles, the True Bloods*. And here’s a fairly obvious thing I’ve noticed from my time in the supernatural show trenches, teenager-focused or not: After a certain amount of ruminating in the first couple seasons, things tend to get complicated.
Teen Wolf has reached that point. Last season upped the ante with the stakes of the kanima storyline; the overall writing got stronger as the show got increasingly darker. The same happened with Buffy: The first season still rings with episodic camp, and the second upped the stakes (and had a sizable impact on the genre itself) when it *spoiler alert I guess* turned good vampire Angel into a ruthless killing machine, marking the true beginning of a show that holds a big place in the cultural canon at least partially because of its ability to deftly handle the long-haul, character-fuelled story lines. And so it goes with most supernatural shows (although few hold the place Buffy does in the history books): As seasons pass things darken, and complexify. Teen Wolf may retain some of the irreverent banter of the first season, but gone are the fluffy, campy romps of the early days; this season’s tagline is “This Might Hurt,” after all, and the show seems determined to live up to its promise to emotionally wound us–and, perhaps even more so, its characters.
So, yes, most of us started this show with the pretty solid expectation that it was just some silly show about werewolves–one filled with some exceptionally attractive people and occasional Remus Lupin feelings. But somewhere along the way it was like the show shook itself awake and saw its potential, and it’s been on a steady rise ever since.
And so we reach “Chaos Rising,” which may be one of the most complex** hours of the show to date. With the new season comes a whole bushel of new characters, twists, and revelations, all veiled under that dark blue tinted lighting that seems ever-present in the supernatural lairs of Beacon Hills.
Allison and Lydia are seeking the answers behind the cryptic bruises “The Girl” left on their arm last episode, begrudgingly trying to track down Scott and his werewolf knowledge. Scott’s elsewhere, though; Stiles has dragged him to a birthday party thrown by a girl from another high school–Heather, whose mom was best friends with Stiles’ mom before she died.
Scott and Stiles arrive at the party, only to find Stiles swept immediately away by the sexual advances of Heather, who is very proactive in her plan to lose her virginity on her birthday.
Ohhh, Stiles. The Internet’s never known a moment where it didn’t ship him with someone, but it sure is nice to see him getting some legit romantic (or at the very least sexual) screentime canonically. Pretty solidly this show’s secret weapon, he’s like the lovechild of Seth Cohen and Pacey Witter, which is essentially a recipe for swoonage.
Unfortunately for Stiles (and even more unfortunately for Heather), he has to face the twin devils of being technically a supporting character on a teen supernatural drama, which means his date is kidnapped in the three minutes it takes him to nip upstairs and grab her brother’s stash of XXL condoms.
Meanwhile elsewhere, Peter (who I’m 90% sure came back from the dead not with some master plan but just to be sassy to these teenagers) shows Derek and Isaac a neat trick which I’m pretty sure is essentially blurry werewolf pensieve achieved by stuffing one’s giant were-nails into Isaac’s neck. It tells us something integral to the episode, however: Isaac may have been in the company of kidnapped Boyd and Erica without even realizing it. They’re being kept by blind alpha Deucalion, of course.
Allison, Lydia, Scott, Stiles and Derek meet in an empty Beacon Hills High classroom to discuss the cryptic arm-bruises. No idea why that school keeps letting Derek wander the halls, but nevertheless he thinks the bruises mean nothing, which isn’t very genre-savvy of him. It’s interesting to see him and Allison interact face-to-face for what I think is probably the first non-violent interaction the two have had since Allison’s mother died last season. Derek’s understandably still a little sore about Allison’s homicidal revenge spree and attempted murder, and Allison still doesn’t know exactly what her mother was trying to do (*cough*kill Scott*cough*) when Derek bit her in the first place. It’s all like a very complicated, exceptionally violent episode of Three’s Company. Although in regards to Allison’s crimes last season, Stiles does butt in, pointing out that “it was only mangling, a little maiming, but no death. Now that’s what I call an important distinction.”
So what do the alphas want with Erica and Boyd? Recruiting? Torture? Werewolf slumber party? The gang decides the best way to find out is by dumping Isaac in a big ice bath–on Deaton’s suggestion–in some sort of experimental were-therapy meant to hypnotize Isaac and bring him back to that werewolf pensieve place. It also serves to fill the episode’s shirtless quota.
This season so far the writers seem to have discovered a whole new nerve to hit on to quickly bring about the almost motherly concern we can feel over these characters–Isaac Lahey. Poor, abused new werewolf Isaac. He was new last season, but by the time that scene where he got to help that dying dog, he was ours. Our little werepup. All it took after that were a few smiles in Scott’s direction, and his fate was sealed. Now he’s getting scraped, prodded, thrown through windows and generally stabbed at almost Derek Hale levels.
His ice water hypnotization seems effective, however, and it gives us the information we need: Boyd and another female werewolf are being kept at the abandoned Beacon Hills First National Bank, and they’re worried about what they’ll do to each other when tomorrow’s full moon hits.
Oh, and Erica’s probably dead. That’s important. I could write an entire essay about the varying ways in which this makes me sad/pissed off, but I’ll save that for when we know for sure what went down there.
Scott and Stiles spend the whole night trying to figure out an elaborate plan for breaking into the bank, Ocean’s Eleven style. Derek’s plan is literally just to punch through the wall. Allison just bypasses all of them and busts straight on in with a pair of bolt-cutters.
While others are trying (to varying avail) to break into the were-bank, Stiles and Peter are left alone in the loft. Which is a weird dynamic, if you think about it, given that time Peter kidnapped Stiles when he was trying to murder everything. But they did work surprisingly well together then, so take out the attempted murder and their annoyed bickering actually leads to some productivity (which, now that I think of it, seems to be a pattern with Stiles and his Hale friends). They figure out together that what Derek and Scott are actually walking into is a trap: The walls of the bank vault are made of a mineral that scatters the moonlight, meaning Boyd and whatever other trapped werewolves are present have been starved of the full moon for months. They’re essentially the lions in the coliseum, and Derek and Scott are Russell Crowe.
So, status report: Erica, Boyd, and another female are locked in a bank together with some crazy alpha werewolves who seem intent on inflicting some death. Derek and Scott are circling said vault, going on what may or may not be a suicide mission for Derek to save his puppies. Erica is probably already dead. Stiles’ would-be-lovah Heather is missing as well. Kendra from Buffy Ms. Morell really needs to tell us her secrets soon. Peter seems 100% done with these teenagers. Oh, and Allison’s locked in a closet with ammonia creeping in and what may or may not be Erica’s dead body.
Derek and Scott bust into the bank using Derek’s subtle but brilliant “punching through the wall” plan, only to be confronted by some surprises: 1) Boyd seems a little bit rabid, having been starved from turning for months, 2) Ms. Morell sealing them into one of those supernatural circles and then running off with Deucalion, and 3) what appears to be Derek’s little sister, Cora***, who appears to not be quite as dead as Derek thought.
So Scott and Derek are in a bit of a bind, getting themselves stabbed pretty thoroughly. Allison–whom Kendra Ms. Morell convinced to hide in the closet until the fighting was over, which is always a good things to hear–busts out of her closet and breaks the supernatural seal, saving Derek and Scott but inadvertently letting out the crazed ones. Which, you know, might end up with some random townsperson dead, but at least it got the job done of not killing off two major characters.
Derek seems more sore about this than about his actual stab wounds (he’s used to those), to which Allison responds “You wanna blame me? Well I am not the one turning teenagers into killers.” Which is a good point, one that you know Derek’s spent many an hour brooding over. Still, these two should really sort out their differences. Preferably by standing very close to each other, Chris Argent style.
In the meantime, Derek uses the opportunity to make Scott tell Allison what really happened that night her mother was bitten. That’s sure to go well next episode when we see her reaction. How thick do you think the guilt will run?
- When Stiles accidentally drops the XXL condom in the middle of class it’s a pretty classic high school humiliation scene; usually, though, those don’t end with your whole class thinking you have a gigantic penis.
- DANNY GOT SCREENTIME! And a very probably love interest in the gay alpha/amoeba twin. Let’s hope that even though he’s a villain he’ll treat him well.
- Really hoping this season doesn’t make it a habit of introducing new girls to the show, only to have them go missing/die/”die” by the end of the episode.
- Allison and Lydia are pretty inseparable this season, which just makes me happy.
So what do you guys think: Ms. Morell, good or evil? Working with the alphas, or subverting the alphas by sicking Allison on the situation at exactly the right moment? What’s coming for Lydia? She seems to be having more of her supernatural dreams. Will they have a good reason for killing off Erica, or will I write an angry blog post about it? Who will take their shirt off next? And what the hell happened to Heather?
*True Blood counts because even though they’re all adults and have a lot of graphic sex, they all act like thirteen-year-olds when it comes to their grudges and their love triangles.
**Let’s not get too carried away by the show’s ~*complexity*~, though; this is still a show that can’t go a single episode without getting at least one member of its cast to take their shirt off
***So Derek’s little sister’s name is Cora. Wasn’t his older sister’s name Laura? An odd naming strategy, show, but I’ll take it if I can make Dora the Explorer jokes about Derek from now on, because you know that’s what his parents planned on naming him if he were a girl.
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