Previously on Teen Wolf: The Scott pack—now with more magical shapeshifting Japanese foxes!—battle Nogitsune!Stiles; Allison learns to be the hunter she was always meant to be; Derek continues to have terrible taste in women; Lydia never stops screaming; a coyote shifter stirs up trouble and hormones; Jackson leaves town to be Red Hood on Arrow; and nobody hugs Isaac enough. Basically, everyone is dead or gone and everything hurts.
This review is operating under the assumption you’re up-to-date. Proceed with caution. Thar be spoilers...
S4, E1: The Dark Moon
The kids head to Mexico in search of Derek Hale. Homeboy’s gone AWOL, and their only clues are some bullet casings with the logo of the Calaveras hunters etched in. Their grand plan goes bad almost from the start, and they’re taken captive. Mama Calaveras forces Kira to electrocute Scott for information. Malia and Stiles are trapped in a bathroom down below. Malia’s too distracted to use her super hearing, that is until she kisses Stiles and he makes her go all blue eyed. Scott uses his Einstein-like powers of deduction and figures out a possibly were but definitely undead Kate kidnapped Derek. Mama Calaveras shoos the kids off toward Las Iglesias, an ominous church built on the ruins of an Aztec temple, surrounded by a decimated town, and probably haunted by ancient, evil were jaguars. Because of course that’s where Kate’s holed up. Why the hell not, right? Scott and the Mercenary head off into the temple alone. The rest stay behind so Stiles can repair his jeep, Lydia can fret at him, and Malia and Kira can act like impulsive dummies. By the time they catch up, Scott and the Mercenary have barely escaped the Temple of Doom, with De-Aged!Derek in tow.
Oh. This was one of those episodes. You know, one of those Teen Wolf episodes where EVERYTHING HAPPENS but NOTHING ACTUALLY HAPPENS all at the same time. Where there’s a lot of sound and fury, but all that emotional blustering is really there to distract you from the inconsistent logic and Grand Canyon-esque plot holes. There’s some thrilling stuff going down—the masochistic group of Mexican hunters who’ve been hanging around in the periphery since early last season get a step up in the plot department, Scott enacts one of his trademarked Strategic Double Cross Plans, and Aztec jaguar weres!—but it all gets mired in cardboard acting, dialogue so half-assed that even Supernatural was rolling its eyes, and a whole lotta wheel spinning.
Teen Wolf has never claimed to be a master of the art of television. Fans don’t tune in expecting Breaking Bad with teenage werewolves. The show not only acknowledges the inherent silliness of its premise, but actively engages with it. But it’s at its best when it takes audience expectation and turns it on its head. “Insatiable,” the season 3 penultimate ep, was a great episode of television, and a frakking incredible one by Teen Wolf standards. Most of that praise rests on Dylan O’Brien’s shoulders. He’s always been the best factor of the show, and although he gets a helluva lot less to do in “The Dark Moon,” every little bit shimmers. I’d accuse Tyler Posey et al. of forgetting how to act (again), but the whole episode was so clunky and shoddily crafted that I’m more inclined to blame poor direction. O’Brien is good enough to work wonders on bad material, but like Lee Pace in Halt and Catch Fire, there’s only so much great talent can do.
In the past, badass characters like Nogitsune!Stiles and Gerard were 15 steps ahead of everyone else, and half the fun was watching the Scoobies finally outwit them. In “The Dark Moon,” all that cheeky cleverness seems to have been left behind in Beacon Hills. Lydia’s right: Scott’s plan was really stupid. Even their escape was boring; the Calaveras gave them a guide and pointed them in Derek’s direction. The title of the ep should’ve been “I Don’t Know,” because that’s all anyone had to say. The kids don’t know anything and go stomping about anyway, and the only things keeping them from getting killed are dumb luck and good contracts. Not that Kate is worth that much effort. She was never as cool as she or the show thought she was. Her transformation is intriguing, however. Teen Wolf delights in breaking its own rules of magic as a worldbuilding cheat, and undead Kate is a new move from an old playbook. At least it’ll be fun to have her and Derek sniping at each other again.
That being said, Teen Wolf is always in a state of half sinking, half righting itself. The cast constantly fleeing like rats abandoning ship isn’t helping matters. Allison was never my favorite character, but she was stable enough to hold down some of the looser elements. And where omegas Erica and Boyd weren’t good for much else other than being melodramatically sacrificed, Isaac had enough sass and put upon glares to get the hardest jobs done. So far this season, anyone outside the Sciles brotp is still suffering from a lack of development. Lydia and Derek (and the parental units) have the benefit of a few seasons of tertiary history to add personality, if not depth. But Malia and Kira are virtually non-existent. They’re far too ephemeral to do much of anything, and the actresses playing them have stretched their abilities past the breaking point. They’re on camera and even given a handful of weightless lines, but they could easily be excised with little ill effect. Maybe the show could spend their paychecks on upping the CGI or something. Or buying Holland Roden a pair of flats. She looks like she could benefit from some Chucks.
- Overall, not a great start to a new season. Then again, “Omega” and “Tattoo” (seasons 2 and 3 openers, respectively) weren’t much to write home about, either. And if we’re going to shit on fantasy shows with terrible season premieres, look no further than True Blood.
- Since Kira can control electricity, why didn’t she harness the charge instead of pouting while Scott got electrocuted?
- If I were Kira (and thank Hera I’m not), I’d use my glowstick nunchucks for everything all the time.
- This show walks a fine line between being playfully sexy and queerbaiting. I suspect your tolerance for the Malia/Kira dance-off will depend on which side you fall.
- Coverage will happen as it did with Hannibal: in chunks every few weeks. See you in a few...
Alex Brown is an archivist, research librarian, writer, geeknerdloserweirdo, and all-around pop culture obsessive who watches entirely too much TV. Keep up with her every move on Twitter, or get lost in the rabbit warren of ships and fandoms on her Tumblr.