Spoilers ahoy! For lots of seasons!
When I talk people into watching Jupiter Ascending for the first time, I tell them there are two rules. The first rule is, don’t ask questions—just go with it. The second rule is that the answer to any question is, Because Space. I tell you this so that you can understand my own ground rules for media consumption: as long as the characters are interesting and it’s fun to watch, I’m willing to be forgiving. I will suspend disbelief (although I may occasionally yell at the screen); I will refrain from getting hung up on lapses in world-building; sometimes, I just want to be entertained.
That willingness is why I have watched all six seasons of Teen Wolf and (with the marked exception of Season 4) enjoyed them. I have recommended it to other people. I have texted through the bad episodes and screamed with delight through the good ones. And while I did a lot of Very Angry And Confused texting through the finale (When did wolfsbane start coming in colors? When did Parrish learn to control his powers?? When did mountain ash become something that could do THAT?!? WHAT EVEN GERARD!??!), I also got Lydia and Jackson’s reunion, Jackson and Ethan, the culmination of Theo and Liam’s unlikely alliance (for the record, Liam and Theo have more chemistry than Liam and Hayden ever did), the return of Derek Hale, and Scott cementing his place as Most Cinnamon Roll of Cinnamon Rolls For All Time. I wanted a Buffy S7 finale; I got a Teen Wolf finale. Listen: you can’t always get what you want.
Instead of tearing my hair out over the missed opportunities of 6B (that’s a whole other post), or a diatribe on the erasure of Kira Yukimura (for which, Jeff Davis, I will never forgive you; this is also a whole other post and possibly an open letter), I give you the four best things about Teen Wolf, start to finish.
Scott and Stiles: A Bromance For the Ages
Their relationship is the reason I sat through all of S1, and then S2, and then I was hooked. This is perhaps the smartest thing that the writing team did: no matter what villains and love interests and shenanigans were otherwise going on, the bond between Scott and Stiles was always central to the plot. Whether they were on good terms or (heartbreakingly) bad, you couldn’t get anything done for one without the other. The loss of Stiles for the bulk of S6 is one of its most obvious problems; while the show made due with Liam and Theo, and surprisingly well at that, not having Dylan O’Brien and Tyler Posey’s on-screen rapport meant everyone had to work a lot harder.
Lydia Martin and Melissa McCall: Complex Ladies Essential to the Plot Who Don’t Get Shafted by Said Plot
For a show that revolved around the friendship between two teenage boys, there were a lot of stellar female characters. The show certainly would have suffered—and did suffer—without Allison and Kira, and Malia became a surprise favorite (I will never get over the “Deer!” moment. Ever.). But Lydia and Melissa were there in S1 and they were there in S6. One is a mean girl who became a banshee; one is a struggling single mother who never gave up on her son or herself. Both were allowed moments of vulnerability; both learned to hone and own their strengths. Both got a happy romantic ending. And one of them was canonically over the age of 30. Point me at another show that can say the same, so I can watch it immediately.
Season 3B was The Season. The one that every other season is measured against, only to fall short. The season that spawned a zillion GIF sets and aesthetic boards and fics. The season of the Nogitsune, the season that took on Japanese internment camps, the season where we got to see what Kira Yukimura could do, and the season where Dylan O’Brien proved why he is now going to be an A-list movie star. It was creepy; it was emotional; it was scary; it was GROSS; and the power of friendship saved the day. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
The Unlikely Redemptions: Peter Hale and Theo Raeken
One thing Teen Wolf excelled at was taking last season’s villain and turning them into next season’s anti-hero. I spent at least two seasons yelling “God, Peter, why are you the worst?!” at my TV, only to find myself missing him when he wasn’t around to be self-absorbed and snarky. He went from secret alpha to ghost wolf to unlikeliest of allies. His over-riding character trait was self-interest, and watching that self-interest transition from working against Scott & Co. to working beside them (“with” being too strong of a statement, even when Peter is helping) was like watching a gross, ugly grub slowly morph into the kind of insect that you definitely don’t want to touch but you also cannot stop looking at it. He bought Malia a car! I am verklempt!! Even after that, though, I didn’t believe they could pull the same off with Theo. Theo is a murderous psychopath who deliberately watched his sister die at the ripe age of … well I forget, let’s call it 10. Pre-teen is what I’m saying here. He killed, maimed, and otherwise brutalized basically everyone in Season 5, and I spent all of that season yelling “Someone kill him already!” And then when they brought him back in Season 6, I was FURIOUS. We don’t get Kira but I have to watch this asshole pretend to be mildly helpful? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? By the end of 6A, I remained unsold and unconvinced. And then, some evil genius in the writers room decided to pair him with Liam. Whoever you are, I tip my hat to you. While I still don’t buy his REDEMPTION MOMENT from the finale, somewhere around that crazy zoo episode I stopped yelling at the TV every time he appeared. And honestly? I ship Thiam. Leo. Whatever you want to call it. God help me, I ship it.
Listen, y’all. Teen Wolf played fast and loose with mythology from many cultures; they laughed at internal logic and consistency; they hand-waved their way around powers and magic in almost every episode. But what they did give us was the Nemeton: a really freaking creepy tree-stump that was Hellmouth, creepy death cellar, magical battery, and wild magic combined. If this show had an inanimate MVP, it was the Nemeton. It does what it wants! And by the way! It probably wants your blood!
Tell me, friends: what would be on your list?
Jenn Northington is still waiting for her magical powers to manifest, is the Director of Events and Programming for Riot New Media, and comes from a long line of nerds.