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Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Teen Wolf S5E1+E2: Creatures of the Night & Parasomnia


Teen Wolf
Series 5, Episodes 1 & 2
Creatures of the Night & Parasomnia



I can't say that I was all that excited for Teen Wolf's arrival this year. Perhaps I am growing cantankerous in my old age, or perhaps it's just that it feels like the series in many ways peaked with the Nogitsune arc, and that the season we had after that didn't live up to expectations. Perhaps it's just because it came relatively without fanfare. Perhaps it's because I feel Danny has been chronically mis-used as a character. Whatever it is, I've not been able to muster much excitement for the arrival of the new series, and so I headed into the first two episodes with something like mild, take-it-or-leave-it interest.

In these first two episodes, we see Lydia in the future attempting to escape Eichen House. Thinking back on how she got there, she recalls the beginning of her senior year: As Scott is attacked by a mysterious werewolf with the ability to drain other people's life, an old friend from his childhood makes a reappearance, rousing Stiles' suspicions. Meanwhile, a girl at school, Tracy, is suffering from night terrors in which three fearsome doctors in bird masks pursue her. 

I'm going to be brutally honest straight off the bat: These first two episodes failed to make much of an impression on me at all.

There are a couple of reasons for that, but I think the real blame has to lie with the introduction of the Doctors as villains. Not for nothing, but at this point mysterious, masked figures who skulk around poorly lit areas are old hat, both in general, and in Teen Wolf - that was quite frequently the Berserkers' schtick, after all, and the Darach, while not masked, had her fair share of skulking ominously scenes. And the Doctors don't do anything else, really: They skulk, and sometimes they skulk over to people and kill them, and that's it.

"HERE ARE SOME INFORMATIONAL PAMPHLETS ON YOUR FLU JAB."

A much more sinister villain, and one who doesn't really get the air time he deserves, is Theo - we're told straight off the bat that Stiles, who is rarely wrong about these things, believes that he isn't actually the Theo he knew when he was a child, something that is confirmed in a very sinister scene in which Theo reprimands his 'parents' for failing to practice their signatures sufficiently. At the moment, Theo presents a far more sinister villain than the Doctors, because he necessarily raises more questions: What did he do with the real Theo? What's his purpose (it's heavily implied he wants to take Scott's alpha powers, but not confirmed)? Who is he really? The Doctors, meanwhile, I have no questions about, because I know nothing about them from which to formulate questions about. They're just there, being vaguely menacing in that way that a man wearing a sheet and holding a butcher's knife mumbling 'ooga booga wooga' is vaguely menacing.

Apart from that, it feels like these two episodes are thinly spread, and that nothing really happens in them. I struggled, in a lot of ways, to write that synopsis of them above, because both episodes have very little going on in them. There are a lot of people talking about things: Characters talk endlessly about how they're entering their senior year; characters pontificate about the nature of supernatural beings; Stiles talks often and with aplomb about how he doesn't trust Theo, but two episodes in, one tenth of the way into the fifth series entire, and very nearly nothing has happened. You could condense these episodes into a single episode and still have space leftover for, I don't know, an uncomfortable sex scene or something.

Oh, hey Kira.

To be honest, the best thing about these episodes was Malia and Stiles, both individually and as a pair. The two are, at the moment, more engaging than anybody else in the main cast, and they're also the ones with the clearest character arcs - Malia has her continuing arc about learning to fit in with regular society, and Stiles has his continuing arc about being the suspicious detective-y partner to Scott's doe-eyed trusting puppy (and good god, that scene with them in the second episode felt more romantic than it probably should), and the two of them have great chemistry. 

I still want to see a stunning reveal that Stiles secretly still has Nogitsune powers, but that seems more and more likely.

Fans are either going to love or hate you.

So all in all, I'm - I'm ambivalent. I didn't not enjoy these episodes, but they didn't wow me either, and I'm not sure they're an immensely solid foundation for future episodes. What I did like about them is that they are, in a way, a solid foundation for Adult Wolf, if the series intended to continue after they leave high school, as it's very much setting up what they would go on to do after they stop, er, being teens.

Either way, I'll be looking forward with interest to see what future episodes are like. Hopefully the Doctors will do something more than meander about ominously, like, I don't know, write someone a prescription or something. Tut at someone over their smoking habits. Get Scott to fill out an NHS mandated patient satisfaction survey.

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