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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Teen Wolf S5E6: Required Reading.

Teen Wolf
Series 5 Episode 6:
Required Reading.

Yesterday, while perusing the internet, I encountered someone who said that this series was the best ever series of Teen Wolf. I was confused and faintly repulsed - had I missed something? Was my memory, both of this series and the four previous, somehow fogged, muddled, confused? Did I not understand what true quality was?

No, it's other people who are wrong. While this series has certainly been entertaining so far - for all that I criticise it, I have found every episode except the series opener enjoyable to watch and pretty engaging - it has seen the pacing problems endemic to Teen Wolf writ large, as six episodes in and more or less nothing has happened. Give me plot, guys. Give me something to sink my teeth into.

In this episode, those problems are rather noticeably exacerbated. In the aftermath of meeting Valack, the gang decides to read his book, each encountering their own strange occurrences afterwards, as Scott's pre-wolfing asthma starts to re-occur, Stiles and Lydia begin to hallucinate, and Kira finds that she cannot read the book at all. Meanwhile, seven more graves are discovered, leading the gang to the conclusion that the Doctors have created seven more chimeras.

I'm weirded out by the Parrish/Lydia thing. Presuming he joined the army straight out
of school and served for five years, he'd have to be at least twenty-three, probably closer to twenty-five
or twenty-six. Lydia's eighteen, tops.

How much time did we spend on Hayden and Liam in this episode? I'll be honest, while Hayden is very overtly and obviously a pointless character, I feel like Liam is, as well - he's objectively less interesting than his best friend, and his only role in the plot seems to be to act as occasional comic relief and partake of subplots, like this particularly torturous one with Hayden, whose nose he apparently accidentally broke when they were eleven and who he's now engaged in some sort of weird, forced, clunky romance with. The revelation that Hayden is a chimera does absolutely nothing to save this plot either, because I don't care. I don't care about Hayden, and I don't care about Liam, so I'm not going to be remotely concerned about Hayden being a monster and Liam's deep and wrenching manpain over that.

Apart from that, though, the biggest problem with this episode is that we were being led up to the gang remembering encounters with the Doctors, and what we got instead was them remembering - well, very little. I'd say 'character development stuff', but the only ones whose character arc is really built upon by it all are Stiles, whose downward spiral is compounded by a vision of his mother accusing him of trying to murder her, and Kira, whose discovery that she can't read the book very easily ties into her subplot about the fox part of her overtaking her human part, as in mythology, kitsune can't figure out tricks of language (sort of - the example the characters use is 'moshi moshi', which literally translates as 'say say', and one origin story for that term is that foxes have trouble saying it. Another relates to phone operators and static on the line). 

For Scott and Lydia, though, you could remove the parts of the episode that focus on them entirely and not be any worse off for it, and that's a problem. It's a problem when you build us up to reveals about the Doctors, and what we get instead is just fluff.

Why not remove Liam and Hayden, and replace them with Mason and This Dude.
Also, bring Braeden back. More Braeden.

I did like Malia's chunk of the plot, though, which sees her not buying any of what Theo's selling. It's quite satisfying to see Theo attempt to seduce her through unsubtle 'working out while shirtless because he heard her coming' ploys, and for Malia to just completely not go for any of it, and instead to treat Theo with the suspicion he deserves. I'm surprised that any of them are trusting him, actually: Scott already expressed distrust of him when he asked Deaton if letting a beta into his pack would potentially allow them to steal his powers, although Scott always does an excellent line on 'pretending to trust people while actually scheming' (the boy is more cunning than people give him credit for); and Lydia isn't a very trusting person, so her not just brushing Theo off with a scathing remark is odd for her too, especially as she values Stiles' opinion.

I do think we're actually going to get some good pay-off for that, though, probably sooner rather than later. The Doctors are apparently meant to be villains for all twenty episodes of this series, so if that's the case, Theo (and Donovan? His death is very much unconfirmed) will probably end up being the villains that cap off these ten episodes. 


I also liked our brief appearance by Melissa, who is always wonderful, and I think the idea of seven chimeras at large at once is a very interesting idea with a lot of potential, even if we are now down to six (not counting Donovan. Or Theo, for that matter, since he's likely a chimera rather than a true werewolf). 

So, while I enjoyed this episode, I feel nevertheless somewhat let down by it. Give me plot or give me death and all that. 

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