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Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Teen Wolf S6E5: Radio Silence

Teen Wolf
Series 6, Episode 5
Radio Silence.

Honestly, I nearly forgot to do this review today, just because I'm so exhausted with this series of Teen Wolf -- more than I have been with any previous series of Teen Wolf -- and I think a big part of it is that it's so slow. This episode marks the point where we are officially a quarter of the way through the series, but I can count maybe two big plot developments in the series so far: Stiles being kidnapped, and Lydia learning that Claudia should be dead -- which doesn't get explored at all in this episode -- and that's it.

Teen Wolf has always had a pacing problem, in that it tries to be both episodic and serialised, and as a result fails at both, creating this confusing, slow-paced mess of a show -- but it's far worse in this series than it ever has been before, and you could (and should) be able to condense it massively. 

For instance, you could have easily condensed episode two and episode three into a single episode, having episode two see Mason, Liam and Cody finding the relic of that one guy early on, while Hayden talks to that girl, culminating in the party set piece at the end -- and cut out the 'Scott realises it would be impossible for him to have been bitten without Stiles' altogether, and instead have Lydia haunted by the name 'Stiles,' leading in to Scott, Lydia, and Malia visiting Elias.

That would have made for some tightly packed storytelling, and the pace may have even been a bit too fast, but it's better to have a fast-paced episode than a slow-paced one.

The slow pace has been compounded, of course, by Dylan O'Brien's relative unavailability, but honestly I do expect the writers to do a better job writing around that.

At least Peter has better hair now.

In this week's episode, Stiles awakens in an otherworldly train station, where he seems to be the only person who realises that anything is wrong. Discovering that Peter is also there, the two realise that the station is a waystation for the Ghost Riders where they keep the people they kidnapped. As Stiles and Peter attempt to contact the outside and figure out a way to leave, in the real world, Scott and the others discover Stiles' jeep, and Lydia and Malia end up arguing over whether Stiles ever existed. As Peter executes a daring plan to escape, Stiles manages to contact them, and directs them to go to Canaan.

In this instance, Canaan is apparently just some random town in America, not the Biblical country west of Jordan. Eh, it's not relevant to the episode, we shan't dwell on it.

Honestly, most of this episode is just build-up, which is part of the problem with pacing in this series. Rather than having Stiles just contact them on radio, or Peter leave the train station, the episode tries to build up suspense for these two plot points -- except it doesn't work. There's no tension there, because it never feels like the status quo is changing. 

Since the plot creeps along at such a lethargic pace, there's no chance for any kind of tension or suspense to build, because one of the things that builds suspense and tension is alternating your pacing -- this is one thing that horror films do very well, alternating sharp, fast-paced sections with much more slowly paced sections, and in so doing they create a situation in which the slower paced sections fill the audience with apprehension, because the audience knows that sooner or later, a fast-paced and usually violent section will start.

Improve your lighting. Jfc.

That doesn't work in Teen Wolf, because it's all slow-paced. All of it. In fact, by the end of the episode, we've really achieved nothing: The team are sent off to look for Canaan, but since it's never been mentioned before, that has no meaning for us. Peter is out of the train station, but it looks like he'll be dead soon, and moreover, his presence in the real world again doesn't seem to actually have any effects on the storyline. Stiles has contacted Lydia and Scott, but since they already knew about him anyway, nothing is gained from that.

Still, it was nice to see Stiles back for forty minutes or so. I couldn't help but notice that the apparent trade-off here was that Liam, Hayden, Cody, and Mason weren't in the episode before, which honestly, apart from Mason, isn't a loss.

So that was episode five. Ponderously slow just like every episode so far this series, nothing was really achieved, we got to see some old faces returning and not really doing much, and it's apparently leading in to an episode where the gang go to a nearby town and discover that there's nobody there, because the Ghost Riders took everyone.

Actually, come to think of it, if the Wild Hunt took Peter, then that means that the show has even less of a reason why Liam, Cody, Hayden, and Mason weren't taken. What a strange plot hole.

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