Another summer, another season of Teen Wolf for us to delight (or, more likely, despair) over! I wasn’t much looking forward to it coming back, and the episode wasn’t much to write home about, to be honest, but it was nice to revisit the pack (or, what of the pack is left) that I’ve come to love.
However, this episode wasted no time in jumping right into the most icky, disturbing Eichen House plotline possible, so consider this your trigger (for ableism, abuse, and general Eichen House terribleness) and spoiler warning right off the bat.
We begin by discovering Lydia has been institutionalized in Eichen House, and it immediately ticks every possible bad ticky box it can: sexualization of the mentally ill, abusive mental health care professionals who assume their patients are trying to play with them, irresponsible medication dosage, gaslighting, intense physical cruelty to their patients, and a long and uncomfortably rapey and sexual shot of an orderly trying to inject Lydia with some catatonia-inducing drug. Hoo boy am I glad we’re keeping Eichen House around! How else would people know to distrust mental health care professionals and hospitals!? Yikes. It turns out that Lydia has gained some sick ninja skills since we last saw her, weaponizing her banshee screams into solidified airwaves to knock people around, and she attempts (but fails) to escape. It’s at this point that we learn that this obnoxious setting is a frame story, and that a drugged-up Lydia will be flashbacking the actual events of the season from her terrifying cell as the episodes progress.
Back in the real season, Scott and the rest of the pack are gearing up for senior year (except Liam, who is a baby still). They’re talking college plans, apartment hunting, and trying to attend Senior Scribe, a Beacon Hills senior class-run event of whose actual nature no one’s quite certain. Either way, a full moon, a rainstorm, and a huge traffic jam seem to be conspiring against them. Furthermore, Malia’s nervous that she’ll have to repeat junior year because of her grades, and won’t get to be a senior at all. Kira returns from New York in time to join the party, and all seems pretty hunky-dory pack-side. The grownups are having less fun, though: the various unpleasant things going on have the hospital full to bursting, and the sheriff’s office is chaotic as well. Stilinski apparently hasn’t been letting Parrish go out on calls, but at the deputy’s behest, Papa Stiles sends him to check out a minor noise complaint. This turns out to be our episode’s villain: when Parrish arrives at the house in question, a creepy slime-covered mofo with glowing blue claws pops out of a wall and attacks him. Stilinski and Mama McCall find him like that later, full of claw-marks, and Parrish tells them that he suspects this guy (who I immediately dubbed Rave Wolf) can absorb people’s powers—possibly even a true Alpha’s.
Rave Wolf does find Scott, and tries to take his powers—but Scott is too precious and pure of a cinnamon roll for that to work. With the help of Kira and a new werewolf, Theo, who appears just in time to help, Scott kicks Rave Wolf’s ass and sends him scurrying back to his masters, a terrifying trio of gas-masked creeps called the Dread Doctors. Then the pack all head off to finally do Senior Scribe, which appears to consist of all the senior class writing their initials on the shelves in the library. It’s a pretty compelling scene—we see Derek’s initials, and are reminded that he’s part of the pack too, even if Tyler Hoechlin is no longer a series regular; Malia (who did end up passing 11th grade) defiantly writes “MT” and not “MH”, disavowing her genetic attachment to Peter; Stiles, who’s been worrying about losing touch with his friends after high school, is reminded of their bond; and most weep-inducing, Scott pauses before ending his turn to write an “AA” with the rest of his pack’s names. Allison may be stupidly fridged and gone, but she’s not forgotten.
The episode can’t end on that touching note, though; instead we flash back to Lydia in her nasty cell, where she’s being quietly, patronizingly interrogated by some old guy. He tries to prod her for an explanation of what happened to all her friends, but—despite flashes of memories showing all of them either prone/dead or in deep shit—she claims to not remember. That’s where the episode ends. Can’t wait for this shitty ableist frame story to carry me through the season! At least Tyler Posey is hosting Wolf Watch now, so it isn’t as abrasive to watch post-episode.
The Dread Doctors do seem like an interesting villain troupe, or at least unlike anything we’ve seen from the show so far. They do make me think Jeff Davis spent his winter playing steampunk horror games, but steampunk horror games do have a pretty cool aesthetic and it isn’t one that’s been on TV a lot, so I can dig it. I especially prefer them because, let’s be honest, Rave Wolf looked pretty silly, and I dunno if I could have handled a whole season of him as the villain, even if his powers could have elevated him to season-level villain had they worked.
I don’t see a lot of tension happening within the existing romantic relationships this season, but they are beginning to tease a possible Lydia/Parrish relationship, and it pains me that I apparently have to explain that that is just as creepily inappropriate as a Stiles/Derek relationship would be? She’s still a teenager and he’s at least old enough to have finished high school and police school, get a job as a deputy somewhere else, and then transfer to Beacon Hills? Hell, he’d gotta be at least my age—try to tell me a twenty-five year old dating a high schooler isn’t hella weird.
Finally, I’m working on caring about this new Theo character, but since I honestly thought he was Liam at first when he first showed up I can’t really say I do yet? He apparently knew Scott when they were little, but moved away a long time ago. He’s a beta werewolf, but wants to be a part of Scott’s pack instead. If I hadn’t heard scuttlebutt that Theo’s actor Cody Christian is part Native American, I’d be up in arms at Jeff Davis for writing out other characters of color to include this new white dude; I can, however, be suspicious that Christian’s ethnicity will be alluded to about as often as Tyler Posey’s, which is to say barely ever or not at all. Alternatively, we could also get the polar opposite, and get a deeply racist nod to his race like being able to speak to trees or something.
Teen Wolf is back tonight with the second part of the premiere, and, while hope springs eternal, I’m not sure how excited I am about it—we’re only an episode in and I’m already uncertain if these plot points are rescuable. I’ll be tuning in either way, though, and you can catch Ace’s review of it here tomorrow, same time, same place.