Teen Wolf 1-02: “Second Chance at First Line”
Before we get started, I just quickly want to draw your attention to something that might help explain why I grok Teen Wolf so much. Scroll all the way down to the very, very bottom of this page, past the comments, all the way to the footer section that starts off with the heading, “About the Preppies” (if you’re on a mobile device, you may have to click on the “view web version” link). Do it now; I’ll wait. Yeah, did you read that? The part about how the name of this site comes from “…a screenplay I wrote in the late 1990s, in which a couple of adorable young prep school students, armed only with their quick wits and lacrosse sticks, get stranded in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, where they're pursued by cannibals”? Given all that, is it really any wonder that Teen Wolf resonates very deeply with my soul?
I covered the main characters yesterday, so here are the vitals on a few members of the supporting cast:
Chris Argent (JR Bourne):
Overprotective father of Allison, crossbow-wielding hunter of werewolves. Probably less inherently evil than several other members of his immediate family, for whatever that’s worth.
Sheriff Stilinksi (Linden Ashby)
Stiles’s perpetually-beleaguered dad. Widower. Amiable guy, maybe drinks too much, has zero control over his hyperactive and quick-witted kid. Probably not the most competent officer of the law ever, though in his defense he hasn’t yet been clued into the whole “this town is a hotbed of werewolves” business, which would presumably make solving Beacon Hills’ various gruesome murders much easier.
Coach Finstock (Orny Adams)
The coach of Beacon Hills High School’s champion lacrosse team. Also pulls double-duty as the Econ teacher. Prone to quoting inspirational speeches from Independence Day. Is probably quite insane.
Melissa McCall (Melissa Ponzio)
Scott’s divorced mom. Works as an RN at Beacon Hills Hospital, which is convenient both for giving Scott and Stiles access to hospital records as necessary, and for making sure there’s a sensible plot-related reason to get her out of the McCall house at odd hours (if, say, Stiles needed to chain Scott to the radiator in his bedroom overnight during a full moon, to pick a random example).
The episode opens during lacrosse practice. Scott squares off against Jackson on the field. Jackson gets nasty, Scott gets mad, his werewolf abilities kick in, and the next thing you know, Jackson’s been sidelined with a separated shoulder. In the locker room, Stiles urges Scott not to play in Saturday’s game—Scott can’t control himself, and he might very well end up killing someone. Scott responds by going feral and chasing him all over the place, which proves Stiles’s point pretty handily.
Meanwhile, Derek’s just hanging out on the lacrosse field, glowering magnificently while spying on Scott. Every single television show could be improved by having Tyler Hoechlin intermittently pop up in the background, scowling and brooding and looking all wild-eyed and dangerous.
Here are some random shots of Derek scowling:
Dude can glower like a pro. Must be the eyebrows.
(An unsubstantiated and probably spurious rumor floated last week that Hoechlin is under consideration to play Batman in the just-announced Man of Steel sequel. I could support this. While there have been several excellent big-screen Bruce Waynes, they’ve all been sorely lacking in mad-eyed intensity since Michael Keaton relinquished the cowl in the early nineties; Hoechlin could put his stamp on the character by bringing back the crazy eyes.)
After school, Scott and Stiles engage in a video chat session from their respective bedrooms. On his screen, Stiles spots Derek lurking in the background behind Scott.
Derek is never more fun than he is in these very early episodes, in which nobody really knows what his deal is, and yet he keeps hilariously lurking in inappropriate locations. Derek grabs Scott, slams him against the wall, and threatens to kill him if he plays in Saturday’s game.
A lot of people get slammed against walls in Teen Wolf. This is just an observation and should not be interpreted as any sort of criticism.
But! Allison has already told Scott she’s going to be at the game! This is pitch-perfect teenager logic: On the one hand, a vicious werewolf has informed you, very seriously, that he’s going to kill you if you play, because there’s a very good chance you’ll accidentally slaughter innocent people during the match. On the other hand, the super-cute girl you’re trying to impress will be there. Of course he has to play.
Common sense: 0
Math class: Lydia and Scott puzzle out quadratic equations on the chalkboard while simultaneously engaging in a hushed argument. Lydia testily informs Scott that, despite rumors that he’s thinking of sitting out the lacrosse game, he will be playing—Jackson isn’t up to full speed due to his injured shoulder, and the team needs to win the game in order to ensure that Lydia is still dating the captain of a champion lacrosse team. If Scott misses the game, she threatens to bust out the heavy artillery, i.e. she’ll fix Allison up with other guys. Then Lydia saunters away from the board, having effortlessly solved her equation while Scott is still spinning his wheels on his.
There are moments in which Lydia is the best character on the show. This is one of those moments.
Meanwhile, Derek’s been holed up in the woods in the burned-out ruin of his childhood home, which was destroyed in the fire that killed most of his family. This provides a perfect backdrop for all his magnificent brooding. When Scott heads over there to yell at him to stay away from Allison (Derek has, in fact, been doing an excellent job of staying away from Allison already), he notices a freshly-dug grave on the premises. After Derek leaves, Scott sneaks back onto the property with Stiles to dig up the grave, which is marked with a sprig of wolfsbane. The boys discover half a buried wolf carcass; when Stiles picks the wolfsbane, the wolf turns into the mutilated body of the young woman from the pilot episode. In a refreshing change of pace from their callous idiocy re: corpses in the pilot, Scott and Stiles immediately notify Sheriff Stilinski, who arrests Derek on suspicion of murder.
It’s the evening of the big game. Jackson is playing despite his injury; Scott is playing despite the very real possibility he might, like, murder someone on the field. Sure enough, his abilities kick in, his claws come out, and he starts baring his fangs at the opposing team and hurling balls around with enough force to burn holes through nets.
Beacon Hills wins! Solely because they’ve got a werewolf on their team, which is surely in violation of the California Interscholastic Federation eligibility requirements for student athletes, but whatever, they win! Everyone celebrates, except for Scott, who can’t change back into his human state. He flees into the locker room, Allison follows him, Scott calms himself down and reverts to normal in time to avoid slaughtering her, and they share a first kiss.
Stiles interrupts their canoodling with a bit of weird news: The medical examiner determined that the dead woman—who is now identified as Derek’s sister, Laura—was mauled to death by an animal. Ergo, Derek can’t be the killer; ergo, Derek has already been released from jail.
Back on the lacrosse field, Jackson thoughtfully examines one of Scott’s dropped gloves, the fingertips of which have been ripped apart by Scott’s claws. He looks up and sees Derek silently watching him. Aw, yes. This whole little plotline, in which Jackson stalks Scott to get to the bottom of his secrets while Derek stalks Jackson just to freak him out, is one of the very best things about the first season.
An excellent episode. Only one gratuitous shirtless scene (you’re doing some fine, fine work on this show, Tyler Posey), but apart from that? Nearly flawless.