Teen Wolf 1-03: “Pack Mentality”

More Teen Wolf! Before delving into a fresh batch of good-natured shenanigans, let’s take a quick look at a few additional members of the supporting cast:

Dr. Deaton (Seth Gilliam)
The veterinarian at the animal clinic where Scott works. Keeper of Big Secrets. Gilliam is best-known as Ellis Carver on The Wire, a series that might be Teen Wolf’s exact polar opposite.

Adrian Harris (Adam Fristoe)
Chemistry teacher. Has a visceral open contempt for his pupils. Is sort of awesome.

Danny Mahealani (Keahu Kahuanui)
Goalie on the lacrosse team and Jackson’s best friend. Popular, easygoing, openly gay. Stiles has a minor running obsession with finding out whether Danny finds him attractive (all signs point to no).

Scott has a vivid dream about canoodling with Allison on an otherwise empty school bus (good!), and then viciously mauling her (bad!). When he arrives at school the next morning, Allison is just fine… but the school bus doors have been ripped open, there’s blood everywhere, and the driver’s been badly injured in what seems to be a wild animal attack. When Scott visits the bus driver in the hospital, the driver wigs out at the sight of him, thus reaffirming his mounting suspicion that his nightmare was at least partially based in reality.

While Scott frets about his non-sexy nocturnal escapades, Sheriff Stilinski stops by the animal clinic where Scott works to ask Dr. Deaton for help identifying the animal responsible for the attack. Probably a good move—as mentioned above, Deaton is played by Seth Gilliam, Detective Carver on The Wire, and even though Carver was never really one of the Baltimore police department’s best and brightest (his character arc pretty much went from “incompetent and somewhat corrupt” to “gradually becoming somewhat more adept at this protect-and-serve business”), even the most bumbling cop on The Wire could probably show the Beacon Hills sheriff’s department a trick or two. Even though wolves aren’t native to California, Deaton believes a wolf attack is the most likely explanation for the driver’s injuries.

Scott seeks Derek’s help in controlling his abilities before he hurts anyone else. Derek agrees to train him… for a to-be-determined-later price. Oh, Scott, honey, don’t fall for that. When bargaining with werewolves, always nail down the exact cost before making a commitment. Derek’s probably going to tack a whole bunch of unnecessary charges onto your bill for extras like Glowering Lessons and Learning How to Enunciate With Fangs. At Derek’s suggestion, Scott uses his enhanced senses to visualize the incident on the bus. As he feared, he was indeed present on the school bus during the attack… but a totally different werewolf—Derek, he suspects—mauled the driver while Scott tried his best to save him.

In the Most Important Plotline of this episode: Scott and Allison go on a double date at a bowling alley with Lydia and Jackson. Jackson is, naturally, a whiz at bowling. So is Lydia, though she’s careful to disguise her bowling prowess—ostensibly to protect Jackson’s fragile ego, though it also seems like she gets some kind of bizarre kick out of hiding her genius intellect and hyper-competence from the world. Lydia is an enigma.

(Of Lydia’s feigned incompetence at bowling, Allison says, “Maybe you should stop pretending to suck just for [Jackson’s] benefit.” Lydia smugly replies, “Trust me, I do plenty of sucking just for his benefit.” Well, damn.)

For his part, Scott gets gutter ball after gutter ball, until Allison gives him a little pep talk about how he should just relax and visualize her naked, which makes his werewolf abilities kick in, which makes him suddenly super-awesome at bowling. Allison and Scott are cute and bubbly together, and they’ve both got dimples for days… but, man, as a couple, they’re no match for Jackson and Lydia. Sure, Lydia and Jackson are both fairly reprehensible human beings, but honestly, who’d you rather sit next to at a dinner party: sweet, dippy Scott and Allison, or these two glamorous, venal, conniving creatures?

Scott’s sudden mad bowling skillz heighten Jackson’s growing suspicions that Scott is up to no good. Over a vigorous post-bowling round of pinball, Jackson curls his beautiful lip in contempt and snarls out something about how Scott is a cheating cheater who cheats, then coldly informs him that he’s going to get to the bottom of all his dark secrets. Scott looks worried, but seriously, this is probably Jackson’s go-to response anytime situations don’t break his way. Jackson is a formidable opponent, but that doesn’t mean he’s not also a high-maintenance prick.

At a gas station, Derek’s just filling up his tank, minding his own business, when along comes Chris Argent and his unruly pack of fellow werewolf hunters to make trouble for him. Argent kicks off the scene by politely washing Derek’s windshield, and ends it by having one of his henchmen smash in his window, all while delivering veiled threats and spiteful taunts about Derek’s murdered sister.

Derek stops by the hospital to question the bus driver about what he remembers about his attacker. The bus driver recognizes him and seems to try to apologize for something, then dies a short time later. When Scott hears the news, he charges over to Derek’s house to accuse him of murder. Punches are thrown, fangs come out, walls are demolished, and, because this is an MTV show, My Chemical Romance’s “Destroya” blasts on the soundtrack. We’re treated to our first clear glimpse of Derek in his full-on werewolf state:

Derek is considerably more attractive when he’s not a werewolf. Just saying. Still, the bright blue eyes are kind of nice.

After pounding the snot out of Scott for a while, Derek stops the fight and insists he didn’t kill the driver, nor did he give Scott the bite that turned him into a werewolf. A more powerful werewolf, known as an Alpha (Scott and Derek are less-powerful Betas, natch), mauled the driver and attacked Scott in the woods, thus causing his transformation. The identity of the Alpha is unknown; Derek’s sister Laura came to town to try to locate him before meeting her grim fate. As Scott is a member of the Alpha’s pack, Derek believes Scott will be able to help him track him down.

A perfectly adequate episode. The werewolf mythology on this show tends to stray a wee bit too deeply into goofy territory (and I can’t write about Alphas and Betas without thinking of the old Alpha Beta Supermarket chain that was omnipresent in Southern California about twenty years ago), but into every supernatural-themed teen soap, a little goofiness must fall. Doesn’t hurt it a bit.


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