Teen Wolf 1-05: “The Tell”
Lydia and Jackson sit in the car outside a video store (a video store! how quaint!) and bicker over their rental options. Jackson wants Hoosiers, which Lydia refuses to consider. Jackson howls, “I am not watching The Notebook again!” Smash cut to Jackson wandering around the store: “Can somebody help me find The Notebook?”
As it turns out, nobody can: The sole clerk is lying dead, his throat gashed open. Upon finding the corpse, Jackson looks up and sees a werewolf—the Alpha, in fact—stalking him. The Alpha lunges at him, ripping up the store and knocking over racks of DVDs in its wake. Jackson scrambles for cover, but a toppling shelf knocks him down and pins him to the floor.
(Look at the videos behind Jackson: What kind of slipshod video store would place the acclaimed Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In right next to the horror-comedy Severance? What sort of random-ass filing system is that? No wonder Jackson was having so much trouble finding The Notebook. Clearly, the store clerks don't know jack about alphabetizing.)
The Alpha slinks over to a trapped and terrified Jackson and prods at the still-healing welts on the back of his neck, which Derek caused last episode when he scratched Jackson with his wolfsbane-tainted claws. The wound glows blue. Pretty! The Alpha exits the store in a dramatic fashion by crashing straight through the plate-glass windows and scampering off into the darkness. This finally captures the attention of Lydia, who’d been too busy snapping selfies in the front seat of Jackson’s Porsche to notice the attack on her boyfriend.
In the aftermath of the attack, Sheriff Stilinski questions a gobsmacked and more-dickish-than-usual Jackson, while Derek and Scott, on the trail of the Alpha, lurk on the roof of the video store and eavesdrop on their conversation. It’s only a few days before the next full moon, which, per Derek, is when the Alpha will either force Scott to kill someone as part of a pack initiation, or will kill Scott himself.
Lydia is absent from school the next day. Jackson shows up late, shaken and jittery (as Stiles eloquently puts it, “Jackson looks like he’s got a time bomb inserted into his face”). In chemistry class, Stiles pesters Danny for the scoop on the attack, but Danny can’t help him—even though he’s Jackson’s best friend, Jackson won’t talk about it.
Derek shows up at the school to cheerily manhandle Jackson a little and intimidate him into telling him all about the Alpha attack. Whereas Jackson was mouthy and aggressive during their earlier encounter, he’s now terrified and compliant. Because the Teen Wolf creative staff love their viewers very much, this scene takes place in an otherwise deserted locker room, while Jackson is dressed only in a towel.
Colton Haynes, just FYI, is a former Abercrombie & Fitch model. Yeah, it shows.
Stiles drops by Lydia’s house to see how she’s holding up. Lydia, who usually can’t be bothered to remember Stiles exists, is friendly and flirty. Stiles’s hopes rise, until he realizes that: a) she’s stoned off her gourd on prescription pills to deal with the trauma of whatever she saw in the parking lot, and b) as a direct result of this, she thinks he’s Jackson. She’s unable or unwilling to tell him any kind of coherent story about the attack. Stiles snoops in her phone and watches a video she accidentally shot outside the video store, which clearly shows the Alpha.
After getting his weekly fix of menacing Jackson in an overtly sexualized manner, Derek returns to his burned-out home, strips off his shirt, and does a whole bunch of push-ups and chin-ups. There is no shirtless scene too gratuitous for Teen Wolf. It’s one of the many charms of this show. A shotgun-toting Kate Argent and two of her werewolf-hunting lackeys arrive unannounced. Derek hides, but Kate lures him out into the open with strategic taunts (of Derek’s murdered sister, she says, “Too bad she howled like a bitch when we cut her in half!” Kate’s just wrong).
Derek takes out the redshirts, but Kate knocks him out of commission with her 900,000-volt cattle prod. As Derek writhes in shirtless agony at her feet, Kate remarks, “This one grew up in all the right places. I don’t know whether to kill it or lick it.”
Wow. Kate. Wow.
Now that she has the upper hand, Kate tells Derek that, taunts aside, she didn’t kill and mutilate Laura Hale—it was the work of the Alpha. At first, Derek doesn’t believe her, but then he uses his special lie-detecting ability (it seems werewolves have this power, which: cool) and determines she’s telling the truth. Kate wants Derek to give up the identity of the Alpha; when it becomes clear Derek himself doesn’t know, Kate decides he’s outlasted his usefulness and tries to kill him. Derek makes a break for it and scurries off into the woods in all his shirtless glory.
So… what’s our main character been doing this entire episode while all this tremendously exciting stuff has been going on? It’s Allison’s birthday, so Scott ditches school to spend a romantic day with her. Scott and Allison frolic in the woods for hours and hours, smooching and nuzzling and falling in lurve and acting like they’re starring in the most hilariously insipid toothpaste commercial ever. While the rest of this episode is sleek and sexy and exciting, these (loooooong) scenes between them are a smushed-together smorgasbord of lazy romantic clichés. Because Teen Wolf is much wittier than this, I figure we’re supposed to view Scott and Allison’s relationship as some kind of scathing commentary on the all-encompassing banality of teenaged love.
It’s parent-teacher conference night at Beacon Hills High. As a solid D-student, Scott is required to attend his conference with his mother, but he blows it off so he can hang out with Allison longer (he also blows off his after-school job at the animal clinic. This episode is not Scott’s shining hour). The various conferences are shown in a montage: The chemistry teacher, Mr. Harris, tells Jackson’s parents that Jackson is “unusually driven” and “obsessive.” Yep, sounds like our boy. This is all intercut with scenes of Jackson, drunk and distraught and growing more unhinged by the minute, doing frenzied lacrosse drills by himself in the middle of a dark field at night. Lydia is scarily brilliant and a natural leader, Allison is sweet and well-adjusted, Scott is sinking ever deeper into irrevocable academic decline, and Stiles, as Coach Finstock informs Sheriff Stilinski, is whip-smart but scattered.
(The entire conference between Finstock and Stilinski regarding Stiles is pretty entertainingly bonkers. We learn that Finstock likes to be called “cupcake”, that Stiles wrote an Econ paper on the history of male circumcision, and that Stiles has an unrevealed but really awful real first name. As Finstock puts it, “Wow. That’s a form of child abuse.”)
Allison and Scott arrive at the school just as the conferences wind down. They’re confronted by an angry Melissa Hale and the Argents. While Chris Argent gives his daughter and her slacker boyfriend an epic tongue lashing for their irresponsible behavior, chaos breaks out in the school parking lot when some kind of unseen creature begins attacking people. Argent whips out his gun and shoots the creature… which turns out to be only a mountain lion.
Okay! Strongest episode yet for the way it advances the plot while hitting that Teen Wolf sweet spot of intriguing plus funny plus sexy plus disturbing, with an added dollop of emotional resonance for good measure (for all Jackson’s bad behavior and prickly prickishness, there’s something bizarrely poignant about watching him come apart at the seams). Great stuff.