Teen Wolf 1-06: “Heart Monitor”

A grocery-laden Scott searches for the car—his mom’s car, presumably, since apart from his first date with Allison, we’ve mostly seen him on a bicycle—in a darkened parking structure. Good to see Scott making himself useful, especially after his epic school-skipping slack-a-thon last episode, but really, if you were Scott’s mom, would you trust this kid to bring home the groceries? You know those bags are filled with nothing but pizza rolls and pressurized cheese. As part of his ambitious make-Scott-a-better-werewolf campaign, Derek leaps out from the shadows, tackles Scott, and body-slams him into a car. Derek also smashes Scott’s phone to bits and bans him from seeing Allison, as there’s a full moon coming up soon, and Scott needs to remove distractions if he wants to prevent the Alpha from gaining control over him. Scott sees the logic in this and reluctantly promises to steer clear of Allison.

Cut to Scott and Allison rolling around on Allison’s bed, fumbling to remove various items of clothing. They’re interrupted by the sudden arrival of evil Kate Argent; Scott hides in the closet while Allison makes small talk with her aunt (topic of conversation: how the Argents are direct descendants of a legendary clan of eighteenth-century French werewolf hunters. The Argents have a long and storied legacy of batshittery). Hey, Scott? Kiddo? Your mom’s a nurse who works crazy hours, whereas Allison’s father and aunt have dedicated their lives to eradicating your kind from the face of the earth. Maybe you and Allison should try having sex at your house instead? Just a thought.

Scott makes his eventual escape through Allison’s bedroom window, then runs smack into the Alpha, who’s been hanging out in the bushes on the Argent’s front lawn. The Alpha enigmatically draws a spiral in the condensation on Scott’s car window and leaves.

Suitably freaked out by this, Scott scurries home, only to find Derek lurking in his bedroom, anxious to get the scoop on his close encounter with the Alpha. Derek grows visibly agitated (i.e. he glowers a teensy bit more than usual) when Scott mentions the spiral, though he refuses to clue Scott in on its significance.

At school, Scott makes a good-faith effort to keep his promise to Derek by staying away from Allison. I mean, sure, he came thisclose to having sex with her the previous night immediately after making that promise, but whatever—I guess he gets points for dodging her in the cafeteria and getting all squirrelly when she asks to be his lab partner in chemistry. He’s trying, sort of. In the Department of Unclear Motivations, Stiles has decided he’s furious with Scott for something that happened in the last episode (for… failing to kill the mountain lion that Chris Argent eventually shot? It’s muddled) and gives Scott the silent treatment, which lasts for roughly half a scene. Upon hearing that Derek is helping Scott learn to control his abilities, Stiles volunteers his own services instead.

So Scott and Stiles head out to the lacrosse field, where Stiles straps a heart rate monitor to Scott, binds him up in duct tape, and pelts him with lacrosse balls in an attempt to see if pain and anger trigger his werewolf transformation. The theory is sound; the methodology is flawed. Sure enough, Scott’s heart rate skyrockets, his claws come out, and he rips through his bonds. With a great deal of effort, he returns to normal just before he, like, kills and eats Stiles or something.

Naturally, Jackson, whose new favorite hobby is lurking in the shadows while spying on Scott, observes all of this.

Back in the locker room, an anguished Scott tells Stiles that Derek is right—Allison makes him weak. I have no idea how he reached that conclusion. Neither does Stiles, for that matter (Stiles: “You know, this whole women-make-me-weak thing is a little too Spartan warrior for me.” True words). As they make their exit, Stiles offhandedly claims the locker room smells like someone is “rotten or dying.” Aw, that’s just Jackson, who is once again lurking in dark corners and eavesdropping, and who also has a gnarly patch of necrotic flesh on the back of his neck from the wound Derek gave him.

Jackson, shaky and sick and less glacially beautiful than usual, hallucinates a wolf clawing its way out of him through his mouth. Well! That was a very well-executed bit of effective horror-movie iconography, Teen Wolf! Let’s never see that again, ever.

And then Jackson plops down beside Allison in the hallway and, in an attempt to lay some groundwork for wheedling Scott’s secrets out of her, starts subtly (“subtly”) putting the moves on her. Watching Jackson making a concerted effort to act like a typical human being instead of like a high-strung killer cyborg is sort of fascinating.

In Econ class, Coach Finstock harangues Scott in front of the class for his piss-poor academic performance. As the tirade continues, Scott grows more and more agitated, to the point of triggering his transformation into a werewolf… until Allison grabs his hand under the desk and silently helps him to chill out. Scott makes the grandiose realization that, hey, being around Allison doesn’t make him weak—in fact, she might be the key to helping him get his abilities under control.

Derek visits Peter Hale at the nursing home and tells his still-catatonic uncle about Laura Hale’s murder by the Alpha. Sort of out of nowhere, Derek starts bellowing wildly at Peter to help him figure out the identity of the Alpha. A nurse arrives and reminds Derek that Peter hasn’t moved or spoken in the six years since he was injured in the fire. After the nurse shoos Derek out of the room, Peter moves a single finger of his own volition.

Derek returns to his car to find a newspaper article tucked under his windshield wiper. The article concerns a deer with a spiral marking on its side that was found in the woods and brought to Dr. Deaton three months ago. Suspecting that Deaton is the Alpha, Derek goes to the animal hospital and knocks him around a bit, then ties him up. Scott arrives and demands an explanation as to why Derek has been manhandling his boss; Derek knocks Deaton unconscious, then explains to Scott that the spiral is the universal werewolf symbol for a vendetta.

Scott refuses to believe Deaton is involved. He’s outraged—outraged, I say!—by Derek’s rough treatment of his boss. So outraged that, after enigmatically telling Derek to meet him at the high school in an hour, he takes off and leaves Deaton, defenseless and injured, in Derek’s care. Awesome, Scott. At the appointed time, Stiles and Scott meet up with Derek, who now has the still-unconscious Deaton tied up in his backseat, in the school parking lot. In an attempt to alert the Alpha to his presence, Scott howls over the school public address system.

The Alpha promptly answers the summons. It dramatically impales Derek on its claws, then tosses his lifeless body aside and heads after Scott and Stiles. The boys flee in panic and barricade themselves inside the school.

I have so many questions.

Cliffhanger ending aside, this episode’s a letdown after the last two strong installments. The plotting is careless—Teen Wolf plots are never all that airtight, which honestly doesn’t matter all that much (I’ve said it before: it’s a show about sexy teenaged werewolves), but here, the sloppiness, particularly in regard to character motivations, causes a lot of unnecessary confusion. Why is Stiles so annoyed with Scott at the beginning of the episode? Did something get edited out of the previous episode which would have explained it, and if so, why not edit out Stiles’s fit of pique as well for the sake of continuity? Why does Scott assume Allison makes him weak? Why does Derek think his long-catatonic uncle will suddenly be able to help him? Why does Scott leave his injured boss alone with Derek? Why does the school have a PA system powerful enough to broadcast Scott’s howl to the entire town of Beacon Hills? It’s not a total miss—Stiles pelting Scott with lacrosse balls is a hoot, and Jackson’s descent into madness and darkness continues to entertain—but it’s a step down from the direction the show had been heading.


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