Teen Wolf 1-09: “Wolf’s Bane”

It’s night, and chemistry teacher Mr. Harris is staying late in his classroom, no doubt to think of new ways to slather his pupils with a thick, sticky layer of contempt and loathing. The Alpha, seen only in shadows, arrives to harass and terrify and presumably slaughter him for unspecified past wrongs. Just before the Alpha attacks, Derek appears out of nowhere and fends it off. Sheriff Stilinski shows up with a fleet of squad cars and surrounds the school, sending wanted-fugitive Derek scurrying off into the darkness.

The cops pursue Derek on foot into an ironworks. Chris and Kate Argent, who’ve been following the pursuit on the police scanner, join in the chase. Chris Argent hunts Derek down and shoots at him… but then Derek’s saved by the timely arrival of Scott and Stiles, who zip onto the scene in Derek’s car, scoop him up, and whisk him off to safety. Look at Scott and Stiles, being all newly-competent and badass! Keep up the good work, kids! Derek grouches about losing the Alpha, just when he’d finally tracked it down from some clues left by his sister. Right before her murder, Laura Hale had unearthed some connection between the Alpha and Mr. Harris; her other piece of evidence was a drawing of a distinctive necklace—the same necklace Kate Argent gave Allison for her birthday. When Scott reveals that Allison is the current owner of the necklace, Derek orders him to steal it from her.

Meanwhile, Jackson visits a doctor for a long-overdue examination of the rotting, festering scratches on his neck. The doctor whips out a few medieval torture devices and roots around underneath Jackson’s skin before pulling out a long, gristly, tangled vine of wolfsbane. Teen Wolf doesn’t foray into grotesque organic horror very often, but when it does, it’s usually pretty effective, and it usually involves something painful and awful happening to Jackson. As Jackson howls in agony, the doctor suddenly transforms into a gleeful Derek, grinning like a sadistic maniac.

And then Jackson snaps out of his hallucination to find the doctor calmly assuring him he’s going to be fine—he’s just been suffering from a mild case of aconite poisoning, which a wolfsbane-sickened Derek must’ve passed along to him through his claws. At the nurses’ station, Jackson charms Melissa McCall into letting him hop on her computer to look up uses for wolfsbane.

Armed with this final vital piece of the puzzle, a smug and triumphant Jackson confronts Scott: He knows Scott’s a werewolf, he’d very much like to become one too, and if Scott can’t find a way to transform him into one, he’ll spill the beans to Allison about Scott’s nasty alter ego. Later, in the school cafeteria, Jackson uses Scott’s super-enhanced hearing to taunt him from across the room. Scott, who realizes that helping Jackson become a werewolf would be catastrophic for, like, humanity, and who also just wants to eat his tray of batter-fried chicken parts in peace, does his best to ignore him.

Jackson amps up his efforts to seduce Allison in the school swimming pool (Jackson: “You see these cheekbones? Aerodynamically suited for speed in water”). Allison, who is not immune to the allure of a great pair of cheekbones, seems to be falling for it. An eavesdropping Scott seethes with impotent rage as he pilfers shamelessly through Allison’s backpack to find the necklace.

Jackson continues his dazzling, dizzying hot streak of despicable behavior. He breaks up with Lydia via a bitchy text (“Lydia, please give up my spare house key at your earliest convenience, as we are no longer dating”). Furious, Lydia confronts him in the hallway. They hurl abuse at each other: Jackson is jaw-droppingly cruel and condescending, Lydia is apoplectic and spiteful, and it’s just wrong how wonderful and hilarious their entire exchange is, from start to finish. (Lydia: “Dumped by the co-captain of the lacrosse team. I wonder how many minutes it’ll take me to get over that. Wait, seconds actually. Seconds!”)

Scott breaks into Allison’s bedroom and steals her necklace. Outside the house, he runs smack into a friendlier-than-usual Chris Argent, who invites him inside for a beer and an interrogation about the nature of Scott’s relationship with Derek. Allison overhears Scott insisting to her father that her safety has always been his highest priority. Her cold, Scott-hardened heart starts to melt a little.

Sheriff Stilinski interviews a shaken Mr. Harris, who is finally ready to come clean about the Alpha attack. Six years ago, it seems, Harris had a singularly ill-advised drunken fling with Kate Argent. While he never learned Kate’s name, he remembered she wore a distinctive necklace. Upon learning of his chemistry background, Kate pumped him for information about the best way to burn down a building. A week later, the Hale house went up in flames. The Alpha is clearly seeking grim vengeance against everyone involved in that fire, no matter how peripherally.

Stiles hides a still-fugitive Derek in his bedroom, which is the perfect launching point for many wonderful plot developments. And indeed, this episode doesn’t disappoint on that front. While waiting for Scott to steal Allison’s necklace, Derek and Stiles set about finding out who sent the text that lured Allison to the school the night of the Alpha attack. It turns out Danny has crackerjack hacking skills (and the police record to prove it), so Stiles invites him over and enlists his aid in locating the source of the text. Danny refuses to help… until Derek whips off his shirt, revealing his magnificent torso, which gets Danny’s undivided attention. It’s sometimes helpful to view Danny as the surrogate for the entire Teen Wolf viewership. To entice Danny to stick around and track down the sender of the text, an increasingly surly Derek keeps trying on and taking off all of Stiles’s too-tight shirts.

This is possibly the greatest scene in Teen Wolf history.

The text, Danny discovers, was sent from Melissa McCall’s work computer. Even though he’s supposed to play in the big quarterfinal lacrosse game tonight, Stiles heads off to the hospital with Derek to talk to Scott’s mom. Melissa isn’t around, so Derek tells Stiles to go to the long-term care wing and seek help from Jennifer, the nurse who’s been assigned to look after Peter Hale.

Stiles can’t find the nurse. He does finds Peter, who is out of his wheelchair and wandering the halls. Peter, in fact, is the Alpha. He introduces himself politely to Stiles, then starts beating the crap out of Derek.

After clobbering Derek into a pulp, Peter admits to killing Derek’s sister, which gave him enough strength to recover from his injuries and transform into an Alpha. While Derek watches in alarm, all the burns on Peter’s face vanish away entirely.

Right before the game begins, Jackson plops down on the sidelines beside Scott for a serious discussion about werewolves. Scott, for whatever damn fool reason, gets imprudently chatty. He blabs about how Jackson would have to be bitten by an Alpha to transform, how he doesn’t even know who the Alpha is, and how Beacon Hills is crawling with gun-toting werewolf hunters. Because Jackson is a whole lot smarter than Scott, he immediately deduces that Scott is talking about the Argents (he snottily points out that “Argent” means silver in French). He gives Scott three days to figure out how to make him a card-carrying member of his cool werewolf club.

The Argent clan, meanwhile, is seated in the stands right behind Jackson and Scott. Allison points out Jackson to Kate. “Holy hotness,” Kate murmurs, which is the only sensible reaction upon initial viewing of Jackson’s holy hotness. And then she sees the claw marks on Jackson’s neck. She nudges Chris Argent, and, as a horrified Scott listens in, they have a furious whispered conversation about how Jackson must be the other Beta that Chris spotted with Derek in the pilot episode.

A majestic episode, chock-full to bursting with all the elements that make Teen Wolf occasionally achieve teen-soap greatness. Full marks.


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