Teen Wolf 2-02: “Shape Shifted”

Isaac Lahey and his father discuss his grades over a tense family dinner. When Isaac nervously mentions his D in Chemistry, his father grows furious. He rises from the table and hurls verbal abuse (bad) and glassware (worse) at his son. A shard of glass from a smashed pitcher strikes Isaac’s lovely face and causes an angry gash. As soon as Isaac plucks the shard from the wound, it heals itself up.

Distraught, Isaac hops on his bike and pedals off into the rainy night. His father, still bellowing physical threats, jumps in the car and follows him. Meanwhile, right next door to the Lahey house, Jackson hauls a bag of trash to the curb. He shakes his head and snorts in contempt at the sight of Isaac and his father. “Freaks,” he mutters, as he tosses out a bagful of tissues soaked with the vile black goop that keeps leaking from his nose and ears.

Isaac’s father spots his son’s bicycle abandoned in an alley and gets out of the car to investigate. Through the pouring rain, he can vaguely see a humanlike shape, which he assumes is Isaac… until it crouches down and springs at him in a distinctly inhuman manner. He scrambles back into the car, but his fast-moving attacker—it’s impossible to tell what it is, but it’s neither human nor werewolf—rips off the door, leaps inside, and slaughters him.

Lydia returns to school for the first time since Peter mauled her on the lacrosse field. She’s blocked out all memory of the traumatic two days she spent wandering naked in the woods; ever one to find a silver lining, she cheerfully informs Allison that she lost nine pounds during her ordeal. Allison warns her in advance that their schoolmates have been gossiping nonstop about her bizarre behavior. Lydia blows off her concern: “It’s not like my aunt is a serial killer,” she says blithely to her nearest and dearest friend, whose aunt was a serial killer. True to Allison’s fears, Lydia soon realizes she’s become a pariah at school.

Lacrosse practice: It’s the day of a full moon, so Stiles and Scott make prudent and sensible plans to chain Scott up overnight, just in case he goes berserk and tries to massacre all his loved ones again. Scott senses the presence of another werewolf on the lacrosse team. During practice drills, he systematically tackles and sniffs each teammate in turn, using his enhanced senses to detect his lupine kinsman. It gets awkward and vaguely erotic pretty fast. When Scott tackles Isaac, Isaac’s eyes glow yellow.

Before Isaac can say anything to Scott, he’s interrupted by the arrival of Sheriff Stilinski and his deputies, who want to take him down to the station and grill him about his father’s murder. As Isaac is escorted off the field, Stiles points out to Scott that Isaac could be detained at the station overnight. What with the upcoming full moon, this would be catastrophic for everybody involved, as the holding cells aren’t strong enough to keep in a werewolf.

Searching for a possible motive for Isaac’s father’s murder, Sheriff Stilinksi asks Jackson about his neighbors. Jackson fills Stilinski in on the years of abuse Isaac suffered at his father’s hands, much of which Jackson witnessed from next door. Stilinski is aghast that Jackson never reported any of this. Bored and nonchalant, Jackson shrugs and claims it wasn’t his concern. Huge props to Teen Wolf for resisting the urge to soften Jackson’s razor-sharp edges and make him more user-friendly in the new season. Despite the tentative flickers of humanity we saw from him toward the end of the first season, he’s still a toxic, prickly, destructive monster. And now he might have superhuman abilities. Awesome.

Lydia tries to thank Jackson for rushing her to the hospital after Peter mauled her on the lacrosse field. Jackson is (surprise!) snotty and awful to her, coldly informing her that even though he saved her life, she has zero chance of getting back together with him. For old time’s sake, though, he offers up a bit of helpful advice re: the upcoming full moon: “If I were you, I’d stay home tonight.” So, uh, I guess that was nice-ish of him?

In a side plot that’s a little too broad and cartoonishly evil, even by Argent standards, Chris and Victoria Argent kidnap the school principal, torture him with a cattle prod for no particular reason, and replace him with their own hand-selected candidate for the position: Gerard Argent. When Scott and Stiles get sent to the principal’s office for misbehaving in Mr. Harris’s chemistry class, they’re introduced to Gerard for the first time. Gerard seems avuncular and grandfatherly and not at all like the type of person who goes about chopping werewolves in half with a broadsword in his spare time.

Jackson borrows a video camera from resident camera buff Matt—he needs “something that can record in low light, all night long.” Matt is suspicious. And intrigued. He drops the camera off at Jackson’s home. I think this episode marks the first time we ever see his house, right? It’s streamlined and expensive and stylish and empty. Metaphorical! Matt is feeling kind of iffy about this whole business—he knows Jackson dated Allison, who is the girl of Matt’s dreams, and he has some very reasonable concerns that Jackson might want the camera for something ethically dubious involving her. Jackson snarls, “You think I’m going to waste my time doing something as unbelievably ordinary as making a sex tape?” I am reasonably certain Jackson makes a sex tape pretty much every night, regardless of whether there’s anyone in his bed besides himself. He loftily informs Matt that’s he’s going to be “documenting history” with the camera.

So Jackson strips down to his underwear, sets up the camera on a tripod, and films himself sleeping. Before turning in for the night, he crawls around on all fours on his bed adjusting the camera, then strikes a number of provocative poses in the mirror. Between this and the season premiere, the blatant and shameless fetishization of Colton Haynes’ remarkable body is proceeding right on schedule.

Concerned about Isaac, Derek picks Scott up from school and takes him to the Lahey house to engage in a bit of evidence-destroying. He shows Scott a padlocked freezer chest with scratch marks inside, where Mr. Lahey used to confine Isaac as a punishment. While Isaac certainly has a strong motive for killing his father, Derek’s convinced of his innocence. As they’re prowling around the house, Scott takes the opportunity to yell at Derek for turning Isaac into a werewolf, while Derek takes the opportunity to try to coerce Scott into joining his pack.

At the Argent home, Allison overhears Chris and Gerard debating whether they should kill Isaac. Though they’re not sure he’s either a werewolf or a murderer, they’re leaning strongly toward yes, just to be on the safe side. Allison spots one of their werewolf-hunting lackeys dressed up as a sheriff’s deputy and figures something bad is afoot. As the fake deputy drives to the sheriff’s station, Allison whips out her bow and flattens his tires with her arrows, then shoots him in the leg when he gets out of his car to investigate. Good going, Allison! I like Allison a lot when she’s being proactive and helpful.

Scott summons Allison over to the Lahey house. With the full moon on the rise, he asks her to padlock him inside the freezer chest to prevent him from hurting anyone. After safely locking him up, she hears a strange hissing noise in the kitchen. There’s a bizarre creature—human-sized, glowing yellow eyes, shiny scaled skin, long prehensile tail—creeping around in the shadows. Allison shrieks in terror and grabs a butcher knife.

Inside the chest, Scott transforms into a werewolf. Upon hearing Allison’s screams, he smashes his way out of the freezer and charges upstairs to her rescue. The scaly creature hisses at Scott and Allison and scurries up the wall like a lizard, then disappears into the night.

Stiles and Derek head over to the sheriff’s station. While Derek distracts the pretty deputy at the front desk with his smoldering good looks(!) and effortless charm(?), Stiles sneaks into his dad’s office and steals his keys, then hurries to the holding cell where Isaac is being kept. Along the way, he encounters the Argent’s fake deputy, limping badly from Allison’s arrow, who is en route to Isaac’s cell to murder him. The deputy grabs Stiles and tries to jam a syringe filled with something nasty into his neck.

Isaac transforms into a werewolf, breaks out of his cell, and knocks out the ersatz deputy. All of which is very nice and useful, but then Isaac starts to stalk Stiles. Before he can attack, Derek arrives on the scene. He growls at Isaac, which instantly sends him cowering meekly in a corner. Astonished, Stiles asks Derek how he did that. “I’m the Alpha,” Derek says, with more than a trace of smugness.

In the morning, Jackson reviews the video tape. He’s shocked and enraged to discover nothing happened during the night. For whatever reason, Derek’s bite failed to turn him into a werewolf. It’s bad for Jackson, but probably good for humanity.

A fine episode. Gerard Argent makes less of an impact here than he did in the season premiere (and making him the school principal is a silly misstep), but once his plotline gets going, it’ll be worth the slow build. And while child abuse is too grimly realistic of a topic for a frothy, frippery, fantastical show like Teen Wolf to handle effectively, Isaac is a nice addition to the cast. Everything’s on the right track.


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