Teen Wolf episode 2 review: Second Chance At First Line

Ron continues to be pleasantly surprised by MTV's new series of Teen Wolf. You might even want to watch it, y'know...

2. Second Chance At First Line

The scourge of modern television seems to have become not the remake or the spin-off or even reality television. The scourge of modern television is, in fact, the recap. It seems like every show I watch these days wastes the first few minutes of every episode recapping what happened the previous week. I get that this helps lower the entrance bar for those not totally on board from the very beginning, but these days, with streaming video and whatnot? There should be no barrier to anyone jumping on board a show.

Anyway, after the required recap, we find our teenage werewolf stalking the lacrosse fields, where his newfound condition and its concomitant aggression are proving to be both a benefit (in that it makes him a faster, stronger, and generally better player) and a curse, in that he injures the team’s star player/school bully, Jackson (Colton Haynes). This, naturally, turns Scott off of lacrosse, but the school’s alpha girl, Lydia (Holland Roden) refuses to date the captain of a losing lacrosse team, so it’s up to Scott to either save the day and play in the game, or stand by helplessly as Lydia introduces the lovely Allison Argent to all the hot guys on the lacrosse team. Drama!

One of the reasons why I think this new direction for Teen Wolf seems to work for me is that, once upon a time, I was a teenage boy. Lycanthropy is the perfect metaphor for puberty, as the original Teen Wolf and Ginger Snaps have proven. All those hormones, all that new hair, all that lack of self control. Teenagers are werewolves, and most of them don’t even shapeshift. Much like teens have trouble controlling their bodies, Scott’s inability to control his body is causing him some problems, both on and off the lacrosse field.

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Meanwhile, the half-eaten body from the pilot episode rears its ugly, err, torso as a plot point in this week’s episode, too. I guess I should have paid more attention to it, because apparently it’s important and not just a MacGuffin to get Scott lycanthropized.

Derek Hale might be involved somehow with the whole thing (which makes sense, because he’s the only other werewolf in town), and the shallow grave at Derek’s half-burned house is a bit suspicious. But it’s not like Scott can go to the police and turn Derek in for murder since Scott’s also a blood-thirsty animal and Derek would prove very helpful against Argent and company. So, it’s up to Scott (and Stiles) to play Giant Boy Detective and figure out just how to turn this situation to his advantage, or to find out if Hale really is a killer.

I have to say, so far, this show is actually fairly good. I had low expectations considering it’s MTV and its last scripted show I watched was, uh, I don’t remember, honestly. Teen Wolf, according to the only person I know that watches Vampire Diaries, is apparently very comparable to the other teen supernatural drama, right down to having the girl a part of a family of supernatural beast slayers. There’s also the fact that on The Vampire Diaries, the werewolf’s name is Tyler while on Teen Wolf, both main weres are played by actors named Tyler.

Some of the acting moments, especially when Tyler Posey is fighting to maintain control of his wolf side, are a little laughable, but the side characters (Hale, Allison, and Stiles) are usually pretty entertaining. Stiles, especially, is a highlight, as he seems to capture the necessary intelligence to be both the main exposition and the amusingly smart-assed best friend. I also like some of the secondary characters, like the lacrosse coach, Bobby Finstock (Orny Adams), who comes across as a combination of Paul Giamatti and Christopher Walken.

Really, I probably shouldn’t like this show, even considering my love of cheesiness and werewolves. Still, it’s not awful, even by normal standards. Russell Mulcahy, who did the bulk of the first season, has a real knack for directing, and he’s able to keep the show from becoming too over-the-top, thanks to his skill with camera positioning and shot composition. A lot of the things on Teen Wolf should be funny, but Mulcahy is able to keep it straight-faced enough without being overbearing. He’s even able to extract some tension and dread at times, which is astounding when you realize nothing super-important will happen to any main character until closer to the end of the first season.

Teen Wolf won’t live up to the legacy of the films, but it’s a damn sight better than Teen Wolf Too and is a worthy heir to Big Wolf On Campus.

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Read our review of the series premiere here.

US Correspondent Ron Hogan would have loved to play lacrosse in school. It’s like hockey for people who cannot skate! Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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