This review contains spoilers.
When it comes to the television version of Teen Wolf, there are two names I most associate with the programme. One of these is director and executive producer Russell Mulcahy, and the other is writer, creator, and executive producer Jeff Davis. The show has some very good other writers and directors, but when those two are working together, look out. That’s when Teen Wolf runs smoothly on all cylinders, and this week’s episode was one of those happy moments where both the show’s creative guides were working in harmony.
Teen Wolf is a show that can provide a lot of elements for a lot of viewers. There’s the aspect of adorable teenagers and their making out, shirtlessness, and the general titillation that keeps the younger fans in their seats, but there’s so much more to the show than its teen romance overtones, even in an episode that features a pretty prominent near-kiss and multiple erection jokes. At times this episode is legitimately funny, tense, moving, scary, and pulse-pounding by turns, depending on the scene and the situation involved. The characters are pieces on a chessboard, and between the two of them, Davis and Mulcahy know just how to move them to get the maximum amount of response from the viewers.
Derek and Stiles together are typically high comedy when they’re put together in the same scene, but Cora (Adelaide Kaine) is proving to be a good stand-in while Derek is off fighting for his life in a tense battle with Kali. Indeed, Stiles, Cora, and Lydia have multiple really funny scenes together as Cora and Stiles attempt to get Lydia to seek out the kidnapped Dr. Deaton, only to be reminded by Lydia that she is not psychic, has never undertaken automatic writing, and has no real supernatural abilities aside from a preternatural ability to be manipulated and black out while driving without crashing. The scene is a great counterpoint to Scott and Deucelion’s moments together, with the show’s editing staff knitting the two scenes together emphasises the dangerous position Deaton has found himself in while in the clutches of the Alpha pack, or whoever might have kidnapped him.
It’s an unusual amount of focus for an underrated character, but it works really well thanks to the show’s insistence that Deaton is important. He’s the only person in Beacon Hills that knows anything about anything (though Sheriff Stilinski has shown dangerous levels of competence and detective work throughout the series) and when you have a character that’s very important, but not so important he can’t be killed, that makes for legitimate tension (and a well-handed rescue scene). I think one of the reasons why Deaton works so well is that he remains mysterious, but his loss would have been a lot for a show that depends heavily on werewolf enemies and the enemies of werewolves for exposition and explanation.
As for the fight scenes, it’s Russell Mulcahy shooting in the neon dark. They look great, the fight choreography is inventive, and Deucalion remains Teen Wolf‘s best mystery bad guy since Peter Hale was stalking Beacon Hills in the first season. Deucalion and his collective of bad folks have proven to be a real jolt of life for the show, and I think between those four, a lingering Gerard, and the mysterious druid sacrifices happening randomly that the 24-episode order for a third season isn’t as excessive as I feared.
By throwing together a lot of elements and giving the other characters not Scott and Allison stuff to do, Teen Wolf has grown both its universe, its focus, and its appeal for viewers like me. Teens making out is all well and good, but having a mystery cult and killer werewolves? Now you’re in my wheelhouse.
US Correspondent Ron Hogan is a big fan of Russell Mulcahy’s use of shadow and indirect lighting during his action sequences. The guy just knows how to make fighting look awesome, both on TV and in the film world. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.
Please, if you can, support our charity horror stories ebook, Den Of Eek!, raising money for Geeks Vs Cancer. Details here.