“Teen Wolf” 3.08: Eternal Manpain of the Flawless Hale

Previously on Teen Wolf, a Druid with a pronounced case of obsessive-compulsive disorder began axe-murdering Beacon Hills residents in groups of threes. Virgins, soldiers, healers, blacksmiths, alchemists, gingers, lefties, cat owners, people who say “supposebly.” The Druid zigged toward Melissa McCall then zagged toward Dr. Deaton, who, after being rescued by Scott, finally gave him some information in the form of a full sentence. The sentence was: “You are Jesus of the Wolves.” Unfortunately, Jesus still hadn’t mastered the miracle of controlling his erections. (#SomethingCameUp) Derek accidentally killed Boyd in a puddle of electrical water while fighting Kalli (and those tricksy little hobbitses Aiden and Ethan). And Danny almost died of homicide because of his science fair project that proves Beacon Hills sits on top of a Moonmouth.

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Scott McCall is high on answers to questions. It felt so good when Dr. Deaton finally told him a thing that wasn’t a riddle or a parable, and so now he wants all the answers to all the questions, starting with: How come Deucalion is such a dick? Grandpa Argent knows the answer to that — and every other query in all the land! — and is happy to exchange his knowledge for the small price of some werewolf morphine. So, Scott and Allison visit him in his mythical beast bounty hunter retirement home, black goop still oozing out of his face holes, and settle in to be condescended to for one whole hour.

Stiles also has some questions, but they’re less about the origins of supervillainy and more about the shape of Derek’s heart. For example, what was Derek like before every day of his life ended with him murdering or getting murdered? Was there a pre-shitshow phase when he actually smiled sometimes? Cora can’t really remember because she was only a little pup back then, but Peter Hale knows, and it’s been a good two episodes since he got to exchange repartee with the only other dude who’s as clever as him in all of Beacon Hills, so he agrees to tell Stiles the story of Derek’s unblemished youth.

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There are two ways to handle exposition: You can try to sneaky-weave it into your story and pat down the seams, or you can just be like, “Fuck it. Hop inside this Pensieve, Harry, and let’s take a literal walk through some backstory.” If you love a fictional world, you’ll dive into the memory juice without complaint because who wouldn’t want to see a five-year-old Tom Riddle explode some of his orphan friends as long as it means you can spend more time hanging out with Dumbledore? That’s the avenue Teen Wolf went down last night. It was a risky move because, I mean, if you’re going to devote a whole hour talking about Derek Hale’s yesteryear, you’ve got to assume most of your audience wants to enjoy that narrative history with a side of Tyler Hoechlin‘s face. And also, these writers have never given a lot of what you’d call “answers” to “questions.” Like, “What do you mean ‘Unpack the show’s mythology’? Hey, look over here! Keahu Kahuanui is naked!”

But this episode actually really worked for me, for the most part. There would have been no room for an expository hour in a 12-episode season, but we’re working with a full order this year, so why not try a new thing? Plus any amount of exposition is tolerable when you get to see Dylan O’Brien‘s face (and hear Dylan O’Brien’s mouth) react to it.

This is a story of teenage love. It is also a story of eyeballs.

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A metronome is clacking away in the Beacon Hills High School music room. On TV, that incessant tick-tock can never mean anything good, and lo! a beautiful teenage girl appears, playing the cello with a smile on her sweet cherub face, blissfully unaware that cherub faces very rarely last 45 minutes on this show. Her hard work is interrupted by the sound of some dillholes rhythmically playing basketball in the hallway like they’re in some kind of High School Musical situation. (Derek Hale has mad ball-handling skills, if you know what I mean and I think you do.) She scolds them for being so loud, their leader shows off for her/ribs her for being such a teetotaler, and five seconds later he’s dinging! the triangle while she fingers! the cello, which is a certain kind of foreplay. The girl’s name is Paige. The boy’s name is Baby Derek. They look like they’re from Degrassi, like they’re actual teenagers. It’s a bit disconcerting.

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