The balancing act between how much to involve parental figures in a teen series is a precarious one. You don’t want the adults infiltrating their children’s lives in an overbearing capacity, but then again they should be featured enough to know the characters aren’t just running amuck without any supervision. Ahem, Mystic Falls. Teen Wolf has really excelled at incorporating adults naturally into the show. The show challenges the audience to consider does a visible parent necessarily improve their child’s life?
Judging solely by the shows best opening scene to date, Isaac (I misheard his name on the premiere, not Alex) we can say he’s better off without his abusive father. However, based on the predicament he’s in by episodes end: imprisoned on Jackson’s crappy testimony, he breaks out of jail on the full moon, making him a fugitive. Now wouldn’t a parental figure be ideal to help him navigate the criminal justice system rather than worsening his delinquency in hiding? I guess that’s where Derek steps in as surrogate authority, but I’m not sure how much he can help Isaac with the police, unless he plans on distancing himself from the real world a la his ever-lurking mentor.
Enough philosophizing. About that opening scene. Isaac is discussing his grades with his dad over dinner, and is reluctant to confess his D in a class. Once he does the tension quietly mounts as he’s told he’ll be punished. Isaac’s worry is palpable, and his temporary relief is heartbreaking when his dad says all he’ll have to do is clean the kitchen, take out the trash, standard chores. . .then starts to smash dishes. A shattering glass cuts Isaac beneath the eye. One horror builds upon another as Isaac’s wound heals before his father’s confused and terrified gaze. I love how they’re frightened uncertainty was connected by that moment, but for completely different reasons. Isaac’s secret was almost revealed and his father couldn’t rationalize what he’d seen. Before, the opening credits the new creature in town has its latest victim in Isaac’s father as he chased his son out of the house, and to his death. This catalyzes the episodes action: protecting someone, whether out of love or guilt.
The mystery over the unspecified entity in town (a shape shifter judging by the episodes title, even though no characters confirm this) is far more satisfying than anything the shows attempted to tease in the past. All the stories are effected by the unidentified arrival making the narrative focused and concise when we know every story is deepened by the consequences of the shape shifters murders.
Scott senses another wolf in the locker room before lacrosse practice so he tries to sniff him out in a nice combination of common sense and comedy. During practice Scott abandons the goalie post each time a teammate attempts to score, brutally tackling them, then sniffing. Isaac gives himself away, and ever the observant one Stiles catches on first. Does he have a future in law enforcement like his dad? The scene continued the episodes great moments when the two teen wolves come helmet-to-helmet on the field, eyes shifting to the amber ones of the wolf, and Isaac asking for Scott to keep his secret.
Meanwhile the Argents (more and more resembling a mafia family) still think the culprit is a werewolf. Are they even aware of other supernatural creatures? They’re plan is to infiltrate the towns infrastructure. First, they torture the principal and replace him with Grandpa Argent. Then they send a hunter disguised as a sheriff’s deputy to the police station to murder Isaac after he’s been arrested on suspicion of killing his dad. Allison overheard the plan, and I really enjoyed her pro-activeness this episode. She put her archery skills to use, piercing the assassins tires, then shooting him in the kneecap. Next she’s there for Scott during his big transformation. She chains him inside a metal container.
When she goes up stairs she’s nearly attacked by the shape shifter. She screams, altering Scott, who begins to desperately fight to free himself from his second prison. First, he’s imprisoned by his condition as a werewolf once a month, and in this scene he was literally shackled inside a larger body separating himself from Allison. The scene was tense, unexpected, and wonderfully intercut with Stiles misadventures with Derek at the police station. Those two were trying to save Isaac from the assassin (who didn’t let an arrow to the knee stop him). Derek was flirting with the deputy at the front desk while Stiles went in search of Isaac’s cell, instead running into the fake deputy. There fight was awesome, leading to the realization that Isaac had already broke free and was out for blood. Derek arrived in time to command Isaac’s docility with his Alpha ways. Back at the Isaac’s house, Allison and the shape shifter were both ready to gut each other (she had a knife, it had its claws), when Scott finally broke free in time to glimpse the shape shifter crawling up the wall before it fled the house.
“Shape Shifted” is the strongest installment of Teen Wolf so far. The theme of protection touched every storyline. Here’s ones I didn’t already mention: Derek offering Scott the safety of the pact, to Jackson’s body apparently rejecting whatever’s in a wolf bite that causes a person to turn. And for once the show didn’t have to spell the theme out in obvious fashion. Everything was so good I only have three minor cynical observations.
(Here’s where my cynical observations go)
*Why wouldn’t the assassin call for backup or inform someone that he’d been attacked when Allison went Katniss Everdeen on his tires and knees?
*When the Sheriff Stylanski was interrogating Isaac would he really leave the office door open when discussing such sensitive information in a high school? A better alternative would have been for Scott’s heightened senses to come into play, and he could have heard everything that was going on and told Stiles later.
*I know I’m nitpicking, but the school board has absolutely zero contenders for principal apparently. Grandpa Argent was in the position one day after torturing the ex-principal. Who didn’t bother mentioning this to anyone.
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Tags: Teen Wolf