Since I am taking over reviewing Teen Wolf, I felt it was appropriate to take a look back at all the seasons before. A retrospect if you will. So let’s discuss what we liked, what we hated, who and what we miss, and all those unsolved questions we’re hoping to get some resolution to this season.
So let’s start at the beginning – two boys trying to find a dead body in the woods in Teen Wolf – Season 1.
“You’re the one always bitching that nothing ever happens in this town” – Stiles
The Story and Characters
Enter Scott McCall: stereotypical nerd who gets great powers, and great responsibility. And… uses them to exceed in sports and get a girlfriend. Yup, he is 16 and his motivations show it. However, he’s also thrown into a supernatural world where his only guides are his hyperactive bestie Stiles, and loner in a leather jacket Derek. We get to watch him balance trying to hold onto his personal life while dealing with all of the werewolf issues that he really never asked for.
Then there is Stiles Stilinski: the clever one. Sarcasm is his greatest weapon, and for the son of a cop he is very anti-authority. He is the rock that Scott has to keep him from going crazy, the one you can depend on when things get hard, and I’m still surprised that Stiles never became Scott’s anchor. His brotherly relationship with Scott is the most important relationship in this series in my opinion, because when they are fighting, everything just feels wrong.
The antagonistic relationship between him and Derek is also worth noting, because while they annoy each other, they can acknowledge the other’s worth in Scott’s life. I’m not a big fan of Sterek as I never really saw the sexual subtext between them like others can, but there is a love/hate relationship that you see evolve from season 1 to 4 where Stiles goes from being tossed around like a doll to being one of the people Derek trusts the most to save Scott.
Then you have the new girl, Allison Argent. She is sweet, loving, a good friend and your typical teenage girl – not too popular, not too nerdy. Her relationship with Scott mirrors that of Derek and Kate, and she ends up being the one manipulated the most in this season. Her family is at odds in how to protect her from the world of the werewolves, and no one truly prepares her for it when she is thrust into it. Kate wants Allison to be like her, and Allison doesn’t realize just what that means until it’s too late. It’s almost painful at times to watch how much she gets hurt through no fault of her own, and how weak of a character she is – the damsel in distress for this season. Thankfully she goes on a character arc next season that will bring her more growth than this season did.
Next is Lydia… who, to be honest, I hated this season. She reminded me of all those popular girls in school who bullied me, and how I just wanted to punch their smug faces in. But her friendship with Allison starts to show deeper layers to her than the superficial face she puts on. Making her into the banshee gave her character a purpose to the plot that really wasn’t there in season one beyond a minor character, and I believe that it has made her a better person overall now that she is owning her power.
Her boyfriend and Scott’s day-to-day antagonist, Jackson Whitmore, is just a bully for the most part. There are hints, however, at his insecurities that will come out more in the next season. For now, it’s really just what allows him to be asshole to Scott, and a willing patsy for Derek. Jackson is willing to be manipulated in a way as it will allow him to get what he wants – the power booster that Scott has – but it’s also playing on his insecurities about not being the best. His ability to be the best at everything is the only real piece of identity he has for himself, and when he isn’t the best, he struggles with himself and anger at that. That theme is the groundwork for next season and explored in depth with the Kanima.
The breaking of the Hale family is the driving force of the entire season’s plot, as well as Peter and Derek. Now for me, Peter is a fascinating character – which I’m glad he will be back for season 6. Yes, he is an egotistical, power hungry sociopath. Yes, he is dangerous. However, I don’t believe that he was nearly this bad pre-fire, otherwise Derek wouldn’t extend the benefit of the doubt that he gives Peter since Derek doesn’t trust anyone for a long time. In season 1, he is clearly running on the base instinct of revenge for his family’s death as his motivation. In many stories, that would actually make him a hero, but it’s the way he goes about it that turns him into the villain. You want to be sympathetic for him and what he goes through to heal – something we don’t get to experience until season 4 – and to me, I feel that the alpha power enhanced his coma-induced madness. When he is killed at the end of the season, it destroys that version of him. Though it’s debatable about whether his reborn version next season is better or worse.
“You think I killed Laura on purpose? One of my own family? …my mind, my personality, were literally burned out of me. It’s been driven by pure instinct.” – Peter
Then there is Derek. My poor, abused puppy. As his backstory is slowly revealed, you look back at season 1 and realize where all his anger issues come from. Derek Hale as a teenager was pretty much season 2 Scott, but there is more to him than that. He’s highly intelligent, speaks multiple languages, and you can see he is a history buff who knows way more than the stereotypical bad boy in a leather jacket that you are meant to believe he is. He is also very loyal to his family, and the knowledge that he is responsible for their deaths, all that guilt, is what makes him the sour wolf that he is. His lack of trust comes directly from Kate’s betrayal while they were dating, as well as a bit of PTSD which you can see in their scenes together in how he is scared of her. He just lost his sister to what he thinks is the Argents, only to learn it was Peter as the clues come together. Scott is the beta of the mysterious alpha and while he fights with Scott and tries to keep him at a distance, Derek does his best to protect Scott. In a way, Scott is probably the only positive relationship he has in the entire season – and this is the kid who tries to frame him for murder. Twice.
In the end, Derek sides with Scott over Peter, and becomes the alpha. In doing so, he has to kill his uncle which you know had to be a hard choice for him, even knowing that he killed Laura for her alpha power. Peter was the only family he had left – that he knows of – and he knew Peter couldn’t live the way he was. In the end, I want to believe that Derek didn’t really kill Peter as an act of revenge, but as a mercy kill. This wasn’t his uncle he remembered. This was a rabid dog wearing his uncle’s face and carrying his memories and Derek felt he was giving him peace away from the insanity and having to heal from another tragic burning.
Too bad nobody seems to stay dead in Beacon Hills.
The Long Con
We have some foreshadowing in season 1 to things that will happen later – showing that the writers were already planning out seasons 4 and 5 while they were filming season 1. Episode six has Allison reading a book to learn about her family history and what story does she read aloud? It’s the Beast of Gévaudan, of course. Not like that’s ever going to come back to be relevant. The thing that I find interesting, though, is that when looking at the picture, Lydia sees Peter’s alpha form. Peter and the Beast do have a lot of similarities in that form which makes me have a few questions. The biggest is, of course, Peter’s form. CGI has changed greatly in the years since season 1 and season 5, but even in season 5b the CGI team could have changed up the appearance of the beast so that it didn’t look like Peter’s alpha form. Is the form then a result of the corruption both Sebastian and Peter had in their hearts with the power (similar to Jackson’s kanima form as a result of his sense of self)? Or is there another link to this we haven’t seen yet. Remember that the Dread Doctors are still out there – as is Mason, poor baby. We don’t know the relationship of the Dread Doctors vs. the Ghost Riders yet but if there is a similarity between Peter and the Beast, it would explain why Peter was taken out of Eichen House to parts unknown.
There’s also Chris and Kate’s conversation about if scratches can turn someone. Jackson ends up not being the beta they are looking for, but it will become relevant later to them when Kate returns in season 4 as the werejaguar.
Season 1 is also the beginning of Stiles & Lydia’s romantic arc (aka Stydia) that has still yet to pay off. Stiles reveals in episode eight that he has been obsessed with Lydia since the third grade, but he wants Scott to find out if she likes him back instead of asking her himself. Of course, in that episode Scott lies to Stiles about Lydia’s affection because he made out with her – causing a major fight between the two when Stiles finds out. However, you see Stiles’ concern and affection for her as the crushing teenage boy: always making sure to say hello, checking on her at home the day after the attack at the video store, making sure she knows how beautiful and cared about at the dance… trying to save her from Peter and then him putting himself in danger after Peter attacks to make sure that he leaves Lydia so someone can find her and get her help.
Now while I admit I’m not the biggest Stydia fan (you’ll see why in my season 3a recap), I have to admit that the steps to building this relationship that we are supposed to finally get in season 6 have been done realistically to create a lasting relationship between them as they leave high school and enter the real world. It’s a long time coming, and there are a lot of things that happen between now and then for both of them that keep them from getting to a relationship earlier (see: Jackson, Aidan, Cora, Malia…). I’m just hoping that when we finally get to the payoff this coming season that it is worth the buildup.
Speaking of feelings – Teen Wolf is FULL of all the family feels. You’ve got four major families in the series with adult figures in season 1: Hale, Argent, McCall, and Stilinski. We already talked about the Hales, so let’s look at the others in relation to this season and it’s hints to later ones.
The Argent family arc has them coming to realizations of each other – in particular what Kate did and how that will come back to destroy their family piece by piece – and what sides they are going to be on in season 2 when the patriarch arrives.
Kate Argent is really just crazy pants. First – why did Kate set the fire while Derek wasn’t in the house? You’d want to make sure that you destroyed all the evidence and he would be the biggest clue as to who did it. So why did she wait until Derek was out of the house to have her paid thugs go in to set the fire? Then you have her whole “I don’t play by the rules” attitude and going against the code that Chris sticks to like it’s a holy directive. You have to feel sorry for Chris in a way because he is being put between honor and his family with Kate’s crimes against the Hales, and poor Allison goes through almost the whole season in the dark about everything happening around her, only to get her information from Ms. Crazy Pants “I’m going to lick Werewolf Abs” McGee. But to be real, if Chris and Victoria wanted to keep Allison from ever learning about werewolves and hunting, they should have known better than to move to Beacon Hills.
The McCall family and the Stilinski family are woven together as one unit with Melissa being the Mom and Sheriff being the Dad. This comes up over and over again, but you can see the bond between all four of them.
One of the biggest reoccurring themes that starts in season 1 is Stiles’ fear of losing people, especially his father. Sheriff and Stiles are all they have left in their family unit, and Stiles is very protective of his father: making him eat salads, worried that he can get hurt on the job… and then there is the scene in episode 9 while the Sheriff is drunk (Stiles’ doing), where the Sheriff talks about how much he misses sitting and talking to Stiles, and how much he misses Stiles’ mother, Claudia. You can see the moment there when Stiles, who had enabled his father to drink to get information, reaches in to stop him, and they stand there. That bond between father and son comes up throughout the season, and is one of the pillars of Teen Wolf. I think that is why in the season 6 trailer, seeing the Sheriff not remember Stiles hurts because it’s a pillar being kicked out from under us.
The McCall family doesn’t get as much acknowledgment in this season beyond building the protectiveness between them. Melissa is mostly at work, but she tries to keep up on Scott’s life. She does try to be authoritative, but Scott (and Stiles) are teenagers and their respect for authority is pretty nil. You can tell that they have been on their own without Mr. McCall for a long time, and have a good friendship within their dynamic, and are very open with each other. Because of that, Scott not telling his mother about being a werewolf is significant because he is afraid of her reaction to him when she knows. It also keeps her unprepared for what happens in season 2.
And All That Remains…
One of the unanswered issues I have is in relation to Jackson’s nightmares. I’m still trying to figure out how this one works. They start after Derek presses his claws into Jackson’s neck. There is no evidence of the claws staying in his neck – his doctor would have found them if they had. So how is he having these nightmares about wolfsbane and Derek before knowing that werewolves exist? Derek is honestly confused when Jackson mentions that he knows the Hale House. Plus, Derek is obviously manipulating Jackson to get what he wants in keeping Scott and Allison apart, so why would he torture him with nightmares on top of it?
There are other questions too: later on we learn that the Deaton’s office is lined with mountain ash, yet Scott can get past it just fine. How is he able to do that?
And then the inconsistency of Laura’s corpse: the sheriff’s department finds her lower half – human. Scott finds her top half – human. Derek buries her in a wolfsbane circle and when the boys dig her up – werewolf head?! If we learn that the power to change to a full wolf is a huge evolution thing that involves way too many steps that are never actually explained (rant to come in season 4 review), how does a dead upper body go back and forth in form?
Season 1 isn’t my favorite season, but it has a lot of memorable moments that even years later I see cycle through my Tumblr feed. And yes, I’m talking about more that Derek Hale’s amazing abs…
Sorry, distracted myself there.
But no, season 1 gave a good foundation to the Teen Wolf series. There are things I would have changed, as there are with all seasons. I would have liked to see more diversity this early on-screen – my forever cry of More Danny Screen Time Please. I wish Allison was stronger in the beginning, and Lydia was more than just fluff. I wish we got to see a bit more of Laura than the 5 seconds she wasn’t a corpse on the screen to know what Derek and his sister’s relationship was like.
That’s my ramble – so how about you? What did you enjoy in season 1? What did you hate? What lingering questions do you still have from this season that have not been answered yet? Comment below and let’s discuss! Next is season 2, which is full of lizard references, discussing the fact Scott’s hair gets shorter as Stiles’ hair is growing, and we are introduced to Derek Hale’s School of Emotional Compromised Teenagers – including his master class on Unnecessary Backflips. See you then!
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