Picking up right where Teen Wolf season 1 left off, season 2 (available here on Amazon) is an accumulation of all the effects of season 1’s actions (check out my season 1 retrospective here). A good portion of this season is spent dealing with the changes in each person – physical and mental – went through. There are also a few underlying themes that are explored that I’d like to explore. But first and foremost, let’s start with the question that season 1 left us with:
What is Lydia?
You know, for a bunch of intelligent teenagers – as well as a very educated Derek – you’d think they would have learned about what she was a lot earlier. I mean, Google “creature that screams” and Banshee is pretty much your first top six result. Even just out of a coma and currently psychopath alpha!Peter knew it – but he may have known the Martin family line history from Talia so it would give him the advantage. And we don’t even get to learn that Lydia is a banshee until NEXT season, so the question goes unresolved through season 2.
The biggest thing from this season I took that would go into other seasons it this: Scott and Stiles ended season 1 knowing that the bite didn’t heal so they already determined she was not a werewolf, but at the beginning of season 2 they seem to have forgotten that fact for a while. It isn’t until episode 4 that Scott brings it up to Derek, though his response is that “No one’s immune – it doesn’t happen.” Derek has never heard or seen of it happening, and being that he knows a lot about everything makes this a rarity. It also gives you a precedent that if a bitten person is already another creature, they wouldn’t turn.
However, later in season 3B, we learn that a werewolf bite can change you from the creature you already are, which destroys that theory. We see this happen with both the nogitsune, as well as in season 5b finale to save Hailey. So how does the banshee not get changed while the other creatures do?
Does this mean that Peter gave her a different kind of bite? Or only banshees immune? There is still no explanation on why she is immune and I would like to learn why. Which leads me to another question about Lydia and Peter that I want to see come back and resolved…
Undead Creeper Peter Hale
Lydia is his back-up plan, and we can again assume that Peter know that Lydia was a banshee either from pre-fire knowledge or he could just… smell it on her? I don’t know. But you can’t deny that these two characters are bonded and now have a symbiotic relationship to each other. Season 2 is completely Peter needing Lydia to bring him back, but we see in the following seasons that Peter is protective of Lydia, and willing to break character to help her like she was family. Which, in a way she is since Peter only bit Scott and Lydia in his time as alpha, so in a way they would be his betas in a pack sense.
And yet, Peter finds a way to make any relationship he has dysfunctional – which is the case with giving Lydia a series of hallucinations to slowly assert that connection and forming the bond.
The creepy hallucinations are (in chronological order):
- Tub filling with black stuff: is it ash? Maybe black discharge from bite rejection?
- Hair in the bathtub, arm coming out of water to grab her;
- Adult Peter’s bare feet at the bathroom door, leading her to the trophy case, then only his back staring at his captain trophy (which triggers the memory of Peter approaching her on field);
- Wolfsbane growing in ice, Peter frozen below surface;
- Young!Peter in the waiting room at the guidance counselor talking to her;
- Peter drawing math equation in a spiral on board while everyone watches her, then class empty and he approached throwing chairs out of the way. This time she can write SOMEONE HELP ME backwards on chalkboard while her classmates looked on;
- Young!Peter returning Prada. Young Peter is crushing on Lydia, wanting to touch or kiss her. As she rejects him, he gives her a flower and it’s wolfsbane;
- Young!Peter at school wanting to see her afterwards. Asking her to bring the flower;
- The entire Hale House pre-fire, now the property bordering Lydia’s house. He’s inside. They start to kiss, making an emotional bond. At that point the charade drops and she sees him as the burnt Peter and is inside of the burnt Hale House.
- Football Field with Crowd cheering while in dress, and Peter attacking. Woke up with leaves in bed. Peter in bed next to her and they talk. Explains about the worm moon with creepy worms on her feet and in his hair. Shows the near future of the party, and then people dead at the party. Shows her himself as the alpha to complete the memory she keeps trying to remember.
It isn’t until Young!Peter is allowed to form that emotional connection with Lydia that he can speak to her directly as himself in his burnt form. To me, that is the solidifying of their dysfunctional relationship which I don’t believe we have yet to see pay off. He’s also the one that reveals to her that her friends were hiding things from her (i.e. about the creature that attacked her). That is what starts Lydia down the path to stop being on the sidelines and stepping up to be a main character in the series.
Ian and Holland did an amazing job playing up this relationship, and I’m hoping with Peter’s return in season 6, and that Lydia is poised to be the one to remember Stiles who is trapped in the same place as Peter, that somehow the bonds they both have with the banshee will work with each other.
The Power of Love
More than just a rock ballad by Peter Cetera, we butt up against the power of love with multiple characters; Allison & Scott, Lydia & Jackson, parents & their kids, and Derek against it.
Allison and Scott are the biggest arc, since they spend the episode hiding the fact that they are still together from everyone except Stiles (who probably wishes he didn’t know sometimes). They are really, really bad at it too, and it’s going to end up nearly killing half the town because Victoria has way too high expectations for her daughter, and Grandpa doesn’t want to go through chemotherapy like any other normal human being. Even Peter, who is a functioning psychopath, knows the power of love and chides Derek for underestimating it. To that end, the relationship arc is the major point that Scott’s season plot arc revolves around when not reacting to Derek, Jackson, Matt, or Gerard’s actions.
The power of their teenage love is a theme that is not only used to manipulate Scott, but it’s the same power that can save Jackson. So when love doesn’t have you slowly dying during a wolfbane bong party with the future in-laws, it can help you relieve that flaky snake skin problem you’ve got going.
With Jackson, Lydia is the one person who he has let into his life on a deeper level. She knows him intimately, and in a way where he can be less on guard and doesn’t need to be perfect. As he goes on his ego trip with wanting to be the All-Star Werewolf, he pushes her away. Perhaps it’s because she’s a reminder of that doubting, imperfect version of himself he doesn’t want to be any longer? Whatever the reason is, some part of Jackson cares for Lydia deeply. That is the part that Lydia can touch when she stands in front of the kanima with the key, and it’s the piece that gives Jackson back his identity.
I know I should talk more about Jackson’s storyline, but I honestly don’t feel they did a lot in it. Jackson spends nearly half the season as a mind-controlled lizard forced to kill people. They say that the kanima form is linked to Jackson’s identity – or lack thereof. The theory, set up in season 1 as well, is that Jackson is the way he is because he’s trying to please parents he never met or knew. Therefore, Jackson doesn’t truly know his own self since he links all his motivations to these faceless people.
But the way that it’s show with Jackson as the kanima is that he doesn’t know what he is doing and, when he finally learns, literally cannot fight against it until Lydia breaks through. The kanima doesn’t take away Jackson’s identity any more than when Scott was having his werewolf issues in early season 1. The kanima/master relationship takes away the shifter’s agency to do the bidding of the master without objection. I’m not a big fan of loss of agency type plots, and I really found that part of the plot – and Matt as a character – less than interesting.
As an aside: That moment with Lydia and the key is probably the bravest thing Lydia has done in two seasons in the show. She barely knows about what is going on in Beacon Hills (I highly doubt Stiles could fill her in that quickly) and yet she is willing to put herself in front of a killing machine in hopes that she can save him. In that moment, my opinion of her changed (see my season 1 retrospect) and this is when I believe she became a main character in this series.
Family Feels, Part Deux – Family vs. Pack
In continuing to examine the relationship between father and son, you can see that the Sheriff is starting to catch on to Stiles’ deceptions and is getting fed up with it. In the first season, it was a very playful relationship with a few moments of seriousness when it came to Stiles’ deceptions. This season it balances the playfulness and the seriousness almost 50/50, with a hard hit when the Sheriff must issue the restraining order Jackson’s father filed. It leads to the Sheriff being put on a temporary leave of absence because they felt that the son of a sheriff stealing police vehicle and having a restraining order against him reflected poorly on the county. The Sheriff isn’t mad because he doesn’t want to feel any worse than he already does by yelling at Stiles.
Stiles normally doesn’t carry a lot of guilt in his deceptions to anyone else, but with his father he sees the direct results and it affects him hard. The guilt is revealing enough that when Stiles is drugged at Lydia’s party, he sees his father drunk and blaming Stiles for his wife’s death, ruining his life, and is now killing him. Things are still iffy while Stiles is trying desperately to solve the case to help his father get his job back. His father doesn’t stop him from helping, but when it comes to plans he states that he trusts Scott over his own son.
Even when Sheriff gets his badge back, Stiles feels there is tension between him and his dad from the night at the Sheriff’s office. Stiles feels that he can’t help in the werewolf world matters. But that distance is gone when Stiles returns from being kidnapped and he sees just how much his father was worried and overprotective at his disappearance. Sheriff tries so hard to cheer Stiles up after – seeing if he could get anywhere with Lydia, and reminding Stiles that he was the hero of the game.
Over in McCall land – Melissa is becoming more and more worried about Scott’s behavior as well, needing to deal with his lack of focus in school, his reckless behavior, and how he’s not as open about his life with her. She’s worried that it’s in regards to his breakup with Allison, and then that he’s lying about being broken up with her, and that the behavior is related back to his father that we have yet to see. Of course, this is going to nearly get Scott killed when Melissa tells Victoria about the kids dating again, and she takes it into her own hands to try and kill Scott to keep her away from Allison.
Then Melissa sees Scott in werewolf form in episode 8, and it freaks her out. The hurt on Scott’s wolfy face as she “rejects” him is just heartbreaking even with those ridiculous eye ridges. Melissa avoids her son after that, not wanting to talk to Scott about what happened. Of course, this leads then to Gerard holding Melissa hostage to talk to Scott. After that, Melissa takes to the supernatural… well, not WELL but quickly adapts to the changing realty. To be honest, if I was going to pick the strong female character of this series – Melissa McCall is my choice hands down.
And yes, I ship Melissa/Sheriff (when I’m not shipping Sheriff with SPN’s Jody Mills…).
Team Argent, on the other hand, shows the cracks of the average American family when Grandpa comes to stay after Kate’s funeral (how they fooled Gerard into not checking to see if there was a body in the casket before burying it is a mystery). We learn in this season that it’s the Argent women who are the leaders of the family, and the men are the soldiers. If that’s so, that means that Gerard was trained to listen to the womenfolk of the family. So why does he have so much sway? I also wonder if Victoria is from another hunter family that married into the Argents, or if Gerard’s wife trained her post-marriage.
Allison spends most the season being put in the middle as her father and grandfather want information to stop the kanima (first as Lydia, then Jackson), but Allison wants to protect her friends first. She’s told though that protecting Jackson means people are dying from her actions. Telling her father, however, means betraying Scott’s trust. There is no way Allison can win in this battle.
Then, still reeling in the death of her mother and the desire of not being weak anymore, she is manipulated yet again. She takes her mother’s place (against Chris’ wishes) as leading the Argent men, but in the way that Gerard wants a woman to lead. She takes a trip down the dark side, being Gerard’s favorite grandchild, and wants Derek dead in revenge for her mother’s death. I wonder, though… that letter Gerard had for Allison – did Victoria write it? She had told Chris that he needed to make sure that Allison didn’t believe her suicide for its reason, so why would she have said that if she wrote a letter to Allison explaining it. Or did she not tell Chris about the letter?
Chris – only going by the code – is made to help kill his wife. Her death, and Allison’s dark turn, gives him the ability to start seeing the shades of grey in the world. That awakening, though, puts Chris out of the loop on Gerard’s plans. Chris sees Allison following down Kate’s path and he knows he needs to find a way to stop it before he loses her. He ends up letting Boyd and Erica go, and helping Scott because it was the right thing to do. When Gerard turns on both him and Allison, stating that he would kill his entire family to survive and will become a “monster” if he has to, do both Chris and Allison realize that they need to hold onto each other as the last vestiges of their family and find a new path.
Finally, we have the other last vestiges of a proud family – Peter and Derek. Yeah let’s just talk about fucked up family relations here a moment. Killing or attempting to kill each other, manipulations, and yet being family and needing each other is apparently a shared trait between them. Peter returns to life just as Derek’s pack abandons him. Deaton has warned Derek to be careful and not let Peter in because of said manipulations.
Derek isn’t a complete idiot, though. Peter has a lot of knowledge he doesn’t, and he needs a pack still because Boyd and Erica leaving isn’t going to stop the Alpha Pack from showing up next season. There are more reasons to keep Peter around than there are to kill him again. That doesn’t stop him from getting out some much-needed stress relief on Peter’s smug, scruffy face. This rebalancing of familiar relationships between them won’t flourish until next season when Cora and the Alpha pack show up.
Derek: King of the Emotionally Challenged Werewolves…
We can’t end this without a quick look at Derek’s run at being alpha. He’s only halfway through his time as alpha by the end of season 2, and well… his betas are still alive at least. He’s also a much better alpha than Peter, but he also has some very big paw prints to fill and not a lot of time to get himself organized. Oh, and there’s also a hunter family wanting his head, and a lizard running around town killing people that may or may not be his fail!beta.
Really, with all of that considered, what Derek accomplished with his beta trio was a very commendable effort. He never lied to them, is very protective of them and respectful of their needs (mostly), was upfront and honest about the realities of being a werewolf in Beacon Hills and the hunters that would want to kill them. He works to train them control in what is probably the way the Hales have always done it (which wow, that headset Erica wears… I’m tempted to call child abuse on Talia…).
The biggest thing for me, though, is when he talks to Boyd and Erica before they leave and tells them that they are running, and once they start they never stop. If that’s true – has Derek himself actually stopped running then? His lack of trust and the distance he keeps even from his betas makes me wonder if there isn’t a part of him who is just waiting for the other shoe to drop and have it all ripped away from him again.
His alpha relationship is actually the best with Scott – the one wolf who isn’t a part of his pack. They are still sarcastic at each other, but Scott is probably the best trained. Derek still teaches Scott, but in a way to teach himself without having Derek show him how to do it. Derek doesn’t understand why Scott feels the urge to protect everyone, and eventually sees that it’s because those protective urges are aimed at the people he sees as part of his pack. He doesn’t want to hurt Scott but won’t let him stand in his way.
“I don’t trust anyone. I know, if you did, you might be the alpha you like to think you are.”
After talking to Deaton, Derek does go to Scott to help, but then Derek overhears Scott talking to Gerard. He hears about how Scott had been feeding Gerard information JUST as Derek was willing to open up and start to trust him. This betrayal and the lack of trust Scott has in Derek will make it take a bit longer for Derek to get there again. Instead, where Boyd had been close to Derek from the trio of betas, Isaac will start to become close to Derek – though we’ve already started to see Isaac starting to lean more towards Scott when it comes to needing to be nurtured.
Final Thoughts and Foreshadows
There’s a few moments of foreshadowing that come up in season 2 that blend into season 3 and 4. For instance, you have Derek telling Scott that he’s going to lose Allison no matter what he chooses, or Melissa asking Scott if his reckless behavior is linked to his father. The biggest piece that I really noticed was the wording of Stiles’ talk with Marin Morrell after Matt’s death.
Stiles admits he’s already having problems sleeping, and Ms. Morrell determines he is suffering from hypervigilance. But as they talk about the drowning, Stiles talks about holding your breath under water.
“You know when you’re drowning, you don’t actually inhale until right before you black out. It’s called voluntary apnea. It’s like no matter how much you’re freaking out, the instinct to not let any water in is so strong that you won’t open your mouth until you feel like your head’s exploding. But then when you finally do let it in, that’s when it stops hurting. It’s not scary anymore. It’s actually kind of peaceful.”
Sounds like a struggle that Stiles is going to go through in season 3B, only not with water.
In the end, season 2 is probably my least favorite of all the seasons (not counting season 5 since I’ve only watched it in full twice and still debating). There was a lot of potential I feel the writers could have played more with, and some things focused on could have been left out. The things I do like from this season are the pieces that are foundations for season 3 plotlines (my favorite season) to build on.
Speaking of season 3 – that retrospect is up next! Until then, were there any foreshadowing that you saw I didn’t mention? What were your thoughts about the season? Post them in the comments below and let’s chat Teen Wolf!
Stay tuned, and keep your eye on my Twitter @aliskyrichards and you may catch me livetweeting as I rewatch these two parts this week. Otherwise subscribe to the Three If By Space site to keep tabs on when the rest of the retrospective series gets posted, and of course for all the Season 6 news as I hear it!