It is time, I think, to try and return to our regularly scheduled programming on My Geek Blasphemy. Well. Okay. Scheduling was never really all that regular around here and may stay even more irregular in the weeks to come, but regardless, I’ve written a review for every season of Teen Wolf, and despite a necessary delay, I’m not about to stop now.
Oh, show. You started this season out well, anyway.
As with nearly every Teen Wolf review I’ve done for this blog, SPOILERS abound.
Ghost Riders have come to Beacon Hills, abducting anyone who sees them and wiping every trace of their existence away. Even their friends and families can no longer remember they ever existed. Unfortunately for Stiles, he sees them.
CAN Scott’s Pack of Randomly Assorted Supernatural Teenagers (plus Mason) save Stiles when they don’t even remember him? CAN they keep the Wild Hunt from erasing everyone in Beacon Hills? CAN they graduate high school?
(Yes. The answer, of course, is yes.)
1. Undoubtedly, I’m going to forget to talk about a bunch of stuff because it’s been weeks since the finale aired and I’ve had more important things to deal with lately. But here’s where I’d like to start: a season with limited Stiles Stilinski was always going to be a hard sell for me.
Stiles is my favorite, my hero, my bae. He’s not my sole reason for watching Teen Wolf, but he’s certainly a significant one. Any season where Stiles only appears in three of ten episodes? Yeah, that’s not a season I’m likely to get excited about.
But I was excited about this season because its premise is fantastic. I love the whole idea of it; the idea of being forgotten, of being erased, is such an inherently human fear, one that we have to confront whenever we’re getting our existential crises on. And the initial setup of this premise is wonderfully creepy: the desolate house featured in “Memory Lost,” with its disappearing items and its one normally furnished room and its half-empty photos . . . all extremely effective. In fact, it’s exactly the kind of thing that Teen Wolf does so well. People make fun of this show because, well, because it’s incredibly easy to do so–and I won’t hold myself exempt from that, because I have absolutely made fun of TW at several points over the years–but one of the things it HAS done extremely well is deliver some fantastically surreal, eerie, and creepy ass shit.
Is the show often a silly parade of shirtless young men who may or may not be playing lacrosse? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t genuine horror to be found here too. Horror comes in a lot of flavors: it’s not all American Horror Story and The Walking Dead. I was really, really excited when this season started off . . .
2. . . only for the wheels to start coming off roughly at the midpoint.
It’s hard to know where to begin exactly because I just have so many problems with this season. I guess my main ones have to do with structure and logic, by which I mean what the hell happened to them?
Look, Teen Wolf isn’t exactly known for its logic; its known for its silly werewolf faces and beautiful what-the-fuckery. But there are times when you simply can’t excuse what’s frankly just bad writing.
Like the Nazi werewolf, who mostly just feels out of place and inconsequential to the story at large.
Like Parrish, who has somehow gone from being an interesting and at least somewhat plot relevant character (not to mention Lydia’s love interest) to just being a meaningless villain’s butt monkey–and seriously, not even the proper villain’s butt monkey, but the brainwashed henchmen to a B-level baddie.
Also Canaan, which was conceptually creepy but ultimately ended up being a filler episode with a bunch of entirely unnecessary and not particularly well explained hallucinations.
Also Claudia Stilinski, who really doesn’t make much sense of any kind, like why is the Sheriff the only person in this town who needed someone to fill the gap?
The banshee lady had her dead kid, of course, but I could have gone with that because a) she’s a banshee, and they’re always connected to weird dead stuff, and b) she’s left behind as Canaan’s sole survivor. The Sheriff, however, isn’t either of these things, so Claudia makes no sense to me. Not to mention WTF is up with the pointless retcon about the circumstances of Claudia’s death? In Season 3A, the Sheriff has a whole monologue about how he wasn’t present when his wife died; in 6A, completely different story. It seriously vexes me.
Also, there’s the Vanishing of Everyone in Beacon Hills, and how it happens almost entirely off screen. In one episode, a lot of teenagers are abducted–and don’t get me wrong, it’s a bunch of them, but it’s also not, you know, the ENTIRE TOWN. Nevertheless, two episodes later our heroes are talking about how virtually everyone in Beacon Hills is gone, and I’m just like, what? WHEN? Did I miss an episode?
This reminds me of the supposed apocalypse that took place in Season Five of Supernatural, an apocalypse you almost never saw because of budget reasons. Teen Wolf could have fixed this problem pretty easily: the pointless Canaan road trip episode happens between The Vanishing of Teenagers and The Vanishing of Everyone Else, so all the show really had to do was give us a scene where our heroes come back to Beacon Hills and discover that some serious shit has gone down while they’ve been away nearly being murdered by a fake ghost . . . but of course such a scene never happens. Cause, you know. LOGIC.
3. I’m not even done with the logic fails, by the way. Note 2 was just getting far too unwieldy for my tastes. We also have to discuss what happens to the victims of the Ghost Riders.
Now, the train stations themselves are totally awesome. There’s an atmosphere to train stations. I’ve spent what feels like a fair amount of time in them (well, the Martinez one, anyway), and they’re just interesting places with a great cinematic feel and a lot of easy potential for symbolism. I love that the people who’ve been captured are basically just sitting around the whole time in a catatonic state, waiting for the announcement that their train has come.
Where this falls down hard for me is that this catatonia mostly only affects the extras. Seldom do our heroes actually fall prey to it. We see Stiles come out of his supernaturally induced stupor a couple of times, but with little indication to suggest what actually woke him (other than, you know, cause the Plot Said So). Malia has to more or less Power of Love Peter awake, but that’s not true of anyone else who gets abducted–and by the season finale, pretty much everyone gets abducted. Regardless, the Sheriff, Melissa, Chris Argent, Hayden, and basically everyone else are all just either walking around, fighting the Ghost Riders, are otherwise trying to escape. It’s pretty lazy writing.
Also, am I the only one who feels that it’s a little anticlimactic to spend all season focused on bringing Stiles back into the real world, only to immediately begin merging Beacon Hills and All The Train Stations together the very next episode? Like, seriously. All the work Scott’s pack did trying to remember him was for nothing. They could have just walked into the school or something and ended up finding him right there.
Believe it or not, I have even more problems with both the season finale and this season in general, but I’m going to put those on hold for a minute so I can discuss something far more important . . .
4. HOLY SHIT I ACCURATELY GUESSED STILES’S FIRST NAME!!!!
I wrote my first Teen Wolf fanfiction three years ago, and in it, I decided to give Stiles a first name: Mieczyslaw, because I figured it had to be a) something Polish, b) hard for Americans to pronounce, and c), well, I just liked the look of it. And now, look at me! I’ve been proven psychic! I CAN FORESEE ALL THINGS! ALL SHALL LOVE ME AND DESPAIR!
Let it be noted here and now that I will hold onto this deeply significant victory for years to come. Expect this to pop up in the middle of reviews that have absolutely nothing to do with Teen Wolf at all because I am a winner, I am a champion, I am the best. #SoHumble
(I will admit, however, that I did not correctly guess that the Sheriff’s first name was Noah. I will also admit that I’m having some trouble accepting it, since he’s been John so long in Teen Wolf fandom that I kind of forgot it wasn’t canon. I actually once referred to him as “Noah” in my notes, like with quote marks and everything. I didn’t even realize what I’d done at first, either, until I went back and reread it.)
5. We have a couple of important romantic relationships to discuss. One was predictable and unfortunately failed pretty hard for me. One was utterly unpredictable and was . . . surprisingly kind of cool? But I’m also conflicted?
Let’s discuss the failure first.
In my review for Season 5A of Teen Wolf, this is how I described my feelings for Lydia and Stiles: “I Ship Them But I Kinda Don’t Ship Them But I—Look, I Just Love Them, Okay, STOP PRESSURING ME!” Because I didn’t like Stydia at all in the first couple of seasons when they had kind of an unhealthy relationship, but eventually, as Stiles’s one-sided crush became this great friendship between the two of them, I could genuinely see it becoming something romantic and good. But I also kinda wanted it to stay platonic too because platonic friendships are super important to me, and I thought they had a great one. Going into this season, I was prepared for platonic to go out the window and I thought I’d be mostly okay with it.
I wasn’t. Here’s why:
Partially, it all feels a little rushed to me. And I know some people are going to laugh at that and say, “But Carlie! They’ve been building Stydia for six seasons!” And I get that, although such an argument doesn’t work super well if you’ve been reading that relationship as friendship only–but it’s not just that. It’s also that we start this season with Stiles saying I love you, and Lydia being upset later for not saying it back, when that’s really not where we left them at all at the end of 5B. There’s a jump in their relationship that, personally, I would have liked to have seen on screen.
More importantly, though, my problem is how Season 6 continually gives more significance to romantic relationships than platonic ones. Case in point: when Scott, Malia, and Lydia have to try and remember Stiles back into existence, and ultimately only True Luv Lydia is able to do it.
There are two ways such a thing could have worked for me:
A. Lydia connects to Stiles not because they’re romantically linked, but because she was his anchor in Season 3A and that’s left psychic bonds that allow them to sense one another even across other dimensions. This would have been pretty easy for TW to accomplish, actually, since they’re referencing that very moment from 3A with Parrish’s whole deep freeze box (which was kind of dumb, IMO, like I would have been much happier if they’d just had ice baths again). Sadly, that’s not how this scene plays at all.
B. Scott manages to open the portal, but it’s not quite large enough. Malia widens it even further, but still it needs some more work. Finally, Lydia manages to crack it open simply because she goes last. It’s made clear that they each contributed to the effort equally, not that Lydia ultimately freed Stiles because their romantic feels for each other were somehow stronger than both Malia and Stiles’s friendship and Scott and Stiles’s friendship.
Either of those scenarios would have worked for me. Here’s how it actually played out:
Scott tries to open the portal, but it only works for like a second. Malia tries to open the portal, but it only works for like a second. Both somehow sense, though, that it just HAS to be Lydia, that it was always supposed to be Lydia–which is especially ridiculous in Malia’s case, since I don’t think Lydia even appeared in her memories of Stiles. Regardless, it’s bullshit because I think we all know that if only one person can be responsible for bringing Stiles back based the depth of their emotional connection, that person ought to be, must be, Scott. (Or the Sheriff, but he’s not in this scene, and anyway he also failed to bring Stiles back . . . though in fairness he did regain his memories of Stiles first.)
Romance is important to a lot of people, and it’s certainly important to Teen Wolf–but this show, first and foremost, has always been about Scott and Stiles’s epic bromance. I mean, come on, that’s just canon, right? Since the beginning of the show, Scott and Stiles always came first . . . but now their connection is less significant than Stiles and Lydia’s romantic relationship? That’s bullshit. I don’t buy it, not for one second, and it really annoys me, too–because it’s not just that Stiles & Lydia’s relationship is stronger than Stiles & Scott’s relationship. It’s that Stiles/Lydia’s romantic relationship is stronger than Stiles & Scott’s platonic friendship. If Stiles and Lydia had stayed in the BFF zone this season, then this scene would never have happened–but, as almost always, capital L romantic love is deemed more important than any other kind. It’s frustrating.
As far as this season’s other important ship:
This one is . . . difficult for me.
One of the things I’ve always really liked about Teen Wolf is that I find it possible, but not mandatory, to ship almost all of the characters. I can ship Stiles with just about everyone: Derek, Scott, Lydia, Malia, etc. (I never could ship Stiles with Peter, though. I understand why it has appeal for some people, but honestly that particular ship has always creeped me out. I’m not sure if it’s a villain thing, an age thing, or both, just that it never personally worked for me.) I liked Kira with Scott; I could also pretty easily ship her with Malia. I never felt a need for any of these characters to get together–as stated, deep, world-shaking, platonic friendship is kind of my jam–but I could see them getting together, and I always thought that was kind of neat.
There was only one ship I desperately wanted to see realized: Melissa McCall/Sheriff Stilinski. I always, always thought they were endgame. Never once did I consider Melissa/Argent, and yet . . . here we are.
My feelings here are complicated. On on hand, Melissa/Argent ended up being kind of adorable. From their whole nine herbs remedy thing (which will never fail to make me think of Community’s eleven herbs and space experience from “Basic Rocket Science”) to Melissa telling Argent that his gunslinger showdown with the Ghost Rider was “so hot,” I mean, they’re just a lot of fun, and I can’t help but like the two of them . .
. . . but one, I can’t help but feel like I’m betraying years and years of Melissa/Sheriff shipdom, and two, like, where the hell did this even come from? Cause sure, Mek and I figured out in the beginning of this season that we were headed into Melissa/Argent territory, but, like . . . have they even had a scene together since 3A? I’m so conflicted and confused. (Also, a little concerned for Melissa, considering that Chris Argent has basically the most tragic life ever and people around him drop like flies. Even Derek Hale’s life is less tragic than his, and really, that’s saying something.)
6. While we’re talking love interests and relationships, let me take this time to mention the I am still totally pissed about the way Kira was cut out of the show.
Cause here’s the thing: maybe I could’ve seen how Kira didn’t have a specific role to play in this story, and God knows the show didn’t always know what to do with her. Maybe I could have understood cutting her part in favor of streamlining the plot. Mind you, I would’ve been deeply, bitterly disappointed because goddamn it, I like Kira, and I have a thousand ideas on how the show could have used her better than they did . . . but I guess I could’ve understood it . . .
. . . except they brought back Theo, who despite having a sort of antagonistic charm, wasn’t particularly important to this season at all–and seriously, a redemption story? Please. And I see that Hayden’s still around because, oh yeah, she definitely added to the story; like, it’s not the actress’s fault or anything, but come on, Hayden is here mostly so Liam will have someone to suck face with. And perhaps most damning of all, the show kept in Parrish, even though they clearly didn’t know what to do with him, either, now that Lydia and Stiles are a thing. (It’s weird, right, that they didn’t even reference the Lydia/Parrish angle they spent all Season Five building up? I was never a huge Lydia/Parrish shipper, but come on, you have to fucking acknowledge it.) So, why was Kira the one so easily axed? Why was she considered so insignificant? I know she left at the end of 5B, but no one, not even the actress herself, expected that to be the end of her story. It’s underwhelming and deeply, deeply frustrating. Did anyone even mention Kira this season? (The answer, looking back, is yes, but not because anyone misses her apparently, just because Liam needs her sword to bring Theo back because oh yeah, great plan, Liam, that will help.)
Hope you like the desert, my favorite adorkable kitsune because apparently, that’s where you’ll be forever. Fuckers.
7. Should I just wrap up with some final random notes?
7A. In the list of the things that don’t make much logical sense, I forgot to mention Intercom Corey.
I mean, sure, it’s creepy and all, but, like, why?
7B. This season’s conclusion is just weird. It feels more like a series finale than a season finale, especially considering half the pack graduates and takes off for their post-high school futures. That could make for an interesting last season, where half the kids are in high school and half the kids aren’t . . . but I can’t say I’ve ever understood Jeff Davis’s aversion to showing big high school events like Prom or graduation, like, these are important moments to a lot of teens, and bypassing the whole school year like this just feels . . . rushed and strange? I know the show hangs the lampshade and all, but the thing is that joking how it all seems anticlimactic doesn’t stop me, faithful fan, from actually feeling that it’s anticlimactic.
Also, I’m hearing rumors that Stiles might not be back at all in Season 6B, and . . . look, no. Come on, now. Don’t do this. It’s the last season. I mean, I’m still going to watch it because it’s the last season, but please, for the love of God, let Stiles be in this one.
7C. I would have forgiven a lot, a LOT, about this season if Danny had been in one of the train stations. Also, Deaton. Dude, I know you’re busy with the zompocalypse and all, but you couldn’t come by for a five second cameo at the end? Like, seriously. I actually forgot Deaton was in the second episode at all, probably because he only popped up to blather about the subconscious for half a minute. Buddy, were you actually taken by the Ghost Riders, or did you just decide to get going while the going was good and go fishing in Alaska, like, all year?
7D. One of the things I did absolutely LOVE about this season was the Sheriff bringing Stiles’s bedroom back with the red string.
This was wonderful. Stiles and his father, at least, continue to have the best relationship. (I also liked the scene where Lydia threw Stiles’s jersey to the Sheriff. She and Stilinski have a pretty interesting dynamic that I enjoyed watching here. And oh God, I almost forgot about the moment in the premiere where the Sheriff calls Stiles ‘son,’ only to follow that up by asking what his name is. HEART. BREAKING. ALL THE FEELS.)
7E. I also did actually like all the flashbacks, despite the whole Lydia is more important than Scott debacle. Like, this is a pretty clever way to have a clip show episode. I feel like I might have picked a different flashback for Malia/Stiles . . . the two of them doing homework on the bed, maybe? . . . but of course The Flare and The Panic Attack scene were perfect.
7F. Finally, about that Nazi . . . it’s too bad Teen Wolf couldn’t find a way to make him work into the story better, considering that Nazis are sadly far more topical in current US politics than I would ever have expected. Though if Jeff Davis didn’t expect Trump to win, I guess I can’t fault him for that. He probably just thought that the Nazi made an easy stand-in for Totally Evil Dick, you know, something we could all agree on. Because it seems like that used to be the case . . . and then 2017 came along.
Mostly, Nazi Werewolf is so insignificant that I can’t be bothered to even look up his name, but to be fair, he does bring in a few unintentionally great hysterical moments. One is a particularly unsubtle transition to the past, like, it’s just ridiculous, and two? Nazi Werewolf Face.
Well, Teen Wolf, at least you made that a thing.
Stiles: “It’s not creepy at all.”
Scott: “This could be a good thing.”
Stiles: “That we saved helium?”
Scott: “I mean that they don’t need us anymore.”
Stiles: “Oh, they need us. They just don’t know it.”
Scott: “We’re all going off to college soon, so Beacon Hills is going to have to survive without us.”
Stiles: “Beacon Hills would burn to the ground without us.”
Scott: “Stiles. They don’t need us.”
(Stiles gets a text from his dad.)
Stiles (triumphant): “They need us!”
Peter: “It had to be you.”
Stiles: “Did you not just see that?”
Peter: “See what?”
Stiles: “The horses? The hog-tied businessmen with the magically dissolving ropes?”
Peter: “I think you’re confusing your pronouns. We aren’t going to do anything, but you should absolutely give that a shot.”
Corey: “Don’t you have a four point something?”
Corey: “I didn’t even know it went that high.”
Malia: “Who’s side our you on?”
(Scott looks between Lydia and Malia nervously)
Scott: “. . . I’m on everyone’s side.”
Theo: “He’s not alone! He’s got a pack.”
Malia: “And Theo’s not in it, but I am.”
Peter: “I’m not in the pack, but no one likes a Nazi.”
Melissa: “I think the last thing that you were trying to say was my name. You said ‘Mel, you need to add . . .’ wait, since when do you call me Mel? Since when do you use a nickname for anybody? You don’t even use your own first name. Everybody calls you Argent.”
Malia: “I’m not saying it!”
Lydia: “Okay. Then I guess everyone dies.”
Melissa: “I’m gonna go with head trauma as the cause of death.”
Chris: “You might wanna think twice before you sneak up on a man holding a loaded M-24.”
Melissa: “I wasn’t sneaking up on you. I was catching up with you.”
Chris: “I know. I heard you a mile back.”
Melissa: “I found a low branch with my face. How do you even see anything out here?”
Chris: “In my experience while tracking homicidal supernaturals, it’s best to be quiet.”
Malia: “You need my help?”
Chris: “I need a babysitter.”
Malia: “I’m not the babysitting type. Coyotes eat their young.”
(Girl is starting to freak out)
Malia: “Give me the stun gun.”
Chris: “Can you think of a better, less seizure-inducing way?”
Malia: “Shoot him.”
Chris: “Did you listen to my story?”
Hayden: “You think she knows this is a bad plan?”
Noshiko: “Anyone would know this is a bad plan.”
Stiles: “Why would I want to ruin your yearbook photo?”
Malia: “Maybe because you haven’t signed up for your own photo yet.”
Stiles (pulling out form): “Yes, I did.”
Malia: “It’s blank.”
Scott: “Or maybe you’re sublimating the stress of graduating by avoiding key milestones.”
(Everybody looks at Scott.)
Scott: “Psych paper.”
Stiles: “Come on, missing parents, suspicious guy on horseback, magic bullet. Who’s coming with?”
Malia: “I’ve gotta retake my photos.”
Lydia: “Yeah, not interested.”
Scott: “I cannot miss any more classes.”
Scott: “I missed 38 last semester. Lydia’s mom is the only reason I’m still in school.”
Theo: “It’s so awkward when Mom and Dad fight.”
Scott and Liam: “Shut up!”
Malia: “Can you give me a second alone with Theo?”
Malia: “So I can kill him.”
Malia: “Think it’s working?”
Melissa: “Should be. Looks painful enough.”
Natalie: “Still thinking about how to prove the Riemann Hypothesis?”
Lydia: “I’m thinking about a dead kid I met in Canaan.”
Scott: “I was hiding, but they knew I was here.”
Malia: “Maybe you made a ton of noise with the asthmatic breathing.”
Scott: “You want to split up?”
Stiles: “Uh, absolutely not.”
Scott: “You want to split up?”
Stiles: “Never again.”
Scott: “Thank God.”
One Night Stand Dude: “Are those chains?”
Malia: “Shhh. It’s nothing.”
Peter: “Stiles. Let’s not have a moment.”
Stiles: “You’re doing this for her; you’re risking being incinerated for her, and I’m okay with that.”
Scott: “He can get taken by a Ghost Rider.”
Stiles: “That’s not a pleasant option. I’m just speaking from experience.”
Scott: “Don’t flood it.”
Lydia: “Do you even know what that means?”
Scott: “Not really.”
(Melissa passionately kisses Argent.)
Argent: “What was that for?”
Melissa: “That was so hot.”
Parrish: “I’m a harbinger of death, not a harbinger of kidnapping. I’m also a Sheriff’s deputy working on an unsolved murder that, for once, doesn’t involve shapeshifters, resurrected 18th century serial killers, or me.”
Stiles: “He’s a bad guy, right? I didn’t misread that?”
Stiles: “Liam, since you’re taking over, the most important thing you can remember is that Mason is always going to be the one who is there to save your ass all the time.”
Scott: “Not all the time.”
Stiles: “Most of the time.”
Peter: “You have no self-preservation instincts. How are you my daughter?”
Mason: “Can you fix him?”
Argent: “Oh, she knows what she’s doing.”
Melissa: “Have you ever heard of the nine herbs?”
Mason: “The nine sacred herbs the Saxons used to cure poison and infection, yeah, of course! Did you need to know what they are, or . . .”
Malia: “I know you’re not going to beat an eight-year-old’s ass, but I will.”
Finstock: “Your teenage years are not the time for academic achievement!”
Malia: “I got your text. You said you needed my help . . . oh, God. That kind of help.”
Peter: “So the plan is to get Stiles to come up with a plan?”
Parrish: “Stiles, what are you doing here?”
Stiles: “Buddy, love you, but we are way past that.”
Liam: “You got a better idea?”
Peter: “Yeah. It’s called run like hell.”
Lydia: “What the hell is a Stiles?”
Incredibly strong start to a season that ultimately just self-combusts.
Holland Roden. I clearly don’t love some of the stuff they do with her character, but the actress always does great work. (Shelley Hennig might be a runner-up, though. I just absolutely adore how she portrays Malia.)
Shit, I don’t know. C+? Is that too harsh? I really do like big chunks of the season. Maybe a B- instead.
If you don’t have a love interest, no one’s gonna remember you.