We’re tackling a double dose of Teen Wolf this week to make up for last week’s absent review, so dig in because two episodes of the show means double to dosage or love…and subtle mockery.
Let’s bitch it out…Alright, so before we begin let me briefly apologize for not having a review of last week’s episode up. Who would have thought that a hotel with 65 channels would not carry MTV (seriously – they had every version of the home shopping network in English and French, but no MTV?!). But enough about me, let’s dig into this shizz:
So here’s what we know: the reptile is a Kanima, which is a shapeshifter similar to our wolf pack. Derek knows this because it doesn’t recognize itself (has he borrowed the bestiary encyclopedia from the library a few times?). Obviously we’re meant to immediately assume that it’s Lydia (Holland Roden) since she broke her mirror in an earlier scene. This, of course, means that it is not Lydia, since that would now be far too obvious.
All in all, this is a quintessential episode of Teen Wolf. There’s a great deal of fun to be had in Stiles’ (Dylan O’Brien) comedy bits with Derek and during his tenure as emissary between Scott (Tyler Posey) and Allison (Crystal Reed). Throw in the running gag about the bestiary being confused for bestiality and there’s some nice light hearted moments amidst the climax in the pool scene. It’s nice to see that Teen Wolf may not follow the same structure as season one when we didn’t learn who the Alpha was until three or four episodes before the end of the season. At this rate we may know who the Kanima is within a few weeks.
Other highlights? The contrast between Grandpa Hunter Gerard’s (Michael Hogan) behaviour at dinner – savouring pie, chiding Argent (JR Bourne) for doubting the passion of Scott and Allison’s relationship – and then gutting Scott in the coda at the end of the episode. This guy means business. Also: I love that the show is playfully mocking how many shows make use of dusty old tomes for research by having Gerard keep the bestiary on a USB.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Teen Wolf if there wasn’t also shades of ridiculousness. I’m willing to overlook the convenience of Scott rescuing Stiles and Derek after finding Gerard’s keys still in his office (how did Gerard not notice that they were absent the entire night? How did they drive home?). Less believable is that Allison would agree to a plan that has Stiles steal the keys directly in front of Grandpa Hunter after previously stating that her family would uncover any communication made by cell phone. So a disposable phone your family wouldn’t even know existed is too dangerous, but passing Stiles keys less than a foot from Grandpa isn’t? Come on.
*Also, Lydia not wanting anyone to see her crying while parked at the big lacrosse game is either proof positive that she is a complete narcissist or lazy plotting by the writers. Which option you choose to believe is up to you, readers!
- I am a big fan of the Beacon Hills nighttime establishment program which seems to require a variety of establishments to remain open late into the night. Our latest example after Isaac’s graveyard nightshift in the season two opener is the late night mechanic. Bonus points for staffing it with a beefcake from early 90s gay porn (not really, but the hair says maybe).
- Most supportive comment of the episode goes to Argent at the family dinner. After Grandpa Hunter suggests that Scott and Allison have passion like Shakespeare’s famous doomed couple, Argent replies: “Romeo and Juliet committed ritual suicide.” This is one chipper man
- Subtle homoeroticism continues: in addition to Stiles confessing his love for Scott (actually a proxy for the conversation between Scott and Allison that can’t happen), Jackson gives Danny (the criminally underused Keahu Kahuanui) the tape of him sleeping half naked and demands he watch it. Bonus points for Jackson being so self-centered that he believes he’s “everyone’s type” after Danny reminds him that he’s not interested in him sexually
- Are we meant to believe that Scott carries chalk around so that he can leave Allison messages on rocks? How strange…
- Speaking of Scott and Allison: is their hair getting progressively worse? Her terrible side pontytail seems to be matching his equally awful cockatoo look. Season two has definitely been a hair-disaster for these two thus far
- Finally, the rival lacrosse team are called the ‘Beavers.’ This show is way too self-aware for that not to be a juvenile “tee-hee” in-joke
There’s a very distinct tonal difference between this episode and the last. Or as my notes read “Sh*t just got real.” After determining that Jackson isn’t the Kanima after testing the venom on him, Derek and his wolf pack turn their attention to Lydia. The rest of the episode is essentially one long stretch of hunt-and-hide as Stiles, Allison, Jackson and Lydia evacuate from the school and barricade themselves inside Stiles’ house. Of course, they don’t have the same information we do (the video, the scaly reveal on Jackson’s back) so they’re operating at a deficiency until the final moments of the episode.
The difference that separates ‘Venomous’ from the other season two episodes is that the danger feels a lot more palpable. Traditionally the show merges horror tropes with campy comedy, as well as teen empowerment messages about standing out and embracing your strengths. ‘Venomous’ however, forgoes most of that. Stripped down from its usual trappings, the episode becomes more of a thrill ride and our principals are the only ones involved. Without the distraction of the hunters, or even the majority of our adult cast, the violence is strictly teen on teen as people with crossbows face off against people with claws. The result is a tense, atmospheric, mostly unpredictable episode that really plays to the show’s strengths. I don’t think anyone wants this all the time, but the show has definitely stepped up from its “Vampire Diaries in the summer” status.
- We even get the added benefit of a Teen Wolf girlfight as Allison and Erica face off. Kudos to Allison for turning the battle into a fight of wits; instead of trying to counter Erica’s wolf strength (something Allison clearly can’t do), she uses her brain to paralyze her opponent using the snake venom. The extra deliciousness occurs when Allison gets the extra verbal dig in as her blonde opponent lies paralyzed.
- Photographer Matt (Stephen Lunsford) gets closer to the truth as he discovers that Scott doesn’t photograph well (something we knew from the cutesy couple photos he took with Allison back in 2×03). We also learn that Danny is crushing on him, even though the sole gay kid at Beacon Hill High knows that he’s straight. Poor Danny!
- Although the Kanima question has been solved, two more prominent cliffhangers emerge: 1) who is the ‘friend’ we see the Kanima palm-press with in the episode’s final moments and 2) who wore Danny’s lacrosse gear and tore it to shreds?
And there you have it folks – we’re coming up on the halfway point of the season and I feel confident saying that the show is more confident and well put together than last year. What are your thoughts on Teen Wolf: has it transitioned in must-see-TV for you? What’s the deal with Lydia’s supernatural dampening powers? And why does she continue to have post-traumatic stress visions of Peter (Ian Bohen)?
Teen Wolf airs Mondays at 10pm EST on MTV
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