Hey there, Teen Wolf (yes, this show is still on the air). How have you been? I know you and I had a bit of a falling out last season, but I was really hoping we could start over. A clean slate, if you will. Neither of us were really our best selves, last season, after all. Alright, maybe I was much closer to my best self than you were, but that’s really neither here nor there right now. What matters is that we’re both willing to let bygones be bygones. So how was your summer, well, your fall/winter/spring?

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Optimism is a beautiful thing, but it’s not always realistic. Scott McCall doesn’t necessarily say as much when he talks about the “regression to the the mean,” but the reality of that lives within his speech about how things can’t always be bad or always be good. Right now, Teen Wolf appears to continue to exist in a reality of always bad. It only took a few seconds into Teen Wolf’s fifth season premiere, “Creatures Of The Night,” for me to break my initial truce of letting bygones be bygones, as a few months haven’t done much to make the show live up to the bargain it made when it first started, quality-wise.

While it’s actually difficult to say “Creatures Of The Night” is any worse than the worst of Teen Wolf season four, part of that is because the episode itself is barely an episode of television. It’s more a series of uninteresting vignettes, with characters behaving for either poorly explained or nonexistent reasons, usually ending up in a setting “just because.” The episode ending up being a re-telling of sorts by Lydia could possibly explain away the disjointed aspect of it all, but if that were intentional, that would mean making a bad episode was also intentional. That’s most likely not the case.

In a not-so-great start to the season, the episode begins with what is surely supposed to be Teen Wolf’s version of high level horror and instead ends up being an upsettingly long amount of abuse toward Lydia. Questioning the show’s choices immediately after a season of the show’s choices making absolutely no sense is instantly a bad sign, but at five seasons, it’s practically impossible to ignore certain things about Teen Wolf. The fact that the episode opens at Eichen House, a place that should have been shut down ages ago—and a good portion of the town should have sued—is not a good, welcome back to Beacon Hills. It’s an omen for much worse. At least it’s not Mexico, but still, it’s not a great start.

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In a better written world, Beacon Hills’ Eichen House is a place akin to Gotham City’s Arkham Asylum, where the worst of the worst are held and the freaks come out to play. However, Teen Wolf has more often that not used the place as a way to emotionally, mentally, and physically abuse its heroes (and even neutral characters, to the point of them taking villainous action). It happens again here, with Lydia inexplicably in a catatonic state, abused by one orderly (verbally and apparently through drug dosage) and almost sexually assaulted by another (and the implication could be that she has already been sexually assaulted by him). The “twist” of the teaser (not counting Lydia’s fighting skills, complete with a headscissors takedown) comes in the form of Lydia’s dead twin wolf boyfriend Aiden (Max Carver), who has not gotten better at acting, arriving, ushering in more abuse to Lydia as we head to the brand new shiny opening credits.

Welcome back, Teen Wolf?

What continues with the rest of the episode—which takes place six months after “Smoke And Mirrors,” meaning absolutely nothing from last season is mentioned—is nowhere as horrific as the opening scene (except for the end tag), but it’s also… nothing. There’s nothing of substance here, and it’s all spinning its wheels for the twist that the teaser isn’t the present and the big emotional beat everyone is supposed to buy into.

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Stiles is terrified about losing his high school friends, not realizing the difference between them and every other example is the whole supernatural situation. Scott is… waiting to meet up with Kira? (And vice versa.) Malia isn’t sure if she passed summer school. (She did, which is actually something to be proud of, though not deserving of much weight.) Lydia is straight up not a factor in this present day plot. Liam still has control issues, but that’s no big deal, you know? Sheriff Stilinksi apparently put Parrish—an indestructible totally-not-a-phoenix—on desk duty, because that’s how you protect one of the world’s most dangerous towns. He’s also getting death threats from some delinquent. Malia’s dad exists. So does Theo (Cody Christian), who Scott and Stiles were friends with in the fourth grade. He’s a werewolf now.

Also, some were-something or other (we learn nothing about him) spends the episode stalking Scott (and presumably affecting the weather), being in the same house as Scott and not striking, then attacking Scott when he has back-up. He fails, because Scott McCall is the most special werewolf in the world. For his troubles, Scott and the pack allow him to run away—despite all the damage he caused to the entire town—to his bosses, who are a combination of Bane from Batman Forever and Bane from The Dark Knight Rises.

Despite all of this, there is no sense of urgency to any of it, except for in the case of the Senior Scribe ritual, the “emotional” part of the episode. That is absolutely mind-blowing, if not simply maddening, which is truly the best way to describe the episode. For example, the show has apparently forgotten how to blend any sort of realism and humor, which is most indicative of the two-second inclusion of “goofy Teen Wolf music” right before lightning almost attacks Scott’s car and scene where Malia lifts an entire tree one-handed (and forgets about discretion completely). The show is becoming (or possibly has become) a farce right before our very eyes. And do they not have storm watches in Beacon Hills? For the supernatural children in the town, it makes a sort of sense for them to all go around town without fear (even when the weather itself is supernatural), but nearly everyone in Beacon Hills is out and about like it’s a regular summer day. Then again, it’s a night of characters acting bizarrely, as Liam—who, again, still has control issues with his lycanthropy—has a brand new little brother personality, one he clearly picked up once Stiles dropped it after the first two seasons. Call it nitpicking, but there’s a reason these nitpicks add up so much: It’s because there’s a problem at Teen Wolf’s core, and “It’s just Teen Wolf” isn’t going to fix that.

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Last year, I was blunt in admitting that season four of Teen Wolf was a waste of a season, so all season five really has to do to jump that hurdle is do something—anything—with its plots and the characters. Already, “Creatures Of The Night” is another massive reset, which isn’t a good sign, but even season four had it moments. Especially when you didn’t think of them in the big picture—remember “The Benefactor” as a stand-alone (please remember “The Benefactor” as just a stand-alone)? Hopefully season five can do at least that.

Stray observations

  • Derek Hale Farewell Tour Update: Derek Hale? Who’s that? Wait a minute, we did see those initials “DH” in this episode, but that could be anyone.
  • Welcome! Teen Wolf season five coverage begins with a two-night event. I really hope episode two is something better. Please.
  • No Chris Argent in sight means Mr. Tate will now be playing the protective, scruffy father. Sorry, Mr. Tate, you lost that option when you were absolutely nowhere to be found last season.
  • I remember a time when I wished for more Lydia screentime. Then it became a case where more Lydia meant she had to be the show’s punching bag. The road to Hell, etc.
  • I also remember when we called Lydia and Parrish becoming a romantic thing last season (especially with the blatant reminder she would be 18 soon). Well now he’s having near death visions of her, and I can definitively say I don’t much care for it.
  • Yes, Kira is a teen, but at this point, she really should pay attention to her mom’s stories (folklore and whatnot), especially when they speak of the Big Bad. She and Scott also shouldn’t abandon her parents in torrential downpour, but like I said before, no one cares about the danger of natural disasters in this episode.
  • The Senior Scribe scene would have carried so much more emotional weight if the rest of the episode could have picked up even a little bit of slack. And if people weren’t running away from this show in the first place.

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