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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Teen Wolf: “Fireflies”

Illustration for article titled Teen Wolf: “Fireflies”
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Since the beginning of this series, JR Bourne has been doing solid, estimable work in a pretty thankless role. Chris Argent is supposed to be the paterfamilias of a clan of werewolf hunters, whose animosity toward werewolves provides a metaphorical, heightened version of the resentment that a lot of teenage boys feel coming off their girlfriends’ dads. But the show decided early on that he’s also a basically sympathetic character, an honorable nice guy whose intolerance for all things lycanthropic never shades into the maniacal obsessiveness of an Ahab. So in the first two seasons, plot considerations demanded that the show kept insisting that he was a strong natural leader while, at the same time, depicting him as a clueless dolt who was embarrassingly slow to notice that both his wife and his father were such intense, wild-eyed wolf haters that they were only a couple of bug-eyed rants away from having their own shows on Fox News.

So it’s satisfying when, in tonight’s episode, the show finally shows him a little love. The action picks up where it off last week, with Scott, Derek, and Isaac running around the woods, trying to catch the werewolves Boyd and Cora, who have just transformed after being moonlight-deprived for weeks and are in an especially dangerous state. After the guys have been scouring the woods for a while, running around and bounding into scenes in that hyperkinetic acrobatic style that makes it look as if  they’re about to start singing “When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way,” Scott calls for a reality check. “We need help,” he tells Derek. “We have Isaac,” says Derek. “We need real help,” says Scott, who, like Derek, is standing about two inches away from Isaac. The fact that Scott doesn’t spend more time on this show getting his ass kicked is one lingering mystery that will likely remain unaddressed.

So the guys seek out Chris Argent, who reluctantly agrees to DVR Longmire and spend his evening showing them that he is indeed the Ken Jennings of werewolf lore. Pointing out some footprints, he tells them that human beings are the only animals that can track by sight and advises them to stick to what they’re good at, which is sniffing the air. He lets them use his high-tech gear, such as a device that puts out a high frequency noise that only werewolves can hear. (There’s a funny cut from Argent explaining this to the guys holding their heads as if stricken with migraine.) Somehow, while he’s hanging out with them and helping them out, they never get around to mentioning that his daughter is out there somewhere in a state of shock, having just been informed by her ex-boyfriend that she was trying to murder him when Derek killed her. They’ll probably remember to text him about it five minutes after they go their separate ways, after splitting up the check for breakfast at IHOP.

The show’s new, improved opening credits have some fun with Holland Roden’s role as the series’ designated screen queen, and she gets to give her lungs a workout tonight when Lydia is compelled to check out the nocturnal scene at the public swimming pool, where some poor guy is propped up in the moonlight, his body leaking all over the concrete. He’s been strangled, his throat has been cut, and his head has been beaten in. Has someone been performing some kind of guerrilla street-art homage to the final hours of Rasputin? Visiting the hospital, Stiles is horrified to see that Heather, the birthday girl who was so eager to give herself to him in the season premiere, is laid out on a slab, having endured the same fate. Is this what someone will do to avoid having sex with Stiles, after she’s sobered up? There’s also a couple of teenage girls whose tryst in a tent in the woods—it’s the stuff that letters to Penthouse Forum are made of—is interrupted by the werewolves, and also by a perhaps tangentially related attack of beetles, who spirit the virginal girl in the relationship away.

“Get out of here!” Isaac yells at her more experienced partner. “Get out of the woods. Get out as fast as you can!” For a minute, I was worried that I was watching a really weird twist on the traditional slasher-movie message about the inevitable horrors that befall young people when they dare to make whoopee. I shouldn’t have worried—this is MTV, for God’s sakes. As Stiles explains it to Scott, speaking slowly and using a lot of one-syllable words—the thing that links all these murder victims isn’t that they were trying to get some, but that they’d never succeeded in doing so. Someone is claiming virgins as human sacrifices, but who? Is this storyline connected to the one about the rival alpha pack—which, by the end of this episode, has pretty much succeeded in decimating Derek’s pack—and if not, who could have imagined that this season didn’t already have enough going on it?

Stray observations:

  • You know what I love about this show? The big fight-to-the-death climax comes after the good werewolves track the berserker werewolves to the high school, and as they prepare to lay siege to the building, Scott and Derek reflect that, at least, there won't be anyone else in the school at this hour who might risk becoming collateral damage; sure, there are some things about this whole situation that are a little unusual, but for someone to be in the school in the middle of the night: That would just be nuts! Then we cut to a classroom, where, of course, a teacher is sitting at her desk, being all like, wow, it's almost dawn, time sure does get away from you when you're grading papers and you're in the zone. I love the fact that, on Teen Wolf, "restraint" means that a scene like that isn't accompanied by the voices of the writers on the soundtrack, hollering, "Yeah, we did that!"
  • This is the first episode of the season I didn't get to see pre-air time, which means I got to see the commercials that went with it. Not to change the subject, but, seriously, in this "Straw Dogs in the White House"
     movie, Channing Tatum plays a character named "John Cale"? Does he mow down bad guys with one hand while playing his song suite based on the works of Dylan Thomas with the other?