Teen Wolf is back in force for its last season, with the first episode called “Memory Lost.”
This is it, guys. The beginning of the end. For us, the watchers, as well as the McCall pack, or those in it who are approaching graduation. So how is it going for them so far?
The pre-credits scene – and it’s not a short one, about eight minutes – has been released some time ago already. It was probably familiar to a lot of us. We open with #puppylove. Hayden and Liam are on a date, and with a flat tire and no reserve. Their hope of a rescue is dashed when the car that approaches them contains no driver. There’s only a terrified kid in the back seat, begging to “not let them take me too.”
We cut to Scott and Stiles, who are apparently so desperate for adventure that they now chase common criminals with the use of Scott’s werewolf powers. After the Sheriff’s rebuke, Scott seems to come to terms with the idea that Beacon Hills no longer needs them, while Stiles refuses to accept it. Fortunately, just then, they’re called to the station because Liam and Hayden brought Alex the terrified kid there.
He doesn’t remember what happened, so Scott uses the trusted “claws in the spinal cord” method to see his memories. What he sees is a rider dressed in black, on a black horse, shooting at the car Alex was sitting in with his parents. As the Sheriff points out, guys with guns are his provenience, not theirs. After a menacing promise that the riders would come back, the credits cut in.
Afterward, we jump to the senior part of the pack investigating the car-slash-crime scene. Lydia cannot sense Alex’s parents as dead, and Malia cannot smell them as alive. There is no proof of anything supernatural. Until that is, Scott realizes that the windshield of the car does not, in fact, look like any other windshields that have been shot at, and that it must have been shot with a magic bullet. (Hey, nice reference to the first season!)
A cut, and we’re at yearbook photo shoots, where Stiles is having issues with graduating and also wants to go supernatural-hunting, while the rest of the pack wants to be responsible almost-adults. Stiles, however, convinces Scott by showing him a shard of the windshield, which is mysteriously blue. Their escape from school is stopped by Mrs. Martin, who is apparently now completely in on the supernatural (finally!) and still doesn’t think it’s an excuse for cutting school.
Meanwhile, the junior (well, sophomore) part of the pack has a physics class where they learn about Schrödinger’s Cat, to bring up the fact that observing phenomena can change them. Mason suddenly notices that his phone’s compass doesn’t work, or rather, is pointing towards something that is not North. (El from Stranger Things was nowhere to be seen, though.) Oh, and Mason and Corey are apparently still going strong too, even though you have to pick that up from much smaller hints than Liam and Hayden.
Alex locks himself in one of the holding cells in the police station, afraid the riders are coming for him. The Sheriff decides to allow this, putting a guard outside the door.
Lydia has a vision of lightning and hears the song “Riders on the Storm.”
School’s finally out, so Stiles and Scott go to the abandoned house Alex gave as his address. There is nothing there, except for one place at the table being set, and one room – Alex’ room – being left intact. But! Places where one would expect his parent’s photos, like a world’s best dad photo mash-up, don’t have them. Stiles notices this and stays in the room while Scott goes to investigate the strange noise he heard. Stiles has flashes of a horse, and then a rider in black shoots at him, though he misses.
Mason and Corey are led to the abandoned house by a dysfunctional compass, which cracks the moment Stiles is shot at. He then figures out that people taken by the riders are erased completely. From memories, from pictures, from everything. It is as if they never existed. So that is why the house is abandoned, and the parents are not even in the photos. The boys check Alex’s room again, and it’s empty. No furniture, nothing.
Later, Stiles is discussing the situation with Lydia when she hears “Riders on the Storm” again and realizes that that’s it, the riders are the Wild Hunt. Incidentally, I’ll believe that this has been directly inspired by Witcher 3 until proven otherwise. Stiles then kisses Lydia’s cheek despite her explicit wishes to the contrary. Yeah, I’ll come back to that.
Among the sophomore pack, there’s a short discussion about the future of Beacon Hills after Scott leaves. Liam asserts that he wants to be the alpha. The conversation is interrupted when they smell blood. They follow it to the source and find a dead body.
Meanwhile, Stiles is telling Scott about the Wild Hunt discovery when they realize Alex would be taken by the Hunt next. Took them rather long, to be honest. They arrive at the station to find Alex gone, and Deputy Clarke doesn’t remember him ever existing. The documentation doesn’t show him either. Scott and Stiles believe that means Liam and Hayden are next.
The boys come to the school looking for the Sheriff, and Stiles sees that Mrs. Martin, Liam, Hayden and Mason have all forgotten him. A moment later, his father and Scott no longer remember him either. It’s not Liam and Hayden; it’s him!
Lydia asks Malia for help with figuring out what is that “something terrible” she feels is going to happen. She finds a resource that says “those who see the Hunt beware, for you are already lost.” Lydia realizes what it means for Stiles. Malia forgets Stiles as well, and Lydia goes looking for him.
Just as they meet, the riders start appearing, and they have a tender moment of sorts before Stiles is taken. Lydia promises to remember him, but we see her a day later in school, struggling to remember what it was she said she would do.
This was a good opening episode. I appreciated that given that they released the information about the antagonists of the season in advance, they didn’t waste too much time with wondering “wow, who could it be.” Instead, it progressed quite speedily towards the episode climax, which I have to say I didn’t expect. I knew Stiles would be taken from the interviews, too, but I didn’t think it would be that soon.
Given this efficiency, what was a little irritating was the plot thread of Stiles being convinced Beacon Hills can’t do without the pack and Scott and the others being sure it can. In makes no sense out-universe, because every viewer knows perfectly well that it can’t be and that this newest guy on a horse is not something completely natural because we’re watching a supernatural show.
And it makes no sense in-universe because the characters all know the Nemeton is drawing supernatural creatures to it. They know the town needs some protectors who know about it and are at least roughly up to facing these challenges. Hopefully telling yourself that maybe it’s going to be okay instead of training your successor is downright irresponsible, Scott. And speaking of, where exactly is Liam going to get the alpha powers? What’s the plan there? Will he find a suitable alpha to kill, will he hope that the extremely super rare true alpha thing will repeat with him, or are they hoping he will be able to hold Beacon Hills without it?
Back to being positive, though, the atmosphere of the episode was really good. The Wild Hunt riders are properly creepy and menacing, and Stiles’ terror in realizing his father doesn’t recognise him was felt deeply. I don’t know why it is that the show likes to torture Stiles so much, but Dylan O’Brian can pull it off. I just hope that his injury during filming out-universe and his capture in-universe doesn’t mean this was the very last we saw of him this season.
It also makes me wonder where the other characters are headed now, especially Scott. With Stiles gone, there is no one left he has really strong ties to. Malia and Lydia were both always more Stiles’ friends than his. The girls, I expect, are going to have a lot to do with each other – more on that bellow – but who will Scott act opposite to? Liam, perhaps? I’d definitely like to see that, and perhaps they could get around to that training.
As for the character directions in the younger part of the pack, the relationships there seem to be set in the same way we left them last season. I was happy to see them all, and I certainly believe a storyline with Liam slowly taking the handles from Scott has potential.
As far as action from the younger crowd goes, we had Mason and Corey set out on that discovery trip with compasses, which still confuses me a little. I’m not sure what was the point of that except to give some screen time to these two. I’m always in favor of that, of course, and maybe we’ll see the point later in the season.
But speaking of Mason and Corey, as I’ve already mentioned in the recap, I find it disappointing that after all these seasons of teasing it, Teen Wolf is incapable of giving us an actual, full blown non-straight romance. We can open with Hayden and Liam on a date and have several of their kisses in one episode, but Corey and Mason still look like they’re just flirting, even though that would mean they have been at that stage for about four months now. Also, I miss Danny.
But now, let me finally get back to what I promised: Lydia, and her interactions with Stiles.
As an aside, I’d like to say that I find it fascinating how she seems to be circling through female friends as if they were interchangeable. Allison, her best friend, died, so then Kira was her best friend for a time. Kira is now gone too, so it appears Malia will take that position. Not that I object to positive female interaction, but boy, would it be nice if Lydia at least missed her lost friends sometimes.
But that is not my main beef with her depiction this episode, not by far. I’ll admit right out that I’m not a Stiles/Lydia shipper. However, I also don’t have a problem with the ship…in fanfiction. I feel quite different about it possibly becoming canon, especially the way it was framed.
Because see, my issue is that it is a little problematic to tell stories of popular girls who kept rejecting some nerdy guy until they realized how wrong they were and that he was the right one for them all along. Especially as Lydia consistently showed she preferred to date guys of a very different type than Stiles is. Sure, Lydia and Stiles have been friends for years now, so you could say that it’s not really a case of this. They both got to know each other better. They got rid of some misconceptions. And to that, I say: maybe. But it still stinks of “friendzone” and all that bs, especially with what they did in this episode.
There is Stiles saying “remember how I had a crush on you in freshman year…and sophomore year…and junior year…” Okay. So actually, it seems they never got to the phase fo being “just friends,” from Stiles’ point of view. Let me also remind you that junior year was the year Stiles got together with Malia, the vulnerable girl with no social experience. He had a crush on Lydia while he did that, huh? Nice.
And then, of course, there is the kiss. Lydia figures out that the riders are the Wild Hunt, and…
Stiles: “Lydia, you’re so smart, I could kiss you right now.”
Lydia: “Do not kiss me.”
Stiles: “Not gonna, no.” (kiss on the cheek) “Did it anyway!”
Just, no. Nope. A world of no. This is not okay. I don’t want to hear that they are friends or that she meant it as a joke or that it was just her cheek. No. She explicitly told him not to kiss her, and then he did. This is never okay, no matter if they are friends or a couple or married for twenty years. It’s not a difficult concept. I have no idea why so many people have trouble wrapping their head around it. No means no, and that’s it. Bodily autonomy doesn’t only concern sex. People have as much right to reject any other kind of touch they object to.
But anyway, it is in this context that Stiles tells Lydia his final “remember that I love you.” It is right after he reminds her of his perpetual crush on her, and it follows the non-consensual kiss. So I’m pretty sure they meant it in a romantic way. It’s very upsetting that this moment, that was framed with so many upsetting references, was mean to be a scene of Stiles’ tragic farewell, instead of one with his father or Scott. I understand Lydia was probably able to remember him longer because of her banshee abilities – or at least I hope it’s that and not her deep love for him, because I swear, if it’s the second, I’m gonna riot – but it still could have been a celebration of friendship, not a clingy crush.
Or, if they wanted to turn it into a love story, they could have taken the time to show how their relationship changed and transformed and how Lydia grew to appreciate Stiles in a new light, and how he respected her choices. But no. Instead, we get Stiles that seems to have regressed to season 1 as far as his relationship to Lydia goes. No, worse than that. Season 1 Stiles would have never kissed her without her approval.
Really, if this is the last we saw of Stiles for a while, did they have to ruin his final moments?
Some short notes to close with:
- I liked that they found a way to return to Stiles’ worries about graduation from season 5. It could have probably be done more cleverly than him behaving like a moron about Malia’s yearbook photos, though. But I sense a plot point with Stiles disappearing from them, so good job setting that up, I guess.
- While it was nice seeing Malia as a coyote, and how matter-of-fact everyone was about her naked transformation back (everyone except the camera, that is), it was a little forced. We have never until now seen her transform to gain a better scent of smell or anything of the sort.
- Stiles mentions dragging Lydia out of bed more than once a week to use her as a supernatural radar. He then asks if she thinks it’s just a series of impossible coincidences. What is he referring to? The events he dragged Lydia out of bed for? But they just said nothing had happened for three months. I’m lost. Are things happening, or are they not?
- Stiles wanting to tell Scott something and Scott saying “tell me later” was just a little overly cliché. Of course, I should have known he was going to be taken right after!