Warning: This story contains spoilers for the premiere of Teen Wolf Season 4.
Season 3B left Teen Wolf fans stunned with the loss of one of its central characters, Allison Argent, and left the characters in a dark place.
In the two months since then, I’ve intentionally avoided interviews, spoilers, and meta on the subject. But I knew going into Season 4 that we'd be getting new characters, more information on things like Lydia’s Banshee powers and Malia’s mysterious origins, and our love-to-hate villainess Kate Argent was coming back. Mostly, I was interested to see a show tackle Latin American-based mythology with a Latino protagonist. And adding to the fun: I'll be watching after coming home from a late happy hour on Monday nights.
So how did last night's episode of Teen Wolf live up to expectations?
The new season starts with Stiles (Dylan O'Brien) and Lydia (Holland Roden) in a very Instagram-filtered vision of an unnamed city in Mexico. You’ll probably react the way Linden Ashby did here:
It doesn’t seem to be a hot Spring Break destination, but there is a secret underground rave, so I guess it’s got that going for it.
It’s early in the season for Teen Wolf to gift us with a rave, but it’s a cute way to showcase some character quirks. It turns out even coyote-girl Malia (Shelley Hennig) has smoother moves than Kira Yukimura (Arden Cho), our kitsune from last season. Both of these canine ladies have been upgraded to the opening credits, and it’s nice to spend some time with them that isn’t snarling or fighting for their lives. On Wolf Watch, the interview show that follows each episode, show-runner Jeff Davis explained that it’s been about two months since the tragic end of season 3B—enough time for the new gang to settle into a group dynamic.
At the rave, we learn that the mysterious group of Mexican hunters from Season 3B weren’t just there to give the audience a gratuitous scene of a shirtless Tyler Hoechlin. They’re called the Calaveras (think: skulls, and skulls during Day of the Dead) and they’re looking for someone. Our intrepid heroes are there to find someone, too. They’re searching for a kidnapped Derek Hale and intend to buy his freedom with a fat stack of cash, possibly from the mysterious Benefactor we’ve been told about.
That’s too simple, of course, and it turns out the Calaveras don’t actually have him. What the Calaveras do have is an elaborate torture device that they hook Scott and Lydia to. Kira’s forced to pick which one gets shocked, which means she’s going to have a killer topic for her AP psychology paper, and Scott McCall (Tyler Posey) has an opportunity to be self-sacrificing.
While Kira, Scott, and Lydia (Holland Roden) are at the whims of the Calaveras, Stiles (Dylan O’Brien) and Malia are trapped in a set from Hostel. Malia is a character we haven’t seen too much of, but I like the direction they’re taking her. She’s not unfeeling, just detached. She’s primarily concerned with self-preservation, which makes sense because she’s spent years living as a coyote out in the Beacon Hills wilderness. This makes her a good foil for the rest of the group—one of Scott’s primary strengths is his loyalty and that’s been reflected in his pack thus far. She does, however, have a fondness for Stiles, who turns out to be the one friend she wouldn’t leave behind to save herself. Stiles says it’s progress, which means he’s been the one in charge of human lessons. I think this might be a nice way for Stiles to touch base with his own human conscience after spending last season possessed by an amoral demon.
Lydia doesn’t seem thrilled with this progression in Malia’s personal growth, but I don’t think there’s much of a love triangle brewing here. It’s nice to see the sexual tension between Lydia and Stiles replaced by a prickly companionship. They trust each other, and Stiles has moved on from worshipping the Lydia Martin he’d previously canonized. It’s a good dynamic, and they complement each other. I’m looking forward to seeing them try to execute more plans as the brains of the operation as the season continues.
Scott manages to strike a deal to help the Calaveras catch Kate Argent (Jill Wagner), who didn’t adhere to the code and kill herself after being transformed into a shape-shifter. The Hales don’t have the best track record for turning people into actual werewolves, it seems. Braeden (Meagan Tandy), the best character that never got developed in Season 3, shows up to lead everyone to a spooky church in the middle of a ruined town. On the way, some exposition occurs to catch the newbies up with Kate Argent’s sociopathic past, and the gang ends up with road troubles when Stiles’ trusty, battered Jeep stalls. Scott and Braeden forge ahead, while everyone else panics. Kira continues her march to be a character written as an actual awkward person, who just happens to be really hot, which I appreciate. She’s not just “clumsy,” she’s a person who raises her hand in the car to ask a question.
In an ancient Aztec ruin under the abandoned church, Braeden and Scott creep around, trying to find Derek. They’re not alone, though. Luckily, Scott uses Roar and it’s Super Effective! against a monster that looks like a skeleton enemy on an advanced level of a video game. Scott and Braeden manage to find their way to an ancient stone carving, identified as a depiction of Tezcatlipoca, the Aztec Jaguar God. This isn’t totally random, because Kate Argent was revealed to be a were-jaguar in the teaser at the end of Season 3B. And of course, “kanima” is a name for were-jaguars in areas of Latin America.
This episode also introduces “nagual,” another shape-shifting myth from Mesoamerica associated with Tezcatlipoca. Maybe Jeff Davis has a long-term plan all along!
The need to save Derek Hale overrides any respect there might have been for ancient Aztec artifacts, so Scott plays Indiana Jones and punches through a wall to rescue Kate’s prisoner. Stiles and the gang show up just in time to see Derek, too, only he’s been de-aged. Instead of a tortured Tyler Hoechlin, we’re treated to a sad-faced Ian Nelson and his eyebrows (you might remember them from "Visionary," the episode that I've been trying to forget, from Season 3A).
TL;DR Takeaways: The ladies are poised to (finally!) rule this season. Lydia’s being set up to learn about her banshee powers, Malia is a hothead who is ready to fight, Kira’s got her sword at the ready, and Braeden is a total boss. The Calaveras are run by cutthroat hunter who killed a subordinate to freak out a high schooler. Kate is clearly a Big Bad.
As for the men, thus far Scott looks pretty good with a tank top on, and Stiles’ continuing attraction to people who could crush him like a bug is a nice character trait. More Braeden, please.
Oh yeah, and everyone looks super hot.
Best Shipping Moment: OK, Stiles and Malia were pretty adorable in this episode.
GIF via teenwolf
But so were Kira and Malia, dancing like you do with your girlfriends on a night out and not at a rave hosted by supernatural hunters.
GIF via masondeys
Stiles and his Jeep also got a tender moment together, for a runners-up prize.
stiles hands all up in my grill, things are looking up— Stiles' Jeep (@beepstilesjeep) June 24, 2014
And while my Sterek rating of the episode is more like Lydia’s face here, there was at least a good moment for y’all shippers, too.
GIF via lonewolfed
Screengrab via MTV