Sunday, May 26, 2024

Teen Wolf Struggles To Remember Stiles

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Teen Wolf made me happy with its new episode, Superposition. Very happy. Let me tell you why.


The Wild Hunt with Stiles rides across the lacrosse field where Scott and Liam are practising lacrosse. They don’t see the riders, and Scott has the wrong idea about Liam’s abilities because he transfers what he knows from Stiles onto him. He doesn’t realize that, of course, and everyone is very confused.

At school, we witness more magnetic anomalies as well as some romance. Corey and Mason then encounter the Wild Hunt. It turns out Corey can see them when he becomes invisible. So can anyone he makes invisible alongside him. It also seems this way of seeing the Hunt is non-fatal. At any rate, the boys witness the Hunt strangling someone. They promptly forget that when the Hunt departs with their victim.

We get probably the most outright stated sex scene in Teen Wolf to date. (Talking about the teenagers, that is. Derek’s were always obvious enough.) After, we can see that Malia treats her sexual partner like Stiles in bed, with him being distinctly uncomfortable about it. Lydia has nightmares, and Scott is feeling lonely. There’s a glimpse of the group photo with Stiles in it, except, of course, Stiles is no longer in it.

liam_lacrosseThe next day, Liam is trying out for lacrosse captain at practice, only he’s not really trying very hard. He is worried that the team and the coach don’t like him. The metaphor for alphahood is pretty clear, but that doesn’t make the scene any less nice. Scott gives Liam a great pep talk about how he shouldn’t let people get him down.

Lydia keeps having unclear visions of something. Malia has trouble with controlling her shift. And everyone has vague memories of not-quite-Stiles, like Scott standing in front of his locker.

Mason and Corey accidentally meet in the library, and both have a weird feeling about last night and seeing the Hunt. Corey says he thinks the riders were holding something, and Mason figures it was probably someone. But no one is missing, and Mrs. Martin stops them from doing much in the way of investigation.

Lydia has a sort-of flashback of her last moments with Stiles. Retracing her footsteps, she almost gets run over by a car, saved only by Malia. Scott attempts to break into Stiles’ locker, and is stopped by a physics teacher.

Mason tries to tell Liam about Corey’s discoveries, but Liam flat out says he doesn’t trust Corey. The situation is not helped by the fact that Corey is hiding in the room as they speak and Liam hears him. Mason tells them he can’t deal with them hating each other.

Scott consults Deaton about the vague memories he has. Deaton compares it to feeling a phantom limb, which I think is a much more apt comparison than the physics one everyone keeps trying to push. Then he advises Scott to go to sleep, which he does, waking in the forest where they found Laura Hale’s body all those years ago. Meanwhile, Malia is regressing into a coyote by sleeping on the ground. She realizes she used to have help with this, only she doesn’t know from whom. She calls Lydia for assistance, but they’re interrupted by a text from Scott. He takes them to the forest and explains that he doesn’t remember who brought him there the night he was bitten. He hypothesizes he had a best friend, and they realize they are all missing the same person, who originally sat with them for the group photo.

corey_visionCorey tries to make peace with Liam for Mason’s sake, and they attempt to bond by going to the library to investigate. When invisible, they see a library card. The computer shows them it belonged to a student named Jake Sullivan. In that moment, they remember him, and they remember him dying. Liam is forced to admit that Corey was right.

It turns out the man Scott and Stiles chased last episode is the one who was killed at school, and that the helium he stole might have been important after all. Oh and also, Claudia Stilinski is apparently suddenly alive.

The senior crew goes to Deaton and they use a shard of glass from Alex’s parents’ car to invoke trance in Lydia. While not in conscious control, she writes “mischief” over and over until it spells “Stiles”. The episode ends with her question “what the hell is a Stiles?”


So, the reason why I’m so happy? Well, I complained in the last review that we jut can’t get a proper non-straight romance.

I stand corrected.

It seems Mason and Corey are going to get the kind of focus Liam and Hayden did last season: relationship development, with conflicts and their resolution and everything. If this episode is any indication, at any rate. And boy, do I want it to be an indication.

I love that relationship for a number of reasons. Mason is an awesome character, and certainly not just because queer people of colour are still a rare sight on TV. But I like Corey as well, because he is not your run of the mill hero. He is not awfully brave, he gets scared easily, and he’s not really fully part of the pack. He’s interesting. These two together are kryptonite.

I find their relationship more compelling than any other romantic relationship we have ever seen on Teen Wolf, with maybe the exception of Lydia and Parrish, and that never became an actual relationship anyway. There is some tension there, and tension that does not result from overblown teenage drama (or over the top villains in the family, say hello to Allison), but is genuinely interesting to watch even from an adult perspective, because this kind of tension you can get at thirty as easily as you can at sixteen. In short, I dig them.

mason_coreyAnd their scenes in this episode were pretty much all brilliant. Mason trying to stealthily help Corey with his grades? Corey worried about Mason and Mason worried about Corey, and them protecting each other? Give me more! I was so scared when it looked like the Wild Hunt would take them, let me tell you.

Then there was that confrontation with Liam. Liam has some nerve, being critical of anyone after he literally killed Scott last season, but it’s also very much in character, so I’m not really complaining. On the contrary, it’s a very well cone clash of personalities. Liam is the consummate Gryffindor, so to speak, while Corey is much more of a Slytherin. And it shows beautifully here. Liam’s inability to accept that not everyone is wonderfully brave for direct confrontations, and the way he despises Corey for his cowardice. Corey, who would like to hold onto his grudges and doesn’t really care what Mason’s friends think of him. And Mason caught in the middle of this, trying to mediate in some way. Yeah, it was compelling, is what I am saying.

Corey making the first step and sort-of-apologizing, even though he was hardly the one in the wrong here, but doing it for Mason anyway, really speaks to me. And I very much appreciated that after Liam scoffed Corey’s abilities with “I thought all he could do was disappear”, he utters an awestruck “wow” when Corey makes him invisible too, and he sees the world the way Corey does.

Speaking of Liam, I’m happy to see that I was right and Scott is, apparently, going to act opposite to him for a large part. His pep talk was very good. “Leaders don’t run” indeed. Scott, you have come a long way. The same can’t quite be said about Liam, who is still not entirely alpha material, but hopefully that will improve as he gains some practice in leadership and learns from his mistakes. I mean, Scott had plenty of issues as late as last season, so…


To go back to Corey, I’m thrilled about the exploration of his powers we get to see. It seems they are going to be crucial in saving Stiles, and any other people who might be taken by the Wild Hunt.

The show insists on framing this in context of quantum physics, saying that the things and people taken by the Hunt are in a superposition of being both there and not there at the same time. I’m not sure that really works with the story. They don’t seem to be in some unobserved quantum state. From what we saw so far, it appears that Corey simply sees them when he turns invisible (or their stuff at least, if the card is anything to go by). And perhaps when they are observed by him, they suddenly become real even to the others.

If the quantum metaphor worked, it would be equally likely that Corey’s interaction with those taken by the Hunt would make them finally and definitely dead/nonexistent. He could turn invisible, not see the library card, and thus cause Jake Sullivan to not exist. I don’t think that’s what the show’s going for. Maybe I’ll be surprised, but so far it looks more like misrepresenting quantum physics.

What it actually reminded me of was either Lukyanenko’s Twilight, or Tolkien’s Shadow world. When Corey becomes invisible, it seems that what actually happens to him is that he enters this Shadow world, and so he can see things in there. Just like Frodo could see the faces of Ringwraiths when he put on the Ring because he entered the Shadow world and so seemed invisible in the normal one.

But enough theory. What’s important is that Corey can clearly bring things back from the Shadow world when he returns, and he can take people there with him, so he is obviously a gate between the two. That makes me exited about his future role in this storyline, because it has so much potential.

To leave the sophomore crew for a while, another thing I loved in this episode was how well they showed the hole left after Stiles in the world of those around him. All the things, both big and small, that make people miss him or just not feel right without him. All the things that remind them of him. The sudden emptiness of their lives, which they don’t know what to do about. I’m a sucker for all that.

lydiaExcept, of course, Lydia’s statement that she loved him. Is this the price I have to pay for having the Corey/Mason romance? I won’t reitarate why I think making this romance canon is problematic, but I will say again that it was framed in the worst possible way. Her flashback to her last moments with Stiles was great, though.

I’m in two minds about the reappearance of Claudia Stilinski. On one hand, I don’t really understand how her being alive works from a worldbuilding perspective. She died of frontotemporal dementia, so no connection to Stiles existing. Even if he somehow caused her death, either intentionally or not, she would still be sick.

Additionally, erasing someone from reality is one thing, and bringing someone back from the dead is quite another order of magnitude. If the Riders could actually do that, well, that would have far-reaching implications. And I don’t see why she should come back whatever the circumstances of her death, since the riders clearly don’t erase everything that happened because of the person they took. That would be way too far-reaching. Scott would not be a werewolf, for example, and so all the effects of that would have never happened. No one wants to go that way. Or do we? I mean, I do like a good AU, but the all-human ones were never really my cup of tea.

Claudia Stilinski could also simply be a collective hallucination, of course. Or a villain might be taking on her form.

From the Doylist perspective, I’m a little upset that while we see everyone else showing how they miss Stiles, his own father is just fine, and has a resurrected wife to boot. That makes me uncomfortable. He should be the one with the biggest gaping hole in his life, by rights.

On the other hand, I liked the idea of Claudia being back alive for its sheer horror. Because imagine how Stiles would feel when he found out. It’s terrible, but interesting to explore. We’d not be dealing with just another mindless death to mess with viewers’ emotions. It’d be Hermione facing her obliviated parents and debating whether she should bring the memory of her back, only much worse, because here Claudia Stilinski would probably actually die of Stiles came back. It’s absolutely brutal. If done well, it could be brilliant, but it will be brutal in any case.


To close on a bit of a lighter note, what made me angry was Mrs. Martin preventing Mason and Corey from looking for a missing person by stating that school was a designated safe space from supernatural stuff. Because it’s not like the McCall pack went out of their way to stage confrontations at school. The villains just seem to be drawn there, mostly. She is blaming the victims, and preventing them from looking for someone who might be lost with a nonsensical mention of a safe space. It seems to me to be implied criticism of the concept, because it’s used in a way that makes no sense. See, kids? Safe spaces are irrational! A message like that irritates me.

But, well. I’ll just keep thinking of Mason and Corey, I’m sure that will make me feel better.

Random observations to close with:

  • Lydia tries to present her own theoretical findings in her math test. I am in heaven.
  • Parrish is still there, yay! Even if his romance with Lydia was apparently scrapped, it’s something to rejoice in.
  • ‘What the hell is a Stiles’ was another lovely reference to earlier seasons. The entire nostalgia of remembering the night Scott was bitten, too.
  • I wonder if the dead truck driver is the first hint of the second villain storyline, as is traditional in Teen Wolf? We know Peter Hale is supposed to return this season, so I’m a little worried on that front.


All images courtesy of MTV

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