[This is a review of Teen Wolf season 3, episode 14. It contains SPOILERS.]
Season 3 of MTV’s Teen Wolf returned last week with a strong midseason premiere that primarily worked on establishing new plot elements. “More Bad Than Good,” while by no means a standalone episode, tells a much more self-contained story in which the gang comes together with a single goal in mind: to find the missing Malia Tate, now a teenager and trapped in the form of a coyote, and reunite her with her father – preferably before her father shoots her in the head.
This isn’t the first time that the teenagers of Teen Wolf have played at being detectives, but the dynamic feels a little different now that Sheriff Stilinski has had his eyes opened to the existence of werewolves and can aid in the hunt more directly. Of course, there’s also a new clueless dad in town as FBI agent Kyle McCall, Scott’s father, takes his own turn at hampering the investigation. Sadly it doesn’t look like he’ll be striking up a Dale Cooper-esque rapport with the local law enforcement any time soon.
Agent McCall isn’t the only thing slowing down the search for Malia. Scott, Allison and Stiles are still crippled by the effects of their sacrifice to the Nemeton, which might suck for them but it continues to provide an excuse for some very visually arresting hallucinations, including Allison’s gory vision of her own autopsy and Stiles watching words literally fall off the page as he continues to be plagued by his own brand of magical dyslexia, unable to tell whether he’s awake or dreaming. At this rate, season 3 will end with Stiles falling backwards into a bathtub.
Despite the hunt for Malia the werecoyote (yes, werecoyotes are a thing now), the main focus of “More Bad Than Good” is character development, rather than building up more mythos. The relationships between the characters has always been one of the greatest strengths of Teen Wolf, and the episode is an interesting callback to “Alpha Pact,” as Stiles, Allison and Scott are each aided in their recovery by the person who was their “anchor” during the ceremony. In many ways, “More Bad Than Good” is as much about them dealing with the trauma as it is about trying to reunite Malia with her father.
While it’s heartening to see Stiles, Scott and Allison face up to their problems, it will be immensely disappointing if the “darkness around their hearts” that was supposed to haunt them for the rest of their lives actually only lasted two episodes and could be cured by a quick pep talk. Let’s hope this is only a temporary reprieve, and that the ramifications of the sacrifice will continue to unfold in more interesting ways as the season continues.
While all this is going on, Derek and Peter Hale are off having fun in their own little side-plot, though “fun” might not be the way that they would describe it. The pair is being tortured for information about a “Loba” (she-wolf) that they claim to know nothing about, but since Cora hasn’t been seen in the past couple of episodes she seems like a strong candidate for the title. It’s somewhat disarming to see the two of them acting like old friends again (well, as much as they ever did) after all of Peter’s sinister plotting in the midseason finale. As with other elements of “More Bad Than Good,” Peter’s motives are something that will hopefully resurface in future episodes.
Like many other supernatural shows before it (True Blood being the most salient example), Teen Wolf has long since started straying away from the central premise of werewolves to include a whole menagerie of supernatural creatures, and with the Nemeton supposedly drawing all kind of beasties to Beacon Hills, that pattern is likely to continue. With that in mind, it’s gratifying to see an episode that highlights Scott’s struggle with his inner Alpha, and it would be good to see more pack politics in the future. Let’s just hope those evil fireflies don’t hog all the screen time.
Teen Wolf returns next Monday with ‘Galvanize’ @10pm on MTV.