[This is a review of Teen Wolf season 4, episode 2. It contains SPOILERS.]
Teen Wolf is back in Beacon Hills after a rocky start in rural Mexico, and with the return of the more familiar locale and the show’s wider cast of supporting characters – including Linden Ashby as Sheriff Stilinski and Ian Bohen as Peter Hale – things start to get back on track in the second episode of the season, ‘117’. Unfortunately for Scott and his friends, there’s still the fallout of the magical Aztec de-ageing oven to deal with – and to make matters worse, the newly teenaged Derek Hale has also been stripped of his memories and is very confused as to what is going on. We feel your pain, Derek.
The particulars of how Derek got his clock rewound aren’t explained in this episode and possibly never will be, but showrunner Jeff Davis gave the real reason in an interview with TVLine: “We like Ian Nelson so much, so we were trying to think of a way to bring him back and have some fun.” It might have been less of a stretch to simply have a flashback episode, but Nelson is something of a saving grace for ‘117’ with his portrayal of a much younger, much more naive and out-of-control Derek.
Werejaguar Kate Argent soon gets her claws back into him, and it’s unclear whether the script itself is aware of just how creepy the depiction of an adult woman making out with a minor actually is (it’s super creepy). Kate’s plan, it transpires, was to kidnap Derek and take him to an ancient Aztec tomb in order to de-age him to exactly the point in his life where he had met her but not yet realised that she was just using him, so that the young Derek can then tell her the location of a Hale family vault that happens to be located underneath Beacon Hills High School, so that she can get her hands on a Triskelion medallion that she hopes will give her better self-control during the full moon. That is the plan. Apparently just torturing Derek or Peter for the information would have been too complicated.
The show’s plot holes continue to grate in smaller ways. For example, Scott decides to lie to Derek about his family and then in the next scene is shown conversing with Stiles about the fact that he lied, despite the fact that Derek is only about ten feet away and easily within werewolf earshot. Never underestimate the power of the stage whisper.
Scott probably needn’t have worried about lying in the first place, however, since Derek finds out about the true fate of his family shortly afterwards… offscreen, thus wasting the opportunity for what could have been an extremely emotional and insightful character moment of what it must have been like for Derek to lose his family the first time around.
Derek is shown later acting mildly annoyed and distressed by the news that parents and virtually his entire pack have all been horribly murdered, but gets over it pretty quickly and decides to spend his mourning period going on a vault hunt with Kate. Considering how eager Davis was to get Nelson back on the show it’s surprising just how little he’s actually given to do in this episode, though it does at least offer a chance to revive the “Cousin Miguel” gag from the first season.
Kate isn’t the only thing that followed Scott and the gang back from Mexico. The skeleton monsters that were so carefully kept concealed in the season premiere also show up in Beacon Hills, whereupon it turns out that they are just dudes in skull masks with ribcage breastplates (short enough that they can still show off their abs). It’s the kind of lazy creature design that almost makes you wish the show would go back to just awkwardly not showing them at all. They’re called Berserkers, which means that in addition to having great abs they also have short tempers and super-strength. They’re also supposedly unbeatable, but the same was said of the Oni demons in season 3.
In between all this madness, ‘117’ offers some pay-off to a bombshell that was dropped back in season 3: Peter Hale is Malia Tate’s father, though she doesn’t know it yet, and they finally get to meet as Scott seeks Peter’s help in resolving the Derek situation. New cast regular Shelley Hennig has been holding her own so far in the few moments she’s had to shine, and this episode highlights some of the struggles she’s had trying to settle back into the human world. In Malia’s defense, the fact that she’s having difficulty keeping up in high school might be due to the fact that she missed eight years of education.
The episode concludes with Derek returning to his usual age in the middle of a fight with the Berserkers. As with the details of the de-ageing process this may get explained in a future episode, but for now it’s best to just assume that A Wizard Did It. It is also revealed that Kate’s ridiculous plan was actually masterminded by someone else as a scheme to steal the Hale family millions. That’s a much better motivation, but it doesn’t make the plan any less ridiculous.
Teen Wolf returns next Monday with ‘Muted′ @10PM on MTV. Watch the promo below.