Is it possible to move on after suffering a devastating loss without putting your friends in even greater danger? What happens when a new enemy turned out to be someone that they didn't expect? Can a group of friends stay alive amongst all of the chaos? That's part of the premise behind the fourth season of MTV's "Teen Wolf," which has shown some promising of moving on from some of the stories that nearly derailed the third season. Hopefully, that promise will be kept by the time the season ends, or at least partially fulfilled.
"Teen Wolf" followed newly developing Scott McCall (Tyler Posey) who was slowly growing into his powers as an Alpha wolf that was always leading the charge, even when he was afraid himself. He was terrified of taking things further with his girlfriend Kira (Arden Cho), because he was still reeling from the death of his last girlfriend Allison (Crystal Reed) who was his first love. Scott was quietly blaming himself for her death and feared that if he got too close to Kira that she would suffer the same fate one day, so he continued to keep her at a distance to protect both of them for the time being. Unfortunately, Scott and his friends weren't likely going to have real time to cope with Allison's death for a while, because they were tasked with searching for the kidnapped Derek Hale (Tyler Hoechlin). He was taken by a mysterious villain that no one saw coming. It turned out that Allison's deceased aunt was now a werewolf with an ax to grind against Derek and planned to punish him by taking him down to Mexico for reasons known only to her. While Scott went to Mexico to rescue him, his best friend Stiles (Dylan O'Brien), Stiles' potential girlfriend Malia (Shelley Hennig) and Stiles' former crush Lydia Martin (Holland Roden) tagged along to help. Unfortunately, the group got into a bit of a struggle with a group of Mexican hunters who knew more about them than they cared to admit. The group's leader also worked hard to determine whether Scott was an ally or an eventual threat. They chose to make him an ally for now to stop Allison's aunt from killing any additional innocent people. The group also encountered a new monster that had the ability to run even faster than werewolves and cause even more damage if willing. Can Scott and Stiles manage to balance their personal and their supernatural lives without getting exposed or killed in the process?
In terms of questions, the show posed a few big ones, but the biggest one was whether the show was able to cope with the loss of original cast member Crystal Reed who left towards the end of last season on her own accord. Her brutal exit managed to drive the season to a close, but the show's main stories seemed to move on ahead without her. The arrival of her murderous aunt Kate will still have the cast and viewers thinking about Allison, until the story is resolved sooner or later. Posey's Scott seemed to be inching towards a new on-screen pairing with Cho but the show wisely decided to take a slower pace in order to make at least one story flow at a more logical pace. Posey and Cho did have a comfortable rapport that could turn into some much more dynamic given the right material and opportunity to demonstrate it. Let's hope that the show doesn't squander the opportunity to bring the characters together for too long before viewers start to lose interest. Luckily, the show has made one wise decision so far this season, which was to simplify the overly complicated multiple supernatural villains who were often interchangeable. The premiere's only true villain at the moment was Kate Argent, which was enough for now. The reveal of a new monster could be the makings of another creature tormenting the group, but it's too early to tell what will come of that story just yet. The premiere also made better use of the supporting cast by making them proactive with the story instead of reacting to everything going on around them. The show has also made strong use of their newest cast members Hennig and Cho by making them strong female characters ready to take on the world if necessary. They had one memorable fight in the premiere where they both fought off multiple attackers and still managed to have fun in the process. Let's hope that the show will continue to use them that way instead of as mere romantic counterparts to the male cast members. Only time will tell if that's the case.
As for breakout performances, Posey, Hennig and Roden led the pack as their characters seemed to be going very different journeys this season. Over the course of four seasons, Posey's Scott has evolved from a meek teenager into a powerful werewolf who was only going stronger in his newly earned role as an Alpha. He has designed Scott to be an honorable young man who would often literally walk through fire to protect the people that he cared about. Hopefully, the show will continue to test Posey's Scott, but it would be a welcome change of pace to test his moral code instead of his personal one. It would be a nice twist to see Scott have to hurt someone in order to protect a loved one and see how it changed him into a potentially darker figure. That possible story could have long ramifications for everyone involved if told the right way. Luckily, Posey has demonstrated that he could carry just about any story that came his way, even the ones that would be better off forgotten. Hennig, on the other hand, was one of the show's newest arrivals who managed to bring some moments of levity early on in the premiere without even trying to. She also managed to deliver a level of ruthless honesty that the other cast members tended to overlook in many key moments. Hennig managed to give the role some additional depth as she bonded with O'Brien's Stiles which allowed her to showcase Malia's innocent side when it was important to do so. O'Brien and Hennig were developing a story that could have either the makings of a new on-screen friendship or the start of something else. Roden's Lydia has also experienced some character growth as she no longer had her best friend to support her and her growing strengths as a banshee. She was forced to stand on her own two feet beyond being merely boy crazy and a sidekick. Let's hope that the show will develop a potential love triangle between Lydia, Stiles and Malia because it could prove to be an interesting story that no one likely saw coming until now. Fingers crossed that it will happen sooner rather than much later in the season.
"Teen Wolf" premiered on June 23rd and airs Mondays at 10:00 PM on MTV.
Verdict: Despite a slightly uneven third season, the show has managed to find its stride by focusing on the core group of teens for the time being before throwing in too many additional players and plots.
TV Score: 4 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)