Teen Wolf Season 3 Premiere Review: The Madness Continues (PHOTO RECAP)

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Teen Wolf S03E01: "Tattoo"


Dang girl, you got hot over the summer! What have you been up to? Clearly you've been moisturizing or eating right or doing Zumba or, I don't know, finding spiritual apotheosis in the mountains of Peru? Whatever it is, it is WORKING because when I look at you I want to dunk my head in hot lava just to COOL DOWN. As for me, my summer was nothing special. I mostly just ran up and down the beach wrapping myself up in seaweed and shouting at seagulls. To be honest, I look like the sunburnt grandfather of a sea witch and on top of that none of my family will return my faxes. I'm in a bad place, girl, but at least you and I get to hang out again. Specifically we get to hang out again and talk about TEENAGE WEREWOLVES.

Because if life is just one big house party (in that some house parties are abject nightmares), then Teen Wolf is your really hot friend who MIGHT have mental problems and who you don't necessarily trust or feel comfortable around but they are hilarious and amazing and you don't want to leave their side because Lord knows they will do something insane at any moment and you don't want to miss it. That's what Teen Wolf is, basically. Slowly over the course of its first two seasons the show went from a much-derided punchline to something inching ever closer to critical hit and that is because TEEN WOLF IS AMAZING. In addition to its crazy-fast storytelling and wildly appealing characters played by wildly attractive actors, what makes this show so irresistible is that it feels like a secret. You know? Like it's just made for weirdos like you and me, and we watch while silently chuckling about how everyone else is missing out. Teen Wolf is this truly arresting combination of snarkiness and sincerity, both high AND low quality production values, with a sophisticated comic book knowledge but a fondness for dopey coming-of-age drama. Nearly every element of Teen Wolf is something we've seen before, but recontextualized and recombined into something completely unpredictable. And now it's back! Boy is it.

First things first: I'm no Nikki Finke over here, but some big things happened behind the scenes of this season and it feels weird to not bring them up. First off, no more Colton Haynes. I don't know about you, but when I heard he wouldn't be returning this season I fell to my knees and shook a fist at the heavens. No offense to the other fellas, but he was amazing and often my favorite thing about the show. Nobody will ever deliver lines and/or towel scenes like Colton Haynes, but that's okay. We must move on. Teen Wolf is bigger than one jock-turned-lizard-turned-werewolf. Second thing is that Teen Wolf's production left Atlanta and moved to Los Angeles. It probably shouldn't have been a big deal except remember when The X-Files traded Vancouver for L.A.? I do. The show just didn't feel the same. Anyway, yeah. In addition to introducing a new baker's dozen of hunks, Teen Wolf looked slightly different in its Season 3 premiere, "Tattoo," but so far everything seems pretty much in order to me. Phew! 

Alright, speaking of "Tattoo," let's talk more about this absolutely insane hour of television!

We began with a cryptically edited montage showing a dead-seeming Isaac dragged through an alleyway and electrocuted back to life via car battery courtesy of some unknown lady:

At first I thought it was the guidance counselor from Season 2 but then it wasn't and then I felt super racist for thinking it was. My bad! Anyway, motorcycle chase:

We were only like 40 seconds into the episode and it was already just totally ludicrous. The chase was SO computer generated that it looked like an outtake from Tron: Legacy, but also, how big is downtown Beacon Hill? This lady was speeding at easily 50mph down some kind of uptown Autobahn and THEN suddenly and out of nowhere a pair of twunks CAUGHT UP to them ON FOOT and kept trying to box Isaac's ears. 

Uh, leave Isaac alone you twunks!!

Anyway, after the mysterious lady and Isaac crashed their motorcycle into a warehouse, the twins got down to business, which on this show meant becoming nude from the waist up. And then, oh holy hell, where do I even begin? AND THEN:

Reader, send your child from the room. Because I am here to tell you that one of the twins FISTED the other twin and went ALL UP IN HIM.

That's right, they fisted and then combined into one BEHEMOTH WEREWOLF.

Luckily the mysterious lady fired a taser at the hulk-beast and it popped apart back into teen twin twinks!

And thus concluded the instantly legendary Isaac-Terrorized-by-Fisting-Werewolf-Twins cold open of 2013! Holy jeez, Teen Wolf. You scare me but I love you.

Ooh, and the opening titles got a face lift! First of all:

Haha that's Scott LEVITATING. Fair enough. Also this made me LOL:

I don't know why but Lydia just looked so funny to me here. For the record, the Teen Wolf opening titles are still the best on television and the music makes my heart race every time. I was kinda hoping Daniel Sharman would be added in to replace Colton Haynes, mostly because then I won't have to constantly worry about Isaac getting killed off, but oh well. 

So here's what an L.A. version of Beacon Hill looks like:

Yup, it's basically the same weird combination of greenscreen and composited night sky that it's always been. I saw no difference really! I love that Beacon Hill seems to have brownstones though, what a weird town.

So it was the night before school started and Scott was out doing what any normal teenage werewolf would try to do the night before school starts: GET A TATTOO BRO!!

Stiles was there mostly to make jokes about the Kanima and also faint at the sight of a tattoo needle. Also his hair is longer now LADIES. 

But the thing about being a werewolf is you heal too easily and that includes all your sweet ink bro. Bummer! Just kidding, not a bummer. Scott leave that bicep alone!

Meanwhile in another car, Allison and Lydia discussed where Jackson went. London! Because American Werewolf in... Oh nevermind. All that mattered was that Lydia was back on the market. Also I guess Allison went to France all summer, I think? I don't know, and I don't mean to sound like an old man, but sometimes I couldn't hear the dialogue over the music. Does that sort of thing hurt my enjoyment of Teen Wolf? Not really!

At this point Scott and Stiles pulled up alongside the gals and it was obvious Scott still liked Allison even though they hadn't spoken all summer but then everything was awkward and the girls sped off but then stopped in the middle of the road because they felt guilty and then this happened:


HAHAHA. 

Then Scott used his Powder-like ability to feel what animals feel and discovered that the deer was "scared." Fair enough!

The next morning Scott did one-armed pull-ups while reading because LOL. Also he had an app that provided him with a word of the day:

Ephemeral! I don't know about you, but I get a feeling that Scott's newfound responsibility with regard to his academic life will be very ephemeral. Pretending to know how to read only gets you so far in life. You can be a TV recapper at best.

Meanwhile in the Argent household, Mr. Argent was acting way more chill than we remembered, and Allison was still pretty bummed about Mrs. Argent getting bit up by a werewolf and then mercy-killed. And in that exact same moment I completely related to Allison. Mrs. Argent was truly one of my favorite TV characters of all time. Anyway, despite that massive loss, Allison was trying to put on a brave face about going to school that day:

Meanwhile we checked in with the other characters and got updates on their home lives (and new sets):

Uh, Lydia had casual sex in her bedroom the night before school started. Where was her mother? Had she ALSO been drowned in a fountain by a one thousand-year-old vampire?

Haha this show.

So Scott drives a motor-bicycle now. Is it for dirt-biking or something? I'm guessing there will be dirt-biking this season. 

Aw, I forgot about Boyd and Erica. And I guess I never knew that Boyd was his LAST name? At this point I don't know if they got ate up by the pack of alphas or if they just ran away from Beacon Hill and got themselves cast on other TV shows. Who even knows in this day and age? I liked those characters, though.

Oh, the new principal found former principal Gerard's sword. Man, Gerard was such an old weirdo. Remember when he turned into a fountain of black ooze and then yelled at everybody?

Look who enrolled as new students!

These guys. If there's one thing I know to be true about handsome monsters it's that they LOVE doing high school classwork. Enjoy it fellas!

There was also a new faculty character, this English teacher who was so hip that she began class by sending everyone a mass text that quoted Heart of Darkness. Which, actually, pretty cool! I've seen a quarter-million terrible classroom scenes in teen dramas, and this was actually a clever idea! Also she seemed nice, so that means she's either a villain or she's gonna die or maybe sleep with Pacey.

Even though Scott's mom spent the summer holed up in a post-apocalyptic zombie wasteland allied with the Governor, she was back to nursing hunky werewolves just in time for the school year to begin. Both Isaac and his mysterious companion were brought in for medical attention, and they REALLY wanted her to call Scott for some reason.

But then a different nurse came in to treat Isaac and he seemed suspicious of her intentions, especially when he saw her choice of footwear.

And her weird peace sign that she gave.

Whoops, looked another member of that alpha pack!

Meanwhile at school a hundred thousand bird .GIFs decided to commit suicide.

All the birds just busted into the classroom and slapped everyone around!

It was honestly very disruptive to the class and if we're being honest, just plain rude of those birds. 

But Scott didn't experience the birds being a-holes because his mom had called him out of class to come to the hospital and deal with werewolf probs. At that point a blind man got in the elevator with him and we immediately knew he was a werewolf on account of his hunkiness. Like, come on with that sweater. Get real, werewolf!

And by that reasoning it was also a safe bet that this seven-foot-tall American Gladiator-looking nurse was probably also a werewolf. And to make matters worse, he was trying to kidnap a drugged-up Isaac!

Scott caught sight of this guy and immediately got super mad because everybody needs to stop stealing Isaac already! Isaac does not deserve that kind of treatment, he is like a Greek statue come to life and all he wants to do is live a chill life and also stand in golden light posing, but NO, he can't, because alpha werewolves want to hassle Isaac all dang day and Scott was VERY TICKED about it.

So Scott had no choice but to put on his dog-face and jump into the elevator and tussle with an alpha werewolf because he's Scott and that's WHAT HE DOES.

It made me laugh that, while a brutal throwdown was happning only inches away, Isaac was still getting his Zs. I'm the same way.


HEY DEREK! Guys, then Derek busted into the elevator and threw the giant nurse into the hallway and it was a major hero moment. Plus, you know, Derek so sassy.

I just like when the dads talk to each other. In this case they made small talk about all the dead birds and Stiles' dad was like 'Haven't you historically been involved in every weird thing that has happened to this town since you moved here?' and Mr. Argent was like 'No why?' and that was it. I hope they go bowling soon.

Ooh, look what also made the move to L.A.: Derek's house! Yup, that old burnt-down haunted house Derek used to live in is back in play. It wasn't clear whether he sublet out his place at the abandoned subway station but there's a chance he was evicted. Life is hard out there for an unemployed, uneducated werewolf who only chooses to live in nightmare hovels, you know?

Scott is good with priorities, which is why he interrupted Derek's attempts to save Isaac's life by making Derek give him a tattoo.

Also, Isaac's mysterious motorcycle lady friend escaped the hospital and put on some sweatpants and then went to the high school where she was all sweaty and hassling everybody. 


At one point she grabbed Allison's and Lydia's wrists and instantly bruised them! But that didn't seem strange to me, I just figured they'd been on one too many cleanses recently.

Oh, so this is going to be a thing now. At the clinic run by the town's local, possibly Illuminati veterinarian, all the kitties and doggies had COMMITTED SUICIDE. I swear at one point there was a closeup of a kitten's bloody paw hanging out of its cage and my heart hurt so bad. Why you gotta do me like that Teen Wolf? But yeah main thing is all the animals in town are just OVER IT.

This episode of Teen Wolf ran an extra five minutes probably because this tattoo subplot was so important. So here we were, finally learning how it is that werewolves can have tattoos. If you were wondering what kind of clever magic would render a werewolf tattoo permanent, that magic is called a "blow torch."

Yup! So now the burning question of how werewolves get tattoos was finally answered. Interesting stuff right?

Oh but then Scott got mad because Derek had painted the front door of his haunted house, so he scratched off all the paint and uncovered this:

It was that symbol that we'd all seen in the Season 2 finale. I guess Derek and Isaac and Peter had kept the alpha pack's arrival a secret all summer, which seemed like a weird decision considering that the very dangerous gang had now been in the vicinity for three months and maybe Scott should have been alerted to that fact? Look, I know, I know. The writers needed to reset the characters and give them all vacations so that the story would start in September. But still, that's just— Oh shhh Issac woke up:

(Sighhh.) Anyway, yeah. Isaac finally filled them all in: Boyd and Erica had been kidnapped and now everyone was in trouble because the alpha pack seemed very nasty and they probably also had a super nasty leader. Speaking of the pack...

The mysterious motorcycle lady was holed up in the locker room with nothing but a broom handle to keep monsters at bay.


Unfortunately the barefoot lady werewolf kicked her in the face and knocked a half-gallon of fruit punch out of her mouth. And THAT'S when we met the alphas' leader:

OBVIOUSLY it was this guy. He seems like he'll make a good villain, and not just because he kind of reminds me of Jaime Lannister. Anyway, they exchanged some meaningful yet cryptic dialogue about how SHE knows he's afraid of Scott, but HE's confident that Derek will murder Scott instead of him, or you know, whatever. Season-long plot stuff. Then he raised a claw and slapped her head off and I guess she died.

Meanwhile Lydia and Allison were trying to decide what color to paint Allison's wall (let's be real though, beige really suits Allison) and they realized that the bruises on their forearms formed a symbol!  And it ended up being the same symbol we'd then see on the floor or whatever place this was:

Erica and Boyd (or at least their stand-ins) were still alive and being held captive in some weird place affiliated with the dead motorcycle girl! Or something. I don't know and I'm not supposed to know. That's just how this show rolls!

So we know how it works by now, each season of Teen Wolf has overriding mysteries to uncover, but clearly Season 3 seems to be less 'whodunnit' and more 'whattheydoin.' Because WHAT THEY DOIN? What are those alphas up to? What do they want with the teens of this tiny podunk town? Why do they fear Scott? Who opposes them? What do they want with Erica and Boyd? And WHAT EXACTLY do they wear while working out? I'm guessing we'll learn all of this and more as the season progresses! Can. Not. Wait.


QUESTIONS:

... Should alpha werewolves do a better job of wearing shoes and getting manicures?

... Have you ever been attacked by CGI birds?

... Do you miss Colton Haynes?

... Exactly how much fisting are you willing to tolerate on a basic cable drama?

... Did it make you mad that Stiles and Derek didn't have a scene together?

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