Teen Wolf 4×1 Review: The Dark Moon


It’s here. After three months of speculation, promos, rumors, and lots of fanfiction (that’s not just me, right?), the fourth season of MTV’s Teen Wolf has finally arrived. And for a show that seemingly lost its way in the last season, the premiere actually did not disappoint.

To be perfectly honest, this may have been the best season premiere of Teen Wolf’s short existence. It was a taunt thriller of an episode and while it definitely had clear shortcomings, “The Dark Moon” was a fun ride and is hopefully an indication of the show’s maturing this season.

Let’s go over the weaknesses first. Jeff Davis, who is both the show’s executive producer and writer of this episode, just seems to love to confuse the hell out of viewers. There were so many unanswered questions and assumptions made that make absolutely no sense. While some questions remained unanswered for narrative’s sake (such as the full connection between Kate Argent and the Calaveras family), there were others that just illustrated the holes in the storyline. For example, how did Scott make the connection that Kate Argent was alive when being electrocuted? For all he knew, Kate has been dead for the last however many years have actually passed in Beacon Hills. That was an enormous leap for him to make and a little too convenient.

tw2There’s also the mystery of Malia. Where is she living now? Is she totally socially acclimated to living among people? She obviously did not recognize Derek so does Derek even know of his cousin’s existence?

Basically, “The Dark Moon” continued the Teen Wolf tradition of trying to weave together as many storylines and mythologies as possible in one episode, making it a confusing mess. The best episodes, I’ve always felt, were the spared down one with simplistic plots. Let’s hope that the rest of the season, with its promised return to Beacon Hills High School, will go down that route rather than the convoluted one.

Now, onto another, more controversial weakness: the Malia/Stiles relationship. Let me start by saying that I’m not promoting one ship over another. If Malia and Stiles are mates, as actress Shelley Hennig claims, then that’s it. My only concern was the rushed feeling that was given to these two characters’ relationship. Malia and Stiles did make out in “Echo House” last season, but Stiles was suffering from the nogistune’s influence and not in his right mind. From what we’ve seen, these two haven’t had time to actually develop healthy feelings for one another and their awkward tip-toeing around each other was weakly written.

tw3The highlight of the episode was definitely the sense of a motley group of heroes working together to save the day. Every character had a moment to shine in their trip to Mexico to rescue Derek as each had a special skill to bring to the table. While we don’t know just how these teenagers were able to cross the border, or where they got all that money to bargain for Derek’s life, it was fun to watch them all work together in a rather Ocean’s 11 sort of way. For the first time, they really felt like a pack.

Also, the decided increase in girl power was distinctly awesome. In “The Dark Moon,” the female strength outweighed the male, with Scott and Stiles often relying on the women in the pack to guide and help them. The fact that Lydia, Kira, and Malia all seem to like one another and work well together is also encouraging. Media often relies on pitting women against one another so I’m hoping Teen Wolf promotes female companionship in an uplifting way.

Adding to the female badassery was the mysterious mercenary, Braeden. Like Malia, she’s willing to do terrible things for her own safety and like Derek, she seems well-versed in various mythologies. And she looks awesome in a leather jacket. But besides that, she’s calm, cool, and collected. She clearly can read people well, as evidenced by her questioning Scott about his relationship for Kira, and she isn’t easily scared. Like Malia, she was kind of sprung upon us in season 3B, but hopefully she will become a truly fleshed out and dynamic character. Teen Wolf is still sorely lacking in women of color and Braeden could be a great addition to the pack.

Finally, there was the big twist at the end of the episode. It was hinted to us for the last couple of weeks that it would completely change Derek and was like something out of fanfiction. And you know what? It was. And I still didn’t see it coming.

For reasons still unexplained at the conclusion of “The Dark Moon,” Derek Hale has been de-aged to his teenaged self. Ian Nelson, the actor who played young Derek Hale in “Visionary,” returned as a beat-up and seemingly confused Derek, rescued by a suitably shocked Scott and Braeden. Now, a part of me is disappointed that we didn’t get to see more of Tyler Hoechlin. But to be honest, I am so excited about this turn of events. While it is rather outlandish and gimmicky, I am seriously looking forward to the return of Ian Nelson, who I think is a solid actor, and witnessing how the pack interacts with a young and probably more vulnerable Derek Hale. After all, he has been a guiding figure (and annoying, gruff big brother) for most of the series. Now that the playing field is levelled, so to speak, how will that change the dynamics of Teen Wolf?


Perhaps it’s just the high of being thoroughly surprised by a fun and exciting episode of Teen Wolf, but I genuinely felt this was one of its best episodes and I greatly look forward to this season. So, tell us what you think!

What was your favorite part of the season premiere?

Are you as excited as we are about the badass female characters?

Were you surprised by the de-aged Derek? How much fanfiction do you think is going to be written featuring a de-aged Derek now?

Author: Kerry


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10 thoughts on “Teen Wolf 4×1 Review: The Dark Moon

  1. I was not impressed at all by this start. To me it Just seemed hollow. Like pick up the cast and through them into a different country and ad to the lore with other were-creatures and that’s the story. Oh and reverse aging for Derek…ah random.

    But if God allows us another Monday I will give this season one more try. Having popular characters doesn’t mean you can repeatedly get away with a disjointed storyline where the viewer really learned nothing new but more importantly felt nothing new, no rebuilding emotional connection to any of the characters.

    Nowhere along this 40+ minute journey did I feel a sense of urgency to find Derek. (???) Why the need to find him ( was there blood at the loft? NO. Did Scott pick up Chemo-signals that indicated a struggle, danger, or death at the loft? We don’t know; because the writers don’t say. Would have been a great way to tie in the growing connection between Scott and Derek from season 3(Derek teaching Scott how to fully use his senses at the hospital and becoming Scott’s Para-guide.) But we just get 5 teenagers in Mexico with 50 thousand dollars. How did they get this money? ( not even a flash of how they got their hands on the money did they steal it from evidence lockup, did Mr. Argent give it to them? Did Stiles’ dad give them the money?)We don’t know. We’re just quickly given the hint that it is Yakuza money because the huntress hinted at it..

    It would have been great to have some connective building maybe seeing Scott getting the feeling that Derek is in trouble (a way to show that they share some kind of mental link) Seeing this grieving team or should I say pack urgently called together by Scott to inform them that Derek needs help. I would have been nice to watch them gather information get the money, maneuver around their parents and finally land in Mexico. But Like I said I will check out episode 2 with the hope of connecting with this new tale.

    1. I agree that there should’ve been more about the pack’s feelings regarding Derek missing. I guess we’re just supposed to assume, based on Derek’s interactions with Scott last season, that they view him as a guidance figure like a poor man’s Obi-Wan and therefore, is important to the pack. I think they’ve come to rely on him and not resent him anymore. Also, it could’ve just been guilt since they know Derek has had a miserable life and now he’s missing, well, we better go find him.

      Perhaps they knew more from the presence of the Calaveras family from Chris Argent. But all of this is conjuncture since, surprise surprise, the writers didn’t feel it important to explain it to us.

      My best friend also didn’t like the episode because she felt it was “too much”. She’s hoping, and I am too, that the next episodes return to Beacon Hills and focus on high school like the first season. I’m anxious to see young Derek Hale interact with the pack as they return to their roots.

  2. Oh and will we ever find out what Lydia is hiding from Scott, basically what did Lydia find out from Talia Hale’s claws that made her want to keep her deal with Peter a secret? Why did Lydia want to keep Malia’s parentage hidden from Scott?

    Is Scott a long lost Hale, another Hale baby passed off to human parents just like Malia.? (I don’t Think so…. ) But what’s with all these hints of a major secret being kept from Scott?

  3. I enjoyed the episode a lot. Your review definitely sums up the questions I have too. How did the pack know to go to Mexico? Did Peter tip them off or something? How did they get to Mexico without their parents knowing (assuming Melissa and Papa Stilinki didn’t know)?

    The girl power was awesome! It was refreshing to see females working together and caring about each other instead of fighting and disliking one another. Braeden! I love her. I hope they keep her around and don’t toss her aside. I want to know about her. Where did she come from? How did she get into this business and learn about all of this lore?

    Yes yes yes on the Stiles/Malia relationship! It felt so rushed and forced to me, I was uncomfortable for the characters. I love Malia for Stiles and think that it’s great that he’s moved on from his obsession with Lydia (don’t get me wrong I’m a hard core Stydia and Sterek shipper) because it wasn’t healthy; but throwing him into this relationship with Malia isn’t healthy either. I think that both characters need time to know more about each other and develop more substantial feelings. And I want to know more about Malia and her adapting to human life.

    Okay, last thing, de-aged Derek! I like it. I’m curious about how this will affect everyone especially Derek. Like what’s going to happen after they get him back to normal? What are the after-effects going to be?

    I just really hope that the writers flesh out the back story of Malia, Kate, and Braeden. I have high hopes for this season.

    1. Thank you for reading! I am just leery of Malia for the reasons you stated but also because I am super uncomfortable with the overt sexualization of her. Probably outside of Kate, she is the most overtly sexually female character; though whether or not she’s actually had sex is another thing entirely. Her characterization also plays upon the “wild woman” trope which is a very old and very sexist trope, related somewhat to the feral child one (like Mowgli of the Jungle Books). I sincerely hope the writers treat Malia delicately and do not ram her down our throats with uncomfortable sexual stereotypes but right now, I’m not counting on it.

  4. I thought the episode was meh. Too disjointed, too much not explained. I’m not liking Malia. I don’t think it was cute how all of her comments were passed off with, “Well, she’s making progress,” as if she’s still adjusting to human interaction even as she’s shown understanding club behavior and dirty dancing. It doesn’t help her make any kind of sense as a character.

    I’m trying to keep an open mind about Malia. But there’s starting to be a pattern that makes me uncomfortable. When we first meet her in human form, she’s naked for obvious reasons – she just changed back from being a woodland creature. Fine. No problem. The next significant arc she has is with Stiles, and she takes off her shirt and likely has sex with Stiles. (There seems to be some debate there as to whether it was actually sex.)

    And now, five minutes into her next major introduction, she’s bringing the hot moves to the dance floor. If her role is to be the sexualized teenaged girl who’s had limited social interaction since she was eight years old but knows how to bring all the boys to her yard, then the show’s doing a great job with her. If she’s supposed to be something more, then not so much.

    The interesting thing is that Braeden, who’s not even going to be a regular, got a smaller but IMO more interesting bit of backstory. It made me want to know more about her. I know it won’t happen, but I would love it if the show would lose Malia and keep Braeden.

    1. Thanks so much for reading! I completely agree with you re: Malia but I did not want my review to appear like I was bashing her as a character. In fact, I feel that she could be an interesting addition to the pack but I’m also very uncomfortable with the way she has been presented to us as this sexual, feral, wild child. It feels wrong and frankly gross.

      The trope of the wild child or jungle princess is an old and sexist one and based completely on sex. Malia is, so by presenting her as both sexual and naive and animalistic, something to be conquered. Stiles, the white straight male hero, needs to teach her the ways of civilization. We’ve seen this countless times before in pop culture: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/JunglePrincess And if the writing of Teen Wolf continues to treat her in this manner, then I’m going to be very upset with the sexist implications of her completely unequal relationship with Stiles.

  5. Couldn’t sense any urgency to why the pack was looking for Derek…why all of a sudden feel worried about him? i was hoping for a scene that kind of hinted that Stiles shared the dream Derek had in 3B finale and that’s why he felt he was in trouble etc…now that Derek has deaged, i can see the show not talking about the ‘anchor’ thing anytime soon cos little Derek doesn’t remember things from his adult life, and only remembers Kate, etc (as seen in ep 2 promo) and i don’t think Stiles dreams about Derek

    liked Kira..she’s so fun and awkward…unless there’s a secret lesbian dance club in BH forest, have no idea how Malia was able to do those dance moves..cos it did look like baiting to me, the way the camera focused on the hands, the chest, and the back between the shots

    loving Stiles and Lydia as a team, and want more..don’t think Lydia is into Malia that much and her convo in the jeep when she was wounded and the whole ‘you didn’t see a thing?’ was a red flag to me…Malia obviously doesn’t do pack, so who knows what her character might end up doing as the season goes

    liked Braeden, though don’t know if her being Derek’s LI would lessen her character…all in all, Teen Wolf again gave a shocking premiere…everything was fun ‘at the surface’ but there wasn’t really much in the episode as a whole, except for more questions

    1. I also thought the dance sequence was very baiting and uncomfortable. I don’t think the writers know how to handle a character that’s supposed to be naive and uncertain of social behavior cues, while also being a stereotypically hot white teenaged girl.

      I want to see Braeden and Derek together if only because I want to see Derek with an awesome, non-evil, badass woman. And a woman of color, no less! That would just be kickass. I’m sick of TV’s sexless people of color.

  6. Overall I liked the season premier. I am actually glad Lydia and Stiles are not in a relationship yet. In 3B Evil Stiles used her and forced here to “experience” Allison’s death as a banshee. This was after experiencing the loss of the Twin she was dating. She’s a teenage girl. Having her dive into a relationship with someone would be weird at this point. She needs to regain her confidence and heal.

    I think Stiles would feel some guilt and have baggage over the events of last season. And while the relationship with Malia started off in a bad place, I believe that was because the writers didn’t know if she was coming back for season 4 until after the finished 3b.

    I am willing to give Stiles and Malia a chance. I just hope the writers take the time to flesh her out. I think that there is potential for great stuff with here and Peter.

    I am also glad that they are not writing Allison’s death off and having it effect Scott and Kira.

    Overall there is the potential for another great season but its too early to tell where the writers are going.

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