Teen Wolf Season 5 has ended and if you have been reading our reviews you would know why the season ended up polarizing a lot of viewers. Come, join our roundtable discussion!
How did you feel about season 5 (A and B) of Teen Wolf as a whole?
Kate: It had its moments, but it was so jam-packed with characters that it became shallow. Quantity over quality, so to speak. When you have so many players in the game, no one gets much playing time. That’s just basic fractions. Just think about how many characters were active participants in season 5, either as protagonists, antagonists, or characters with significant relationships to the leads who affect their lives: Scott, Stiles, Kira, Lydia, Malia, Liam, Hayden, Mason, Theo, Tracy, Corey, Josh, Donovan, Braeden, Meredith, Claire, Lori, Nurse McCall, Sheriff Stilinski, Parrish, Deputy Clark, Dr. Deaton, Chris, Gerard, “Desert Wolf” Corinne, Natalie Martin, Noshiko Yukimura, Ken Yukimura, Deucalion, Coach Finstock, Brett, Dr. Valack, Nurse Cross, a slew of Dread Doctors, three skinwalkers, one pervy Eichen House orderly, and, if you count the flashback episode, Sebastien, Henri, Marcel, and Marie-Jeanne. At this point, the roster of characters is seriously bursting at the seams.
And, ultimately, the stories that did get any screentime were told in such a way that a viewer could watch every episode as it airs and still not fully understand what’s going on. Parrish’s backstory is the clearest example of this issue. The hellhound’s explanation that Parrish is dead and that he doesn’t exist fails to elucidate who he is and how he became the hellhound. Was he just born to be a hellhound vessel–hence the comment that he doesn’t exist at all? Did he die as a normal human in Afghanistan, only for his body to be possessed by the spirit of a hellhound, prompting the hellhound to explain that Jordan Parrish as a human being no longer exists? Or rather, did his sacrifice in Afghanistan make him an ideal candidate to be possessed by a hellhound? Does his consciousness coexist with the hellhound? And if so, why did the hellhound try to tell Lydia and the Argents that Parrish wasn’t in there anymore?
The flashback to Scott, Allison, and Stiles making sacrifices of their own seems to be significant to this conundrum, but there’s no dialogue to accompany it. That is, the hellhound doesn’t mention their sacrifices while explaining its relationship to Parrish. So, only the viewing audience–but not the characters in the scene–could possibly know there’s even a connection. Is the connection simply the timing? Or does the Nemeton itself have agency since it’s been “activated” like a beacon?
None of this is explained, which (despite my lack of enthusiasm for Parrish as a romantic interest for Lydia) is a shame, because the Nemeton has the potential to be a kind of centerpiece to the overarching mythology of Teen Wolf, like the history of slayers in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe, or the power-storm in Misfits, or the Raven King on Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell. Shows with strong overall story arcs, especially in the SFF/H genres, often have a central, organizing principle, figure, or rule, around which the rest of the mythology grows and deepens. As an arbiter of supernatural power, the Nemeton could have accomplished that for Teen Wolf–but now, I think, the story’s become so weighed down by unnecessary characters and unnecessarily convoluted plotlines that all that potential will just go unactivated. As it were.
Kalissa: I agree with Kate. Too many characters left this season feeling busy and far too rushed. Teen Wolf 5B felt like two different shows with the main cast and the replacement crew of Liam, Hayden, and Mason that are positioned to take over. Teen Wolf should have had an episode or two to work as a backdoor pilot to a spin-off following Liam and his friends and then ran the two shows until Scott, Stiles, Lydia, and Malia’s storylines came to an end. Right now, the show is a doing a disservice to all of its characters by not devoting the attention to them that they need.
This season had some great moments, but, as a whole, it was difficult to follow and incredibly messy in its storytelling.
Also, I will be forever angry that Stiles accidentally killed Donovan but it was treated as self-defense. I want to see Teen Wolf commit to these darker themes and plotlines that they keep toying with.
Farid: Kalissa and Kate wrote everything down nicely and I agree with them both. Too much happened in Teen Wolf Season 5 and the writers did it in a manner that made me think they would explain everything but as the season went on and the finale came close I realized that we weren’t going to get any explanation. Everything was either resolved quickly or forgotten that it felt kind of disrespectful. One of things that makes me frustrated about Teen Wolf is that the show has interesting characters and a good mythology but for some weird reason the writers aren’t capable of tapping into all the great potential this show has. Not a surprise the ratings fell even lower.
There was a lot of focus on characters relationships: Lydia/Parrish, Lydia/Stiles, Stiles/Malia, Scott/Kira, and Liam/Hayden. Let’s talk about them.
Kalissa: I so did not need that sex scene between Liam/Hayden. They’re still babies! I want their relationship to stay cutesy for a little while longer. The sex scene also just felt completely out of place in the episode.
I’m happy to see that Lydia/Parrish seems to be abandoned. There was no chemistry there and it bothered me that he was always just fantasizing about a high school student. The infatuation did not feel equal this last season at all.
I wish we could get some real resolution for Malia/Stiles as we move into what seems to be an end game of Stiles/Lydia. I’ve liked the progression of Stiles/Lydia’s relationship over the seasons, but I need more closure for Stiles and Malia.
Scott/Kira started out so strong, but, honestly, I haven’t felt much for them during 5B. Kira has felt very isolated from the pack this season, the same way it felt with the character of Allison before Crystal Reed exited the show. I wanted “Codominance” to be a Kira focused episode, but instead, her storyline was broken up with all sorts of unnecessary scenes back in Beacon Hills with the other characters. Then the following episode “The Sword and the Spirit” did not concentrate on Kira despite the title seemingly referring to her and the struggle she was facing to control the fox. I wanted more development between Scott and Kira as they each dealt with their own problems, but it just wasn’t here this season.
Kate: Out of those five pairings, the only one that really resonated with me was Scott and Kira. They’re both naturally sunny personalities that, in different but parallel ways, have lost their innocence and optimism, and have been forced to confront some harsh realities. Scott temporarily lost control of his pack, and Kira lost control of herself.
The other relationships just haven’t done much for me. Lydia and Parrish felt forced, and, as Kalissa said, they never had any chemistry. While I do think Stiles and Lydia have chemistry, the season was so claustrophobically packed-in, there wasn’t much time to delve into how their relationship has grown over the years–particularly since Stiles and Malia were together for most of the season. And when they did break up, the scene was so pointlessly cryptic, I had no idea they even had broken up until Malia told Scott later. When Malia’s mother threatened Stiles because of his relationship to Malia, I thought perhaps there was going to be more to their story, but the narrative quickly dropped that plot thread. All in all, it was pretty anti-climactic.
As for Liam and Hayden, their relationship went from zero to 60 unnervingly fast, especially for how young they look (and are in real life). I love a good enemies-to-lovers arc, but they went from the former to the latter so quickly that we didn’t really get a lot of juicy, working-out-the-tension scenes in which they realize that their contentious relationship isn’t antagonistic so much as excitingly dramatic. It just happened, without much fuss.
Farid: I agree about the Liam/Hayden relationship. I get that they are love interests, etc. but that intimate sex scene felt so unnecessary. And if for whatever reason Teen Wolf had decided to include such a scene I wanted them to at least show some safe sex practices, which the used to do back during the first three seasons.
I really do not understand Lydia and Parrish. I agree with them not having any chemistry, and the whole thing does feel very one-sided. With the Beast gone will the show continue to keep Parrish? Time will tell.
Scott and Kira had some interesting parallels, as Kate pointed out, about Scott losing his pack and Kira losing her control over her kitsune side. While I do like them as a pairing I really want Teen Wolf to stop focusing too much on relationships and let the characters stay single for a while. With Kira probably not being a part of season 6, I want Scott to stay single for a while which might not happen considering Teen Wolf’s habit of introducing new love interests the moment a pairing breaks up or a cast member leaves.
Right now I do feel that Stiles and Lydia are endgame on this show.But having said that the writers are still going to pander to a lot of fans regarding Stiles/Lydia, Lydia/Parrish, and even Stiles/Malia.
Thoughts about female character arcs: Lydia, Malia and her mother, Kira and her kitsune powers?
Kalissa: I was thrilled at the start of the season when it seemed like Lydia was going to be able to not only learn more about her powers as a banshee, but also take control of them. That excitement quickly dwindled when Lydia took on a comatose state and all of her scenes took place in Eichen House where she was stuck with an employee that definitely gave off a sexual predator vibe. I’ve adored the character of Lydia since season one and I’m desperate to see the confident, powerful Lydia that we all deserve.
The main problem with this season is that there were too many characters for anyone to have a strong arc. Kira leaving did not feel organic to the story because any build-up to this was just scattered here and there in the episodes. The same goes for Malia and her mother. I did not understand that plotline, mostly because the two barely had any scenes together.
Kate: This season felt like the culmination of a growing problem with the way the story treats Lydia’s character. Having a character become catatonic once is acceptable–like Peter, for instance–but twice in less than a handful of seasons? That’s unnecessary. She’s comatose in season two, mind-controlled in two, mind-controlled by her inner banshee in three/four, and catatonic in five. If the show were actually saying something about oppression and autonomy, maybe I could forgive the repetitiveness. But it just isn’t.
Malia and Kira’s storylines were both, for me, better in theory than in practice. Malia’s conviction to kill her mother was interesting until she abandoned it in an offscreen (offscreen!) conversation with Scott. And Kira’s storyline could’ve been epic, but her time with the skinwalkers deserved its own complete, focused episode. Instead, her story felt sporadically addressed rather than continuous.
Farid: The way the writers handled Lydia’s character was a mess this season. I think she only had a couple of episodes where she wasn’t in a comatose state or experiencing some other annoying hindrance that felt too much. The poor girl has gone through a lot during these five seasons and I hope season 6 doesn’t make her go down the same route. Enough is enough!
I was looking forward to a lot of Kira this season. With the Dread Doctors working on frequencies and Kira having electromagnetic powers, I thought she would play a very crucial role in defeating the doctors or even when it came to taking down the Beast. But she was mostly shoved into the background especially in 5B. Even her skinwalker episode wasn’t totally about her. And in the finale she just cut down a door to save Lydia, and brought back Theo’s sister (which felt so random), and decided to leave in order to live in the desert. I don’t know if the writers wanted to write Kira in the way they did or something occurred off-screen with Arden Cho with not wanting to be part of the show anymore.
Malia and the Desert Wolf plotline has never made sense to me. It also makes Talia Hale come across as a very stupid character. It was revealed that she wanted the Desert Wolf to have a child even though she didn’t want to. And when Malia was born, Talia gave a were-coyote baby to a human family. Why didn’t she keep her at the Hale house? Trying to make sense of the whole thing makes me get a headache.
Thoughts about Theo and his chimera pack. Did the show do the Dread Doctors justice?
Kate: The only baddies whose motives felt less organic and comprehensible than the Dread Doctors were the Alpha Pack in season 3A. Okay, so the Dread Doctors were into the supernatural world and wanted to bring back the Beast of Gévaudan. But why? Reviving a long-dead monster is a laborious process. It’s not really the sort of thing you do on a weekend for the evil lols. So, what was their endgame? For me, this never became clear. Which is unfortunate, because I loved the idea of these bizarre, power-grubbing alchemists who dress like a steampunk doomsday gang. I’m feeling that brocade vest with the freaky bronze mask, Marcel, but what exactly are you trying to accomplish? And why was Marcel one of the Dread Doctors? I watched every episode in its entirety, and I still don’t know the answers to these and other basic, plot-related questions.
As for Theo, I actually rather liked is heartless, deliciously simple, scheming little self in a “watch the world burn” sort of way, but his chimera compatriots really didn’t get enough development for them to matter all that much.
Farid: I agree with Kate. The Dread Doctors were supposed to be these very ancient and powerful beings who had the ability to change the rules of science and paranormal. It was all very interesting to me but then Teen Wolf didn’t give any answers to their motives. Why did the Dread Doctors do what they did during season 5? How did Marcel become the Doctor in the first place? Was he in love with Sebastian? But if he was how did he recruit the other two Doctors? So many questions that were just left unanswered. It is frustrating!
While I didn’t like Theo at first, he started to grow on me as the the season progressed. He was just unapologetically evil, and was a good ‘teenage’ level nemesis for Scott and his pack. And while he did get a pack of chimeras, as Kate said, they weren’t developed enough for viewers to care about them. They just felt like a means to an end regarding when Theo started to drain their powers.
Kalissa: The Dread Doctors were fantastic villains, visually, but that was about the extent of it. As Kate said, I didn’t understand what most of the villains this seasons wanted. The Desert Wolf had the most focused motivation but received the least amount of screentime. With so many big bads, it was harder to become invested in this season. The Dread Doctors should have been finished with at the end of 5A and 5B should have been about Theo and the Desert Wolf only.
Theo intrigued me at the start of the season, but during 5B it felt like he was just always lurking around with his pack and not taking an active role in the story. Theo reminded me of Kate, selfish and psychotic, acting without real thought to consequences. However, all the power that came with the hammer scene that made everyone realize Theo was definitely evil became lost with every scene involving Theo standing around making vaguely threatening comments.
Thoughts about the season 6 Teaser?
Kalissa: Stiles disappearing feels like an excellent way to make him important to the story for season six while working around Dylan O’Brien’s busy schedule. The teaser piqued my interest, but it wasn’t very memorable or one of my favorites that they’ve done.
Kate: There really wasn’t much content to the trailer, but that can work in their favor, depending on how the season itself is played. There are few things I dislike more in trailers than showing too much, so the simple image of a horseman and the implication that Stiles is disappearing were intriguing enough without showing too much of their hand.
Farid: The shot of Stiles disappearing was something I felt excited about when I saw the teaser they released. I’m waiting for the upcoming season 6 trailers Teen Wolf is going to release to get a better idea regarding what to expect as the show continues. However, as Kalissa said, a disappearing Stiles might be exactly what the show might be going for considering Dylan O’Brien’s busy schedule. And as Kate said, not showing too much did work in their favor.
Thoughts about upcoming season 6. There’s a Nazi werewolf. Most villains are still at large. Will we ever see the Hales again? Will Dylan O’Brien come back for season 6?
I’ve pretty much made peace with the fact that the Hales are gone (except for maybe Peter, he always seems to pop up) and their story seems to be finished. I still wish we could get at least a throwaway line about what happened to Derek, but since that didn’t happen this season with Braeden’s return, I think that ship has sailed.
I’m tired of all the past villains popping up. I want season six to start fresh with something that feels very personal for the characters, like with Kate and Peter in season one and Stiles as the Nogitsune in 3B. The Dread Doctors were interesting, but they definitely overstayed their welcome in Beacon Hills. 6A is the last season with the main cast before passing the show on to the new characters and I want it to be the strongest yet.
Farid: I really want Teen Wolf to start crossing names from their villains list. There are just too many of them and the show hasn’t been doing their characters much justice. Instead of killing them off the show, send them somewhere. And with a Nazi werewolf being introduced in season 6, the show has added another villain to the list. At this point they could just create a ‘League of Paranormal Villains’ and wreak havoc all over the world.
With Dylan O’Brien busy with other stuff I find his presence in season 6 very unlikely. He might appear in the premiere and the finale, or perhaps in one of those two. What I’m looking forward to is how the show will address his absence.
The Hales are done for and that’s why I don’t feel invested in the Malia storyline. Her going after her mother needed a Hale presence. Malia should’ve at least talked to Peter about it, who’s in Eichen House as far as we know. With the Hales gone there’s a theory going around that the writers are going to retcon Malia’s backstory about her not being a Hale at all. Let’s see what happens.
Kate: I agree about the Hales although I haven’t actually made peace with it. That’s a work in progress for me. Season six should be leaner, more focused, and more streamlined–perhaps with a format that’s closer to season one. No more than two major villains, a clear mystery, and plenty of time for those character moments that made us love the show in the first place.
What are your thoughts about season 5 of Teen Wolf? What are you looking forward to in season 6? Let us know!
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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