Teen Wolf Review: “A Novel Approach”

photo credit: moviesnos.com

photo credit: moviesnos.com

Here’s my review of Teen Wolf season five episode “A Novel Approach.” Please note that this isn’t a recap of what happens. I’m assuming that you’ve already seen the episode. There are spoilers in this review.

Generally, a story has a certain shape to it. It’s sorta like a bell curve where the action builds up to a peak before slowly rolling back down again. Since “A Novel Approach” uses books as a main theme and the library as a main setting and such, you’d think this episode would be sort of shaped like that traditional novel, but it’s not. This episode is like started at the top of a cliff and then diving headfirst straight down. I mean, it’s fun at first until you hit the rocks at the bottom. What I’m trying to say is that I enjoyed the action in the first half of the episode but was kinda bored with the second half.

We pick up right where we left off last time, with Crazy Donovan attacking Stiles. I really enjoyed the action of this sequence because despite not having any supernatural powers, Stiles manages to hold his own. He wasn’t easily beaten and no one swooped in to be his rescue. Sure, he spent the whole time running away, but who wouldn’t? The action was intense and bloody, although I didn’t like when Donovan started explaining his backstory because it slowed things down a bit and felt very cartoon villain-y to reveal it all at once in a speech. But I can ignore that bit because it got exciting again once Donovan got accidentally impaled. Stiles’ quietly panicked/guilty sequence was one of Dylan O’Brien’s best in the series so far. He conveyed so much without having to speak at all, from his shaky hands in his jeep to the frantic writing and erasing on his note board. The whole thing was just really great to watch. It’s always awesome when character get a chance to convey emotions without having to just blatantly say what they’re feeling.

After this sequence was over, however, things go back to normal Teen Wolf. The pack investigates things, the bad guys are shady, and we all go on a field trip to Eichen House (because that set piece is apparently very expensive so they’ve got to get their money’s worth). Everything gets bogged down in a ton of exposition. This is not anything new for Teen Wolf because there are a lot of strange things that need explanation on this show, but if it’s all thrown at you all at once, it’s hard to stay focused and interested. It’s nice that Creepy Third-Eyed Dr. Valack got to explain instead of Deaton this time, but he didn’t add much to the presentation (except for impeccable enunciation, which I enjoyed.)

Exposition works much better when it’s not given in the form of a speech. I realize there aren’t many options otherwise, but there are still a few different ways to convey information. I did particularly like the scene with Scott and Kira where Scott sees the kitsune spirit around her. It’s a simple scene: Scott looks at Kira and sees the spirit looming over somewhat ominously. Kira is clueless but the kitsune points to the sword-belt they were searching for. It’s a brief moment but it shows us a bit about Kira and the kitsune, namely that the spirit works independently of her. Perhaps this kind of exposition wouldn’t work for the Dread Doctors, but I’d still like to see more moments like this in the future.

“A Novel Approach” didn’t really approach anything like a novel at all. It front-loaded the deck so that the explanation we got was sorta boring in comparison and it ruined the tension at the end of the episode. But now that we know more about the Doctors, the plot is free to kick up its pace again and take us on the crazy rollercoaster Teen Wolf ride we all know and love.

All There in the Werewolf Manual

  • Teen Wolf promotes reading/books! Yay! Put your phones down and go read a book! I’m currently making my way through Isaac Asimov’s Robot Dreams. What are you reading?
  • Why are the school doors never locked at night? And why is there like renovation equipment everywhere in the library even when the kids are at school during the day?
  • Theo is a creep or Theo is a creep? The answer is yes.
  • I didn’t notice that Liam was absent from this episode until today while I was writing this review. 😮
  • Does it feel like revealing the Desert Wolf as the possible cause of the Tate family car crash a MASSIVE RETCON? Because to me it feels like a MASSIVE RETCON? (Also, maybe Malia should just not drive at night)
  • It really frustrating when Teen Wolf reveals information multiple times. We already know that the bodies are disappearing because Parrish is taking them. So why did we need Scott to tell Stiles this on the phone again this episode? It’s repetitive.
  • Speaking of Parrish…. WHAT IS PARRISH THO? (I will shout this every episode until we find out)
  • REMEMBER TELLURIC CURRENTS? Nice throwback. I love Teen Wolf’s dedication to improving our vocabulary to SAT standards.
  • With this extra reading now, will Scott have time to study for AP Bio??? #importantquestions

So what did you think? Like it or hate it? Just want to go talk to your nearest three-eyed doctor? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.


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