Episode Title: "Heart Monitor"
Writer: Daniel Sinclair
Director: Toby Wilkins
Previously on "Teen Wolf":
Jackson Whittemore (Colton Haynes) and Lydia Marti (Holland Roden) were inadvertently witnesses of the Alpha Wolf's latest murder, with the mysterious swirl symbol appearing yet again. Scott McCall (Tyler Posey) and Derek Hale (Tyler Hoechlin) investigated the crime but they didn't understand the Alpha Wolf's motivations. Lydia was particularly shaken from having seen the Alpha Wolf up close and taping it with her phone. The next day, Scott and his girlfriend, Allison Argent (Crystal Reed) skipped school to celebrate her birthday in the woods.
Meanwhile, Allison's aunt, Kate Argent (Jill Wagner) attacked Derick in his home with two other werewolf hunters and she tried to make an alliance with him to hand over the identity of the Alpha Wolf. But when she realized that he didn't know who the Alpha is, she tried to kill him and forced him to flee. Later that day, Scott and Allison were caught by his mother and her parents as they returned to the school. But an apparent Alpha Wolf attack sent everyone into a panic, which led to Sheriff Stilinsky (Linden Ashby) being hit by a car. Allison's dad, Mr. Argent (JR Bourne) — who also happens to be a werewolf hunter — shot the attacking beast… which turned out to be a mountain lion.
At night, Scott is carrying bags of groceries while attempting to find his car in a parking garage. What he finds instead is another apparent attack by the Alpha Wolf. Scott runs for his life and sets off a number of car alarms in an attempt to throw off the Alpha. But when his phone rings, the wolf catches him and reveals itself to be Derick running a test of Scott's ability to survive. He checks Scott's phone and sees that it was Allison calling. Derick tells Scott that she makes him weak and he breaks Scott's phone while warning him to stay away from her. Scott says that he will, but hours later he's back in Allison's arms in her room.
Scott hides when Allison's aunt, Kate enters. Kate seems to be subtly leading Allison to discover her werewolf hunting heritage by introducing her to an old family legend regarding an apparent werewolf in France centuries ago. Scott slips out of the house, but he is soon confronted by the Alpha Wolf. Scott makes it safely to his car, but the Alpha Wolf writes the swirl symbol on his car door window. Shortly thereafter, Scott finds Derick waiting in his room and relates the encounter. But when he asks Derick about the significance of the swirl, Derick simply says that Scott doesn't really want the answer to that.
At school, Scott attempts to avoid Allison, slightly alienating her in the process. Scott also finds that his best friend, Stiles Stilinsky (Dylan O'Brien) is still angry at him for the injury to his father, the Sheriff. But Scott talks Stiles into helping him find a way to control his transformations. Theorizing that the transformations can be controlled if Scott keeps his heart rate under a certain level, Stiles gets him a heart monitor and begins pelting him with lacrosse balls. Jackson is amused by the sight, but he soon has a disturbing vision of a werewolf emerging from within after he was scratched by Derick a few days earlier.
Later that day, Allison grows more fascinated with the werewolf legend and she shares it with Lydia, who clearly recognizes it as the creature she saw at the video store… but Lydia attempts to act like it's nothing. Jackson soon comes to Allison and apologizes for his behavior towards her and Scott, but he seems incredibly insincere. In Chemistry, Allison manages to sit behind Scott and she tries to reach out to him. When the teacher humiliates Scott in front of the class, only Allison's physical contact with Scott keeps him from wolfing out. Realizing that Allison is the key to controlling the change, Stiles sets Scott up to be beaten.
Using Allison as his focal point, Scott manages to endure the punches without transforming, but he and Stiles earn a stay in detention. At the animal hospital were Scott works, Derick confronts the veterinarian about the Alpha Wolf and knocks him out when he lies in response to Derick's questions. Later, Scott arrives and wolfs out to threaten Derick into backing off. He tells Derick to meet him at the school. Derick shows up a half hour later with the veterinarian tied up in his backseat. Scott and Stiles break into the school and Scott howls into the PA system to draw out the Alpha Wolf.
Outside, Derick berates them for drawing so much attention when they notice that the veterinarian is missing from the back of Derick's car. The Alpha Wolf suddenly appears and stabs Derick from behind, seemingly killing him. Scott and Stiles race into the school and shut the doors as the Alpha Wolf turns its attention towards them.
"Oh my God! They killed Angel! You bastards!"
Which I say with apologies to "South Park" and Joss Whedon. I'll be surprised if Derick's apparent death is upheld in the next episode. But if the show does keep Scott's mentor out of the picture for good, it would be the strongest creative decision that the people behind this show have made since it started. Derick's basically Scott's security at this point, and if he's really gone than Scott doesn't have someone on his side who is actually knowledgeable about werewolves. And no, Stiles doesn't count.
I've also been less pleased with Tyler Hoechlin's performances of late. It's partially the writers' fault for not giving Derick much to do other than getting poisoned or attacked by the werewolf hunters. If anything, "Teen Wolf" has made me appreciate David Boreanaz from the early days of "Buffy" even more. Boreanaz actually brought an inner life to Angel that made him seem like a legitimate co-lead of that series. I'm not sure that Hoechlin's Derick can do more than growl or act mysterious.
The reveal that the spiral is a werewolf symbol of revenge or a vendetta is interesting, but it doesn't fully track with what we've seen. Why would a werewolf leave that symbol in wolf's bane over the grave of Derick's sister? And if the bus driver and the video store owner were somehow connected to the Alpha Wolf, there simply isn't enough information yet to really understand why they were the next victims after Derick's sister. I don't think we even learned the video store owner's name. If the show doesn't care enough to flesh out the Alpha Wolf's victims, why should we care?
Jackson's subplot is also beginning to wear thin. For the last few episodes, it's been implied that Derick's scratches were possibly changing Jackson into a werewolf… but the writers are taking their time getting to that. Also, Jackson has never seemed creepier than when he was sitting next to Allison in the hallway. His girlfriend, Lydia is also skirting the line between being interesting or just another face in the crowd. Stiles' decision to delete the video of the Alpha Wolf from her phone still makes no sense, but if Lydia really did see the Alpha Wolf's human form than she could become a lot more important to the story.
The show seems to be going out of its way to convince us that the veterinarian is the Alpha Wolf… which means that he probably isn't, even though he clearly knows more than he's telling. My personal theory is that there are more than one Alpha Wolves running around in town, which makes Allison's father, the veterinarian and the weird detention teacher into the prime suspects. The one guy I'm ruling out is the Chemistry teacher/lacrosse coach who looks disturbingly like Adam Carolla.
Scott and Allison also had their first moment together that didn't seem forced when they clasped hands under the table during the Chemistry teacher's rant. The series doesn't handle teen angst as well as it would like to pretend, but that scene worked.
The cliffhanger for this episode is also intriguing. If the rest of the extended cast are finally going to see the Alpha Wolf up close, it could be the shakeup that "Teen Wolf" needs.
Crave Online Rating: 7.5 out of 10.