“Teen Wolf” has always excelled due to its CW-style formula of combining supernatural mythology with relatable teen dramedy elements. In its strongest seasons, Season 2 and Season 3B, the show successfully melded the two into something greater, milking both suspense and vicarious fun from werewolf assassins at a lacrosse game or killer lizards at a rave. Even in the show’s weakest seasons with the most convoluted mythology, like last season, it’s able to preserve those undeniably fun moments by using these familiar teen settings as backdrops for the wacky monster plots. Based on its two-night season premiere, it’s difficult to tell which way the fifth season of “Teen Wolf” will go, but it’s off to a good start.

In “Creatures of the Night,” which aired last Monday, the main plot involves the main characters racing to Beacon Hills High School for their ‘Senior Scribe,’ a tradition in which seniors sign their initials on the shelves of the school library. What should be an average drive to school becomes more difficult when some sort of unclear supernatural threat shuts down power for the whole city, including phones and even cars. Meanwhile, a rogue werewolf hunts down Scott (Tyler Posey, “White Frog”), operating under the command of this season’s likely Big Bad.

It’s a plot the show has returned to time and again, and by this point, the idea of some new scary werewolf trying to steal Scott’s powers is pretty uninteresting. As with most of Season 4, the repetitive plots and shaky logic are saved by the small moments. Stiles (Dylan O’Brien, “The Maze Runner”) worries that the approaching end of high school will mean the end of his friendship with Scott. Malia Tate (Shelley Hennig, “Unfriended”) fears that she failed summer school, but sighs with relief upon finding that she passed, and that she can continue school as a senior. The episode ends with a modest but nice Senior Scribe Ceremony, where Scott signs both his own initials and ‘AA,’ the initials of their friend Allison, who died two seasons ago.

The second episode, “Parasomnia,” is a stronger episode, devoting most of its time to two main plots. In one, Lydia (Holland Roden, “House of Dust”) helps Tracy (Kelsey Chow, “One Tree Hill,”) figure out the source of her night terrors, which feature the disturbing insectoid creatures from the previous episode. The scenes with Tracy’s hallucinations are difficult to dissect because it’s still unclear what exactly these creatures are and how they imbed themselves in Tracy’s psyche, but their scenes are appropriately horrifying and give the episode a healthy dose of horror.

The rest of the episode is grounded in more character-driven moments like the smaller bits in the first episode. The other main plot involves Stiles determinedly spying on old friend and new cast member Theo (Cody Christian, “Pretty Liars”). Stiles’s aggressive suspicion of Theo gives him a much-needed drive, and his sibling-esque pairing with Liam (Dylan Sprayberry, “Man of Steel”) leads to a few fun scenes as they follow Theo. There are two poignant scenes in the second episode of this season, both featuring Stiles. In one, Stiles snaps at Scott for his insane ability to trust people so easily, continuing the thread from last episode about the tension in their friendship. In the other, Stiles’s suspicions are validated by his father (Linden Ashby, “Mortal Kombat”). It’s not a coincidence that Stiles’s arc is given the most dramatic weight so far this season. Dylan O’Brien is the show’s greatest asset, and moving him back to the center after his central role in Season 3B is a smart move. 

It’s so often difficult to tell, with “Teen Wolf,” how important each element is. Season 4’s premiere and finale were both only thinly connected to the actual meat of the season, and it’s impossible to tell this early on whether the strange insectoid creatures will be around all 20 episodes or if this is season will have a looser framework. Either way, it’s best that “Teen Wolf” does what it’s doing now: take each episode at a time and push the mythology-based storylines forward slowly, making sure to keep the characters and their motivations at the forefront.

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