Teen Wolf’s Opening Credits Meta

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(Done after two episodes of Teen Wolf, season two)

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Because I’ve got film-school training and am currently addicted to Teen Wolf.

The opening credits.  In most shows, they are the average “new viewer” lead in.  If you’ve never seen the show before, the opening credits are supposed to give you a good idea of what tone the show is going to follow.

Now, considering that this is the first season for opening credits, we can have some fun.

Also, one thing that they always drilled into us during class is “nothing is on screen by accident.”  Unless it’s ad-libed, 99.9% of the time, everything visual you ever see on a produced, narrative television show is a visual for a reason.  Nothing is on that screen by accident.  I’ve worked with a director that picked out posters that were going to be in the background of a shot out of dozens of posters.  Now, some directors are pickier than others but, for the most part this is the rule.

The idea is that everything visual helps tell the story and to advance the narrative.   It also sets and decides mood and tone.  You wouldn’t be very nervous in Derek Hale’s house if it were cheery and happy and well decorated.  No.  It’s broken down and burnt.  (This is a set design thing but it is still a visual and helps to tell Derek’s story.)

So.  The opening credits.  They are awesome and artistic and wonderful, right?  They are sticky and dark and intriguing.  Not at all something I expected out of the show, but the more and more I think about it (and it’s almost sad how much I think about it) the more I have decided that they do mean something more than just being artistic for artistic’s sake.

And it all started with Derek.

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Hey bb.

He’s covered in baby powder, dirt, it really confuses people.

But people, think about who we are looking at.  It’s not baby power (and yes it might actually be baby powder in the production of things but what does it represent?) 

It’s ash.

He is literally busting out of ashes.

Think about his story line.  His family is killed in a fire, a fire that he has been carrying around guilt for, living in that burnt up house, and dealing with the murderer herself.  But we are seeing him screaming and throwing himself around in it.  So he’s still covered in the memory, but maybe this is to show that he’s finally ready to start moving on.  Being the Alpha might actually be good for this guy.

So after realizing this about Derek, I started looking at the sequence as a whole.  It has quite a few motifs running through out the whole thing:

  • Water
  • (for the sake of this I’m calling the black stuff) werewolf ink
  • Duality
  • Dark vrs. light (which can be considered a part of duality… but the dark and the light have such a big play in the credits that I think they deserve their own category) 
  • and
  • Things behind people

BUT I’m going to break it down by character first.  And I’m going to go out of order.  While I believe that sequence is important, I feel it has more to do with importance of overall story lines than importance of character.

ANYWAY.  I’ve already done Derek (but I will actually come back to him) so I’m starting with Jackson.

He’s seen three times.

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Twice of which he’s still in his Lacrosse uniform.  This is important.  While, so far in the two episodes that we have seen, lacrosse is the last thing on his mind.  But it’s how he’s featured in the credits.  Image and social power are important to him (something we knew, but is being re-enforced through this visual.)

The first time, he’s “stabbing” Scott in the back.  The second time, he’s the star and main focus and is about to score.  I think this is an important statement about Jackson.  He’s not scared to take out the main guy for the spotlight.

The part where he’s sitting with Lydia is important too.  Lydia is, by looking at  them, clinging to him.  He looks like he could care less.  I think this is a set up for the rest of the season too (as we have seen bits and pieces of their relationship in the previews.)

…and when Scott and Stiles are talking about what Lydia could be focusing on as a werewolf Scott says that it’s a good thing because she was with Stiles the night she was bitten.  But Stiles says that she was looking for Jackson…

They are also surrounded by water, which I think is going to be an important motif throughout the season.  (two episodes in it already is with Jackson’s “rebirth” out of the water, Lydia’s mental breakdown in the shower, Isaac losing his father during a huge rain storm thus starting his narrative - and the third episode deals with an ice rink and what is ice but frozen water.  Also in the first episode of season one, Scott jumps out of his window to land in water as a full blown werewolf for the first time.  It’s an important motif.)

Also Scott’s introduction:

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It looks like he’s in a shower.  Isn’t this season supposed to be about him accepting the wolf side of him and using it like a super power?  Maybe this represents him finally accepting it and being ‘reborn’ into this new version of him.

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And then Jackson tackles him from behind.  Poor baby.

But onto Miss Lydia.

She shows up (if she’s - or Allison - are not the girl covered in werewolf ink) twice.

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I’ve already talked a bit about the second time when she’s sitting with Jackson, but it’s the first time I want to talk about.

Everyone is all “whoa girl” with her hair, and I agree.  She’s a bit more wild, wouldn’t you say?  A little less put together?  But it’s not that I want to talk about. 

It’s this:

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She get’s pulled back into the dark.  This shows a stark contrast between “light vrs. dark.”  She looks shocked, reaching out for the light.  She’s being forced into the dark.  Something is pulling her.  Which is her story line of being pulled into this world because of Peter/the bite and her reluctance to do so.  She’s already been shown to not take things that are a little paranormal all that well.  She took happy pills after the video store incident and was still shocked at Allison’s book about werewolves.

She doesn’t want to go.  It’s also a “things behind people” thing.  And look what shows up… the dual image of the woman in the werewolf ink.  They could have made it a cut between Lydia and the woman but instead they made it a fade.

Then Miss Allison:

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She first shows up, kissing Scott.  This shows the importance and place of her character and their romance.  But there is more to Allison than just her relationship with Scott.

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As shown by this shot.  

She’s not just the love interest, she’s a hunter.  And the more and more she accepts that about herself (drawing back her arrow) the more layers we see of this girl.

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He look!  Water.  (Or ink I can’t tell.)

Anyway, there is that hand behind her again, and she’s completely in the dark.  We know it’s a werewolf hand, but it looks like it’s holding onto her, and it frightens her.  Whether it’s a hand holding her back or holding her steady, I don’t know, and doubt we’ll know until further into season.

She’s also covered in spots of the werewolf ink that I really wished I knew what meant.

The unknown woman is covered in it.  She represents the duality and the black gunk.  She shows up

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Three times.

Yes, it could be an artistic thing, but as seeing as we saw Jackson practically leaking with this stuff, I’d say it’s important. 

But Jackson being sick isn’t the first time we’ve seen this werewolf ink stuff.

Derek threw it up back in season one when his body was trying to heal itself but couldn’t.  This isn’t a bad thing, this is just a werewolf thing.  I don’t know what Jackson rejecting or whatever happened to him meant but it means something in terms of the the credits.

It’s the dark in the dark vrs light.  It’s not a bad thing.  It’s a werewolf thing.  It’s the grey area that is so fun to explore in narratives.  It’s a duality.  But it’s not giving us a grey area to choose from.  (Unless you count Derek’s ashes as a grey area… but that’s a thought process for another time)  

But considering that Derek explodes out of the dark

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(look at it around his ribs)

and Lydia being pulled into it

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Each character has an instance of light verses dark.

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Scott is bathing in it.

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Jackson goes from being in the shadows.

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To being in the spotlight.

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And last but not least… Stiles.

He’s the only character that actively participates in changing his light verses dark himself.

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He willingly walks away from the light and covers himself in the dark.  He literally blocks out the light.  He’s knowingly and willingly involved in all this werewolf stuff.

A stark difference between Jackson’s forcefulness and Lydia’s pseudo-abduction.

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This is also the only time we see Stiles in the credits.  Like Derek, his introduction with his actor’s name is all we get.  Everyone else gets at least two instances where they are seen.  Lydia and Allison get two.  Jackson get’s three.  Scott, if you count the opening and closing of his eyes, get’s four.

These guys only get one.  This, I think, shows the complexities of the character’s story lines more than anything.

Everyone has issues to deal with:

Lydia: Normality vrs. paranormal
Allison: Her family vrs. The Pack
Jackson: Gaining power and fighting to keep it
Scott:  Acceptance of himself vrs. losing/keeping Allison

But Derek and Stiles are kind of set.  They know who they are and what they need to do.

Derek goes from dark to light.

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Stiles goes from light to dark.

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(Sorry I keep repeating pictures… they are such great shots.)

I think it’s also worth noting that these two characters (Stiles and Derek) are the only ones that don’t have the following:

  • No presence of duality
  • No water
  • No werewolf ink
  • And unless you count Stiles purposefully putting his jeep behind him, no instance of anything behind them.

It’s not that far of a stretch to suggest that Derek and Stiles are the two most stable characters in terms of self-perception.

…that’s a lot to say that the opening credits are pretty much a masterpiece to me and I enjoy opening credits to TV shows a hell of a lot more than I should.

…yeah.  Does anyone have any comments because I like talking about this stuff.

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    There’s meta that’s just people babbling in tags (like what I normally do), and then there’s meta like this that makes...
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    This is brilliant! I love this kind of meta analysis of how things look/work on TV.
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