In its sixth and final season, Teen Wolf was faced with its most unstoppable enemy yet: star Dylan O'Brien's blossoming film career. To accommodate his shooting schedule, the show's writers developed a clever storyline that would allow O'Brien to step away from the supernatural drama for most of the season and still offer a good explanation for his character's absence: Stiles would be erased from history by the Ghost Riders of the Wild Hunt.
By placing his character at the center of the season's overall arc, it meant Stiles was never really far from anyone's minds, and in Tuesday's penultimate episode, the series took an emotional trip down memory lane, with Scott (Tyler Posey), Lydia (Holland Roden) and Malia (Shelley Hennig) all attempting to recover their lost memories of Stiles. Doing so would, they hoped, open a portal to where Stiles and the rest of Beacon Hills' residents were sent after being taken by the Ghost Riders.
All of this was well and good -- and even made us cry as we revisited emotional moments from years past -- however, the writers got one thing wrong: They forgot what Teen Wolf is truly about.
Since the series premiered in 2011, it has been the story of two best friends taking on the forces of evil that plague Beacon Hills. Yes, as the titular teen wolf it was technically Scott's journey, but Scott never would have made it without the help of Stiles. As two sides of the same coin, the young men and the brother-like bond between them have been the show's beating heart since the very beginning, with many of the show's most emotional moments occurring between them.
So why then was it Malia's bond with Stiles that nearly opened the portal and Lydia's newly realized love for Stiles -- a somehow rushed development despite the fact Stiles has loved Lydia since the third grade and the series long ago established a deep bond between them -- that ultimately opened it?
Why was Scott insisting that Lydia was the person Stiles was closest to when Stiles once stood in a puddle of gasoline with a suicidal Scott in order to save his life? It was this very scene from Season 3's "Motel California" that the show's writers chose to represent the importance of Scott and Stiles' relationship this week via flashback -- it's also the scene that Teen Wolf fans return to over and over again when discussing the show's best moments -- and yet somehow Scott and Stiles' brotherhood is supposed to mean less than Lydia's love for Stiles?
You're telling me that's stronger than this?
Don't get us wrong. The idea of a romantic relationship between Stiles and Lydia makes a lot of sense; their deep friendship, built on mutual love and trust, is well established at this point, and it's easily one of the strongest relationships anchoring the series. Frankly, it's about damn time Lydia realized she was in love with Stiles. The two even share an emotional tether. But unfortunately for Teen Wolf, this felt more like the writers wanted to finally pull the trigger on the long-gestating romantic side of Stiles and Lydia without doing the work and at the cost of years of story.
If what the writers meant to convey was that true love with a basis in friendship trumped best friendship, then we'd consider that argument. But then again, Stiles and Scott aren't just best friends, they're brothers. They're family. And you would think the writers would have figured that out by now.
Teen Wolf airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on MTV.