Tuesday, July 9, 2013

'Teen Wolf''s Derek Hale and Jennifer Blake: A shipper-free perspective

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Throughout the hiatus the whisperings of Derek getting a love interest this season got louder and louder until there was actual confirmation. We knew who it was going to be and those of us willing to give the development a chance were eager to see how it all played out. We’re now halfway through the first part of the third season and so far, the development between Derek Hale and high school English teacher Ms. Jennifer Blake has been quite underwhelming. But in ‘Motel California’ it became downright ridiculous as their scenes together hit all the wrong notes and proved that if this pairing is ever to be saved then there is so much work left to be done by Jeff Davis and co.



Let's preface this next section with a disclaimer. I'm not really a Sterek shipper. If it happened, I'd be over the moon at the nature of the development but for sociological pop culture reasons involving the progression of bisexual male characters in genre fiction. What I mean to say is that it's not my OTP or anything so this has nothing to do with ship loyalty. It’s important to note this distinction so that the dismissive nature of the rest of the fandom thinking it’s only hardcore Sterek shippers hating on this pairing can be set aside. No, this is problematic no matter how you feel Derek’s orientation is.


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The problem with the Jennifer Blake and Derek Hale scenes tonight is threefold (much like the sacrificial deaths and watching it was only slightly better than being bludgeoned, strangled, and having one’s throat slit). It’s a lazy way to give Derek a love story, there’s nothing compelling about a thinly-written character such as Blake being with him, and the way it’s being shot and scored is horrendously out of place and cheesy. There will be people who claim that this is all happening because of some need to push a Mary Sue into the arms of a very attractive and popular male character in order to please his female fanbase by giving them a legit opportunity to see Derek romance and well, fuck someone else they can then replace with their own person (or even Stiles if their Photoshop skills are that handy) mentally. I don't think that's entirely what's going on as there was meant to be a decent intention with this relationship, but from the beginning to now it's been utterly mishandled. 

Derek Hale is a classic tragic figure and many times in fiction this constant existence of angst and regret is provided a salve of sorts by the introduction of a love interest. Especially when his last great love tried to kill him, more than once. The idea is to see a hardened individual find someone they connect and open up to in a way they haven’t in so long. So it's clear to see what Davis and co. were trying to do here but where the wheels start to come off is how the execution of this plot-point went down.


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Ms. Blake was a damsel in distress and now she's the comfort part of a hurt/comfort fanfiction. What kind of agency does she possess on a show with some great female characters that are, by the way, far younger than she is? It's hard to get behind a pairing of any kind that comes together quite so randomly and unnecessarily. Last season, there was clear chemistry between Derek and his own pup Erica and that's something that could have been much easier to support the development of since there's not only an instant bond between the characters but Erica had a real personality.


Derek is saving people constantly, but wouldn't it have been more interesting to have him with a woman who saved him instead or if we can’t have that then can Derek find love with a well-developed complex female character that at least doesn’t instantly become a stuttering schoolgirl in his shirtless presence? We get it, Hoechlin's cut but that superficial focus illuminates exactly what I'm talking about. There's just no depth of character here to connect with. It's CW levels of gratuitous to watch them writhe in the sheets when Jennifer has barely even had any screentime and thus even less with Derek. It was even worse when 'her love magically healed him'. Yeah, they really went there. Scott and Allison can be mushy sometimes sure, but she actually cleaned his wound and stitched him up before he started to feel better--there was no 'magic of love' absurdity happening on screen to groan over it was just pure medical know-how.


On a show like this one where characters (especially Derek and those close to him) are in mortal peril constantly it’s painfully obvious that Ms. Blake’s arc with Derek is likely only going to end in one of a couple of clich√© ways. From the way their background score swelled when she mentioned Romeo and Juliet, it would seem that she’s not long for this fictional world. Which is to say they’re giving Derek another bad thing to happen to him. But they could also make her just like Kate Argent out of nowhere and have her turn on him. I don’t think I really need to say how stupid that would be. But there’s really no other option that can be surmised from how things are going with the character. 

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I fear that this kind of justifiable backlash will result in a reactionary stubbornness to just keep her around regardless. I have a lot of respect for Jeff Davis stating this is his world and he and the people who work on Teen Wolf are the ones responsible for it, that the fans do not write the show. But I hope he’s also able to see when something just isn’t working even if it’s something he came up with. He did course-correct with Erica and Stiles last year, but I fear this time he's going to dig in his heels despite the fact it's just a misstep pure and simple but these things happen. Sadly they often happen with random love interest storylines on any kind of show. There’s got to be a better way to open up Derek Hale’s heart than this and I hope they can figure that out because it would be nice to see him have a sliver of happiness built out of a strong connection with someone that isn’t representative of lust with little else backing it.

15 comments:

  1. I totally agree. I am a Sterek shipper but I don't mind if they decide to just stick to her being his love interest instead.
    Personally I wouldn't have minded if he saved her, maybe they had a bit of lust for one another, and that was that. And then maybe if she STUMBLED upon him injured rather than him going to her for help then it would have worked better for me. In the heat of the moment if they had sex and all that, it would have been good. But to me it seems like they are trying to force this couple along and it doesn't feel right.
    I do hope they develop her more, and develop her relationship with Derek more (it seems crazy he suddenly trust her with his life even though it took him forever to trust Scott and even now I think he's wary) otherwise I don't think I'll be sad if her character were to die off.

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    1. I so agree to this. Its' very strange for Derek to trust her so quickly. If you notice, in the kissing scene where Derek's wound heals. Her hand is on Derek's neck, a very vulnerable place for a person like him.

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  2. This is so very true. From the very moment they meet, Derek and Jennifer's interactions with each other have all been horribly cheesy and inconsistant with previous character development (mainly how Derek usually acts). Frankly, even if their romance continues to develop in future episodes, it will never feel right because their foundation is so weak. The actors have unfortunately rather limited chemistry, their interactions with each other have been extremely limited, Jennifer is hardly anyone outside her "love interest" role, and Derek's actions and reactions to Jennifer are simply not consistent with what the show has shown us so far. To make things worse, the score they used was down right ridiculous and some of the arcs were so cliche, it was almost painful to watch.
    I honestly don't see how they could possibly salvage this pairing. Either Jennifer will die, she will turn out to be evil, or she will stay there as this awkward "love interest" character. As much as the writes thrive to improve the current situation, they will never be able to completely fix the damage caused in the hasty construction of this pairing.

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  3. I have to agree with all of you. She just lacks personality to be with him. I think he needs someone to be strong for him, not another person to protect. And they have zero chemistry! The scenes they share are kind of empty, if you know what i mean. I hope Jeff can fix this!

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  4. I completely agree with you, and I agree with your commentators. From the offset the Blake/Hale story has appeared to be rushed and flawed. As stated previously, it just doesn't hold true with Derek as we know him. Surely he is a 'once burnt, twice shy' kind of guy thanks to Kate Argent? wouldn't he be rather cautious about jumping into bed with someone he hardly knows? At this point I am hoping that it is not poor writing behind this story but rather it is a plot device to show how easily Derek can be manipulated. Either way, I have to say I am a little disappointed with this part of the plot, it is going to take some awfully clever writing to redeem it for me.

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  5. When I saw the scene were his bloody wounds healed, I turned to my sister and said, "Orgasms can heal!" I don't know why they had sex with him all hurt. I wouldn't go near him with his gaping wounds!

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  6. I think they are perfect for each other. Every clumsy/shy/too fat/too thin/unpopular girl always dreams of a great love. Sometimes it's all they have. With Derek, she finds the dominant protector that she has always dreamed of finding who could love her despite all her bumbling ways. She's endearing. Derek on the other hand due to his history, heritage, and personality is a loner, who has no need for anyone or anything. He doesn't love. He doesn't let his guard down for anyone. He doesn't trust. Mostly because he's been betrayed whenever he has. His the strong silent type who is not great with words, romantically speaking. Except he doesn't have to be. She's and English teacher. She will learn confidence from him and he will learn compassion from her. I would like to have seen more of a build-up, but other than that I think the couple is the best one on the show...though I'm still waiting for Stidia.

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  7. Her character is way too flat.

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  8. j'aime beaucoup leur couple et quand on regarde l'episode 8 on comprend mieux derek jennifer ressemble beaucoup a paige.Jai appris qu'elle aller devenir plus importantes dans les prochains épisode alors ne critiquer pas trop ils sont parfaits

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  9. I think they could be a good couple, they just need more development, which I hope they get. Otherwise, I like them. There are tons of theories swirling around about Jennifer and they seem to be pretty interesting so I wouldn't mind if one of these theories takes place.
    Lets just give them a chance and see what happens.

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  10. She took to him being a werewolf WAY too easily, everyone let in on this secret has flipped out at least once including Jackson who begged for it. I'm a HUGE Sterek fan, sadly I know a lot of people are too chicken to actually do it, but my dislike of Jennifer has to do with the fact that they seem forced together, probably to appease the hetero fans who ball at the thought of Sterek. I think straight fans have no qualms with Danny's love life because he was labeled gay from the first so they can overlook him. And speaking of so happy the Danny/Ethan kiss went how it did instead of a millisecond. Yay! Anyway I can't see Derek just jumping in bed with her considering how his past has gone, Kate murders his family and the newly revealed Paige 'died'. She really has no depth, he shows up with his stomach slashed, which I think he went to her because everyone else was outta town, and she makes a comment about how that's not how she saw their first date going?? And oh let's have sex while your intestines are trying to fall out. I can hardly watch any scene with her.

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  11. Agree with you totally. I am not a sterek shipper at all, but I do want Derek to find love again. There's just no chemistry at all between the two characters - every scene that we've seen so far between them feels awkward and forced. I think that's why a lot of people are saying that she might be the darach. There's something off about her. I hope she's written off by the end of the season. Although I really like the actress who plays her - Haley Webb.

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  12. I thought they are great together, she gets him and after the last two episodes I kind of understand why he goes for her. She reminds him of "Violin Girl" from when he was 15 and had to kill her. I was so happy for him but I knew it wouldn't last. She would either be killed or she would be somebody evil. When I saw her running into Derek's arms at the school I was so happy to see them back together. And then I thought she would be the one killed next since she is a teacher. Turns out that she is the evil ugly monster. I am so disappointed, but I kind of expected it. Either Derek will kill her or someone else will. Derek is doomed to be alone once again. Bummer!

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  13. I actually think Derrick is to handsome to fall in love with a english teacher ,she had some wicked ways in her which I saw by her eye contacts ,Derrick should found a girl alison to play the part of jennifer ...over and above that the season 3 Rocks

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  14. Welp, looks like it wasn't so random after all.

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