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.
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.
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 cliché 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.
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.