Source: online streaming
Show summary: Fourteen year old Maddy Smith has a secret: she and her family are all wolfbloods – people that transform into wolves. Her ancestors have lived in the town Stoneybridge for centuries, disguising their heightened ability of hearing and smell from the rest of the world and living as normal humans. But with a new wolfblood in the Smiths’ territory, and Maddy’s best friend suddenly obsessed with the thought that there is a beast out on the moors, the quiet little town Stoneybridge isn’t so quiet anymore.
Episode: Season 1, episode 1 “Lone Wolf”
Episode summary: Maddy has a secret: she can transform into a wolf. But her world gets even stranger when a boy with the same ability moves into her neighborhood.
I think this is the actual trailer (I saw the same version a few different places), but can’t guarantee it. Whether it is or not, it’s cheesy as hell. I’m glad I watched the first episode before watching it, because the first episode, and these characters, absolutely captured my heart.
I don’t remember hearing anything about this show, though it’s been on my queue for awhile now. There are three seasons currently available, and apparently a fourth season has been approved, so there’s plenty for me to watch. I’m intrigued; I love werewolves, I love teen stories, and I love monsters on the moors, so this has a lot going for it already.
Based on this first episode, I am THRILLED. I fell in love with Maddy within the first minute.
Maddy Smith (Aimee Kelly): Our introduction to this world, and a delightful, tough, smart wolf girl.
Tom Okinawe (Kedar Williams-Stirling): One of Maddy’s BFFs, photographer, footballer, and all around delight.
Shannon Kelly (Louisa Connolly-Burnham): Maddy’s other BFF, photographer, obsessed with finding the thing howling on the moors and leaving pawprints, and, again, all around delight.
Rhydian Morris (Bobby Lockwood): Decidedly not Welsh new kid in town who is our titular lone wolf.
Emma Smith (Angela Lonsdale): Maddy’s mother, brief appearance, snarky wolf mom.
Daniel Smith (Marcus Garvey): Maddy’s father, brief appearance, fun wolf dad.
The Three Ks: Kay (Shorelle Hepkin), Kara (Rachel Teate), and Katrina (Gabrielle Green) are the requisite popular girls intrigued by new boy Rhydian.
Jimi Chen (Jonathan Raggett): Footballer, popular boy, jackass.
Miss Parrish (Clara Onyemere): Teacher, obsessed with badgers, and listed because I find her charming, though she doesn’t do much this episode.
Welcome to Stoneyridge, where werewolves run amock.
The episode opens with a fantastic sendup of a typical horror movie opening: late night, big bright full moon with clouds skittering over it, a large stone house with a teen girl watching tv. She hears crashing sounds outside, and, of course, goes to check. The camera stays tight on her, shaky movement, almost a first person camera angle, and there’s plenty of howling and growling sound effects. It hits all the notes of the death of a girl we don’t really know and care about just to set the tone.
But this is not our Girl Who Will Be the First to Die.
Maddy finds a big wolf getting into the garbage, knocking things around and eating a chicken, and a second wolf skulking around the entrance to a cellar. There’s a moment when we’re supposed to believe Maddy is terrified and will run, only to be cut down by the wolves, but then she orders them back inside and stalks toward them, shoulders forward, eye contact steady, body language big and tough. She’s fast, too; she blocks every time the wolf tries to dodge around her. It comes across very dominant wolf, in human form, bossing around submissive wolves. Considering these wolves turn out to be her parents, I’m delighted by this dynamic. There’s a gorgeous close up of Maddy’s eyes changing, gold slipping through them, and she snarls the wolf (we learn it was her dad) into submission. It falls back into the cellar and slinks away from her, head tucked, eyes downcast. The other wolf (her mom) leaps up at her, and she hits it with her show, then locks them both up again.
As Maddy turns away from the locked cellar, there’s another wolf howl in the distance, and she rolls her eyes up at the full moon.
I love her already.
Roll credits: Fun credits, lots of color, gorgeous trees, flashes of wolves, and people, very nicely done. I found a Season Three version of the credits, which shows some character changes briefly, but really highlights the fantastic theme song, “A Promise That I Keep” by Lisa Knapp.
(From the credits, I learn this is written by Debbie Moon, and dear god, I hope that’s her real name, because what else would she write but an awesome teen werewolf story with that name? I love it.)
Maddy comes downstairs the next morning, all the way to the cellar to let her parents out. She’s grumpy that her mother chewed up the shoe Maddy hit her with, and I find their whole family dynamic adorable. When she calls them hypocrites, because they always tell her that it’s important to stay hidden and not give in to the wolf side but the first whiff of food has them breaking out of the cellar, they start making excuses about how powerful the call of the moon. Her parents turn it around on her, because she broke the rules, stayed up too late and ate junkfood she’s not supposed to eat. I continue to be charmed by this family of wolves.
Since Maddy’s mother chewed up her shoe, she has to wear big green rubber boots to school, which opens her up to mockery. Tom, one of her BFFs, asks what in the world she’s wearing, and she tells him her shoes got eaten by werewolves, didn’t he see the full moon?
You guys, I love Maddy SO MUCH, and we’re not even five minutes into this episode yet. Debbie Moon and Aimee Kelly, the actor, have done an excellent job of creating a relatable, wonderful character right from her first second on screen.
Tom is unimpressed with this joke, because their other BFF, Shannon, has already been talking about werewolves with him. She heard howling on the moors, and she is apparently obsessed with finding the creature. She found a pawprint on Dreamers Lane and is going to compare it to dog pawprints. Tom wants to know if she plans to compare it to all dog breeds ever. I like them. Shannon is super excited, because the pawprint and the howling are proof that there is something weird on the moors, and she’s going to figure out what.
(Can we talk about the moors for a second? The moors are wonderful for horror stories, particularly werewolf stories, visually stunning, easily made creepy, and just gorgeous. Sarah and I try to work the moors into our horror-adventure stories set in England, because we love them so.)
The B plot in “Lone Wolf” is Maddy, Shannon, and Tom trying to save their beloved photography club from being disbanded for lack of membership. They need to find three new members by the next morning, or so long photography club. (The school official says if they don’t, they can no longer have a room on school property to use as their “own private den” because this is a show about werewolves. Wolves have dens. DO YOU GET IT, VIEWER? I mock, but I am delighted by this show.) They are momentarily buoyed by new names on the sign-up sheet, but alas, someone has filled in fake names. (Including the Incredible Hulk. A+)
Maddy hears Jimi bragging to his football buddies about their fake name prank; her friends can’t hear it because they don’t have Super Wolf Hearing and want to know how she knows, but she shrugs it off as recognizing his terrible handwriting. Good cover. (I mean that.)
She’s off to confront Jimi when she’s distracted by a scent, and the visual detail here is lovely. We get to see the smell as a tangled thread that she follows, clearly upset about what she’s smelling; she’s a hunter with a scent, stalking through the crowd (see, I can do it too), pushing people out of the way, slamming open doors, leaping down the stairs, but before she can follow it to its source, too many people have walked through it, and we get to see the tangled thread vanish like smoke. This detail is really, really nice.
However, in their form room, we meet new student Rhydian. While the teacher introduces him, and starts but one of many New Kid is Welsh jokes (due to the name), Maddy, from across the room, eyes him, sniffs the hair, and then huffs at him that he smells like her parents. Everyone else cracks up over this statement, but Maddy is, well, mad.
(I am so, so charmed by her. Teen!Carla would have had such a crush on Maddy. And, ok, on Shannon and her werewolf obsession and snarky, supportive Tom, too. All three of them are just a DELIGHT.)
We get a slooooooooooooooooow moooooooooooo shot of Rhydian taking his seat, while Maddy glares at him and Jimi’s friends make sheep noises from the back of the class. After they head to their next class, Maddy gets right up in Rhydian’s face, demanding to know why he’s in their territory, doesn’t he know the rules, he can’t stay. I know I’ve said this about a billion times so far, in less than 10 minutes of show, but OH MY GOD YOU GUYS I LOVE MADDY AND THE WAY SHE WEREWOLFS SO DAMN MUCH. Rhydian doesn’t take this confrontation well, assures her he’s not staying in this dump, but oh, hell no, no smell girl is going to tell him when to stay or when to go.
Maddy is incensed (SHE DOES NOT SMELL), and complains to Tom and Shannon at lunch. Her friends are sympathetic, but amused, and Tom points out she’s ignored the most important question, which is whether Rhydian plays football. I was expecting rugby to be the sport of choice in this show (more violent for a werewolf show), but football works. When Jimi and friends walk by, Tom asks if he’s going to invite Rhydian to join the team; Jimi doesn’t think “bleat boy” is the right sort. On the one hand, calling a werewolf sheep insults is hilarious; on the other hand, it’s so different than anything that would be said here in the USA, it makes me laugh every time.
Tom ignores Jimi, and asks Rhydian if he’ll join the team. Maddy protests this, but Shannon reassures her that he won’t bite. (IT’S FUNNY BECAUSE HE’S A WEREWOLF.) Maddy snarks, I wouldn’t count on that. (BECAUSE HE’S A WEREWOLF.) I love everything this show chooses to be.
Rhydian sits alone, hunched over an amazing drawing of trees, with some weird and creepy wolves at the bottom of the image. At first, Tom says the art is good, and then he seems to be a little weirded out by the wolves. He tries to talk to Rhydian about football, but Rhydian shuts him right down, all Pissed Off Bad Boy With a Heart of Gold. After that brush off, Tom goes back to Maddy and Shannon, but Rhydian isn’t alone for long.
Enter the Three Ks, popular girls who are flirty and giggly and interested in beauty and fashion. They come across as airheaded because of this, and I no longer love everything this show chooses to be, just most of it. They are intrigued by the new guy, try to get him to enter a competition with them, and offer to answer his questions about the school and the town. All he asks about is Maddy, and we learn she’s from one of the country families who have lived there for centuries, never leave the area, and don’t like strangers or questions.
So … all the country families are werewolves?
(Have I mentioned I love this show so far? Because I do.)
After lunch, Maddy, Shannon, and Tom brainstorm ideas of how to save photography club. They decide to recruit at Miss Parrish’s Badger Stakeout after school. I AM UTTERLY CHARMED BY THIS SHOW. It’s part of the year seven syllabus, so all the year sevens have to go, and they figure that if they hand out the club cameras for use during the stakeout, they’ll surely be able to recruit at least three for the club.
Nearby, Rhydian opens his locker only to find veggies shoved inside. Jimi and his friends, lurking nearby, crack up and talk about smelling something funny, ask if that’s his lunch, call him Welshie. Yet again, Rhydian points out that he’s not even Welsh, then chucks the veggie at Jimi. Oh, that’s a fighting throw.
Jimi turns back, all puffed up with tough guy attitude, and Rhydian slams Jimi to the floor. Before he can really start fighting, though, he starts making this weird shouty-growly noise and dark veins stand out in his hands. He staggers away from Jimi, staring at them, seemingly shocked. Aww, is it werewolf puberty time, Rhydian? Maddy grabs him and drags him into the photography room and locks them inside.
He’s frantic, shouting at her to get out, stumbling around the room, tripping on things and knocking down shelves. Maddy is as steady as ever and tries to calm him. He hits the floor, apologizes to her for what’s to come, and we get to watch the change, in his eyes first, then in his blood cells, his very DNA, and then there’s a wolf standing in the center of the room, angry and afraid.
Maddy remains steady when he hides under a table and growls at her, then frantically circles the room, looking for a way out. She keeps her movements slow, easily visible, and crouches, first her head down, then her gaze on the floor, until he’s calm; when he settles a little, she looks at him with her own wolf eyes, always calm, helping him relax, and my god, Maddy is a thing of beauty and wonder and delight. I LOVE HOW SHE WEREWOLFS.
Once Rhydian is back in human form (and we have a transformation that doesn’t destroy clothes; they disappear and reappear), he’s delighted that Maddy is like him, but she’s angry. She’s not like him, she objects, she doesn’t show off, pick fights, or invade another pack’s territory. I LOVE HER, I love her attitude, I love how she’s so protective of what she is. She tells him that the way he’s acting, he’s a danger to them all, and the sooner he leaves, the better.
At this point, Shannon and Tom finally unlock the door and find Rhydian and Maddy facing off in the middle of the destroyed room. Rhydian tries to leave, but they block his way until Maddy tells them to let him go because he doesn’t belong there. The look Rhydian gives her is so full of hurt, and he takes off. Poor lost little werewolf boy.
But enough about him, BECAUSE MADDY IS THE GREATEST WEREWOLF GIRL TO EVER WEREWOLF.
We follow Rhydian running away from the school for a moment, all shaky cam and desaturated colors to show the drama and his wolfy nature lurking, nearly uncontrollable, just beneath the surface.
Maddy, Shannon, and Tom stop to get a snack at a little shop before heading off to recruit at Miss Parrish’s Badger Stakeout (STILL CHARMED), and we learn, through some exposition from the shopkeeper, that Rhydian is a foster kid. This information shakes up Maddy, because if he’s a foster kid, he’s separated from his parents, and maybe he doesn’t know anything about what they are after all. Maddy sends Shannon and Tom off to do the recruiting, and promises to meet them in the woods, then takes off after Rhydian. We get some fun scent tracking and Maddy being awesome.
Maddy easily catches up with Rhydian, and apologizes straight away. I’m impressed by this, because most people wouldn’t. She offers to help him, and he says he’s had lots of help, counseling, Ritalin, but nothing works. On the one hand, this fits into my beloved Werewolf as a Metaphor for Mental Illness theory. On the other hand, it also falls into the You’re Not Crazy Just Supernatural trope I loathe. Maddy reassures him that her family can actually help, and he needs to learn to control his wolf self before someone gets hurt – probably him. I do like how this ties into the metaphor, because he’s more of a threat to himself than anyone else.
Rhydian accuses her of being just like everyone else, offering false help and wanting to change him, and runs off. Even though she easily caught him just a minute before, Maddy lets him go. Instead of chasing after him, she waits a moment, tracking his scent, then cuts through the woods. This is an awesome moment, and I get a nice Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf vibe. Maddy cuts him off without even getting out of breath (HAVE I MENTIONED I LOVE MADDY? BECAUSE I LOVE HER AND HER WEREWOLF SKILLS SO MUCH), and tells him that she knows about him being a foster kid, she knows he’s alone.
Rhydian says she’s trying to make him better (i.e., fix him) by making him control what he turns into (i.e., the wolf and all its inherent strengths), but what he turns into is better, it’s the best thing he’s ever known, and he’s not going to let anyone take that away from him. This is deep mental illness metaphor right here; I can map my own experience with my bipolar diagnosis and treatment onto it. This tiny little scene hits home hard, and I am growing fonder of Rhydian by the second.
He starts to leave again, and Maddy says she’ll stop him. I love how willing Maddy is to do what it takes to protect her family and her territory. Rhydian says she won’t, because she has a secret, and therefore something to lose, and he doesn’t, so she can’t stop him without giving up her secret. Maddy’s clearly shaken by this, but gives chase anyway.
What starts as an argument and chasing him down to stop him turns into two teenage werewolves running through the wolves, springing into and out of trees, and grinning, obviously ecstatic to be so wild and free. This is a fantastic scene with a nice, subtle transition between anger and exhilaration, and I can see why being a werewolf would be fun.
Of course, Miss Parrish’s Badger Stakeout (YES, STILL CHARMED) is also in the woods, and sure enough, when Maddy finally tackles Rhydian down a hill, they land in the middle of the group. Miss Parrish is frustrated because they’ve scared off every animal for miles (because they’re werewolves, see?), and takes the year sevens away with her.
Maddy apologizes to Shannon and Tom for being late and for ruining their recruitment, and tells them she had something important to do. Of course, Tom and Shannon want to know what could be more important than saving photography club, and Maddy says Rhydian is more important. Just when I’m about to be frustrated by Maddy choosing the Hot New Broody Boy over her friends, she goes on to say he’s important because they’re related, he’s a distant cousin and has always been the black sheep (ha!) of the family, that’s why he lashed out at her, but they’ve made up and he’s a part of her life now. I love the wolf pack as family storyline, and am thrilled with this explanation. Shannon and Tom are awesome, accept Maddy’s apology, and accept Rhydian; Tom’s still stuck on him not liking football, though.
Back in town, they sit around with coffees, toasting the end of photography club, when the Three Ks turn up with a proposition. They need portfolios for that competition, which turns out to be a modelling competition, and if the photography club takes their photographs for free, they’ll join the club so it can last, but won’t be involved with it otherwise. Well, that’s the B plot wrapped up in a neat little bow.
Maddy walks Rhydian home so she can have a private conversation with him about what they are. They take a path through the woods, and the scenery is beautiful, gorgeous old trees, fallen leaves crunching under foot, a stream slipping merrily over mossy rocks.
We learn that he’s been in foster care since he was two, and doesn’t know much about his parents, though he thinks his mother was Welsh. He, of course, was the wolf howling on the moors that Shannon heard, and he left the pawprint she’s obsessed about; it was his second change, and while he doesn’t remember what happened during his first, it got him kicked out of his last foster home because in the middle of whatever he did, he trashed his bedroom. Maddy admits that she hasn’t started transforming yet, and he teases her about knowing more than she does because he’s transformed. She shuts that down fast, because clearly he doesn’t know anything or he wouldn’t be losing control when confronted by Jimi. He argues that he thought they only changed at the full moon, but nope.
Maddy gives him (and us) some basic information: They change at the full moon, but start to involuntarily change when they feel angry or threatened, too. Once they learn to control the transformation, they can transform whenever they want. I love this choice for how the transformation works. It’s not about being bitten; they are born, not made. Everything that Rhydian thought made him a freak (sight, hearing, speed, sense of smell) are completely normal. Finally, we learn that they aren’t called werewolves, because they’re not monsters. They are wolfblood. (TITLE DROP.)
(I love that Rhydian talks about how he doesn’t even remember being bitten. Way to be at least somewhat aware of the horror movie tropes. I love when that happens.)
Maddy says now he can have a pack (her family, I love Maddy so much), someone to teach him, but Rhydian says no, he’s not really into rules and things, he’ll do things his own way, he’s a lone wolf. (TITLE DROP PART TWO.) Maddy smirks a little, and I don’t see that going well for him.
End episode. Delightful, wonderful episode.
I love these characters and this show SO MUCH. Their friendships are wonderful, the characters themselves are fun, often funny, and charming, and the werewolf rules spot on. There is a great deal of racial diversity, too, which is a fantastic change of pace. I hope there will be other types of diversity as well.
To sum up: I LOVE THIS SHOW AND THESE CHARACTERS, AND I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE NEXT EPISODE.
This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.org with comments. Read the original post there. Comment here or there using OpenID.