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 2 “Mysterious Developments”
Episode summary: Determined to find proof of wolfbloods, Tom and Shannon go on a best hunt, just as Rhydian and Maddy learn there are wolfbloods who roam wild.
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, overprotective, cheesy funny.
Daniel Smith (Marcus Garvey): Maddy’s father, friendly and fun, very punny.
The Three Ks: Kay (Shorelle Hepkin), Kara (Rachel Teate), and Katrina (Gabrielle Green) are the requisite popular (usually mean) girls.
Jimi Chen (Jonathan Raggett): Footballer, popular boy, jackass. Jimi runs around with two other friends whose names I never hear. They mostly echo Jimi, so not really important anyway.
This episode opens with Shannon frantically running into the school building and letting herself into the locked photography room. She’s clearly excited because she finally managed to capture something in her question to discover The Monster Hunting the Moors. She’s found a picture of a wolf deep in the shadows of a fallen tree.
She’s pleased with herself, thrilled that she finally has a picture, and I am completely charmed by her obsession with this secret. I love smart, driven young women. I was a smart, driven young woman, and I identify with Shannon a lot.
(Still enjoy the credits.)
Emma drops Maddy off at school because Maddy missed the bus. Hi, Emma! I hope to see more of you and your funny, slightly cheesy grown-up werewolf joy in life. Emma teases her that next time she misses the bus, she’ll have to walk, and Maddy points out that if she ran, she’d beat the bus. I now want to see Maddy outrunning things. Give me an episode of that. (Hell, an entire season.) Note from the future: This is pretty nice foreshadowing. Emma reminds Maddy to ask Rhydian over for dinner because they need to talk to him about wolfing out safely. The sex talk is the easy parallel here, especially because Maddy is worried about her parents embarrassing Rhydian, not about them embarrassing Maddy herself. Emma defends herself, saying she’s not entirely without tact, and then proceeds to embarrass Maddy by honking at her as she walks away, drawing everyone’s attention to them before she shouts out the window that Wednesday is hog roast night and Maddy should use that to get Rhydian to come to dinner.
I love Maddy’s relationship with her parents at this point, full of love and yet still funny and snarky. Note from the future: I love their relationship even when her parents are lying to her to protect her. They are my current favorite werewolf family.
Shannon posted copies of her wolf picture all over the school, and every single named student we met in the pilot are crowded around her, proud of what she found, curious, a little scared of the monster on the moors. Shannon basks in their attention, their belief, and it’s just a super cute scene.
Jimi and friends turn up and ruin things. Jimi says he thinks it’s fake, that she photoshopped it. Shannon defends herself, claiming to have the original raw files on the memory card, which can’t be faked. Of course, the card is gone when they all end up in the photography room, and everyone stops believing her, starts making fun of her. She is more upset at the loss of belief than the teasing. Once they’re alone, Maddy and Tom reassure her that she’s not on her own, they still believe her, but Shannon’s not comforted by that. For a brief, shining moment, everyone else believed her, too, and she’s never had that before. She’s been hunting the moors for years, trying to prove the monster exists, and she was so close, SO CLOSE, to finally succeeding, only to have her moment ripped away. She had it, proof, and then it was stolen from a locked room. She’s heart broken, but determined. I want to give her a big hug.
In class, Maddy confronts Rhydian about taking the card and making Shannon look like a total idiot. She blames him not only for that, but for being stupid enough to wolf out in a place where he could be seen. I like that Rhydian focuses on fixing things by taking away the proof, but Maddy focuses on making better choices, and how he can’t push the blame off onto Shannon and her obsession.
Except! Rhydian claims the wolf in the picture isn’t him. Maddy is skeptical, because there’s not been another wolf pack sighted in the area in ages, but as soon as he turns up, oh, look, Shannon finally has a picture. (Except Shannon’s been looking for the monster of the moors for years, so … what triggered that?) (Note from the future: We do get Shannon backstory, but we still don't know who that particularly wolfblood was. It's not verified that Maddy knows about this story, but I can't imagine her not knowing. Who does she think Shannon saw in the woods? If she thinks it was her parents, why isn't this made clear?)
Not only is Shannon the laughing stock of her peers, she’s also ended up with multiple detentions, first for misusing school supplies when she made photocopies of her picture (and then put up a Missing Memory Card flyer as well), and then for fighting! As usual, it wasn’t much of a fight; she frisked Liam, a character I don’t really know, while trying to find the card, he understandably shoved her away, and she cracked him one. I love her! And I wish we’d seen this on screen, because the fights we do see (Rhydian and Jimi in the last episode, and a whole group a bit later in this one) aren’t very impressive.
After school (and, we can assume, one of Shannon’s detentions), Rhydian heads into the woods to look for the spot in Shannon’s photo and search for clues. I’m not a big Rhydian fan, but I like that he takes the time to do this. Even better, when he finds Shannon there, crying, he sits with her, talks a little bit, and gives her chocolate. (Vegan chocolate because his foster parents are vegetarians. More foreshadowing. Also, why aren’t they vegans if the big point made is vegan chocolate?)
We also get Shannon backstory!
When she was seven, Shannon went on a camping trip with the Brownies. She couldn’t sleep because she kept hearing things, probably badgers and things (badgers!), but her mind made them into much bigger sounds. She played at making shadow monsters with her flashlight until a real shadow turned up. When she shut off her light, it came closer, standing right over them. When she looked outside the tent, she found a monstrous face, hairy, with yellow eyes.
Shannon’s screaming woke the camp, and she’s been mocked ever since. She was even sent to a child psychologist, because the adults thought she kept telling the monster story for attention. She became obsessed with proving the monster exists. They bond over how bad it feels to be accused of lying, which plays nicely into the thematic through line of secrets and lies, and how they can be done for good reasons, but can also hurt people at the same time.
At home, Maddy looks through the images on the memory card, until her mother pops in to let her know they’re going food shopping and to find out what’s wrong, because Maddy’s had her tail between her legs all afternoon. I love this little linguistic choice. Nice werewolf detail. Maddy admits that she’s tired of lying all the time, and she hates not being able to tell her friends the truth, but doesn’t tell her mother that Shannon finally got a picture of a wolf. Again with the theme, secrets and lies hurt as well as help.
Emma points out that she doesn’t have to lie to Rhydian, and she really should make an effort with him, because he’s never even had a real family, much less a pack.
The next day at school, Shannon is back to being her obsessive but in control self. Even her hair is pulled back, not loose like it was during her ecstatic run to the school the day before. She tells Maddy they’re going monster hunting on Saturday, and she needs to bring her camera.
In the lunch line, Maddy finally asks Rhydian to dinner, but he’s not focused on her words because he’s focused on the food and whether there will be meat or not. He’s craving it, what with his foster parents being vegetarians. Thanks, foreshadowing! Maddy uses this craving to get him to agree to come to dinner, because it’s hog roast night. She really talks it up, how they’ll cook up a whole hog, all the fixings, and I am ready to come to dinner, too.
Jimi continues to be a jackass of the first degree. He’s posted more photocopies of Shannon’s picture, this time with her face photoshopped in, as if she’s the monster. When he sees her, he pretends to be all scared of her. There’s another bit of a scuffle, but again, not much of a fight, and everyone ends up with detention.
During detention, Shannon moves up her timeline, and tries to get Maddy to go monster hunting with her that night, but Maddy can’t get out of dinner with her parents. Instead, Shannon and Tom are going into the woods on their own. (Shannon is so over prepared for this trip that she falls over when picking up her bag. Oh, Shannon. You are a delight.)
The meat puns are really flying while Emma and Daniel finish getting ready for dinner with Rhydian. Daniel holds up a piece of meat and says “the steaks are high.” Emma calls him a silly sausage. Maddy tells Daniel to stop, and he says “ham stopping.” When Rhydian turns up, Daniel is “pleased to meat him.” Such utter werewolf dorks.
The dinner scene is pretty cute. Rhydian focuses a lot on devouring meat, while Daniel and Emma tease him about it, and Maddy slowly relaxes. Rhydian tells them that it must be nice to have a family you can be yourself around, and then asks if they change in the house during the full moon or outside. Daniel and Emma show off the cellar, which is stocked with everything a wolf could want and safer for everyone, but Rhydian is not impressed with their cage. Don’t they ever want to run free, he asks.
They continue to tag team the rest of the conversation, talking about how being a wolfblood is not just about giving into primal desires, it’s about being a responsible member of a bigger community. They have a rich culture and heritage, and have books of their history (wolfbloods Romulus and Remus founded Rome, and Gengis Khan’s army had wolfbloods, all pretty standard werewolf history worldbuilding. Daniel is really excited to share his information with both Rhydian and Maddy, but Emma is a little more reluctant. We quickly find out why when she says that most wolfbloods agree it’s important to tame their instincts.
Most isn’t all.
Maddy calls her on it, because she’s always been told that all wolfbloods practice the same safety and secrecy tips. When Daniel starts to explain, Emma says she’s too young to know. Rhydian says it out loud: there are other wolfbloods, and they don’t lock themselves away.
This leads to an excellent transition to Shannon and Tom in the woods. The image starts with night vision through the camera, until Tom pops up making funny, loud noises, teasing Shannon. She quiets him so he won’t scare away the monster. I am highly entertained that she’s not scared of the thing she keeps calling a monster so much as she is scared it will leave before she has proof. When Tom asks if she has any food, Shannon starts digging through her bag, because of course she has food.
Camera angle changes to a long shot from the perspective of something in the woods, hidden in the trees, staring at them. Hunting them. This is a lovely, creepy moment, tall trees, long shadows, Shannon and Tom vulnerable and unaware.
Back to the wolfblood pack. Daniel and Emma finally admit that there are wolfbloods that don’t agree with them, wild wolfbloods who hate tame wolfbloods, who are dangerous, who hate humans. Maddy figures out that Shannon and Tom are in danger.
Cut to Shannon and Tom, who are still going through all the food Shannon brought. (This girl. She’s beyond prepared. Beyond over prepared. All Tom wants is, like, a bag of chips, and she has tins of beans, bacon, tons and tons of food. I love her.)
Then Shannon hears something in the woods with him, twigs breaking and leaves crunching. She’s immediately alert, shining her flashlight into the fog. Tom is a little shaken by this, and suggests leaving, the fog is getting thicker, they won’t see anything. Just as he says that, Shannon’s light lands on an animal half-hidden by the fog, its eyes shining. This is a really great visual, heavy fog against the dark trees, really creepy and wonderful, and I wish we’d had a little bit more of it.
While the last scene break made it look like Maddy ran off after Shannon and Tom, in reality, she shows the wolf picture to her parents and says she thought it was Rhydian because she didn’t know about wild wolfbloods.
Again, I love the secrets and lies theme. Maddy shouts at Rhydian for not keeping the secret well enough, but really it’s not him, it’s her parents’ secrets and lies that mean she jumped to the wrong conclusion and didn’t realize the threat to her friends. Clearly keeping secrets can and does backfire spectacularly.
Rhydian says he knows where the picture was taken, but he can’t really explain how to get there, he can show them. Emma and Daniel order them to stay at the house while they go sniff out the wolfblood, and leave in the car, off into the nice, thick fog. Again, a gorgeous moment. I want to live somewhere with fog and trees like that.
While Maddy trusts her parents to take care of things, Rhydian doesn’t think they’ll make it in time because they’ll have to stick to the roads while in the car, and the wild wolfblood is on foot, hunting Shannon and Tom. Rhydian convinces Maddy they can find things faster and easier than her parents, and, after some thought, Maddy agrees. They race off into the woods.
(Not before Maddy extracts a promise that Rhydian will not wolf out while Shannon has her camera, but I don’t see this going well. Note from the future: It didn’t.)
Shannon keeps snapping photos while Tom tries to convince her that it was just a badger (badger! Again!) or a fox or something. The wolf starts growling, and they back away, until Shannon realizes there’s something behind them – no wolf. Just Jimi and friends, leaping out to scare them. They mock Shannon and Tom, again Shannon is angrier about them scaring off the monster than being mocked, and just as Jimi asks what kind of monster would be scared of them (good question, and yet I want this character to fuck off), the wolf starts howling and scares them all.
Quick cut to Maddy and Rhydian racing through the woods.
Shannon, Tom, and Jimi and friends all stand back to back, which is a pretty good idea until Jimi threatens to cut and run, when Maddy and Rhydian race up, scaring them. Maddy wants to know if they’re okay, and Tom (rightfully) points out that they’d be better if people would STOP JUMPING OUT OF THE WOODS AT THEM. Oh, Tom, you are a delight. Jimi and friends tease Maddy when they find out Maddy and Rhydian were at dinner together with Maddy’s parents, which Maddy shuts down with the cousin story again, and then Shannon once again sees the monster lurking in the fog. I love Shannon’s singled-minded focus even while everyone else is scattered and loud.
Shannon remains steady, snapping picture after picture, while the wolf circles them, and Rhydian runs off. The wolf finally shows itself behind them, and Maddy keeps herself bodily between it and the others, and then Rhydian shows up, wolfed out, and starts a fight. Maddy pushes the others to run.
As they flee, they have to climb through a fallen tree with big branches, and Tom hurts himself. Jimi and friends cut off like the cowards they are. Maddy takes the camera from Shannon because the flash blinds the monster and heads back to the fight, leaving Shannon to hide with Tom.
Rhydian is not doing well in the fight, and is slammed into a boulder as Maddy runs up. Maddy orders the other wolf leave Rhydian alone, and as it approaches her, snarling, she stares it down and her eyes glow golden. I love dominant Maddy facing down wolves, and we get to see a ton of this. Thank you, creators. Thank you. Rhydian finally makes it to Maddy’s side, and together they face off against the wolf. Maddy blows the flash again and again, until the wolf finally runs away, and Rhydian collapses at her feet.
Shannon and Tom listen to the fight from their hiding spot, and when it goes quiet, they set out to find everyone else, with Shannon helping support Tom, who is limping and can’t walk on his own.
Maddy apologizes to Rhydian for not believing him. He accepts her apology, and says he doesn’t blame her, because they didn’t even know the wild wolfbloods existed. Yeah, because secrets and lies backfire, Rhydian. Secrets and lies backfire. Maddy checks the images on the camera to make sure there’s nothing too clear, but says they need to leave something for Shannon, because she needs to be believed. They talk about how Jimi is a wuss, and then Maddy takes off, absolutely delighted by her own thoughts, leaving Rhydian to find Shannon and Tom on his own.
Maddy gets an excellent shot of a freaked out Jimi and friends still in the woods, and then joins the others, right before Maddy’s parents finally arrive. They are surprised to see Maddy and Rhydian in the woods, but Shannon is shocked to see them, and they completely fumble their excuses. (One claims they are bird watching even as the other claims star cruising. How in the world have you guys kept so many secrets for so long?) Maddy distracts everyone by pointing out that Tom is hurt and needs help.
While they’re loading the truck, Emma takes a brief moment along with Rhydian to ask if he brought her daughter out there (i.e., convinced Maddy to ignore orders and put herself into danger), but Rhydian doesn’t have time to answer, even if he wanted to.
Back at the house, Shannon mostly has pictures of fog on the camera, though there is one that turns out to be a badger (badger! Again! I love this!); she’s dismayed, but determined to prove there is a monsters in the moors. Maddy flips past a couple pictures and then shows her the one she intentionally left for Shannon, the one that is supposed to be blurry enough you can’t tell the creature is a wolf. First, it definitely looks like a wolf, especially if that’s what you’re looking for in it, so fail. Second, immediately before it, there appears to be a much clearer image, so even more fail. Nice try, though, Maddy.
Rhydian suggests she use the blurry picture on a poster, but Shannon is done with posters – until Maddy shows her the picture of Jimi and friends scared half to death in the woods.
At school the next day, Jimi and friends mock Maddy, Shannon, Tom, and Rhydian, but then find posters of that picture all over the school with the caption “Crybabies of the moors.”
On the one hand, bullying doesn’t stop bullying, and it’s pretty damn sexist when the boys fight over not being the one who cried, because god forbid a dude cry or anything. On the other hand, Jimi and friends are awful, so – go Team Maddy.
Love the additional worldbuilding, continue to adore the characters, and I can't wait for the next episode.
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