July 25, 2015

Dylan is TVLine’s Performer of the Week!

THE PERFORMER | Dylan O’Brien
THE SHOW | Teen Wolf
THE EPISODE | “A Novel Approach” (July 20)
THE PERFORMANCE | In the world of MTV’s Teen Wolf, an “anchor” is something the werewolves focus on — it can be a person, a feeling, or even a memory — in order to retain their humanity. After Monday’s episode, it finally hit us that Teen Wolf has an anchor of its own: Dylan O’Brien’s Stiles.

Besides the fact that Stiles is literally the only human character left among the drama’s regular stable, he’s also played a vital role in keeping his friends on track, at times even drawing them back into the light. But something changed this week. Accidental though it may have been, Stiles tasted his first kill, effectively pushing him over a line he was not prepared to cross, one from which there’s no turning back.

The harrowing first 10 minutes of Monday’s episode, in which Stiles was hunted by Donovan — who blamed Stiles’ father, Sheriff Stilinski, for his own father’s paralysis — contained some of the most thrilling, horrifying sequences in the show’s five-season history. And as any fan can attest, the one thing Teen Wolf does best is horror. Frankly, if the Stiles-Donovan confrontation had been stretched to cover the entire length of the episode, it would have been a satisfying hour.

O’Brien has always demonstrated an incredible, seemingly effortless, ability to turn Stiles’ exploits into shared experiences with the audience, an ability which was in full-effect Monday. When he wrestled free from Donovan’s clutches, it felt like we were gasping for air and fighting for our lives; when he hid behind the bookcase in the library, unsure of whether to confront his attacker or keep running, it was like we were battling our own internal fight-or-flight response; and when he sat breathless in his car, spying on the police as they investigated what was now a murder scene, it was like our whole world was closing in around us.

We can’t say for sure how Stiles will deal with the fallout from his actions, but if history is any indication — we’re thinking back to Season 3’s stellar nogitsune saga — it’s safe to say that O’Brien will anchor the experience with the same vulnerability and authenticity we’ve come to expect from a performer of his caliber.

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