Last night’s episode of Teen Wolf was all about Stiles, the wise-cracking, sarcastic best friend of lead character Scott. We finally (somewhat) figured out what’s been wrong with him and what could happen to him by the end of the season (I won’t spoil it, just head to MTV.com and watch it and prepare for the tidal wave of feelings). But enough about plot, let’s talk about Dylan O’Brien’s performance.
MTV is not necessarily known for its artistic merit (it is a network that airs Teen Mom, after all), but if there was ever a case for an Emmy nomination for the network, O’Brien’s horrifying and emotionally-charged performance last night is it. The entire cast of Teen Wolf is talented (and ridiculously good-looking, like it’s just stupid at this point), but O’Brien has always stood out as one of the strongest. Last night, his performance put him far in the lead, even matching performances from cable’s other top actors.
A lot of Dylan O’Brien’s dramatic acting strength comes just from his facial expressions. He is able to convey a bevy of emotions with just his eyes, especially when they fill with tears. Last night was the first time when he went full throttle, screaming and sobbing with rage and fear, and the results were harrowing and satisfyingly exhausting to watch. I was literally shaken to my core when Stiles woke up from his nightmare screaming. But with all of the loud emoting he had to do for this episode, it never came off as histrionic. O’Brien made you feel Stiles’s unraveling at its most raw.
But O’Brien really pulled double duty, playing two very different characters by the episode’s end. His switch from Stiles to the “shadow” (the only spoiler I will give) was subtle but effective enough for me to believe that I was looking at a completely different personality. Again, it all came down to those very expressive eyes of his, which seemed to darken to sinister (and kind of sultry) depths. As if the rollercoaster we were on as viewers wasn’t steep enough, look into Stiles’s eyes while he’s in the hospital hallway. Absolutely chilling.
The spectrum of performance that Dylan O’Brien gave on last night’s episode is something you wouldn’t expect from an actor on an MTV drama, which makes it all the more impressive. If I were the network, I would submit this episode for Emmy consideration, because O’Brien was award-worthy last night.