Jeff Davis on the First Half of Season 6
I caught up with Executive Producer Jeff Davis Tuesday night as he and former Teen Wolf writer Andy Cochran were working on their new MTV pilot for War of the Worlds. First things first, I had to compliment him on the mid-season finale, Riders on the Storm. “We worked hard,” says Davis of the episode.
It turns out they had far more time to work on the episode than originally planned. It was supposed to film back in August, but due to Dylan O’Brien’s accident and subsequent commitments, the final chapter of the Ghost Riders’ story sat on the page for more than four months. “They had it forever,” Davis recalls. “They started writing it in August.”
Riders on the Storm, like most all of the episodes, went through a process of writing and rewriting. “I’m there for the outline, we basically put everything down in the outline, every scene,” he says. “Joe (Genier) and Lindsay (Sturman) were writing it and they each took half of it and they would trade off. Then I’d say, ‘where the hell are the scenes?’ Then I give a round of notes and another round of notes. Then I take it and start polishing, rewriting dialogue or changing things up.”
All that extra time and work made Riders on the Storm one of the series' most exciting episodes. It was really funny in places and overall provided a satisfying end to our heroes’ high school career. We saw Stiles return, Garrett Douglas defeated, and the undeniable declaration of love between Stiles and Lydia, as well as a glimpse at what lies ahead for each of the main characters. Stiles and Lydia will attend college back east while Scott heads to UC Davis in Sacramento, California. Liam and Mason are left "in charge" of keeping Beacon Hills safe.
While some fans (and Stiles) were disappointed because we didn’t get a Senior Prom or Graduation episode, Davis says it was never in the cards. “I’m very against those things. They’ve been done to death. I find them to be high school clichés that work better on shows like GLEE. I stay away from them unless they can be built into the plot somehow. The thing about stuff like graduation scenes, they have no tension. You’re just watching a graduation.”
Riders on the Storm felt almost like it could have been the final episode ever with Scott and Stiles riding away in the Jeep for one last adventure before college. “We planned it that way in case certain people weren’t going to be back in 6b,” explains Davis. We’ll get to more about the second half of the season in just a bit. First, Jeff answered a few of your questions about the season so far.
- TWN - How did the Sheriff magic his wife back into existence?
- JD - That was partly his own emotional desire and the Ghost Riders taking advantage of a need. We talked a lot in the writers’ room about who the Ghost Riders are and how they are actually people, and what happens if they got stuck in a town. We had this idea that this actually was a Ghost Rider pretending to be, wanting to be, human again and sort of fulfilling that need. It was a little bit of both.
- TWN - Why did the Ghost Riders get stuck in Beacon Hills?
- JD - I debated that with the writers a lot. The idea was they got stuck in Beacon Hills because of what happened the night of Episode 15 and 16 (of Season 5). We had decided that it was the electrical disturbance created by Kira in Eichen House.
- TWN - Why the Ghost Riders? Why did you pick them and why were they taking souls anyway?
- JD -That’s just what they do. I always love that about myths, they’re not necessarily good or bad. They just do, it’s very “Japanese horror.”
- TWN - Why add the Löwenmensch part of Douglas' backstory?
- JD - That was all Will (Wallace) and Eric Wallace. I remember coming into the writers’ room and going “Wait guys. He’s a lion?” I was like “Sure, okay. Great. Go with it.”
- TWN - Pineal glands, why?
- JD – The seat of the soul, he (Douglas) believed that, in order to be on the same level as the Ghost Riders, he also needed to collect the power of souls.
- TWN - Nine herbs, can it cure everything supernatural?
- JD - I certainly hope not.
Jeff Davis on the Second Half of Season 6
While Riders on the Storm gives us some closure on our heroes’ stories, there are still 10 more episodes to come. Executive Producer Jeff Davis was kind enough to give us some insight into what’s coming when Teen Wolf returns.
“6b is very much a story of the outsider,” he says. “Scott and his friends become pariahs once again in Beacon Hills. It is about the rise of new hunters. It is also a season that is sort of inspired by HP Lovecraft. It’s definitely a season of very dark horror. We have some of our grossest stuff coming your way.”
Turns out I actually saw some of that "grossest stuff" when I visited the Teen Wolf Writers' room back in October. I noticed one of Jeff’s rough drawings on a white board, it was a human face drawn in red and its skin seemed to be melting. I was told by everyone never to speak of it but Jeff says it’s now okay. “We call that character ‘The Faceless.’ You can say that actually, that one of the creatures we nicknamed on set ‘The Faceless.’
In addition to new baddies, the last 10 episodes of Teen Wolf will feature a group of new faces. “We have several new kids that we’re really excited about, who are both good guys and bad guys, that step into the story in big ways,” explains Davis. “One of them is Froy Gutierrez (Bella and the Bulldogs, One Day at a Time) who is just great."
The big question for fans looking forward to the final 10 is who from the cast is coming back? Teen Wolf News has already reported that Tyler Posey, Holland Roden, and Shelley Hennig will return. Dylan Sprayberry, Khylin Rhambo and Ryan Kelley are back as are JR Bourne, Linden Ashby, and Melissa Ponzio. Sibongile Mlambo is joining the cast as a new teacher.
Jeff told us previously that the production was in talks to have Colton Haynes reprise his role as Jackson Whittemore while a different source in the production confirmed to TWN that Dylan O’Brien will return in some capacity. Davis says MTV won’t let him give you the exact status of these and other returning actors yet. “I will tell you that more people than I expected are showing up to say goodbye to the show,” he reveals. “I had a list of people I wanted back and I’m getting far more than I expected. It’s really nice, kind of a testament to how much everyone enjoyed being on the show that they all want to come back.”
All of these folks who’ve agreed to come back are creating a happy problem for Davis. He’s pushing to write scenes so that they can shoot around everyone’s availability. “It’s really ridiculous these days, our schedule, because right now I’m writing 620, trying to write the series finale while we don’t yet have a full outline for 619 or a script for 618.”
Something else that changed for the production last minute, MTV executives changed their minds about when to air the final 10 episodes. “There originally was a plan to air all 20 episodes back to back,” Davis confirms. “When new MTV president Chris McCarthy came in he said, ‘Why are we doing that? Let’s not do that.’”
Jeff also tells us the series will end without a cliffhanger. “It will be tied up in a nice bow, but I’ve always said that I like endings that are sort of ‘and the adventure continues …’”
Currently, episode 611 is set to air this summer on MTV and the MTV app.
The Derek Hale Plot You’ll Never See and other Fan Questions
I only had about 15 minutes to talk to executive producer Jeff Davis on Tuesday night. He was, as we said earlier, busy working on the pilot for a new MTV show. Despite our limited time, we did manage to get to a few more fan questions.
- TWN - Is there something you wanted to do in the show but never did and now never will?
- JD - That’s a good question! Yeah, I did. I wanted to do a whole storyline … I wonder if they’ll kill me if I talk about this? I wanted to do a whole storyline with Derek Hale’s character and the return of Jennifer Blake. I wanted it to be like Vertigo. Part of the idea was that the Darach couldn’t just create a face out of thin air. She had to take one. Derek finds this woman who looks exactly like Jennifer Blake, and sort of like Vertigo, it starts to drive him insane. I always thought that would be a fun idea. If Hoechlin had continued on, that would have been a storyline in Season 5.
- TWN - Do different Kitsune types have different eye and burning fox outline colors?
- JD - I wish we had the time to explore that, but I would say yes.
- TWN - Rank Deucalion, The Beast, Mr. Douglas, Alpha Peter, and Scott in terms of power.
- JD - “That’s hard. I’d say the beast is our most powerful werewolf but he doesn’t use the power intelligently. I wouldn’t say Scott is the most powerful Alpha. I would say he probably just knows how to use his strengths.
- The Beast
TWN - It was explained the Nemeton is like a beacon for supernaturals. Did you have this in mind already when he picked the name Beacon Hills?
JD - “I did not. That sort of developed. I picked the name Beacon Hills because the name of the town in the original Michael J. Fox movie was Beacon Town. That sort of didn’t roll off the tongue as nicely as I liked it so I added hills.”
I’m lucky enough to be in regular contact with Jeff. He’s been very accommodating to Teen Wolf News during the past couple of years and we’ll be talking to him again in the coming weeks and months. If we didn’t get to your burning question or something occurs to you that you’d like to ask, let us know in the comments.