Previously on Teen Wolf, Scott and Stiles and Allison suffered some severe hallucinatory ramifications for letting Dr. Deaton drown them in ice baths in the summer finale. Stiles stopped knowing how to read, Scott stopped knowing how to control his transformation, and Allison stopped being able to protect herself with her arsenal of deadly weapons. Basically, they became their own Boggarts in a never-ending dream inception that got even worse when they remembered they’d opened up the Beacon Hills Hellmouth even wider than usual. Scott met a supernaturally beautiful teenage human named Kira and a supernaturally terrifying were-coyote named Malia. And, of course, Derek and Peter found themselves shirtlessly chained up in the Argents’ old torture dungeon.
I’ve never been more disappointed in my life than when the opening of this week’s episode revealed that Derek and Peter’s torturers are that long-rumored group of Latin American beast hunters and not the fully reincarnated form of Kate Argent. I knew it wasn’t actually going to be her, but O’Briendammit, I really wanted it! Alas, the new beast hunters take turns menacing Derek and Peter, who aren’t willing to give up any info about the “she-wolf” these guys are jonesing to track down. One of the thugs threatens to saw Derek in half, and the matriarch of the group goes ahead and chops off one of Peter’s fingers to soothe her stress. Ladies be crazy, am I right, Jeff Davis?
Scott and Stiles are still rootin’ around in that werecoyote’s den and even though they find plenty of Malia’s old trinkets that Scott could use to sniff her out, he’s feeling a little squirrely about transforming into the One True Alpha right now because he doesn’t really want to get stuck that way. So they give Sheriff Stilinski a ring and explain the situation to him: That first ever car crash he worked after he became sheriff, well, see, coyotes didn’t really gnaw up the bones of the victims like he originally thought. The girl inside the car morphed into a werecoyote and caused the accident and now she’s holed up in these woods with her old baby blanket, trapped in her beastly form, feeling guilty as all hell.
Sheriff Stilinski is annoyed but half-believes them. Scott’s dad, FBI Special Agent McTwat, shows up and does not. Because they don’t tell him the truth. Because he is s a twat. Also, he brought along Malia’s dad who, quite rightly, flips the eff out when he sees his dead kid’s stuff inside that coyote hidey-hole.
Beacon Hills High School for Gifted Half-Monsters. Kira isn’t really sure she did an adequate job explaining the concept of Bardo to Scott and his buddies, so she did a couple of hours of research last night and printed out her findings and brought it to Scott for him to pursue at his leisure. Oh, rats! She left it at home! Wait, no she didn’t. Her dad walks up and hands it to her and goes, “Here’s all that research you did for that boy you like.” She is somehow even more gorgeous when she’s mortified? I don’t understand this girl’s deal. Who gets to be born just looking like that? Dylan O’Brien feels her, I guess. Both of their faces are sin. Anyway, Scott is smitten. Probably later in the season he’ll have to murder her beneath a magic mushroom during a harvest moon to save the town or something. But for now he’s smitten.
Mr. Yukimura kicks off class by asking Stiles to come up front and read some stuff aloud and it goes over about as well as you’d expect. He watches the letters from the words jumble themselves up and fall right off the page and of course he almost pukes and passes out because he’s such a Hermione. Scott rushes to the front of the class and scoops Stiles up in his arms and carries him off to the restroom to ease him out of his panic attack. Sadly, he does not do it the way Lydia did with her mouth smashed up against his mouth. They just do some counting exercises. It’s still pretty sweet. Also sweet: Kira spies Stiles’ and Scott’s backpacks after class, so she tries to return them — but is of course attacked by the werecoyote, who’s just roaming around the high school halls now. It’s weird. That coyote is so beautiful I make an “awww!” sound every time it’s on-screen, but then it bares it’s angry fangs and I feel so betrayed.
The werecoyote chases Malia into the locker room where the show misses a real opportunity to have Danny just standing around changing clothes. Scott rushes in and saves her by knocking over some lockers with his bare knuckles. What in the world was the werecoyote doing at school anyway? Oh, just chasing down a terrifying doll that Stiles nicked from its den. Teen Wolf has shown us a lot of creepy-ass business over the years, but nothing as bone-chilling as the face of a withered doll peeping out through a zipper. You know the doll is Malia’s and you know her dad is going to show up any seco—yep, there he is. He starts screaming about, “Why do you have my dead kid’s horrible doll?!” And Sheriff Stilinski starts screaming back about, “Oh my god, you can’t just sit around listening to your scanner all day waiting to hear about coyote attacks!!!”
You know in Beacon Hills they have their own set of scanner codes for that shit. 10-34: Centaur mauling. 10-51: Manticore spotted on church property. 10-19: Wood nymphs infestation. 10-99: Public unicorn intoxication.
Down in the Argents’ deep, dark dungeon, a lady-ninja shows up to rescue Derek and Peter. She is Braeden, the lady-ninja who saved Isaac in the season three premiere and rode away with him on her motorcycle. Guess who hired her? Deucalion, that’s who. How you know is that she goes, “I was sent here by THE DEMON WOOOOLFFF.” Which is how he sends in assassins and also signs his candygrams.
The Get Along Gang bebops on over to Dr. Deaton’s office to see if he’s speaking English words or cryptic nonsense today. Luckily it’s that first thing. He also gives them a couple of horse tranquilizers to shoot at Malia. Scott knows he can get her to transform back into a human if he can tap into the seductive tenor of his Alpha roar, but he’s still not confident in his ability to shift back into a human. “Performance issues” he calls it, which makes Isaac chuckle, which makes Stiles mock him for wearing scarves in 65-degree weather.
Another performance issue is whether or not Allison can lock down her reincarnation PTSD long enough to shoot a werecoyote in the butt with a horse dart.
Isaac: Allison can do it.
Scott: I know she can do it. I was just about to say she can do it.
Isaac: Don’t doubt that she can do it.
Scott: I never doubted she can do it. I was going to say it too. I was going to say she can do it.
Isaac: Maybe I’ll do you.
Scott: Maybe you will.
Isaac: I said it first.
Scott: I didn’t say you didn’t say it first.
Stiles’ face: [Holy lord, will you guys cut it out with the game of gay chicken already?]
To help him get it up, Stiles calls upon Aidan and Ethan. Actually, he calls upon Danny (off-screen, boooo!) to call upon Ethan, and the three of them meet at Derek Hale’s old loft. It doesn’t exactly go the way Scott was expecting on account of Ethan and Aidan, who are no longer Alphas which means they no longer have Wonder Twins powers, pretty much just beat the crap out of him. They’re trying to goad him into transforming. Aidan plays the bad cop, straddling Scott’s waist and wailing on his face. And Ethan plays the good cop, calling off his brother and telling him he likes “helping” just a little too much. (Also Danny probably told Ethan not to straddle Scott’s waist.)
The Get Along Gang frolicks off into the Forbidden Forest, which — surprise! — is now a field of those cartoon animal traps that snap together like teeth around your leg. Malia’s dad put those things out there to catch the animal that eated up his dead wife and daughter. Isaac gets himself caught in a trap almost immediately. Lydia steps on one but has the wisdom/courage to stand still and not make it detonate. So they’re chasing Malia and Malia’s dad is chasing the coyote without knowing it’s Malia and they’ve got a tranquilizer gun and he’s got a bullet-shootin’ gun and traps, traps everywhere!
The other problem is that Allison hallucinates herself onto an operating room table where Aunt Kate is looking fierce in some blue scrubs and inviting the other surgeons to feast on Allison’s organs. They do. It’s gross. I mean, it’s fabulous because it’s Kate Argent. No one has ever made eating a beating heart look so good. But also it’s disgusting.
Allison manages to neutralize Malia’s dad with one of her horse darts while Isaac squirms around in the background with only half a leg now, encouraging her to just breathe and relax. Stiles manages to disarm Lydia’s trap even though he can’t read the instructions because, as she reminds him, he’s the only one on this show who has been making it happen since all the way back in season one because he’s clever and he’s persistent and also she loves his stupid perfect face. She doesn’t say the love part. It is implied in her tone and the way she gets herself all up in his space when he sets her free.
Feeling froggy now that his heroic sensibilities have been activated, Stiles has an epiphany: Malia is taking that doll back to her den because it’s actually a shrine to her mother and her sister (who also was in the car, apparently, when Malia transformed and sent them careening to their deaths). He calls Scott and Scott actually answers his phone for once and off he goes to find Malia before her dad accidentally kills her.
He lands with a thud in front of the shrine and she’s like *coyote growl* and he’s like *SIMBA LION KING ROAAAAR!* It’s so powerful that Isaac gets a wereboner a mile away and Stiles grins, air-punches, shouts, “That’s my boy!”
It works too. It shakes Malia right out of her werecoyote form and right into her naked human teenager form.
Sheriff Stilinski returns Malia to her dad while Stiles watches tearfully from the car, and then Sheriff Stilinski kicks FBI Special Agent McTwat out of his office.
Before leaving the Argent’s torture dungeon, Peter and Derek convince Braeden to help them get their hands on a Hale family heirloom. It’s got the same symbol on it that Derek has tattooed on his back and it’s buried in mountain ash inside a mountain ash wood trunk.
And way the heck out in the Forbidden Forest, the Nematon has sprouted a new little magical seedling. A mystery person unearths it and stomps on it, but as he’s walking away, dozens of those fireflies like the ones that killed that nice lesbian couple in their tent break free and some shadow-figures emerge.
For me, this was the most satisfying episode of Teen Wolf in a long time. The major way this show has suffered is that it can never seem to find a way to adequately pay-off its dastardly foreplay. It can build a mystery better than Sarah McLachlan, but it can’t figure out how to structure 12 full episodes to answer all the questions it asks. So you get two season-ending episodes that are just a lot of monologuing from bad guys about mythology, some less-than-stellar (but better than whatever Once Upon a Time horribleness) CGI, and — gods willing — Grandpa Argent shaking his fist at the sky, just a-hollerin’.
A season-long arc that also features monsters of the week (a la Buffy’s early days) is a formula that would really benefit this show, in large part because it seems like most people watch this thing for the characters. It’s always pushed to be a plot-driven show, but the audience has always pushed back for it to be character-driven. And with a cast that has chemistry as charged as these guys, that’s absolutely the way these stories should be steered.
Next week: Peter can’t stop thinking about being chained up in that basement and how much more ripped-up Derek was than him, so he does one hundred thousand shirtless push-ups in the sassiest way imaginable. Scott decides to watch Annie after his dad leaves town, which gives him the idea to buy a locket and split it in half with Stiles. Kira catches Stiles staring at a car door mirror and gives him a knowing nod — she sometimes gets stunned by her own reflection, too — even though he’s still just marveling over the fact that he can read again. And Allison uses her last horse tranquilizer to paralyze Kate Argent’s ghost so she can get some sleep.