Tuesday, August 18, 2015

One Big Thing and Many Little Things About Teen Wolf 5x09, "Lies of Omission"

The thing about Teen Wolf is that it’s not always a bad show. From time to time, it’s actually a very good show. But the bad elements—and the simply lazy elements—outweigh those times by enough that sometimes, it can be hard to know how much credit to give the writers when something does, miraculously, work.

I give you tonight’s final Scott and Stiles scene. If Stiles had simply given Scott the full story of what happened with Donovan—“He attacked me, he threatened to kill my father and hideously maim me, he chased me up some scaffolding, I pulled out the support structure and he was impaled on a bar”—then there’s no rational way that Scott could blame him for those events. Even if Scott didn’t fully believe Stiles, the disparity between Stiles’ story and Evil Mike Montgomery’s would at least have indicated that something weird was going on.

So why didn’t Stiles tell Scott that entirely true and exonerating story? Well, primarily, because the plot demanded it. The writers’ plan for the finale requires that Scott and Stiles be on the outs, so Stiles can’t tell Scott the full story, or else Scott and Stiles being on the outs would make Scott look like literally the worst person in the world. There are some halfway decent attempts to explain away the miscommunication in-universe—Stiles doesn’t know the story Evil Mike Montgomery told Scott, and therefore isn’t aware that Scott has a pretty terrible picture in his head that needs to be corrected before any rational conversation can be had. Still, most people in Stiles’ situation would probably give Scott some exonerating detail: “He was trying to kill me.” “I was running for my life.” “It wasn’t really premeditated.” Or there’s the moment when Scott mentions “the way it happened,” and Stiles fails to press for details about what, exactly, Scott thinks happened; he seems to assume that Scott knows the true story of how Donovan died, and is taking issue with that. Now, it’s true that Evil Mike Montgomery knows the true story of Donovan’s death, and Stiles must know that he was the one who tipped off Scott, but Scott’s statement there is an oddity, one that even Stiles seems to sense rings false—“What are you even talking about,” he responds. But he doesn’t press for details, or even offer them. He jumps immediately to a vague protest: “I didn’t have a choice.” Simply put, Stiles is not talking the way one would normally expect a human being to talk. Scott and Stiles’ conversation flows the way it does, first and foremost, because that’s the way Teen Wolf needs it to flow.

But. Teen Wolf has an out. It’s kind of a magnificent out, actually, but it only works if Stiles doesn’t believe a word he’s saying. If Stiles really, truly believes in his own guilt, then what he’s saying to Scott is simply rationalization. It’s the things he’s been saying to himself in order to live with himself. And if so, no wonder it all sounds like a lie; that’s what Stiles believes, in his heart of hearts, that it is. And no wonder he didn’t provide details of the story to back up his innocence; Stiles lived his story, and he doesn’t believe he’s innocent. Scott’s reaction doesn’t ring false, because it’s confirming everything Stiles already believes. Stiles would have to have an incredible lack of belief in his own character, an incredible pre-existing lack of self-esteem, an incredible tendency to assign himself blame, in order for his and Scott’s conversation to be in-character. It wouldn’t do for him to simply have a little bit of any of those things; he would have to have an all-encompassing, soul-eating, character-defining belief in his own badness. But if he has that—if Stiles felt all of those things about himself, that deeply, before he ever laid a hand on Donovan—then it works. That reading of the text makes a plot-derived falling out between Scott and Stiles at least make sense on a character level. The question, of course, is whether that reading is justified. And here’s where we run into Teen Wolf’s reliability problem.

There are three levels on which we can justify the “consumed by guilt” reading of Stiles’ character. First, does it fit with what happened within the scene itself? Second, does it fit with the groundwork that Teen Wolf has laid earlier in this story arc? Third, does it fit with Stiles’ established characterization prior to this story arc?

The answer to the first question is obviously “yes.” Yes, the scene makes sense—it only makes sense—if Stiles is acting from a place of deep-rooted distrust in himself. That’s why he gets defensive in the worst possible way: “Some of us have to get our hands a little bloody sometimes.” That’s why he begs Scott to believe him. That’s why he begs for a way to fix it.

The answer to the second question requires more digging, but it’s not hard to find a lot of evidence in favor of the idea that Stiles’ story arc this season was designed to imply that he has some serious guilt issues. The most obvious pointer in that direction is the fact that Stiles hid Donovan's death. He says it in tonight’s episode, when Scott asks him why he didn’t come clean from the start: “I couldn’t.” It’s not necessarily the case that only people with guilty consciences hide evidence, but in this case—hiding evidence from a bunch of people who love you, believe in you, and know full well that Donovan was violent and that chimeras are a thing—well, that’s something you do if you believe from the outset that you’re guilty. There’s also, of course, Stiles’ conversation with Evil Mike Montgomery in “Strange Frequencies,” where he more-or-less argues that Donovan’s death was not justified. His argument is absurd on the surface—as I mentioned in my review of that episode, it hinges on the idea that Kate freaking Argent felt remorse over the people she killed—but that very absurdity strengthens the idea that Stiles cannot think rationally about his own culpability. Finally, there’s Stiles’ flashback/hallucination thing from “Required Reading.” The revelation that Stiles’ dying mother believed that Stiles was trying to kill her does not prove that Stiles is prone to irrational guilt. But it certainly provides an explanation for why he might be. And its inclusion in this season, and at the point in this season that it came—the episode after Donovan’s death—could indicate that, yes, we’re meant to consider Stiles’ relationship with his mother when we think about what motivates his response to killing someone.

But even if Stiles’ absurd guilt makes sense within the scene and within the season, if it contradicts his character over the course of the series, it’s still bad writing. Rather shockingly, though, it doesn’t contradict any of Stiles’ previously established characterization. It reinforces it. Think back to Stiles’ hallucination in season two’s “Party Guessed”; he imagines his father, drunkenly accusing him of killing his mother. Think of his instant connection with the guilt-ridden Malia in season 3B’s “Echo House.” (And the way he responded to Malia’s request for information: “If I told you, you might not like me.” And the explicit connection, in that same episode, of Stiles’ anxiety with a guilt reaction. Man, that episode's a gold mine for this theory.) Think of the way he frames his role in the Nogitsune’s actions, post-possession: “But I remember all of it,” in “Insatiable,” and “I remember liking it,” in “The Benefactor.” These are the actions and reactions of a person with a pathological tendency to assign himself as much blame as humanly possible. Stiles has consistently, across the board, tended to revise history such that he bears a great deal of responsibility for events that he had little or no say in. All of this retroactively makes more sense, when viewed through the lens of what season five has told us about Stiles’ mother.

So that’s great! That’s wonderful! The reading of Stiles’ character that makes his scene with Scott in “Lies of Omission” not be a confused tangle of robot reactions is a reading that is totally supported by the text, at every level. The problem is, I don’t trust the text.

Consider: This is the same show that expects us to believe—with approximately zero evidence—that Scott is such an incredibly good person that he gets to have previously unmentioned magical True Alfalfa powers. This is the show that gave us the Peter’s Totally Sane and Not at All Confusing or Overcomplicated Revenge Plan in season four. This is the show that has had four seasons to develop Lydia’s banshee powers and still can’t explain how they work. This is the show that’s so erratic about which relationships it emphasizes and how it portrays them that I honestly cannot figure out whether we’re in the middle of a love triangle. Do I really believe that this show is competent enough to time the flashback with Stiles’ mother in order to signal an unspoken truth about his character that will make sense of his actions over the course of this season? Do I really believe that Stiles’ dialogue at the end of “Lies of Omission” was crafted both to further the plot and to comply with characterization that was both intentionally reinforced in this season, and knowingly rooted in previous seasons?

In short, the question is this: Who makes sense of Teen Wolf, the writers or me? The death of the author theory says that it doesn’t matter; the text is the text, and the writers’ intentions have no inherent value. But I’ve never really bought that, and I especially don’t buy it with television, which is a medium built on trust. When you read a book or watch a movie, you invest a few hours; when you follow a television show, you invest days, weeks, years of your life into a story, without knowing whether it’s going to add up to something good, or interesting, or valuable. And while books and movies are generally stories, complete unto themselves, serialized TV shows are long stories comprised of many smaller stories, each one with a plot and an arc all its own. Viewers have to evaluate each episode of a series as it comes, and trust that the writers are going somewhere with it. So it matters whether it’s the writers’ intentions or dumb luck that’s responsible for the consistency of Stiles’ characterization. Luck runs out a lot faster than skill does. The writers’ luck could change before next week’s midseason finale; their skill probably won’t.

The philosopher in me takes an inductive approach to all this, which is to say, Stiles’ characterization has been so consistent, in so many contexts, over such a long period, that I think it’s extremely unlikely that it’s all luck. The most likely explanation is that someone involved in Teen Wolf—maybe it’s Jeff Davis, maybe it’s Dylan O’Brien, maybe it’s both of them and someone else besides—has a pretty strong handle on Stiles, and writes toward that conception of the character. I don’t know whether the story behind Stiles’ mother’s death, for instance, was something that Davis had in mind back in season two, or whether it’s something that was created on the fly this season because it furthered Stiles’ current story arc and made sense with what came before. (I guess I lean toward the latter, but that’s something I don’t think matters.) Either way, I have a great deal of respect for the person or people responsible for Stiles, for creating a character I understand bone-deep.

But I still have doubts, where I wouldn’t on a more consistent show. And when it comes to characters other than Stiles, those doubts get even larger. Is Lydia’s relationship with her mother important? Do the writers realize the tone and boundaries that they’ve established for it? Why is Malia keeping information about the Desert Wolf from Scott and Stiles? Is it guilt-related? Fear-related? Have the writers given any thought to the reasoning at all? Where does Scott’s sense of responsibility for the fracturing of the pack come from? There are elements of all of these stories that are good—great, even. But does Teen Wolf understand what those elements are?

"Lies of Omission" was a frustrating episode at times, but the good in it outweighed the bad. I wish I could count that as evidence that next week's episode will do the same.

Odds and Ends:

Oh my God, I just rewatched the season 5 supertease looking for a good screencap for this review, and they used a competely different take in the teaser than they did in the episode itself. Stiles' "Not all of us are true alphas. Some of us have to make mistakes ... Some of us are human" is way angrier in the version of the scene that made it to air. In the teaser, it comes off kind of sad but reasonable; in the episode, it comes off incredibly defensive and angry. I don't know what to make of the difference, though.

Two-thousand-word explorations of authorial intent are all well and good, but I should probably make it clear that I was thinking about none of that during the episode itself. I spent most of “Lies of Omission” flailing and yelling at the screen in a joy/mostly misery. It was visceral, man.

There’s another odd aspect of Stiles and Scott’s conversation, which is that Stiles never, not once, says that he feared for his life. He never says that Donovan was trying to kill him (or anyway, torture him). What he does say, multiple times, is that Donovan was going to kill his father. This is a particularly damning thing to say; it makes it sound like Stiles chose, with a clear head and time to spare, to kill Donovan, because he wanted to protect the Sheriff. For this aspect of the conversation to make sense, we have to believe that either Stiles’ father was foremost in his mind while he was running for his life, or that in the aftermath, it was the danger to the Sheriff that Stiles used to rationalize Donovan’s death, rather than the much more immediate danger to himself. Luckily, Teen Wolf has an unimpeachable track record with Stiles’ protective instincts, in this season and every other. At this point, there is such overwhelming textual evidence backing that up that I’d be far more skeptical of a conversation that didn’t rely on Stiles prioritizing his father’s wellbeing over his own. As long as we buy that Stiles is acting from a place of rationalization and crushing guilt, this rings true to me.

I was informed by a friend that the first letter of Stiles’ real first name appeared on his ID card in “Ouroboros,” and that that letter was “M.” I don’t know whether to trust this information or not, because we’ve seen pieces of Stiles’ name before that are almost certainly not canon. But I was at the Teen Wolf Paley panel this year, and Jeff Davis did say that the writers’ room knows the first letter of Stiles’ name. If it’s real, I’m pulling for Mścisław; it’s Polish, it’s unpronounceable to the American eye, and it means “vengeance and glory,” which is a great name meaning for Stiles. (I know from my years as a Criminal Minds fan that Jeff Davis loves meaningful names.) I guess Mieczysław (“sword and glory”) would work okay too.

This is by far the grossest episode of Teen Wolf ever. I mean, that fingernail scene was on par with Supernatural, for sheer grossness.

Every other shot in this episode was of someone’s eyes in a car mirror. Scott in the side mirror. Theo in the rear view mirror. It’s been a thing all season, but it was seriously all over the place tonight.

Okay, I get that Evil Mike Montgomery is evil and he wants Scott’s pack, and he’s trying to divide Scott and Stiles, and Scott and Malia, and Scott and Kira, in order to get that. And presumably he wants Sixth Grade Girl to be a wolf so that he’ll have more than one werewolf in his pack. But why the fuck did he tell the Sheriff that he was the one who killed Donovan? What can that possibly gain him? I feel like Teen Wolf did it just to fuck with me personally, because I was so hoping for that scene exactly, but with Stiles in Evil Mike Montgomery’s place.

Another prime example of why Teen Wolf is hard for me to get a handle on: Just as I’d given up the Mayor Lockwood stuff earlier in the season as something that only looked like it was headed for a meaningful plotline, her scene with Malia in this episode more-or-less confirmed that, no, something is amiss in House Martin.

Hasn’t Scott been expressly forbidden from turning more wolves, lest Alba Villanueva come and destroy him?

Lydia’s line to Stiles, “It’s always better when you know,” is a nice nod to her character’s history of being in the dark for way too long about supernatural shit. Assuming that it was an intentional nod, of course.

Goodbye, Gay Chimera's Gay Chimera Boyfriend. I think I'll miss your nickname most of all.

Wait, so does the Nemeton operate on like, another plane of existence? Is it like Brigadoon? Because that was not clear when they were explaining this stuff back in season 3A.

Okay, so this is a kind of wonderful coincidence. When I was writing about Stiles’ implied bottomless pit of self-doubt, foremost in my mind was a scene from the season four Boy Meets World episode “Cult Fiction,” where bad-boy best friend Shawn Hunter explains to his mentor/adoptive father why he felt compelled to join a cult: “All my life, I’ve felt like there’s some part of me missing. And I felt like everybody could tell. Y’know, like there was some hole in me and everyone could see through it.” Shawn’s not talking about guilt, he’s talking about emptiness, but the way he phrased it has always stuck with me, and that sense of there being something fundamentally wrong with oneself, and feeling like everyone can see it, struck me as being particularly applicable to Stiles’ hypothetical guilt issues; the level of Stiles’ ingrained self-doubt would have to match the level of Shawn’s ingrained emptiness, in order for the end of “Lies of Omission” to make sense on a character level. I almost used that quote in the review. Anyway, then I was looking up the original 1985 Teen Wolf for insight into Stiles’ name, and I discovered that the actor who played the original Stiles, Jerry Levine, also played the cult leader in “Cult Fiction”! Truly, it’s a small world after all.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Five Things About Teen Wolf 5x08, "Ouroboros"

  1. I guess I can’t really blame Teen Wolf for this, but man, the hashtag writers are falling down on the job this season. Suggested hashtags are always awful, of course (only Jane the Virgin makes them work, and that’s by leaning into their awfulness), but come on. #PeaceOutKira? #SlappedByMelissa? #Layden? You really think the Liam/Sixth Grade Girl Shippers couldn’t (and wouldn’t) come up with that one on their own?

  2. Given its placement in the season and its tenor and pacing, it seems that “Ouroboros” was intended to be an Answers Episode. It certainly has the feel of an episode that’s meant to clarify the stakes as we build to the midseason finale. Think, for example, of season two’s “Fury”: two episodes before the finale, we get a full explanation of the events that led to the creation of the kanima, and then a major twist both clarifies Gerard’s plan and creates a new, scarier obstacle for the final two episodes. “Ouroboros” falls in the same place as “Fury,” and it follows a lot of the same structural beats as “Fury.” Unfortunately, it didn’t work nearly as well as “Fury” does. (Things I never thought I’d say about season two, man.) Going into this episode, I felt like I had a reasonable handle on the gist of what was going on this season, even if the details confused me; coming out of it, even the gist was gone. “Ouroboros” seemed to exclusively answer questions I hadn’t even considered asking. We discovered that the Dread Doctors are responsible for Kira’s out-of-control kitsune. It had not, up to now, been clear that that Kira’s out-of-control kitsune was something that needed an explanation. Noshiko treated it as dangerous and concerning, but not exactly mysterious; I was perfectly content with “It’s just a thing that happens sometimes” as reasoning. (Lord knows we’ve never gotten better answers than that about banshees.) Meanwhile, “Ouroboros” spent a lot of time laying out details of the chimeras’ time with the Dread Doctors, but it manages to do so in a way that muddles the situation even further. What did the Dread Doctors do to Sixth Grade Girl? I dunno. What did they do to the Gay Chimera’s Gay Chimera Boyfriend? Beats me. How many times is each chimera abducted by the Dread Doctors? Who knows? It’s like Teen Wolf has lost all ability to exposit. It’s not even clear what the conflict of the midseason finale will be, other than “something to do with chimeras.”

  3. The Sheriff’s moral qualms over “leaving his badge at the door,” so to speak, are not an inherently bad plotline. It’s actually a pretty interesting subplot, in theory, and one that ties well into season five’s clearest themes. It makes sense for a man in the Sheriff’s position to have moral misgivings, and there certainly aren’t any other characters on this show who give a damn about the law. The Sheriff’s actions at the beginning episode provide a dramatic counterpoint to Stiles’ in “A Novel Approach,” and the moments in “Ouroboros” that hinged on that comparison were pretty good, all things considered. Stiles has already had tense conversations about and around Donovan’s death with, in order, Scott, Lydia, Malia, and Evil Mike Montgomery, so it’s not clear that the Sheriff needed to get in on the action too, but there’s at least the possibility of plot development this time around (the Sheriff is following the evidence! He won’t bend any more rules!) and I’m never going to complain about seeing more of Stiles with his father. There are, however, a couple major issues with the Sheriff’s new moral code. First, it hasn’t been built up to particularly well. Sure, he had a bit of a freak-out over covering up Tracy’s death in “Condition Terminal,” but the subject has hardly come up since then, and he certainly didn’t mind bending a few rules during his and Melissa’s investigation in “Strange Frequencies.” Season five has been pretty overstuffed, but you can’t tell me that we couldn’t have sacrificed a few of the gay club scenes in favor of building up the Sheriff’s moral concerns. Second, the way the Sheriff acted on his new philosophy was really, really nonsensical and weird. We strongly suspect that Kira killed a chimera, but we think that she acted in self-defense and we know that she’s not in control of her actions, so we’re going to arrest her? But we’re not going to handcuff her because she’s only a self-defending murderer? That doesn’t even make sense on a legal level. On a moral level, it’s even weirder: The Sheriff defends his decision to report the chimera’s body and bring in Kira by saying that the dead woman’s family deserves to know what happened to her. But he provides no explanation to the woman’s family as to why Kira would have to kill her in self-defense, and he prevents Melissa from telling them the truth, so what’s the net result of all this? A basically innocent girl goes to jail, and a family is left with no answers as to why their daughter went crazy and tried to kill someone? That seems super worth it.

  4. Where the hell did all of this “everything is my fault” stuff come from with Scott? He seemed pretty convinced of it, and I have zero idea of why. In so far as I’ve actually been able to follow what’s going on, Scott is pretty clearly not at fault for any of it. Is it an overdeveloped sense of responsibility? If so, that’s fine, I guess, but it seems pretty out of line with where Scott’s emotional arc has been leading this season. If he were blaming himself for the loss of a chimera, that would be one thing; Scott has made it pretty clear that he views it as his responsibility to protect them. But he seems to be blaming himself for things like “not knowing where Liam is” and “the pack being vaguely upset with each other,” and it’s hard to understand how he came to that conclusion, on either a logical or an emotional level.

  5. Weirdly enough, the best moment of this episode was probably the scene where Scott takes the memories from the Gay Chimera's Gay Chimera Boyfriend. Not only was it the only scene where everyone's motivations and logic were completely understandable, but it was the first time in ages that Teen Wolf has actually used Scott's alpha powers. For all the fuss that this show makes over Scott's True Alfalfa-ness, he very rarely acts like an alpha. Perhaps the best thing about season four was the way that it used Liam to turn that flaw into a real story arc, but season five hasn't done much with it. Since Teen Wolf insists on believing that Scott is its True Alfalfa protagonist, it's good for him to occasionally use his True Alfalfa powers in order to protag.

  6. Odds and Ends:

    Please please please let the Desert Wolf be this season’s Big Bad. That way, every single thing that’s ever gone wrong in Beacon Hills would somehow be the fault of either Allison’s or Malia’s family. (Season three excluded.)

    So I guess we really are giving up completely on the little arc we had going with Mayor Lockwood earlier in the season? What a disappointment. Teen Wolf clearly has no idea how to do fanservice.

    On the other hand, Teen Wolf has now had both a de-aging plotline and a character with wings, so it’s possible that this show is more tapped into fan aesthetics than anyone else in the world.

    Today in random continuity: Stiles used to skateboard? I guess he did have that huge wall decal for a while.

    How do these people not have surveillance cameras recording the Nemeton 24/7?

    One more thing on the Sheriff’s “no rule bending” philosophy, since I apparently can’t get over it and also it was possibly the stupidest thing about the whole subplot: What, exactly, is the difference between “outside the law” and “above the law”?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Five Things About Teen Wolf 5x07, "Strange Frequencies"

  1. This was another episode with a throughline. Maybe that’s damning Teen Wolf with faint praise, but I like to give credit where I can. And there’s no denying that “Strange Frequencies” had identifiable subplots: the pack protects Sixth Grade Girl in the school; Mama McCall and the Sheriff play detective; Stiles and Evil Mike Montgomery share the world’s most manipulative stake-out; Kira goes dark side; and Mason discovers that Gay Chimera’s boyfriend is also a chimera. That’s a lot of plotting to juggle, but Teen Wolf mostly handles it. Nothing gets picked up or dropped without explanation, and at no point do we take a 15-minute detour into another plot.

  2. On the other hand, there’s a level on which “Strange Frequencies” makes no goddamn sense, because Teen Wolf keeps throwing the same mysteries at us, without ever answering any of them. We’re seven episodes into the season, and we still don’t know what’s up with the hallucinations—are they caused by the Dread Doctors or Valack’s book? We don’t have a solid understanding of what’s causing Kira’s kitsune problem, or what her out-of-control kitsune side wants. We don’t know what Evil Mike Montgomery wants, unless it’s Scott’s True Alfalfa powers. We don’t know how Evil Mike Montgomery is connected to the Dread Doctors. We don’t know who the Desert Wolf is, or what she wants. We don’t know what Parrish’s deal is. While the plot has progressed fairly steadily from the beginning of the season—each episode has ramped up the tension on Stiles, Malia, Kira, or the main Dread Doctors plot—we still have the same basic knowledge about many of the mysteries that we had in episode three or four. And in some cases, that’s fine (if frustrating) but in others, it seriously messes up the audience’s ability to understand the show. How are viewers supposed to react to hallucinations when they don’t know what’s causing them, or what meaning they might have? Worse, this being Teen Wolf, it’s possible that some of these questions will never have satisfying answers.

  3. Surprisingly, given how close-lipped Teen Wolf has been about this season’s mysteries, they’ve been clear from very early on that Evil Mike Montgomery is evil. This episode doubled down on that, taking the last remaining sympathetic element of Evil Mike Montgomery’s story—the tragic death of his sister—and revealing that, yup, he was evil back then too. I’m all for subtle villains, but in this case, it’s probably for the best that Evil Mike Montgomery is obviously and consistently evil. It gives the audience something clear to latch onto, amidst the confusion of the other storylines. For instance, the flashback makes it obvious that during the conversation in the Jeep, Evil Mike Montgomery is manipulating Stiles. He’s manipulating him rather expertly, in fact; the dead little sister story is a great strategy for cutting through some of Stiles’ suspicions, and all of that discussion of protection and punishment is extremely well tailored to tap into Stiles’ least rational thought processes. It’s pumping up Stiles’ paranoia about Scott’s reaction (“What’s the punishment for killing a chimera?”), while priming him to react really defensively to any hint of that reaction (“You protect Scott.”). Evil Mike Montgomery may be right about Stiles’ culpability in Donovan’s death (scratch that, he is 100 percent right, and Teen Wolf had better acknowledge it), but there’s an unquestionably dark motive behind his argument—he’s accentuating Stiles and Scott’s existing ideological differences, presumably in hopes of capitalizing on the rift they create.

  4. Kira’s kitsune plotline may be confusing, but it’s nice, in a way, that it’s there. Teen Wolf takes a lot of flack for being sexist. Now, Teen Wolf is not the Perfect Feminist Show, but it does seem to care about its female characters as people. This season, in particular, has obviously seen a concerted effort to give all the show’s female characters non-romantic plotlines. (In addition to their romantic plotlines, of course, because it's Teen Wolf--everyone has a romantic plotline.) Lydia has her weird banshee thing. Malia has the Desert Wolf. And Kira has her kitsune powers. These plots vary wildly in their execution, but it does seem like Teen Wolf genuinely cares that its female characters have something to do. (That said, there was not nearly enough Lydia and Malia in this episode, and all Lydia’s weird banshee hallucinations had better be going somewhere. It doesn’t have to be a good somewhere, or a sensible somewhere—just somewhere.)

  5. Random Bits

    Congratulations to Melissa McCall and Sheriff [Name Redacted] Stilinski, for figuring out the link between the chimeras only one episode after I did! These two are excellent. All parents on this show are excellent. When do we get Mayor Lockwood back?

    You know what did not need to be further complicated? The murder eyes. They were a weird piece of mythology to start with, and arguing that they don’t show up unless you feel guilty does not make them less weird. (You really think Kate and Peter feel guilty about their kills? Really?) Maybe that’s just Stiles’ massive guilt complex talking, though.

    So is Stiles’ face getting sprayed with blood like an annual event, now?

    Sixth Grade Girl is actually much better than Liam (that punch!). Maybe I should grant her a real name, and start calling Liam Sixth Grade Boy.

    RIP Stiles’ Jeep, 2011 – whatever year it is now. You may have burned, but what you represented will live on until the end of the season, probably.