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.

No comments:

Post a Comment