This week on Teen Wolf
, Kate Argent is back murdering people, baby Derek knows Spanish but not much else, and it turns out the Hales are multimillionaires, because that really gibes with their established lifestyle of living in burned-out husks and wearing the same v-neck every day.
This episode really zipped around, but I'm not entirely sure it accomplished very much. After the premiere, we were stuck with a young Derek Hale and no idea what was going on besides some vague mumbo-jumbo about ancient Aztecs. If you thought the follow-up to all this nonsensical mysticism would even be explained, you were certainly in for a disappointment. Instead, the show tossed off a quick line about wolfsbane and Aztec tombs and then it's off to the races with baby Derek. How exactly did Kate pull off this Benjamin Button
-ing? Who knows!
Last week, I was enjoying the fact that the show seemed to be leaving behind overly complicated mythology in favor of a lighter storytelling apparatus which would let the show breathe and give space for the character moments. This doesn't mean, however, that you can simply de-age a character, shrug your shoulders and be like, "Aztecs, am I right?" There is a balance between too much explanation and no explanation, and Teen Wolf has definitely not found the sweet spot yet.
Otherwise, the episode was a bit perfunctory. There were some nice character moments, but overall the show didn't have half the fun with a suddenly immature Derek that it could have. A few great scenes, including another appearance by "Miguel," are pretty much all we got in the way of introducing a younger Derek back to Beacon Hills.
The rest of the episode flashed by with characters running from one location to another, and from one emergency to another. The fourth season wants to be more fun, but it also wants to shove in action and scary monsters and mythology, and it can leave the show feeling overstuffed.
You'd think an episode about a young Derek Hale would have given more time and energy to exploring the head-space of a young Derek Hale, but you'd be off. While actor Ian Nelson did the best with what he had to work with, what he had to work with was mostly confusion, irritated confusion and sad confusion.
It was definitely a missed opportunity to have some fun with the premise and to really allow it to work as a character-building moment for Derek. We always knew Tyler Hoechlin and his amazingly defined abs would be back; I just wish the journey to that destination had been a little more interesting.
Baby Derek on the Loose
Upon taking Derek back from Mexico in record time, they immediately go straight to Deaton for help. He says he hasn't seen anything like this before, but that only means he can try out some of his weirdest and most experimental "cures."
"We're going to freeze Derek to death in an ice bath, then set him on fire, then cut open his arm, then stab him with a needle, then make him listen to Miley Cyrus on loop. Eventually, one of those things will work, somehow," Deaton explains. "I know this because of science."
Why do they keep going to Deaton when he's basically never had a good idea? He is the Derek Hale of good ideas, and yet he's always Scott's first call. Remember those ice baths, Scott? How did opening up a portal to the inner dark recesses of your soul for no actual reason work out? I'm sorry, I'm never getting over the giant gaping plot hole that was the ice baths.
Derek eventually escapes Deaton's lab of horrors and heads straight to the Hale Kentucky Fried Mansion, which has finally been demolished. While Scott explains that it'll be hard to lie to Derek because of the heartbeat reading, a couple of officers show up.
Aren't there better things to do in Beacon Hills than bust grief-stricken teenagers crying amid stacks of rubble? A few months ago, a couple of ninjas killed everyone on the force. Just this episode, Kate Argent disembowels a gas station attendant. Yet it's taser time when some poor teenager wanders into an abandoned lot. No wonder Beacon Hills has such an alarming death rate.
At the police station, Sheriff Stilinski does a double-take while looking at the prints and then looking at baby Derek. "Have you been time traveling? If time traveling is real, I'm done," he says, in one of the most hilarious moments of the episode. They explain the bullet points of the situation with Derek, and the sheriff mostly just seems angry they weren't actually camping.
Scott lies to Derek about the status of his family, since Derek's giant Precious Moments eyes make it hard to break the news that his entire family was burned alive, except his Uncle Peter, who is the actual worst. That's not news I'd want to deliver, either. Tiny Derek is like a delicate baby bird, and Scott just wants to take him under his wing and protect him from the world.
Unfortunately, this only works for so long. While Scott goes off with Malia to talk to Peter, Stiles is left at home with Derek. Apparently, Agent McCall has decided to stick around for a while, and he's been sleeping on the downstairs couch. This is good news for the epic romance novel I'm planning to write about Sheriff Stilinski and Mama McCall called Nursing a Dangerous Love.
Stiles falls back on an old standard, introducing Derek as his "Cousin Miguel" from Mexico. Unfortunately, he didn't realize Agent McCall spoke Spanish, but thankfully Derek does too and is crazy excited about eggrolls. However, when he asks about the Hale family fire, he presumably learns the crushing truth. You'd think a big moment like this for Derek wouldn't be shuffled off screen, but you'd be as wrong about that as Derek is psyched about eggrolls.
What Does Kate Want?
Meanwhile, Kate is freaking out and then noshing on randoms in gas station bathrooms. I'm not sure why you'd open the door when you heard a woman freaking out and satanic growling on the other side, but this is probably the same logic which would ensure I stayed alive at least one season in Beacon Hills.
In the car, Lydia and Kira have a heart-to-heart about that pesky electrocution from the last episode. Lydia convinces Kira that Scott is into her, even if she did send dozens of volts shooting through his body. "Scott is just like that. His last girlfriend shot all his close personal friends full of arrows and he eventually got over that too."
Feeling better about her romantic prospects, Kira has enough time to wonder why they stopped for gas when the car has a full tank. It turns out it was Lydia's Banshee powers at work again, leading her to the seriously torn-up body of the gas station attendant. Instead of screaming or puking or calling the police, Kira and Lydia walk around in entrails and take photographs and have a small informal tea party. It's amazing how nonplussed these people are with someone's brains clearly visible.
Over in Derek's Loft of Sadness and Eyebrow-Related Emoting, Peter Hale is sitting around in his v-neck reading How to Scream Dramatically for Dummies and really taking some serious notes. Malia notices Scott's heart is beating fast and Peter immediately gets all up in her grill about her lovely eyes, while Scott sits in the corner yelling about how they're not related in any way.
If this isn't all leading up to a scene where Peter dramatically screams, "Malia, I am your father!" while breathing heavily, I don't know what to expect from Teen Wolf anymore.
Peter is less-than-happy when he realizes Kate is alive, and immediately realizes she de-aged Derek so he would trust her again. Peter also rightly believes Kate is after the triskelion from the Hale family vault.
Meanwhile, Kate swans into Scott's bedroom window to steal a young Derek like some kind of pedophillic Grimm's Fairy Tale character. Once outside, Kate kisses Derek to convince him to enter the vault conveniently located beneath the school. "Excuse me, Kate, it's me, Chris Hansen. Please put the wine coolers and candy down and step away from the underage boy."
Why would the Hales keep their valuables in a vault underneath the local high school? Although I must admit to being a little sad the vault wasn't only accessible through the showers in the boy's locker room. "Now, to get in, you have to take an erotically charged shower, preferably at night, and the vault just opens right up."
What are Berserkers?
At the school, Peter immediately pegs the weird things following them as Beserkers and then leaves Scott and Malia to die. Malia is eventually going to need the very best therapist Beacon Hills has to offer.
The Beserkers look like what would happen if Bane from The Dark Knight Rises and Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas had one night of passion. "This is Halloween! This is Halloween!"
Underground, Peter tells Kate the triskelion is a cheap trinket Derek's mom used to trick the kids into learning to control their powers. But Peter taught Derek to control his powers the Hulk way, by using pure rage. "Let's get angry!" Peter yells dramatically. Before Peter and Kate have a competition to see who can chew more scenery, a can shoots gas into the vault and someone uses the opportunity to steal a bag.
Upstairs, everyone fights the Beserkers without much luck. In an unintentionally hilarious moment, Kira is doing well in her fight against the Beserkers until she takes a moment for a slow-motion superhero pose.
It all looks pretty hopeless until Derek enters the fray. Derek wins his first-ever fight, finally switching back into full-grown, ruggedly handsome Derek. But why does he now have golden eyes?
Back underground, Peter has skipped ahead to Chapter 8 in the stereotypical villain's handbook, which is the chapter about how to babble exposition to yourself within earshot of our heroes. It turns out the whole thing was a smokescreen (pun very much intended) for a larger heist. And what were they stealing exactly? It was the $117 million kept in the Hale family vault.
That's right, the Hales are multimillionaires. Remember when Derek lived in the burned-out remnants of his family's Kentucky Fried Palace, then moved on to an abandoned train car? All the while, there were several million dollars sitting below the high school.
You're telling me he couldn't afford rent on a one-bedroom apartment? He really had to breathe in the pulverized ash of everyone he once loved instead of getting a condo? Peter knows they're multimillionaires and yet he only seems to own one v-neck t-shirt? This is nonsense. Although this does explain how Derek manages to keep refurnishing his loft apartment while not having a job of any kind.
Elsewhere Around Beacon Hills...
-- For the second straight week in a row, The Shirtlessness Count stands at zero. We got one locker room scene, but everyone was fully clothed. What is happening to you, Teen Wolf? Pretty soon, we're going to have to stage a shirtless intervention.
-- Stiles notices a past due bill from Eichen House on his father's desk. Is the Stilinski family having money issues?
-- Speaking of issues, Malia is having a hard time fitting in at school, while Stiles is having a hard time defining their relationship. I'm not even going to touch how insane on every level this entire Malia plotline is, but I'm glad they're at least addressing the fact that Malia spent her entire childhood as a coyote and would therefore not know Honest Abe.
What did you think of the episode? Warming up to Malia? Glad full-grown Derek is back? And what's going on with Derek's eyes? Sound off in the comments!
Teen Wolf airs Mondays at 10pm on MTV.(Image courtesy of MTV)