This week on Teen Wolf,
the stakes are raised impossibly high in a quest to save the parents. Scott, Stiles and Allison take a trip to the luxurious ice bath of death spa in order to take their parents' place as sacrifices.
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"Don't worry, freezing to death isn't even the worst thing I've been through this season," Isaac assures his new lady love Allison, then shoves her head underwater. Love means never having to say, "Sorry about that time I held you down in ice water until you heart stopped."
Meanwhile, Derek, having not had a terrible idea in at least two hours, decides to outsource his terrible ideas. "What if you gave away your alpha powers to save Cora," Peter says, smirking and practically doing a touchdown dance. "I'm telling you this as a loving family member genuinely concerned about another person's well being. Since you know me, you know this is completely in character."
Derek nods thoughtfully to himself. "This sounds like the kind of idea I can get behind," he thinks, because it's an idea that is both stupid and involves high levels of pain.
Elsewhere in Beacon Hills, the parents bond while tied up in a basement, which is basically the only way people get to know each other in this town. And Scott's father comes back to town and he's ... an FBI agent? As the episode ends, he sits in Scott's room holding A Tale of Two Cities and crying, because finally his boy has learned to read.
Welcome to the Hellmouth, Beacon Hills
What's amazing while watching the episode is when I realize Scott hasn't shown up even once, and we're more than halfway through the hour. Scott is the protagonist of Teen Wolf, but the characters are so well-established and likable that it's easy to forget we haven't checked in at all with our hero.
This isn't a dig against Tyler Posey, who has continued growing into a serviceable actor as the series progresses, but rather a compliment to the storytelling and the ensemble. I don't even notice Scott's absence because there are so many other moving parts to the story and because I care so much about almost every character on the show.
The season is winding down to an epic battle and conclusion in next week's mid-season finale. Already the show is taking great pains to set up story arcs that will continue into the second half of season 3 when it returns in the winter.
By dying and coming back, the kids are about to get some permanent scar tissue on their hearts. ("Like a tattoo?" Scott asks, as if he has never heard of laser removal or just wants to remind people he has a tattoo. I'm surprised he doesn't flex it for Allison.) I guess this means Allison is going to wear a lot more black semi-Gothic ensembles next season?
Meanwhile, by sacrificing themselves to the nemeton, they'll be giving it power, and that power will turn Beacon Hills into a beacon for the supernatural. Get it, a beacon? Man, Teen Wolf is deep. Basically, the kids just opened the Hellmouth in Beacon Hills and now it's going to be Sunnydale all the time, except with gloomier weather and more slow-mo.
These are both interesting story directions for next season, when the show can explore how Stiles, Allison and Scott are changed by their experience going to the other side and coming back. It's also a great excuse to officially make Beacon Hills a mystical hot spot and bring fun new mythological beasties to the town.
Bringing Back Cora
While the kids are taking care of the heavy lifting, Derek is having his heart slowly crushed by Cora's impending death. Isaac abandons Derek after he refuses to leave Cora's side, wondering if Derek only made his wolfpack because he was lonely. "No, I had a ton of friends who wanted to come to parties in my burned-down carcass of a house, where the dust was made up of ashes of my loved ones. That's why I was always hanging out at the high school, because I'm so popular."
Man, Isaac gets really snippy when his neck is cold. Put your scarf back on, Isaac, and stop throwing shade at Derek. You should be happy you're still alive, giving the mortality statistics of being in Derek's pack. "You're not my real dad!" Isaac storms out and Peter says he's going to Scott's pack, like Scott and Derek are going through a messy divorce.
Derek isn't leaving Cora's side because she's not doing so well, continuously vomiting black blood. Peter tells Derek that if he goes too far taking Cora's pain away, he might be able to save her, but he also will likely lose his alpha powers.
He reminds Derek about the upcoming fight with Kali, but Derek stops listening after the bad and potentially lethal idea is floated. Those are Derek's favorite kinds of plans. As the episode ends, it looks like Derek's healing powers might be working, but we'll see if he loses all his alpha powers in the bargain.
After Argent's name ends up spray-painted on the elevator in the hospital, Allison and Isaac reasonably point out that he might end up the third victim. This causes Chris and Allison to reopen the Argent Weapons Emporium, which they crated up when they decided to go straight and stop shooting teenagers.
Argent is supremely confident in his ability to shoot Jennifer, but once they get to the bank vault he just tases Isaac, chains Allison and lets himself be taken. "Of course, he must have a brilliant plan!" I think to myself. Unless his brilliant plan involves bonding with Scott and Stiles' parents, I'm not really understanding his game plan.
"Have you been tied up before?" Sheriff Stilinski asks Argent in a suggestive fashion that momentarily makes me think the parents have devised a sexy way to pass the time until their eventual murder.
The good news is that Sheriff Stilinski finally knows the secret. This is a huge relief, as it was beginning to strain credulity that he wouldn't have started to figure it out. He tells the touching story of his wife's death and how he missed being with her in his last moments because he didn't believe Beacon Hills was the weirdest little town in California.
It's a heart-tugging story and a great performance, but am I the only one who feels like it's the plot of an M. Night Shyamalan movie?
The Kiss We've All Been Waiting For
No, it's not Sterek!
When Stiles begins to have a panic attack after Argent is taken, he and Lydia stumble into the locker room. The locker room reminds me of simpler times on this show. Back in season 1 and parts of season 2, at least 80% of every episode took place in that locker room. I assume it was because the show didn't have the budget for secondary locations ... or shirts.
Stiles continues to freak out until Lydia gives him a kiss. The way the kiss is shot, with the sun slanting through the window and lighting up the two, is beautiful. But seriously, is the slow-mo really necessary? On a kiss? Someone needs to get this slow-mo addiction under control. The Teen Wolf creative team needs to go to slow-mo rehab.
Some awkward chit-chat about holding your breath to help with panic attacks, which is why she kissed him, leads them to remember the guidance counselor knows everything about everything.
Once there, they bump into Danielle, my favorite extra of all time, who is still traumatized by her friend Heather's death. They note the guidance counselor is never late, even though she spends most of her time hanging out with homicidal werewolves. She's just that good at time management!
Flipping through Lydia's tree sketches causes Stiles to realize she's been drawing the nemeton, which is obviously where the parents are being held.
Of course, after an awkward run-in between Peter and Lydia, they realize neither Peter nor Derek remember the nemeton's location. This is because Derek's mom Eternal Sunshine'd the location out of their memories because of its painful associations.
Scott finds this same information by hanging out with Big D-Wolf, who is not softening up his act to appeal to a less homicidal demographic. Scott watches as he almost kills the guidance counselor, who also points to the nemeton as the location where Scott's mom is being held.
Then we cut out and don't see what happens to the guidance counselor, so I'm going to assume she and the alphas just talk about their feelings and hug it out. Or they eat her.
Beacon Hills Spa: Come for Our Ice Baths and Stay Forever (Because You're Dead)
Somehow, we jump from not knowing the location of the nemeton to submerging the kids into ice water death baths. It certainly feels like we missed a few steps, like the part where they explain how this is even going to work to take their parents' place. Or why that's even a good idea. But to be honest, this season has spent a lot of time explaining complicated mythology and backstory, and those haven't made much sense anyway, so let's just go with it.
Allison, Stiles and Scott each hold something important to their parents. Stiles' item is a badge, Scott's item is a watch and Allison's item is a silver bullet, because there is no part of the Argent lifestyle that is normal.
Next, they all need someone with a connection to hold them under the water until they're dead and then bring them back. Lydia begins walking towards Allison, but Deaton stops her and switches her over to Stiles. This leaves Isaac with Allison, which makes this a little bit awkward with Scott. How do you tell your bro you're into his ex-girlfriend right before you hold her underwater until she dies? Hallmark doesn't exactly make a card for that one.
They get into what looks like ice water with some lovely seasonings sprinkled inside. Are we sure Deaton doesn't have some Hannibal tendencies? Finally, they're all pushed underwater and we get the "To Be Continued" sign.
The Slow-Mo Count
No shirtlessness this week, which makes me very, very sad. But Teen Wolf continues to think slow-mo is a cutting-edge storytelling tool that must be used as many times as possible in every episode. This episode not only had lots of slow-mo, but also slow-mo used in some frankly ridiculous places. Let's count down.
The Slow-Mo Count: Stiles punches Derek in the elevator, Stiles has a panic attack in the hallway, Stiles and Lydia kiss, the guidance counselor throws down a protective circle, the twins bounce off the protective circle, Kali jumps down, the kids step into the ice water, Derek heals Cora, the kids are pushed under and Scott's eyes open.
Weirdest Slow-Mo of the Episode: Nothing says grand romantic kiss like ... slow-mo? I guess on Teen Wolf, that's kind of true, though.
What did you think of the episode? What do you think Peter is planning? Will they find the parents in time? How will they beat Jennifer? Share your theories before next week's mid-season finale in the comments!