This week on Teen Wolf
, Scott proves to be as bad at the whole "mentorship" thing as Derek once was, Lydia cracks her own code and discovers an unpleasant surprise, Argent returns in triumph with a feelings beard and Sheriff Stilinski and Derek become the new Hardy Boys of Beacon Hills.
So much of the beginning of this season feels like a combination of nostalgia for the earlier, lighter seasons of the show and groundwork for whatever mythology is about to unfold. It's hard to tell how these storylines will shake out, so these early groundwork episodes really need to lean back on character moments. Thankfully, the character stuff continues to be pretty great, even if the connection between storylines in this episode is fairly weak.
Scott and Stiles are in an episode about crazy teenage hijinks and connecting with someone emotionally in order to control animal urges. They're both risking something in order to help their chained-up charges find the strength to deal with the full moon. Along the way, they're also dancing in the moonlight, starting freshman house parties and having awkward handcuff moments at home.
Meanwhile, Derek, Peter and the Sheriff are off in a completely different episode being hunted by and tracking down Mr. No Mouth. The tonal shift is at times a little jarring, jumping from a scene of Kira and Scott giggling over their kidnapped child hostage to a scene of Peter ripping No Mouth's throat out and flicking the gore at Sheriff Stilinski.
The episode is clearly setup, introducing more young characters who are somehow involved in this new ring hunting supernaturals tied to The Benefactor. The things kids in Beacon Hills do for fun are seriously bizarre. Kids these days, am I right? In my day, you just went to a party and enjoyed the free keg, you didn't strangle anyone to death with your tacky necklace.
While Liam is reluctantly being forced into the pack, Lydia has discovered now is not a great time to be a supernatural creature in Beacon Hills. But who is this mysterious Benefactor, and why does he or she want the creatures that go bump in the night bumped off?
Scott calls Stiles for some help with Liam, who he has duct taped and hogtied in the bathtub. He admits he might have panicked a little bit, and Stiles points out that this is why Scott is not often in charge of making the plans.
Scott tries to explain the whole werewolf thing to Liam, without once using the word werewolf. Scott should have went with a speech a lacrosse player would understand, something like, "Hey bro, you're a werewolf now. Furry fistbump brah!" Instead, he talks about how they're brothers now and how he went through the same thing, which makes it sound like poor Liam is about to become someone's sister wife in a cult.
Liam breaks out of his duct tape, fights off Scott and Stiles, and makes a run for it out of the house. Scott and Stiles, wrapped up in each other's legs and arms like a giant pretzel, just look out the open door in confusion. These are the great minds Liam will now be relying on to keep him alive. Good luck, kid!
At school, Liam's friend Mason is wondering why he ran three miles to school and how he's walking on his injured leg and why he looks like he went on a cocaine bender like a stock market trader in the '80s. "Nothing! I'm great! Lacrosse!" Liam yells and then runs away, leaving a trail of sweat behind him.
Scott's Squad of Staggering Incompetence has a meeting, where they decide they need to lure Liam into a secluded place to chain him up so he doesn't kill anyone during the full moon. I feel like I forgot to change the channel to Teen Wolf and instead I'm watching a lost episode of To Catch a Predator. This is certainly not helped along by the fact that the actor playing Liam is an actual teenager, while all the other actors are at least 10 years older.
They decide to send Kira after Liam because she's a foxy fox. Kira does a great slow-mo Beyonce-walk down the steps, which turns into a hilarious sexy slow-motion tumble. Because Kira is the most amazing of all magical fox creatures, she never breaks from her vixen character and invites Liam to a party while sprawled out on the ground.
"Liam have you ever heard the phrase 'stranger danger'?" Kira asks, pointing her car toward dark and uninhabited woods. "No," Liam says, fiddling with the radio as Kira drives toward an abandoned lake cabin. "Good," Kira says, taking her hands off the wheel and rubbing them together. "Very, very good."
At the cabin, Team Child Kidnapping lies in wait discussing Liam's past history of violence against automobiles who have wronged him. Scott is a little uneasy that he sent his new girlfriend off to child-nap an unstable were-baby on a full moon without any backup.
At the cabin, Liam starts to get suspicious that something weird might be happening and soon finds himself in the middle of a werewolf intervention. All the supernaturals in the room introduce themselves like it's an AA meeting. "Hi, I'm Malia and I'm a werecoyote who accidentally killed my entire family. I don't know who Abraham Lincoln is!" "Hi, Malia," they chorus.
Before Liam even has a chance to attempt to justifiably murder this whole crowd of overly-helpful, cheerful kidnappers, the entire freshman class of Beacon Hills shows up for the party Liam thought he would be attending.
Stiles tells Lydia to use her special party throwing powers to make this a rager 14-year-olds won't soon forget, and then they cart Malia to the basement and Liam to the boat house. Lydia, having only thrown parties in which people were drugged with magical fairy dust, is actually not as good at this as she imagines herself to be.
In the basement, Malia fights the change until Stiles explains he knows what it feels like to crave that kind of power and control. He explains that control is overrated, and the power of their connection allows Malia to finally fight her way through her instincts and turn back into herself. It's a nice scene, and a good reminder that Stiles has been through some fairly traumatic stuff he's probably still dealing with.
In the rush to make this a more upbeat season, the show has to be careful not to avoid dealing with the repercussions of season 3. This is a nice moment reminding us Stiles has been in a very dark place, and it's not quite so easy to shake off those emotional scars.
Meanwhile, Kira knocks Liam out with a boat paddle, and then she and Scott slow dance in the moonlight next to his unconscious body. It's totally romantic. Liam, fed up by their teen romance, bursts out of his chains and runs off into the night. Scott gives chase and is aided by Argent, back from France with a croissant thrown over one shoulder and sporting a fierce feelings beard.
"I got your text," he says by way of hello. "I brought you home a beret and some anti-werewolf solar lawn ornaments. The task of being a decent alpha is up to you."
Liam admits to his behavior at his previous school, where he says he was kicked out for a good reason. He says he doesn't want to see the disappointed looks on his mother and step-father's faces when they see he's now a monster. Scott tell him he's not a monster, he's a werewolf, while the music swells dramatically. I'm not sure this is as comforting as Scott seems to think.
No Mouth Strikes Again
No Mouth heads straight for Peter with his trusty tomahawk, while the Sheriff stands on the roof looking at dead Sean from last week. "You have an expert in teenage cannibals?" Deputy Parrish asks, part awed and part disturbed by his boss. As everyone clears out, Derek Hale appears on the roof like a sullen werewolf Batman. Soon, Derek and the Sheriff are putting their heads together to become the crime fighting duo Beacon Hills never knew it needed.
Somehow, Peter manages to survive his run-in with No Mouth and take his little glove communicator. I have no idea how or when or why, because we never really see it happen. In fact, even for a C-story in the episode, the scenes tracking down No Mouth are a little thin. Something about Parrish's experience with IED's in Afghanistan leads Derek and the Sheriff to an IP address, which in turn leads them to the high school, because of course it does. All roads eventually lead to Beacon Hills High, especially when murder is involved.
The Sheriff sees blood under a classroom door and they go to investigate. "It's weird, I can't smell this blood. Almost as if it was planted there on purpose. Oh well, time to swing this door wide open and see what's inside!" Derek says, before the Sheriff stops him. Obviously, in their crime fighting duo, Sheriff Stilinski is the brains of the operation.
They see an explosive and soon find themselves fighting No Mouth. Shocking everyone, and for the second time this season, Derek actually wins a fight. It's like the Earth has suddenly started spinning backwards on its axis. Derek Hale is winning fights. My world is askew.
"You have the right to remain silent!" the Sheriff yells at No Mouth. That's ice cold, Papa Stilinski. Ice cold.
Of course, Peter appears out of nowhere to attack and kill No Mouth, eschewing Derek's better way. "Sorry about that," Derek says to the Sheriff. "Want to help me chop this guy up and bury him in the boy's locker room? That's usually how I handle these scenarios."
Who is the Benefactor?
"No wonder Malia is failing math," Kira says, looking at Lydia's gibberish notes. It turns out they're in code, and Lydia just needs to figure out the key in order to decipher them. Easier said than done, but of course her creepy Banshee powers are always around for the assist.
Teen Wolf loves to play with horror conventions, camera movement and creepy imagery. This time around, however, their attempt to do something tonally interesting with Lydia's Banshee powers is just too confusing on a real-world level. At the party, Lydia and Mason have a soundless conversation upstairs after some red wine is spilled on the carpet.
Unfortunately, having just had huge thunderstorms in my area, I was sure the sound had dropped out for my local MTV affiliate. I spent the entire scene wondering if I was going to get sound back, and if I needed to call my cable company, which is probably not the intended effect the creative team was going for. It's disorienting for the audience, just like Lydia's Banshee episodes are for her, but it's also extremely confusing and takes me right out of the episode.
Lydia puts a record on an old record player, while 80% of the Teen Wolf audience Googles "What is a record player?" on their iPhones. Faces pop out of the wall and it's all very scary, if not exactly illuminating. By the time Kira comes into the room, Lydia has finally unlocked the keyword for her own cipher. It is, fittingly, "Allison," a nice nod to how much Lydia misses her fallen best friend.
Once translated, a list of names is pulled up. Lydia says it's a dead pool and includes all the names of the supernaturals in town. Each name also has a corresponding number. I'm not sure if the number is a point system or a dollar amount for assassins.
I do know that Derek Hale's number is 15, which is hilariously low but surprisingly accurate. Given Derek's ability to win fights, you could probably take Derek down with a Nerf gun.
Meanwhile, No Mouth, a girl who strangles a local beer-delivering werewolf and a blonde freshman all get text messages from The Benefactor. Who is this mysterious person, and why are freshman and crazy nightmare creatures following The Benefactor's lead? What do you get for killing supernatural creatures? And why is The Benefactor after supernaturals?
The Shirtlessness Count
The Teen Wolf gods are certainly stingy this season. Our only shirtless moment is Peter having the wolfsbane burnt out of his naked chest by Derek. So therefore, Peter, by default, wins Best Pecks of the Episode.
Where is my dear, sweet Danny, who always looks out for us by throwing naked raves and spending 95% of his scenes in the locker room? Danny, I miss you, boo.
What did you think of the episode? Are you warming up to Liam or are you over the frosh already? Do you think The Benefactor is someone we know or someone totally new? Share your theories in the comments!
Teen Wolf airs Mondays at 10pm on MTV.