This week on Teen Wolf, the gang visits a creepy motel with more disturbing happenings than the Bates Motel and the Overlook Hotel combined. (Hereeee’s suicide!) As the teen wolves start to lose it, Lydia’s gift for giving a great freaked-out face helps unravel the whole story and ultimately save the day.
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As part two of last week’s flashback-heavy outing, the episode continues this season’s trend of taking narrative risks. Last week’s episode was an Inception-style Easter egg of non-linear storytelling and slow-mo fight sequences. This week, the show nimbly skips genres and goes full-out horror to great effect.
The great thing about Teen Wolf is that as a show, it’s so good at effortlessly hopping genres. One week, it can be a teenage melodrama, the next week an action set piece. And most of the time, while it jumps from genre to genre, it also manages to be lighthearted, funny and, at times, deliciously campy.
But to be honest, the genre in which Teen Wolf earns its gold star is horror. Man, Teen Wolf can be downright scary when it wants to be. The unsettling horror movie atmosphere and oppressive paranoia of the editing and direction really makes this episode feel like a particularly disturbing horror movie. (Like if you threw Magic Mike and Psycho into a blender.)
The tension keeps building bit by bit throughout, and the mounting paranoia makes even the smallest and most innocent scenes ripe with creepy tension. Writer and director Christian Taylor does a really great job on this episode, paying smart homage to horror classics (Allison in the shower is shades of Psycho) while conjuring up great disturbing visuals. My favorite might have been the short shot of Isaac under the bed. The camera angle and the darkness makes it deeply haunting and unsettling.
It’s an episode I’m enjoying from a character and aesthetic perspective. I mean, does everything ultimately make perfect sense? No, not really. Why is the motel such a big deal if it’s just the wolfsbane whistle that drives the wolves nuts? Why are the suicide rate numbers changed? What’s up with the Bible of Death? Who knows!
It doesn’t completely pan out from a plot perspective, but the great atmosphere and smart character moments more than make up for any plot holes that need to be hopped over.
Sexual Healing — Literally
In the part of the story that has nothing to do with Motel Suicide, the new English teacher is trying desperately to stop staring at Derek’s abs long enough to keep him from dying. Derek is like, “Sorry I died on your car, next date I’ll take you to a bookstore and you can tell me how my life is like Romeo and Juliet.” And the English teacher is like, “I’m sorry, I wasn’t looking at your face when you were talking and all I heard is ABS.”
She advises him to stay dead like all the literary classics, while Derek gives her his best sexy eyebrows, hoping she won’t realize he doesn’t read anything besides motivational books about how to manage people. Of course, he always stops reading before the chapter on how to avoid getting employees killed.
Derek knows he has to face up to his responsibilities and go back to the world of the living. But before he does, he makes a quick pit-stop in the land of sexy town: population, two sexy people.
The way this plays out is just super hilarious. As Scott is eaten alive by his remorse and guilt over not saving Derek, we see glimpses of the very alive Derek. And what is Derek doing while Scott is about to kill himself? Oh, just sexy sex stuff!
“Sorry I couldn’t text you to tell you I was alive so you would stop trying to kill yourself continuously for days on end. I had this hot teacher to bang, and also did you know Les Mis is a book and not just a movie starring Wolverine? I know, bro, it blew my mind too! Man, this relationship is teaching me all kinds of things. Anyway, Scott, glad you’re not on fire.
“Your Good Pal and Totally Competent Alpha Leader Derek.”
Best of all? The sex with McHottie the English Teacher actually heals Derek. She literally heals him sexually. This whole storyline in the episode is so ridiculous, I’m going to assume it was put in to ease the tension of the main plot and give us all a good laugh. Mission achieved.
You Can Check In But You Can’t Check Out
After the events of last week, the whole team plus Allison and Lydia are staying in a creepy motel until they can make the postponed meet.
The Motel Glen Capri, which sounds like a delicious soft drink, is actually the site where Alexander Argent pulled a Mama Argent and killed himself in 1977. He could no longer live knowing he would become a werewolf, and I’m assuming that ’70s porn stache was also a tough life choice to bear.
It’s Lydia, our favorite continuously freaked-out character, who immediately senses this motel is bad news. She keeps hearing deaths and suicides, and it’s not helped when the creepy owner tells her the motel has the dubious distinction of having the most suicides in California. They even keep a running count on the wall. I guess it’s a real selling point? Motel Glen Capri: come for the bedbugs, stay for your final resting place!
Soon, stuff starts getting weirder and weirder, especially when it comes to all the attractive teen wolves. Scott, Ethan, Boyd and Isaac all start freaking out in weird and unique ways. Meanwhile, Allison, Lydia and Stiles have to put the pieces together and figure out how to save their hairy friends before they all end up killing themselves.
Stiles thinks the three suicides projected on the count connect into the Druid sacrifices somehow. This seems like a dubious logic leap, but okay, Teen Wolf, I will follow you there because you gave me shirtless Danny this episode.
So let’s run down how the wolves freaked out in Motel Suicide:
Having spent a lot of time on Isaac’s issues with his abusive father, the show instead chooses to focus most of this episode on Boyd and the Scooby Gang putting the puzzle pieces together. Still, Isaac’s freak-out moments are among some of the most effective and some of the downright creepiest. He images his father’s voice berating him, pictures himself stuck in a freezer and finally shows up hiding under the bed where he’s apparently cured with a flare.
Poor Isaac, our lost little lamb, really needs a hug. I’m starting a foundation called “All the Hugs for Isaac” where all donations will go toward our mission of getting Isaac as many hugs as humanly possible. For just 10 cents a day, you can ensure someone hugs Isaac very tightly, pats his widdle head and tells him everything is going to be okay. Call today and make a difference in the life of a teen wolf.
Despite having seen more of the twins than any other alpha character besides the DEMON WOLF (all caps because I imagine he always screams his title), both Ethan and Aiden are still just the merest sketches of people. Mostly, they are just walking abs, and at this aspect of character development they are great. Do they have emotions or personalities of their own? I have no idea, but I do know they have abs. So many defined, glorious abs.
This week in “Abs Over Character Development,” Ethan and Danny hook up in the motel. Danny tells a story about his surgery scars and is just as lovely as always, because Danny is perfect and can do no wrong in my eyes. Before things can get even more heated, if that’s possible, Ethan images hands and a face trying to burst their way through his abdomen.
Later, Stiles saves Ethan from sawing off his own beautiful pectorals. “Not the abs!” On the bus, Ethan informs Stiles this was a stupid decision because of how the alphas are all about murdering teen wolves and hooking up with sexy high schoolers. Also, he drops the knowledge that Derek is probably alive and also they still want to kill him if he doesn’t take out his pack. So … nothing has changed, hooray!
Boyd is a definitely the strong and silent type, which means we haven’t gotten much in the way of character development. This week, we learn a lot more about his backstory, and it’s so interesting, I wish we would see more of the character. At least throw Boyd more than one line of dialogue per episode.
Through a creepy radio that will not turn off, we hear the story of Boyd’s younger sister Felicia who disappeared at a skating rink when they were both young. Boyd feels guilty for her abduction because he was supposed to be watching her, and imagines her dead in the ice machine.
This causes the most dramatic moment of the episode, when Boyd tries to commit suicide by drowning himself in the bathtub. It’s his near-death that leads Lydia and Stiles to realize heat can break the wolves out of the spell.
It’s actually a fairly Scott-light episode. After he hallucinates his mother getting her throat slashed by Big D-Wolf, he’s pretty much missing in action for the rest of the hour. But he returns in a big way at the end, covered in gasoline and holding a lit flare.
The scene is by far Tyler Posey’s best work on Teen Wolf to date, as he tearfully blames himself for everything bad that has happened to those around him. The moment when Stiles steps into the gasoline is another great moment for Dylan O’Brien. It’s a really emotional scene and the two absolutely hit it out of the park.
The Shirtlessness Count
For an episode about motel-based suicides, this week really brings the naked torsos.
Shirtless Count: Allison in the shower, Derek shirtless and injured, Ethan (the claws are coming from inside the abs!), Danny, Boyd in the bathtub and Derek again during his sex scene.
Best Pecks of the Episode: I’d really love to give this prestigious award to Danny, my little love kitten. But unfortunately, the camera making love to Derek’s abs is just too ridiculous not to tip the scales in his favor. The camera lovingly lingers so long on Derek’s abs half the time I’m not even sure if his face is still in frame. Congrats on the award and all the sex, Derek! You easily have the best episode ever.
Elsewhere in Beacon Hills…
— Lydia sees a hooded figure in the fire when the flare rolls into the gasoline. So they’re being hunted by … Voldemort?
— Papa Argent goes to see a familiar face: Grandpa Gerard! Seems he’s not so much dead as “perpetually oozing black goop,” which is maybe worse. Also, he might know a little something about the death of Alexander Argent at the Motel Capri Sun. Like the fact that our favorite DEMON WOLF with rage issues is involved.
What did you think of this week’s episode of Teen Wolf? Did it freak you out? Were you a fan of taking a little plot detour? What was that figure in the fire? What was your favorite part? Share in the comments!
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(Image courtesy of MTV)