This week on Teen Wolf, an endless bus ride becomes an excuse for a labyrinthine flashback-centric narrative. There’s a flashback-within-a-flashback, within a flashforward, within the snow globe of a child with autism. This episode makes the narrative structure of Inception look linear.
The structure of the episode leads to a strange whiplash effect within the first five to 10 minutes of the episode, during which time I became sure I had missed an episode somewhere in between. But that’s impossible! I literally recap this show, how could I forget Scott being mauled and … wait, did they just say Derek is dead?!
With twice the amount of episodes as last season, the show is definitely experimenting a bit with the freedom of having more room to tell the story. They can take an episode to get really funky with the storytelling in order to help us connect emotionally with the characters without sacrificing the nonstop forward momentum that has already become this season’s hallmark.
I like this episode, even if it doesn’t feel like all of the wacky structuring is entirely necessary. And the reason I like it is because it takes time for the character beats, especially when it comes to Scott and Allison. Both of these characters have been through so much and come out the other side this season as stronger, smarter and more capable people.
Scott’s empathy has been a part of his character all along, but this week it becomes both a source of strength and a curse, as his guilt over Derek’s death nearly kills him. Listen, I’m not saying I don’t understand the choice on a story level, but Derek is kind of a jerk at best to Scott. Derek has tried to kill at least 50% of the people Scott knows. I feel like maybe Scott could have chilled it with the empathy dying.
Meanwhile, Allison puts her cold, hard Argent training to use in order to protect the people she cares about. The scene between her and her phantom mother (still terrifying as ever! My god, the nightmares I will have tonight!) is especially poignant.
If there’s someone you want in your corner, it’s Allison Argent. Because being on the wrong side of Allison means being shot about a million times with arrows. “Don’t worry, you guys, my dad taught me to suture gaping wounds when I was old enough to have decent hand-eye coordination! I’ve got this!”
Can you imagine what birthdays were like in the Argent household? “Oh happy day! It’s the field medic kit and the my-size archery set I wanted! The arrows are shaped like pink hearts and can pierce internal organs! Thanks, dad!”
Is Derek Dead?
Let’s answer the big question of the episode first: no, Derek’s very much alive. Did anyone think Derek was really dead? Anyone? Bueller? It leads to some fun tension in the episode, but I’m not exactly on the edge of my seat to find out if Derek pulls through.
These people routinely throw each other through actual concrete walls and yet a little fall onto an escalator takes them out? Is the escalator made out of silver bullets and wolfsbane?
Why exactly is Derek about to join Mama Argent in an all-ghost spin-off called Scowls and Scares: Ghost Detectives? (I would watch that MTV!) Surprising no one, it’s mostly his own fault.
Listen, I love Derek. I do. But Derek and planning go together about as well as Derek and shirts. They’re much better off apart. Derek is the worst at planning and yet people are always putting him in charge of things. Even Uncle Peter is Team Scott, which increasingly this season is the team that thinks about things for more than five seconds.
Derek’s plans tend to go along these lines: “There’s a problem. Let’s kill it!” That’s the most sophisticated plan Derek is capable of, yet people are still willing to go along with these harebrained ideas.
After Deucalion shows up in Allison’s building, Derek decides it’s killing time. Scott is like, “Hold up, let’s work this out with words!” To which Derek intelligently replies, “Words bad. Killing good.” Then he throws some serious shade at Scott using just his eyebrows, which is impressive.
On the way to talk some sense into Big D-Wolf (which is what I call Deucalion because of his ridiculous demon wolf speech last week and also because his name is impossible to spell), Scott bumps into Isaac. “Oh, I’m just going to get some Mexican food,” Scott tries to lie. “Is that code for something gay? Because I’m in, Scott, I’m so in!” Isaac says, only later realizing he just signed up to get tortured some more this season.
Of course, Big D-Wolf is ready for Derek’s double-cross, even if Scott isn’t. He’s got all of his alphas at the ready: burly guy, gross toenail lady and the alpha twins.
Then there’s a big fight in slow-mo, the official sponsor of Teen Wolf. Slow-mo! For when you need to have a long fight sequence but only have the budget to film half of it!
The fight is scattered throughout the entire episode, coming in bits and pieces and being rearranged as we see more of it in context. There are a few important moments during the fight that will likely have serious story reverberations throughout the rest of the season:
- D-Wolf tries to get Derek to kill Boyd to join the alpha pack and save Cora. Is poor Isaac officially out of the pack clubhouse now?
- Allison comes out of retirement because she realizes it’s time to use her powers of awesome to help her friends. Don’t call it a comeback or she will shoot you in the face!
- Scott briefly tussles with burly alpha and his eyes go alpha red … before returning to their regular amber.
- Scott scratches burly alpha to help Derek, but the alpha instead pulls Derek over the edge of the hole. This is why Scott feels responsible for Derek’s “death.”
- Burly alpha pulls through, but only briefly because D-Wolf smashes his head like a frat bro with a Coors Light. Cold, dude, very cold.
- Derek also pulls through, because of course he does. Thankfully, he doesn’t limp to a hospital or to the vet or to any destination where he could get medical attention. Instead, he limps right to the parking lot of the high school and directly onto his new love interest’s car like very handsome roadkill. Derek Hale: right to the end, he’s the creepy old guy hanging out at the high school.
The Wheels On the Bus Go Nowhere
We actually spend a good portion of this episode on a lacrosse road trip with Scott and Stiles, as most of the characters are locked together on a bus stuck in traffic. I hate to think of what could have been, but there’s a version of this episode that’s just a bottle episode of the characters stuck in traffic. I would have loved to see that version.
This gives the coach some time to get in a few zingers, including a great bit with a whistle to cut off Stiles. He also finds a replacement Greenberg in Jared, a sick student who Stiles goads into throwing up so they can get the injured Scott off the bus.
There are some great humorous moments in an otherwise pretty heavy episode, and most come courtesy of Lydia and Stiles. Lydia knows hunky Aiden is a crazy alpha werewolf, but that certainly isn’t stopping her from suggesting he put his hands in indecent places.
Meanwhile, Stiles is really ruining Danny’s game with Ethan by obsessively texting him. Someone has to get Danny, my most special and precious of snowflakes, away from Ethan. Not only is Ethan dangerous, but I’m afraid he only has one facial expression and it is “mildly interested, mostly confused.” Danny deserves better!
In the bathroom, Lydia figures out Scott is being killed by his emotions. His is literally being killed by feels. Scott is basically a 12-year-old girl on Tumblr. This leaves Allison to suture Scott’s man-pain, with a few helpful tips from her dearly departed mom.
The sexual tension between Scott and Allison is through the roof, and the two bring a real yearning and sweetness to all of their scenes. I’ve never disliked Scott and Allison together, but they’ve also never really done anything for me either. This episode, however, really shows there’s a version of that relationship that not only works but that really sings. I hope the show keeps hitting the right notes with those two, because I really wouldn’t mind watching more of the chemistry on display this week in the sparring scene.
The Shirtlessness Count
Not a lot of shirtlessness tonight, but almost all of it come during scenes where a character is dying.
Shirtlessness Count: The vet doctor treating burly alpha (RIP big guy, kind of glad I never had to remember your name), Scott as Allison sews him up and the alpha twins during the fight.
Best Pecks of the Episode: Goes to the alpha twins. Hey, can someone explain why they have to take off their shirts to combine into werewolf Hotimus Prime but they can keep their pants on?
What did you think of this week’s Teen Wolf? Did the non-linear storytelling drive you nuts or did you love it? Is Big D-Wolf even more powerful now? What’s going on with Scott? And will they ever get where they’re going on that bus? Sound off in the comments!