This week on Teen Wolf, Stiles gives in to the dark side, Lydia’s banshee powers are on the fritz and Kira’s mom is more than meets the eye.
Not only is this episode terrifying, it’s also emotional and ultimately a game-changer for our characters. Stiles is really and truly possessed now, and the dark side has taken over. But before that last minute switch, the episode deploys some truly scary images to get the audience into Stiles’ headspace.
If you threw a pinch of Saw, some psychological horror, a dash of the Gentlemen from Buffy and all my nightmares into a blender, something approximating this episode would be the result. This is far and away scarier than most of American Horror Story: Coven. If I never see Toilet Paper Face and his razor teeth again, it will be way too soon.
Real talk, though: why does Dark Stiles sound like a combination of Bane from the Batman movies and Sean Connery from SNL‘s Jeopardy skits? And why is that ridiculous voice still so terrifying?
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So Many Feels
The real strength of this season has been its ability to get back to what made Teen Wolf a must-watch show. Besides lots of pretty people, the show has always been good at blending genuinely creepy horror, zany camp and just the right amount of sincere emotion. This week, we get plenty of that, as Stiles believes he might be succumbing to the same lethal brain condition as his mother.
The moment when Scott and Stiles hug silently in the MRI room is affecting because of the depth of emotion brought to the table by Tyler Posey and Dylan O’Brien. Even if nothing else works on Teen Wolf, the brotherly relationship between these two character is always an emotional home run.
It’s also another instance of Teen Wolf playing with the show’s format, something the show is always eager to do. The first half of the episode has a claustrophobic feel, starting with Stiles’ terrified phone call to Scott. Adding to this pressure is the smart, creative choice to hold back on letting the audience see Stiles until at least 10 minutes into the show. We’re just as in the dark and worried as Scott; then we see Stiles stuck in a bear trap and know it’s only going to get worse.
Beacon Hills: come for the hot shirtless boys, stay because your foot is stuck in one of our many bear traps!
Derek Hale: Actually Helpful?
Stop the presses, but Derek Hale is actually helpful, giving sage advice and doesn’t get tortured. Derek’s conversation with his dead wolf mom has him totally zen and centered. He’s like a brand new Derek, except he’s still always lurking around the hallways of the local high school.
Derek is like that one friend you have who just got through a juice cleanse and is now convinced she’s enlightened. You know in a few days Derek will go back to making terrible choices and being tortured, but right now his spirit walk has turned him into a hot, muscular Yoda. “Protect Beacon Hills you must Scott,” Derek says wisely. “Advice shall I give.”
Derek corners Kira at the high school and convinces her to take him to the power plant. There, he sees Stiles’ trusty aluminum bat magnetized to a power generator, meaning Stiles was zapped evil by his own weapon of choice.
The aluminum bat: it can save your parents from being crushed to death, but it’ll turn you into an evil Japanese fox! Instead of Macy’s, that should be Teen Wolf‘s major product placement.
Derek’s wise advice also helps Scott put together that Stiles was trying to protect everyone when he was struggling with his emotions up on the roof. Unfortunately, it’s too late to stop the live wire from taking off and heading straight for Kira.
“Don’t you smell that, Scott?” Derek wonders. “It’s Internal Struggle and Budding Nogitsune for Men. It’s by Calvin Klein. God, it’s like you don’t even read the GQ magazines I leave by your bedside while you sleep!”
Where is Stiles?
The big question revolves around where in the world Stiles could be, while Stiles is sitting around having conversations with his inner Jigsaw-like Tyler Durden from Fight Club. Lydia is immediately on the case with exciting new werewolf accessory Aiden in tow.
Showing up in Stiles’ room, they’re surprised to see he has gone full Carrie Mathison from Homeland. There’s red string everywhere and even some scissors stabbed into his bed.
Isaac remarks that this all points in a crazy direction, because he’s still a little sore about Stiles making fun of his scarf collection. “Scarves are fashionable yet functional! I mean … Stiles be crazy, right?”
While Isaac and Scott finally go to get the sheriff, Lydia’s powers seem to be all over the place. When one of Stiles’ red strings is plucked, Lydia can hear whispers all around. Holland Roden leaning over the red strings as the camera swoops around is hands-down one of my favorite shots of the episode. The director this week really uses the camera angles and movement to unsettle the audience and increase the horror elements. Kudos all around.
Agent McCall, not put off by the weird anime wanted signs for his attacker, makes the smelly connection and finally finds Stiles in the coyote den. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but with his scenes with Melissa and the sheriff tonight, I might actually be warming to Papa McCall.
Meanwhile, Lydia is still confused as to why her powers didn’t work this time around, but things are getting even more intense for her. At school, every little sound is amplified times a million. The mere sound of a locker closing sounds like an atomic bomb.
Later, it seems like she can also hear the sound of Stiles’ loud MRI machine. She screams inside her car, but we don’t hear a sound. Lydia screaming is never, ever a good sign of things to come.
The Answer to a Riddle
The riddle which started the season was “When is a door not a door?” This week, Stiles is presented with a different riddle by Toilet Paper Face. “Everyone has one, but no one can lose it” is Stiles’ new riddle.
The answer is a shadow, and when Stiles figures it out, he has an unpleasant surprise. Toilet Paper Face unmasks and, much to my chagrin, does not turn out to be a pig person. (Twilight Zone references forever!) Instead, the bandages come off to reveal a much darker and scarier version of Stiles. In the MRI machine, the nogitsune has taken full control and is the only one behind the wheel of Stiles now.
Before the MRI machine of doom, Sheriff Stilinski admits to Melissa he had been writing down Stiles’ symptoms. They decide to check him out since his mother had a lethal brain condition called Frontotemporal Dementia. Scott tells Stiles that he’ll protect him no matter what, but the MRI technician has already found atrophy on Stiles’ scan. Is this from the nogitsune or did the atrophy allow the nogitsune to take over?
When Dark Stiles rises like a phoenix, the power begins to flicker all over the hospital. In the hallway, Dark Stiles bumps into Kira’s mom. She has some backup in the form of oni, but Stiles doesn’t seem at all impressed. She tells him she’s totally willing to kill a teenager, but if she can’t there’s someone else who can defeat him.
I love that every mom in Beacon Hills is secretly a superhero totally willing to shank teenagers. I still miss Mama Argent and her terrifying pencil sharpening. Seriously, though, do not mess with anyone’s mom in Beacon Hills or you’ll end up murdered by some smoke ninjas.
The Shirtlessness Count
As this is an episode high on horror, it’s also, unfortunately, low on beefcake.
The Count: Aiden posing for Lydia and a few background players in the locker room.
Best Pecks of the Week: “Lydia, paint me like one of your French girls.” Aiden takes this one handily, for being willing to strip in the name of the arts.
Elsewhere in Beacon Hills…
— Allison is MIA for much of the episode because her phone is off, even though she never turns it off. When she turns it back on, her voicemail is full of weird messages in Japanese. She takes it to Mr. Yukimura, who says it’s an internment camp message for a camp called Oak Creek that actually never existed. Weird!
— Is this our first acknowledgment of the woeful lack of security at Beacon Hills High? I mean, Derek basically just saunters in whenever he pleases.
— Derek describes Stiles as skinny and defenseless, and in that moment a thousand fanartists on Tumblr rubbed their hands together evilly and laughed.
What did you think of the episode? What will become of Stiles? How crazy is Kira’s family? What’s going on with Alison’s voicemail? Share your theories in the comments!
Teen Wolf airs Mondays at 10pm on MTV.
(Image courtesy of MTV)