Teen Wolf season 3 episode 18 review: Riddled

Review Ron Hogan 11 Feb 2014 - 08:12

Whatever Teen Wolf's crazy schemes, it remains a consistently entertaining and well-made show...

This review contains spoilers.

3.18 Riddled

When you get an unexpected phone call in the middle of the night, it's rarely good news. When that phone call is from Stiles, the best friend and erratic voice of the audience on MTV's Teen Wolf, then you're definitely in trouble. As it turns out, Stiles is in a bit of a pickle, or rather, a basement with some sort of bear trap on his foot, and it's up to Scott and the usual gang of teenagers to help find and rescue Stiles before his dad finds out and gets too worried.

It seems weird to be so full of praise for Dylan O'Brien, but of all the young actors on the show, he's the one that remains the most impressive, week in and week out. This week is no exception to that, as Stile once again carries the bulk of the episode despite not being seen for much of it. Stiles has been sleepwalking again, or so he thinks, and has found himself trapped in a dank, cold basement with some sort of metal trap around his leg, thereby putting him at the mercy of the elements and a bandage-wrapped stranger with crazy metal teeth and a penchant for speaking in zen koans and goofy riddles. However, it wasn't Stiles that caught my eye this week, but Evil Stiles.

Dylan O'Brien pulls off a very difficult physical transition between scared teenage Stiles and the Stiles that is possessed by an evil Japanese demon. It was interesting last week, but much more impressive in this episode. Evil Stiles walks differently, holds his jaw differently, makes different expressions, looks much more confident and dare I say dangerous, and it's really an impressive bit of physical work from the young actor. Even his line delivery is different than it is as Stiles. It's some impressive stuff, and proof again that O'Brien is the best actor on the show, and one of the best young actors on television right now.

Christian Taylor, who wrote tonight's script, assembled something pretty good and made use of some of the show's more forgotten characters. Namely, Lydia and Derek, both of whom have been getting the shorter end of the stick thus far in season 3B. To have Derek making a return as a mentor is a good idea, since he clearly knows a lot about the crazy stuff that's going on and he makes a good wing man for Scott. As for Lydia, well, she's probably the character that's changed the most since the first season (unless you count turning evil as character growth), and tonight is the first night in a long time when she's seemed to really have trouble getting a handle on her powers. He even manages to make Agent McCall show some redeeming qualities this week, which is pretty tough to pull off since he's the least cool father ever.

As usual, the Stilinski family drama makes the biggest impression. Tim Andrew does some good work this week, particularly in the scenes involve Stiles and company in the hospital. The staging of the MRI scene is just brilliant, and the reaction shots of Melissa and Sheriff Stilinski were absolutely crushing (and that hug between Scott and Stiles!). Andrew also does a great job with the kogitsune, or whatever the leech mummy spectre in Stiles' mind turns out to be. The creature is shot in such a way that it emphasises its most disturbing feature, its teeth, and not the fact that it's just a guy with some bandages on his face and a mild speech impediment from having giant pointy teeth.

That's one of the most impressive aspects of Teen Wolf. It's consistently entertaining no matter who is behind the camera, who is manning the keyboard, and who is in front of the camera. It's clever and creative enough to make its blend of CGI and practical effects work to its advantage, and even having a basic cable budget doesn't seem to be slowing down the shows ability to create scares, tension, and atmosphere.

It seems there's no line too crazy for Jeff Davis to cross; the more lines he crosses, the better the show seems to get. Japanese werefoxes and internment camps? Why not? Japanese demons with fireflies for souls? Sure, let's do it! Make Stiles evil? Of course! Teen Wolf's fans are a remarkably resilient bunch.

Read Ron's review of the previous episode, Silverfinger, here.

US Correspondent Ron Hogan thinks that if Teen Wolf lost Stiles, it would never recover. There would be a feelsplosion that would level Tumblr like the Death Star leveld Alderaan. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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This episode is well up there for the scariest, most horrifying episode of a TV show I have ever seen. It was relentless - started with a bang and never really let up. Its hours since I watched it and I'm still trying to catch my breath. Just goes to show how scary mental illness really is, even when we all know there's more to it than just that. But it seems that in a show full of monsters its the real things that can the worst. I don't often have much of an emotional reaction to TV shows, but the Scott / Stiles hug almost made me lose it. I can't even begin to guess how this will play out, although I do hope Stiles doesn't get turned into a werewolf to cure his illness. The show has to have some humans left.

Agreed. Scariest episode they've produced by far, even if spooky bandage guy became too talky for his own good. Bit Darkman by the end. But Dylan O'Brien really is terrific. He'd be up for awards if he were delivering this caliber of performance on a more high-profile show.

it really was solid episode. stiles is great character and you're right we have to give credit to his actor for making him so. Especially this episode where possessed styles is just so different. and as crazy as things are getting its a far far cry from the logical waste barrel that was 1x13 The Tomorrow People

1) Minor question, I had a really hard time getting to your review this time. Everytime I tried to open it, instead of .com, the url changed to .us and I couldn't find the review on the .us site. The only reason I was able to get to it was by manually entering the url in. I wonder if this is just a quirk of my computer or service provider but it was weird.

2) Excellent review, I love this show and completely agree that this show (particularly season 3) makes a consistently solid episode regardless who is behind the camera. It has a consistent feel and tone that can sometime change in other shows when different directors take the reins. I agree about the fact that they used Derek and Lydia more effectively here. I hope they continue that as they are characters who have been on the show since season one and deserve the same spotlight as the other actors.

But this was a Stiles episode and seeing how Sheriff Stilinski, Melissa, and Scott reacted to Stiles being missing and then having the same degenerative illness was powerful stuff for a "teen" supernatural show. I'm not even sure calling it a "teen" show fits anymore because even though the characters are teenage, the fact that the creative team trusts the audience intelligence is a boon to this show. Bravo for another great installment of Teen Wolf, and bravo for an excellent review.

All the awards to Dylan O'Brien here. He was amazing, and he made the transition perfectly from Stiles to Demon Stiles. Not only did his posture change, but you could see it in his eyes, the way he just stared into the camera like he had no soul. It was breathtaking! If you watch Stiles in the MRI, then Demon Stiles in the MRI side by side, you can see the complete skill O'Brien has here. It doesn't even look like the same person. The performance is just insane, and I try to catch my breath even thinking about that scene! It was ABSOLUTELY SHOCKING!

I agree, and I think that Stiles will ultimately end up being human, after he defeats the evil spirit within him (probably in a Superman 3 style fight). As for his illness, I am expecting that once the Kigitsune is defeated his brain will go back to normal. His current condition (and his mothers before him) is a misdiagnosis due to medicine not taking evil Japanese spirits into account.

I spent ages searching for a serious Teen Wolf reviewer.

Great work here. Agree completely on O'Brien's impressive performance and on the willingness of this show to go somewhere crazy and try something different (come on... the two romantic leads who were meant to be are now miles apart and I guess will never be together, how often do we see that?) and on that being one of it's strenghts rather than it's weaknesses.

Teen Wolf is this good because it doesn't take itself too serious.

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