Teen Wolf season 3 episode 20 review: Echo House

Review Ron Hogan 25 Feb 2014 - 07:25

Isn't it about time they changed the name to Stiles Wolf? Here's Ron's review of another impressive episode of the supernatural drama...

This review contains spoilers.

3.20 Echo House

One of the easiest creepy locations for any television show to execute is the insane asylum. Call it the crazy house, call it the nut hatch, call it whatever you'd like; having crazy people on television is a nearly-effortless way for any show to generate fright. You don't have to be particularly good at crafting horror for that location, you just throw in some crazy-acting extras, some restrains, some creepy barred doors, and boom, mood achieved.

However, that's a normal television show, not Teen Wolf. I've talked before about how well Teen Wolf does when it brings horror to television. When it wants to be scary, it's a legitimately unnerving programme. When you take that dedication to scares and put it in a naturally scary location, the results are really impressive. From the very introduction, the nicknamed Echo House asylum is a creepy thing indeed. Wrought-iron gates, high brick walls, a seemingly endless array of shadowy corridors, an introductory hanging, it's almost not fair for Teen Wolf to play in this garden, but it does it so well that I can't help but be happy with the results.

From the opening tracking shot of Stiles stepping into the lobby of the asylum, Tim Andrew is in his element as director. The intake interview is a masterpiece of building tension. Sheriff Stilinski, as he realizes he's about to sign his son over to a mental institution for the forseeable future, slowly begins to have a Stiles family panic attack. Buzzers buzz in the background, Stiles unloads his pockets in herky-jerky fashion, and Sheriff Stilinski tries to talk Stiles and himself out of their plan to protect the presently nogitsune-free Stiles into safe custody. Even after Stiles intercepts his father's freak-out, the scene is still heartwrenching because, well, it's Stiles and his dad, and they're one of the best-crafted father/son relationships on television, especially in the hands of Jeff Davis.

Of course, those feels are quickly swept away, thanks to a suicide and the reapparance of Stiles' metal-mouthed mummy hallucination, the nogitsune. It doesn't hurt that the scenes in the crazy house are filmed in very creepy fashion, what with the interesting filters, the great use of camera angles, the in-camera visual tricks, and the extras involved in the scenes. In particular, Matt Shively as Stiles' new roommate, Oliver. This kid is both helpful and disturbing by turns; he gives Stiles a brief, amusing Mean Girls-style tour of the facility, spelling out various people and their various problems, but he also takes a much darker turn later in the episode. As the nogitsune says, every Dracula needs a Renfield, and Teen Wolf's make-up department does a great job of making Oliver look like Renfield (and he plays right into it, too).

Of course, Oliver wasn't the only person showing up at the asylum. There's the return of the helpful Ms. Morrell and a familiar face from earlier in the season, one Malia Tate. You might remember her as the werecoyote, or you might remember her from last week's reveal that she might be Peter Hale's daughter (assuming you can trust the intuition of Allison and Lydia, that is). It turns out she's not a dropped plotline, but an ally for Stiles in his battle versus, uh, himself; a possible love interest for our favorite sarcastic fox; and of course, a really clever twist in her own right.

It's not that Malia is in the asylum that makes her interesting, it's the fact that she's not happy with Scott and Stiles for saving her life. Or, rather, saving her humanity. She's got to live with the fact that she caused the death of her family, she's got to live with the fact she's got to adjust to being human again after years of being a wolf, and perhaps most depressing of all, she's cold all the time. Perhaps making out (and possibly more) with Stiles will be enough to convince her that being human sometimes isn't all bad; or, perhaps, an exposure to Evil Stiles will be enough to turn her completely against humans altogether.

There are only four episodes left in this season of Teen Wolf, and it seems like there's still a lot of stuff up in the air. Will the oni stop the nogitsune? Will Stiles be freed from his tormentor, and is that ominous CAT scan he got last week something to be worried about, or is it just more nogitsune trickery? (Did Stiles finally get lucky, for that matter?) Will the show find more to do with Ethan and Aiden than occasionally have them beat up people for Scott? Will they officially change the name of the show to Stiles Wolf?

I'd imagine some of the things currently going on will carry over into the fourth season, if only because it seems like there's a lot of stuff up in the air right now. I don't see how they can trim down these dangling plot threads succinctly over the next three hours, but Jeff Davis has proven himself to be a master at running a television show, and if anyone controls a show, he controls Teen Wolf and he seems to know what the audience wants and how best to supply it. Fingers crossed that everything ends well for Stiles and Coach, because it wouldn't be Teen Wolf without those two.

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

US Correspondent Ron Hogan doesn't want to see Stiles become another supernatural on a show full of them, but if it means he stays on the side of good, then so be it. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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