Teen Wolf season 4 episode 8 review: Time Of Death

Review Ron Hogan 13 Aug 2014 - 08:11

Do we really know who the Benefactor is now in Teen Wolf? Here's Ron's review of Time Of Death...

This review contains spoilers.

4.8 Time Of Death

One of the highlights of Teen Wolf is the way it has embraced its meta-ness. It's a show about teenage werewolves on a channel that used to be called Music Television, so it makes sense that Teen Wolf would both poke fun at its history (by having Baby Derek be a teenage werewolf basketball player) and at MTV (by making music a character in the series, constantly working in tunes, and even having musical guests on its after-show). There's a knowing awareness of the fact that it's a television show, not in terms of the performances, but in terms of some of the written content. Stiles is a great example of this, since he's always making commentary that winks at the fourth wall, but there was an interesting moment in this week's episode involving someone not usually on in the fun.

The plot is very clever, but very simple. The Teen Wolf kids on the Dead Pool list are going to pretend that they're dead, lure the Benefactor out with the promise that the body cannot be photographed because it's in the hospital, then jump out and attack him. Scott, being the highest of the high value targets and the one strong enough to survive forty-five minutes or so in something between hypothermia and a coma, is chosen as the stalking horse while Chris Argent and the rest of the gang minus Lydia (who has problems of her own) wait within the hospital to spring the trap.

It's pretty smart, as far as Scott's plans go, but there's a moment where it actually really works for me, particularly in the opening moments. A body is wheeled in on a gurney, declared dead, and the doctor (Liam's stepfather) tells someone to get Melissa McCall. We see it's Scott on the gurney—before we find out about the plan—and then later on we see Mama McCall screaming and having a breakdown in the hallway. However, it seems a little forced, even a little hokey. Turns out that's for a good reason: Mama McCall is in on the plot, and her breakdown is Melissa Ponzio acting the character's attempt at acting. It's good enough that, for the people of Beacon Hills, it's believable; it's bad enough that the audience, who knows Ms. Ponzio to be a very good actress, won't necessarily buy into it. It's a great, sly performance choice that ends up coloring the rest of the episode, which is very heavy on deception and perception.

Despite spending most of the episode in a coma-like state, Scott gets a lot of interesting things to do in a trio of scenes that are very David Lynchian in execution. Jann Turner, the director of the episode, really delves into the unpleasantness of Scott's coma (reinforced by Peter's discussion with his daughter Malia about how much it sucks to be in a coma for werewolves, aware and conscious but unable to escape from their own thoughts) by repeating the same sequence three times, each time with a different, worse ending. Scott wakes up in a hospital freezer, crawls forward into what looks like an air duct, falls through the locker into the school, and witnesses the Mute (or himself, in the most effective, darkest time line version) kill Liam over and over and over again. Even in Teen Wolf dream sequences, no one stays dead.

Speaking of not staying dead, one of the bigger teases of this week's episode was that we'd find out just who the Benefactor is. We did, in a sense; Lydia's grandmother apparently isn't guaranteed dead, she knew Meredith, and the code used in the computerized dead pool is similar to that in the coded note left by Lydia's grandmother, but did we ever meet Lydia's grandmother (or father, or mother) in the early days of the show? Jeff Davis has said it would tie back to the first season somehow, but so far I'm not seeing it. Peter being the Benefactor is too obvious, since his name isn't on the dead pool. Kate's clearly not it, since she and Chris (in between nearly killing one another) were both looking to use Scott to trap the guy.

Both Peter and Kate work well as a sort of freelance villain. No real purpose other than whatever gains them something. Peter wants his power back and is clearly stealing it from Derek; Kate wants her place in the family back, but not so badly that she'd do permanent harm to her brother (or him to her). There's a chaotic selfishness to the two that gives them the freedom to aid the good guys or aid the bad guys, depending on just how they'll be rewarded on either side, and that gives the show a fun gray area to play in with those two without making them overtly one way or the other, and it also eliminates them from being the Benefactor in an indirect way.

So who is the Benefactor? Uh... how about Danny? That seems to be a popular theory, even if it seems really out of character for the Danny we used to know and while he knows all the supernatural kids, he doesn't seem to have a reason to want to kill them since he's either best friends with or actively dating werewolves. I'm sure that whoever it is, the end result will be pretty fun for everyone involved, and hopefully it'll clear the way for Peter and Kate to form a beautifully evil power couple with Malia as their evil vixen-in-training. 

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

US Correspondent Ron Hogan is pretty glad his uncle isn't like Peter Hale. The werewolf part would be cool, but not the scheming, manipulative, evil genius part. However, having a few hundred million dollars in bearer bonds would be pretty awesome. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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