This review contains spoilers.
2.7 The Ties That Bind
It seems I spoke prematurely last week when I declared vampire cop Cecilia my new favourite character for her pledge to kill the purebred werewolf twins. Though she does play a part in this week’s episode, and one of the twins does end up dead, the story unfolds in a way that I couldn’t have predicted.
We begin in media res as Aidan is chased through the forest by some unseen assailant who he believes to be Nora, and then Josh and Nora wake up in the woods spattered with blood and Josh (and the audience) wondering what happened.
After that curiosity-piquing cold open, we’re immediately thrust back in time to the beginning of this story, or, rather, the beginning of the end of Josh and Nora, and the potential end of Sally.
The house is haunted.
This seems like a rather obvious statement given that we all know and love resident ghost, Sally, but something else is at work here: furniture piles itself up in random places, knives throw themselves at the wall, and to top it all off, the bathroom mirror calls Josh a “whore.” Sally insists that it’s not her and suspects that it is the Reaper that’s been following her around ever since she tried to dream. Left alone in the house, she becomes increasingly terrified until at last, the disembodied voice of Danny, her murderous ex, informs her that he loves watching her die.
I’ll confess right up front that Danny is the only thing on this show that has ever genuinely scared me. I’m not afraid of vampires or ghosts or werewolves because I know that those things are not real. I can watch any number of horror movies about supernatural creatures wreaking havoc and not bat an eye, but I’ll be whimpering before the opening credits are through if the film is about a human killer.
What’s so terrifying about Danny is that men like him exist. There really are people out there with short tempers who are good at seeming sweet and innocent to the general public. There are men out there who will manipulate a woman’s emotions and then throw it in her face the second she fails to live up to expectations. Men with unaddressed anger issues exist and crimes of passion like Sally’s murder happen every day.
So the second I heard Danny’s voice, my expectations for this episode shot way up. I expected to be terrified at first and then thrilled to once again watch Sally triumph over the man who ended her life. And though most of the rest of the episode was really good, I unfortunately found myself disappointed with Sally’s storyline.
Danny does, in fact, appear later on in the episode, having died recently in prison. Sally is initially confident, believing that she can take him on because she’s had more time to learn how to use her ghost powers than he has. Unfortunately for her, Danny knows more than she suspects, and he poses a real threat. He wraps his hands around her neck and begins to choke her, but luckily she is able to push him off–right into the open arms of the Reaper who has been haunting her since her dream. He came for her, but he’ll take Danny, too.
From that point on, the storyline goes downhill. What had so much potential quickly becomes nothing more than maudlin musing on balance in the universe which I will admit I didn’t pay close attention to because I was too busy mourning the wasted potential of Danny’s ghost. In the end, the Reaper informs Sally that he has to take her that day but will give her time to say her goodbyes. When she asks where she will go once he takes her, he informs her that unlike with a door, being Reaped doesn’t send you on to the next phase of the afterlife: it simply ends your existence. And when Aidan and Josh come home pre-occupied with their own horrible night, Sally watches them head upstairs and then whispers a goodbye, informing the silence that she is ready.
Josh and Aidan’s interwoven storylines are much better utilizations of their potential. Each experiences the return of a character who wants them to give in to their monstrous inclinations and each is forced to make a difficult decision.
For Josh, his storyline kicks off when Nora returns to work at the hospital after having been gone for two weeks following the last full moon. He lies to her and tells her that it was Aidan who sent Cecilia after the twins, and she initially believes him. But when she finds out the truth, she is angry at him for betraying his pack.
This is the central conflict of the evolution of Josh and Nora’s storyline this season. Josh stands out amongst werewolves because he dislikes who he is. He actively fights against it, which makes him stand out. He is a, pardon the term, lone wolf because of his stance on his condition. Nora, on the other hand, embraces her lycanthropy. She has a desire to belong and she has found that with the twins. She tells him at the end of the episode that she hates the morning after a full moon because she’s no longer a wolf and it breaks his heart. She is a werewolf, Josh is a person stricken with a disease.
Aidan decides to be proactive on the situation and gets in contact with the twins, who have taken Cecilia. They invite him out to the woods that night and after recruiting backup in the form of one of the Amish, Atlee, Aidan agrees to go.
The two plotlines smash into each other headfirst in an explosion of CGI fur and vampire fangs when Aidan arrives and the twins inform him that the hunt is on. He can have Cecilia back if he can find her and rescue her without any nasty run-ins with the four wolves. This proves even harder than Aidan thought when Atlee decides to bail on the operation and leaves Aidan out there in the forest alone.
Although he does find Cecilia, she is badly injured and tells him to leave her behind. He does, and the four wolves descend on her, feasting while she screams.
We finally catch back up to the present, where Josh and Nora awake in the field. She promises him that their midnight snack wasn’t Aidan, and the two have a heart to heart about their stances on what happened. She tells him that she doesn’t feel remorse for killing either her ex or Hegeman and that she’s torn between being angry at Josh for betraying his pack and proud of him for giving into his instincts to protect her. They realize they both view this situation very differently, and if I may be honest once again, it’s completely heart-breaking.
Kristen Hager has been nailing every single scene she’s had this season and even though we’re conditioned to believe she’s wrong to want this, that Josh has the right take on this situation, she makes us understand why Nora feels the way she does. It’s not easy to sympathize with a remorseless killer, and Hager makes it so that Nora is never more human than in the moment she admits she prefers the wolf.
The two head back to the shed to retrieve their clothes and are quickly followed by the twins who seem to feel that last night was a rip-roaring good time. Their revelry is cut short, however, when Aidan arrives with Hegeman’s gun and once again reminds me why I love him: without even blinking, he shoots Connor dead and turns his gun on Brynn. Nora holds the sobbing girl back as Aidan lowers the gun and tosses it to Josh, then he picks up the Connor’s wolfed-out corpse. He later delivers the wolf to Atlee and encourages him to take credit for the kill, but insists that Atlee must never return to Boston.
There was a lot to love in this episode, from the return of a genuinely terrifying Danny to the death of one of the more annoying new characters this season. Combined with great scenes between our main cast that reminded me of why I love this show in the first place, this was a solid episode and one of the better outings of season two. However, I’m baffled as to why the writers would even bother to bring Danny back only to kill him off in the same scene, as I feel like there was a lot of potential there and it got wasted. But outside of that one flaw, the episode was firing on all cylinders and it showed. I’d love for the season to keep up the momentum it built in this episode as we move forward.