This review contains spoilers.
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.
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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