This review contains spoilers.
As Teen Wolf‘s third season heads to its impending big conclusion, there’s a definite, deliberate attempt to build up the pace and create a fever pitch of paranoia, fear, and anxiety among both the viewers and the characters on the show. With De-Void, Teen Wolf reaches a fever pitch of weird craziness, thanks in no small part to the show’s three seasons of twists, turns, betrayals, romances, and bromances. Jeff Davis and company have shown a renewed willingness to reach back into actual history for inspiration, and now they’re reaching back into the show’s history to create some conflict in the waning hours of its winter semester.
When you think about it, it’s kind of amazing just how much ground Teen Wolf has covered in such a short time. They’ve packed a whole lot of stuff into 48 episodes, and it’s nice to see that Jeff Davis is willing to dig back into the past to mine fresh material for the show’s current situation. Indeed, the show reaches all the way back to the first season to remind the long-time loyal viewer that watching has its perks, and that Teen Wolf‘s rich cast of characters provides several opportunities for the actors to do some great work tonight.
Indeed, after a confrontation with Noshiko Yukimura in the basement of Echo House, the next step in the nogitsune’s mission is to turn our heroes against one another. A united front is a difficult force to oppose, but a front fractured by infighting and old grudges is something much easier to navigate when you’re a creature that feeds off discord, chaos, and violence. The nogitsune, via an awesome cloud of CGI mind control flies, is able to create a great deal of chaos in the Teen Wolf camp, because there are a lot of festering conflicts between the characters just aching for exploitation.
Remember how the twins killed Boyd and Erica? Isaac does. Remember how Chris Argent’s sister Kate killed Derek’s entire family? Derek does. Remember how the twins disagreed on their future in Beacon Hills and whether or not they should join Scott’s pack? The twins remember. As if that wasn’t enough intrigue, there’s more than meets the eye. Stiles, the information vacuum that he is, has some information about the break-up of the McCall marriage that he knows Melissa doesn’t want Scott to know, and he’s going to throw that out there to make her nervous. Everyone has something to atone for, everyone has secrets, and everyone has failings in the Teen Wolf universe, and the nogitsune is going to use ALL of those things to his advantage.
Kudos to Jeff Davis, who gets the screenwriting credit for tonight’s episode. It’s a brilliant piece of writing, and every character gets to do something meaningful. From background players like Danny and Peter Hale to languishing leftovers from the Alpha Pack plot, everyone is involved in the nogitsune story, and it all seems to work really well. There’s a lot of stuff happening at once, but the show does a really good job dividing its attention to all its characters, and having an actor like Dylan O’Brien at the core of the show to bring it all together in spectacular fashion just makes it all work that much better.
Christian Taylor has a knack for crafting really creepy visuals. Given the dreamlike state that Lydia and Scott enter into when they use werewolf mind powers to sneak into the depths of Stiles’ mind, it’s only natural that the show gets a little weird, but the way he used used callback images to the show’s first season (Lydia at the prom, sneaking through deserted hallways, Scott and Allison making out in the closet) and third season (the massive white room where the kids went after freezing themselves to death and the Nemeton stump) was very impressive.
As if that wasn’t enough, every time one of the little flies from the nogitsune entered someone via wound, ear canal or drinking water, I cringed; I have a thing about accidentally being infested with insects that is probably the result of having watched the end of Creepshow at a too-young age that the show tapped into tonight. To top that off, when Stiles throws up a huge pile of rags that slowly forms the nogitsune, the show manages to both be disgusting (Stiles gagging on rags for what seems like minutes) and frightening (the way the rags form black mist that slowly takes the shape of the nogitsune) at the same time. It’s one of the best uses of CGI in Teen Wolf‘s canon, and it’s a real credit to Taylor that he stages it perfectly (and even more so, it helps provide cover for Evil Stiles to escape with Lydia as hostage, since I don’t think anyone would argue that watching a monster emerge from a pile of barfed-up rags isn’t a distraction).
Taylor also puts together some really good action sequences this week, especially the opening Mexican stand-off between Evil Stiles, Sheriff Stilinski, and Chris Argent. When Evil Stiles strikes, it’s a stunning display of ferocity and power, made all the more surprising by the fact that it’s Stiles beating up werewolves and hunters and professional killers. The latter scenes with Derek and Argent are also really well executed, and the Twins versus Isaac versus Kira and Allison scene from the school is a great example of how the show uses its shooting spaces to good effect, with the locker room feeling both claustrophobic and maze-like depending on how it was being shot.
Three seasons in, Teen Wolf continues to be really impressive television, even to folks who are far outside the show’s demographic. It can be funny, scary, gory, and touching all within the same 52 minutes or so of screen time. It has been far, far better than it has had any right to be, and I’m really glad I paid attention to it when it first came on the air. Episodes like this, which embrace Teen Wolf‘s deep and satisfying universe, are greatly appreciated and show a cast and crew that’s as invested in the show’s mythology as the fans are (which hardly seems possible, since the fans are VERY invested).
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