Teen Wolf season 3 episode 8 review: Visionary

Teen Wolf continues its stellar third season with a pleasingly non-linear flashback episode. Here's Ron's review of Visionary...

This review contains spoilers.

3.8 Visionary

Two of my television shows this week indulged in some experimental formatting. Falling Skies took the dream sequence format, telling a story via the subconscious of major character Tom Mason. Teen Wolf has taken a more traditional flashback format for this week’s episode, Visionary. Rather than just one unreliable narrator, we’re given two separate but equally unreliable narrators, as well as a vision of what may apparently be the truth as communicated directly to the viewer. Unreliable narrators, dramatic irony, lots of literary references… it looks like Jeff Davis has been studying his lit. theory textbooks again! 

The interesting thing about this episode of Teen Wolf is that it tells a single event from two different sides, as well as offering what may be a participant’s-eye view of the incidents that brought the Alpha pack together, brought them to Beacon Hills, and damaged Beacon Hills’s most eligible werewolf, Derek Hale. A teenage love affair turned tragic is the root cause, but all around the teen romance is woven a tale of betrayal, escalating conflicts, and lots of interesting violence. 

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The two sides of the issue are great choices from Jeff Davis, because they represent two of the biggest threats Scott and the gang have had to overcome during Teen Wolf, turning former enemies into unlikely assets. First season’s big-bad, Peter Hale, tells part of the story and he’s matched in both villainy and in mistaken perceptions, by the second season’s baddest bad guy, Gerard Argent. Both men weave their tale, but in a way that benefits them as much as it benefits Stiles/Cora and Scott/Allison, respectively. It’s a pair of really good framing devices, and the show moves smoothly between the two scenarios while spending most of its time on the past that has turned Derek into the grouch we all know and love. 

To the credit of the show, they have done a good job of casting the younger versions of Derek and Peter. Ian Nelson is a good version of young Derek, and whomever they cast to play the younger version of Peter is also really good – I just can’t tell if he’s the same kid who played teenage Peter in Lydia’s visions from season two or not. Young Derek does a lot of the heavy dramatic lifting this week, and he does a pretty good job, though it’s the storytellers Ian Bohen and Michael Hogan who really impress. The show does something clever in its structure, with the two speakers telling their version of events before it’s revealed what actually happened from an impartial, semi-omniscient narrator. (Further kudos to Jeff Davis, who wrote tonight’s episode, for making the respective audiences aware enough to call the unreliable narrators on their lies.) 

On the surface, taking an entire episode to examine Derek Hale’s love life seems a bit wasteful, but when you look at all the stuff happening around Derek’s romance, it makes more sense. It also provides a bit of an explanation as to why Derek went out of his way to recruit a bunch of high school kids to his wolf pack. Perhaps a bit of arrested development on his part, or perhaps because younger people are typically strong enough to survive the changing process, even if Derek’s poor little high school crush wasn’t. It was also amusing to see how much like Scott Derek was, albeit a more popular and athletically gifted version. 

I can’t help but feel all the information we learned about Derek and his long-running relationship with the Alpha pack, the role of Deaton as a pack advisory and Druid, and the history of conflict between the Alphas and the Argents will be referenced in future episodes this season, even if Gerard might not make it that far given his apparent failing health. It remains to be seen how the show uses it, but I like that they’ve managed to really tangle all the plot elements together for a brief, awesome moment.

Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, Currents, here.

US Correspondent Ron Hogan is glad to see Teen Wolf playing with the show’s format to feature some less linear storytelling. Also, it was cool to see that Gerard has always been super evil. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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