This review contains spoilers.
3.24 The Divine Move
The game of Go is many things to many people. It’s a game of strategy, it’s a way to meditate, it’s a way to pass the time, it’s a way to keep a werewolf under control in an internment camp… but most of all, it’s a metaphor. Stiles has been playing Go versus his bandage-wrapped metal-mouthed mummy mental invader repeatedly this season, and it doesn’t seem like things are going Stiles’ way. However, there’s one option left, the so-called divine move. Not so much a strategy as a stroke of luck, the divine move is the move that tilts the balance of the Go board and completely changes the game.
Teen Wolf‘s third season may have been its version of the divine move. Stretched across 24 episodes, Teen Wolf took on a larger cast, more story lines at once, a new addition to the show’s mythology, and a move from the friendly confines of summer to winter, where it competed directly against first-run television shows rather than repeats. It found and cemented its breakout star (Dylan O’Brien), it moved shooting locations from Atlanta to California without losing too much atmosphere in the process. The show has stuck with what works and experimented in other aspects, and with Season 3 fading into memory, I can honestly say that Teen Wolf, despite some missteps, is in better shape than ever thanks to its dedicated cast and crew.
Speaking of things that work in Teen Wolf‘s favor, there’s just something about Russell Mulcahy and sword fighting that works really, really well. Maybe it’s just the way he likes to stage scenes. Maybe all those years of working on the Highlander properties have given him a knack for shooting an awesome clash of swords. Whatever the reason, The Divine Move leans very heavily on Mulcahy’s ability to shoot action scenes, and for that reason alone it’s an intensely satisfying television experience. From top to bottom, this episode was nothing but fighting and conflict, in the best way possible. There were Oni rampaging through every setting in the show’s usual locations. Even the one setting where the Oni didn’t show up, Derek’s loft, was also the scene of a pretty cool fight at the end of the episode that will set up the main premise of season four.
You’d think that, by now, Teen Wolf would have run out of ways to use sword-fighting Japanese demons, but they seem to have an infinite capacity to use said demons to terrorize the relatively innocent people of Beacon Hills, from stalking through the corridors of the hospital slashing and stabbing innocent doctors, nurses, and patients (to the strains of Mourning Ritual’s cover of Bad Moon Rising and punctuated with lots of blood spray) to two more Oni deflecting and debilitating and otherwise mangling the poor put-upon police of Beacon Hills. The hospital scenes in particular are really effective, and it’s nice to see Deputy Parrish get to do some heroism alongside Sheriff Stilinski (I’m not so crazy about the looming spectre of the returning Agent McCall scuttling my Mama McCall/Sheriff Stilinski ship).
Of course, the big set piece, within the school and also perhaps within Stiles’ mind, is the fight between the Nogitsune and the Oni versus Scott and Kira, allowing our teenagers to do some damage and show off their fighting skills in a set that looks a whole lot like the House of Falling Leaves fight between The Bride and O-Ren in Kill Bill Volume 1 in the best way possible. Meanwhile, outside, Derek and the Twins do battle with Evil Stiles and the Oni (the Oni are everywhere at all times, apparently) in a more chaotic, traditional Teen Wolf-style fight involving lots of jumping around and slashing paws. It’s an effective contrast to, say, the police firing off hundreds of rounds or Kira clashing steel.
Of course it wasn’t all just fighting. This is Teen Wolf, and Teen Wolf has to hit you in the feels. Before the fighting, there was time to mourn Allison, albeit briefly, in a very effective scene featuring a great performance courtesy of JR Bourne and what looks like a budding relationship between Isaac and Chris that feels natural; Chris and Isaac have both lost their family, so why wouldn’t they bond over the death of someone who meant a lot to both of them?
As if that wasn’t enough, Jeff Davis uses the season finale to put every character in jeopardy. Not just the ones actively fighting the Oni, either. Every one of them is in some sort of jeopardy, and for a lot of the secondary characters, like Melissa, Deaton, Stilinski, Parrish, and the Twins, that jeopardy could very easily become a fatal character write-off moment thanks to the machinations of the nogitsune and due to the promises of Jeff Davis that the show’s makeup would be changed for next season. As if Allison’s death wasn’t enough, there’s more cast churn coming before the end of the episode, thought it’s a pretty expected death and departure for Max and Charlie Carver.
However, we do get an awesomely exciting return to make up for the departures. That’s right, kids, my favorite bad guy from season one and the most awesome member of the Argent family is back. Kate Argent has returned to Beacon Hills, and now she’s apparently a werewolf or some other sort of shape-shifter with a shotgun and a love of killing that cannot be matched by any evil druid or Japanese fox demon. Look out Derek, look out Scott, and look out other hunter group!
Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, Insatiable, here.
US Correspondent Ron Hogan is pretty excited for Teen Wolf’s fourth season and the increased presence of Peter and the rest of the Hale family, alongside the return of a familiar antagonist with a whole new set of awesome powers. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.
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