Teen Wolf season 4 episode 4 review: The Benefactor

Teen Wolf's excellent visuals continue to shine in season four. Here's Ron's review of The Benefactor...

This review contains spoilers.

4.4 The Benefactor

I was very hesitant about the new additions to Teen Wolf‘s regular cast. They seemed a bit too young, truthfully. Late teens playing teenagers is one thing, even 23-year-old high school students can pass – though there are some background extras who look like they should be teaching rather than attending classes – but there’s something that comes along with teenagers playing kids their age that’s a little… not unnerving, per se, but worrying. I’m not sure why, because the new additions seem like they’re going to be just as good as the previous cast members.

Scott, despite himself, has a new progeny. To save the life of Liam (Dylan Sprayberry), he had to sink his teeth into him, quite literally. The full moon is approaching. There’s another new shifter on the block in Malia Tate (Shelley Henning), who is also having troubles of her own keeping her beast under control. Controlling one savage animal is hard enough, particularly when it’s a baby werewolf with some real anger problems, but to have to deal with someone who has spent weeks as a human and years as the actual animal form is an extra problem that the Teen Wolf gang didn’t need. Oh yeah, there’s also a surprise party, people chopping heads off, and a mouthless evil version of Axe Cop coming after everyone’s favorite fuzzy family, the Hales.

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So yeah, there’s a whole lot of stuff going on during this week’s episode of Teen Wolf, but it’s fairly easy to understand and follow along with. It’s also presented with some serious style courtesy of Teen Wolf‘s MVP, Russell Mulcahy. He’s back again, and boy, is this episode brilliant. After some trouble with my satellite service prevented me from watching and reviewing Falling Skies promptly last night, I had to sit with Teen Wolf recording on mute in the background while I finalized my write-up for that particular show. However, it was very hard to pay attention to my writing because I kept looking over at Teen Wolf. I’d get a flash of something out of the corner of my eye and look up and just get sucked in to whatever crazy thing was happening.

Tonight had particularly amazing visuals, and nothing was more impressive than pretty much every scene involving Liam or Lydia. From the early moments, where Liam was duct-taped and dumped into Scott’s bath (with a brilliant shot from within the tub of the boys as they slowly slide the curtain closed) to the very end, where Liam breaks away from his chains and goes on the inevitable rampage, his particular part was great. A subtle shot that I enjoyed was of Scott and Stiles discussing Liam, and how the camera slowly panned in a half-circle around them while they talked, then reset that shot and do it again until that discussion is over.

As for Lydia, her party scene really shines, as it establishes that she’s definitely matured over the past few seasons, but again, the best moment of her time in this episode occurs in the white room upstairs. I’m not sure what this room is supposed to be, but it looks like it should be in Prince Prospero’s castle in Masque Of The Red Death, and that’s before the unnerving wall of faces thing happened. It’s a stand-out of sound design, as once again Teen Wolf uses its foleying to great effect to emphasize the closing and opening of the door to the room, effectively revealing that Lydia is completely isolated in that room without spelling it out in obvious fashion. It’s really effective, chilling stuff, particularly effective as a quiet moment in a show full of roaring monsters and thumping music (there show also makes good hay with Liam’s more powerful werewolf senses).

Liam’s struggle with his new powers is a very familiar journey, because it mirrors Scott’s own trip from newbie werewolf to natural-born Alpha. Tonight’s scriptwriters, Jeff Davis and Ian Stokes, focus a lot on the mentor/mentee relationship, and it’s like Scott is simply trying to do his best Derek Hale impression with Liam and failing miserably, since it’s Scott and he lacks the power of the beard.  It’s fun to watch Scott, and by extension Stiles, try to replicate Derek’s training methods, right down to Scott staring creepily at Liam from across campus then disappearing out of nowhere.  As if that wasn’t fun enough, Stiles is the Allison to Malia’s Scott, and that’s adorable (even if I still ship Stiles and Lydia 5-ever). 

Everything old is new again, and Teen Wolf apparently is destined to repeat itself, except with a goofier, less-competent Alpha in charge of training rather than Derek, who has problems of his own.  As Lydia said this week, they have to solve the mystery of the mouthless axe murderer before he successfully kills them all, and now there’s some added trouble in the form of cute teenage killers, too. Teen Wolf is going to rack up a body count before all is said and done. The comic relief of Stiles, Alpha Scott, and Kira’s attempted seduction of Liam isn’t going to slow down the meat wagon.

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

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US Correspondent Ron Hogan is enjoying the return of teen-type behavior to Teen Wolf. Partying, rampages, Chris Argent shooting exploding arrows… good stuff is back! He might not end up being Cousin Oliver after all. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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