This review contains spoilers.
After the unfocused efforts of Damnatio Memorae, it’s nice to see Teen Wolf focusing a little bit more on specific characters and a specific topic. The topic itself takes a couple of different forms, but for this week, Teen Wolf casts its attention on the idea of relationships, and the various forms they can take. That’s one of Teen Wolf‘s strongest points. The writers and actors are able to work together to establish realistic-feeling relationships, be it between the titular Teen Wolf and his sidekick or the newer characters and the familiar faces. However, one of the more interesting relationships that the show has explored is between the characters and their respective powers.
That’s what the bulk of the relationships studied this week involve. On one hand, you have Kira, who is trying to control the darker aspects of her power and the kitsune inside her, and to learn how to control the darkness, she and her mother turn to some other historically dark creatures: skinwalkers. They’re there to either train Kira to control herself or they’re going to make her one of them, permanently. Her powers are basically limitless, provided she’s able to get over her fear of them. That’s the biggest hurdle for her, and if she’s going to play a part in the war to come, she’s going to have to break that.
Meanwhile, one of the other Teen Wolf characters who is struggling to learn her powers is Lydia. For most of the show’s run, since she developed her banshee powers, she’s been avoiding them, rather than embracing them. You can count on one hand the number of times she’s used her abilities for something other than finding dead bodies. However, as Valack proved earlier this season, she’s a very powerful, very dangerous creature in her own right, she just has to learn what she’s doing. Part of that is getting involved in sexy sparring with Parrish; she’s learning how to defend herself and fight alongside natural fighters. Part of that is her current spiritual journey with Meredith, learning to focus and use her banshee skills as part of her fighting repertoire. She’s been avoiding it for a long time, but like Kira, she’s going to have to embrace that part of herself if she’s going to make it through this current danger with her mind and body intact.
The other characters are more concerned with repairing relationships with others, rather than figuring out who they really are and what they can really do. Liam and Hayden, Mason and Corey, Malia and Theo, and of course Scott and Stiles. There are a lot of make-outs, and a long road trip into the desert for Scott and Stiles to hash everything out and realize that their problems could have all been solved with simply talking to one another.
Will Wallace’s script gives roughly equal weight to the character reunions and two training montages, which works because, at its core, Teen Wolf needs some action if it’s not going to go in for horror. It’s also nice that they worked in the mythology of both the skinwalkers and the real-life Beast of Gévaudan, among other things. That’s something Teen Wolf hasn’t done much of lately, and it’s nice to see it return, alongside Gerard and a teased return of third-season villain Deucalion.
Kira’s segments were appropriately action packed, and Lydia’s segments were appropriately creepy with good use of slow motion and some very fun camera angles to add to the spice of those segments. There’s not much you can do to make making out interesting, but Jennifer Lynch does her best to make the various pairings romantic, or at least interesting to look at. I would have liked to see a little more horror worked in this week aside from Lydia and a pretty good dark swordfighting scene, akin to the Ra’s al Ghul training sequence in Batman Begins, but with half-naked people smeared with mud or giant glowing-eyed robots instead of ninjas.
All in all, it’s a nice return to form after a disappointing previous episode. There was more action, more focus on characters we already like, and more of a sense of direction throughout. I hope this sets the tone for the push through the end of the fifth season, because I could use a little more focus and a lot more carnage in Beacon Hills.