This review contains spoilers.
5.5. A Novel Approach
I love it when an episode ends on a cliffhanger, then we go right into that very spot we left in the next episode. I don’t like waiting around for closure; I want something immediate, and in the case of Teen Wolf this episode, I wasn’t left wanting. Indeed, the “last week on” montage ended with Stiles getting grabbed, and then seamlessly the episode starts with Stiles after being grabbed by Donovan and his new toothy leech-like mouth-hand. It’s an immediate shot of adrenaline, both for the viewer and for Stiles, who escapes his tormentor and saves his own life by breaking one of Scott McCall’s only rules: Stiles killed Donovan. Sure, he killed him by dropping a bunch of metal pieces on him and impaling him, but he killed him nonetheless.
This serves as both a thrilling beginning—watching Stiles fight for his life is always great—and a suspenseful follow-up—while Stiles waits for the police to arrive and investigate the body while having a really impressive mental breakdown. Of course, when Beacon Hills’ finest show up, there’s no body to be seen. In fact, the whole crime scene has been cleaned up and completely put back to normal, minus one tell-tale blob of blood left behind to let us know that it’s not a figment of Stiles’ imagination, but someone coming by to clean up the mess.
It’s not just Donovan in the library with the steel bar, it’s all over Beacon Hills. The animal hospital, where Tracy was being examined? She’s gone. The morgue? The bodies are missing there, too. Someone’s disposing of evidence and making these bodies disappear, but why exactly is Parrish covering up the piles of dead shape-shifters? And if the doctors are creating them and Theo is working alongside them, what is Parrish’s role? Clearly he’s involved somehow, if only as the clean-up man. The attack on Stiles is the kick-off point for the entire episode, as the alarm goes off at the animal hospital, rousing Scott and Kira from a sleepover. The three meet with Lydia and Malia concerning the Dread Doctors book, and there’s only one clue: Dr. Valack. Time for a field trip to Eichen House!
I have to say, Dylan O’Brien remains the best weapon in Teen Wolf‘s arsenal. When it’s time for Stiles to have his breakdown early in the episode, O’Brien sells it spectacularly, with a combination of great facial expressions and great physical work. Even his breathing sounds panicked and worried, and later on when Scott and Stiles discuss Kira’s almost-killing of multiple chimeras, that guilt and panic over killing Donovan bubbles to the surface and helps create more tension between the eternal BFFs. Even when the four of them (the BFFs plus Kira and Lydia) go off to Eichen, the construction of the building forces the two to separate, leaving Stydia to square off with Dr. Valack while Scott and Kira slowly grow weaker due to the building’s mountain ash content. If that doesn’t scream “here come the Doctors” to you, then you’re not paying attention.
Tim Andrew did a phenomenal job behind the cameras this week. O’Brien’s performance was great, and the way that particular conflict was shot was awesome as well, kind of a throw-bask to the more horror-based first season of Teen Wolf, but with a guy who grows spontaneous mouths on his neck and hands (and who basically hangs out while impaled through the chest, which was a stunning visual). As if that wasn’t enough, the appearance of the Doctors at Eichen House was even better, particularly the crane shot of the kids going through the gates starting at gate-top level then dropping down as they march up the stairs on the grounds, only to all turn at once when the gates clank ominously shut. When Kira’s powers start to go haywire due to the interference of the ley lines under Eichen, the visuals only get cooler. Say what you want about how the show takes its visual cues from Highlander, Scott carrying Kira through the halls and out the door while she arcs and sparks fly behind them looked awesome.
The script was also very intricately constructed this week. The fact that Valack planted the clue in the book (that he wrote) isn’t surprising, but the fact that the book was written to waken sleeping memories hidden by the Dread Doctors is going to power some very fun stuff later this season, especially when the gang actually starts reading the book. Angela Harvey also did a wonderful job of reminding us that Stiles and Lydia were almost a thing, and that Stiles’ ability to see through people is both good (for Lydia) and bad (for him, as it seems that death after death is finally getting to his secretly sensitive soul). She also doesn’t overdo the flirtation between Malia and Theo. It’s clearly Theo being manipulative, since he gets the girl involved in a car accident behind the wheel of his Toyota Tundra and waits for the breakdown, but it also seems like actual flirtation. As for Stiles and Lydia, their scenes work because they’re clearly not flirting with one another; the two love one another in that way that close friends do, and Stiles can’t help but be protective of Lydia due to all they’ve been through together, even if Lydia does have a scream that can shatter plexiglass and free a possibly dangerous maniac with a hole in his forehead.
Not too far into season five and I’m really enjoying the way things are going thus far with the show. We’re still in the building phase of the main plot, but Jeff Davis and company are making sure every episode has something happening, so rather than a slow climb, it’s more of a plateau every week that continues to elevate tension. It’s like an elevator; you’re not really noticing you’re going up, but all of a sudden you get off and you’re on the top floor and three leathery pseudo-scientists with electricity powers are waiting for you. It’s already been a fun ride; that’s only going to get better.
US Correspondent Ron Hogan didn’t have a great time learning how to drive, but he was definitely better behind the wheel than Malia. He only had one sobbing meltdown, not several. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.
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