Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Teen Wolf: Season 2, Episode 11: Battlefield

 This episode begins stylistically very different with Stiles narrating various things to Ms. Morrel the school guidance counsellor. It’s an elegant and very powerful and emotional way to bring together just how much happened last week. It brought it all together, everything up to date, and added a whole truck load of emotional impact. This scene needs applauding.

We move into the action with evil Grandaddy Argent, new master of the Kanima, using the weregecko to hold Melissa McCall (Scott’s mother) captive while he talks to Scott. He wants Derek and his pack, to avenge his evil daughter, Kate. Melissa can’t deal with any of this – the weregecko or Scott as a werewolf for that matter, and just wants Scott to give Granddaddy Argent whatever he wants.

Meanwhile Erica and Boyd are worried about the whole being a werewolf thing and the risk that comes with it (especially since there’s suddenly a whole lot of howling going on). In particular, to live they want to find another pack, another alpha, one that isn’t under attack by the evil Argents. And since they heard howling, they assume there’s another pack that they could join and they’re leaving.

Isaac didn’t join them and went to Dr. Deaton instead where Scott and the vet are treating a dog – and we get to see a new werewolf power, apparently they have the ability to take the pain of other creatures. It’s a bit randomly inserted (we didn’t get to see this before) but still kind of nicely done. Isaac is there to ask for Scott’s advice – and planning to leave during the lacrosse game as well, same as Boyd and Erica.

That night they run, running off into the woods – but are hunted by Argents. Including Evil Argent Allison who decides to join her murderous family and shoot Erica with an arrow. Erica urges Boyd to run. Helpless and shot in the leg, Erica lies there unable to stop Allison shooting another arrow at her – an arrow that is caught by Boyd. Allison the fills Boyd full of arrows, forever confirming her as a villain. Finally it’s Daddy Argent that has to stop his sadistic daughter. Can we have all the Argents dead now?

As if that wasn’t bad enough for Derek, Peter Hale comes to talk. Though Derek isn’t in the mood for talking and attacks Peter while Peter offers help and advice since he has failed so badly. Ouch, methinks that hurt rather more than werewolf claws. Pete goes on to try and convince Derek to work with him.

 And Peter has a big bargaining chip – he knows how to stop the weregecko, how to save Jackson. A Kanima has no identity, to restore him back you need to restore his original identity – by appealing to his heart. Though it’s Jackson – which means you have to find someone he cared about (oh dear, this is Jackson). Peter points out he had a connection with… Lydia. We then get a wonderfully cheese hailing of the power of love and that Derek, who masters anger, needs Scott because he has Heart.  Hey it’s dramatic enough for me to forgive any amount of cheesiness.

Scott was going to ignore the game, putting it off as meaningless. Except Jackson is back and ready to play. Jackson is in the changing rooms – but he knows there’s something wrong. Not only is he not noticing when people talk to him, but he warns Danny to keep away from him and run if he sees Jackson coming towards him. And Granddady Argent has stepped in and benched Scott- ensuring he won’t be on the field to stop whatever he is planning with Jackson.

We have a moment where Stiles reflects on how helpless he feels next to all the werewolves and the weregecko – but it’s broken by him actually getting to play for once! I love how Sherrif Stilinski watches  him run onto the field and asks “oh no why’s he doing that?” expecting the worst – Melissa has to remind him that Stiles is actually on the team. Unfortunately, he isn’t the best player on the field.

And Granddaddy Argent reveals his plan  - Scott has until the last 30 seconds of the game to give up Derek. If he doesn’t, evil granddaddy Argent will set the weregecko on someone. Isaac then joins Scott, deciding to help him fight off the weregecko is necessary. They need to get Scott on the field – and the only way they can do that is if Coach has no choice but to put Scott in the game – so lots of other guys need to be… injured. Which is Isaac’s job. He succeeds with most, but in the end, Isaac is clawed by Jackson and has to be taken off. Replacing him with Scott.

Melissa rushes out and asks Scott what’s happening – something more than a lacrosse game. Scott tells her to run but she refuses and takes back everything she said before – and tells Scott to help if he can.

In the bathroom, Isaac is trying to stand while full of weregecko poison and evil granddaddy Argent advances with a sword – but behind him is Scott, riding to the rescue. And Stiles rallies, scores and helps lead the team back to victory as well. Yes, all the epic comes together, yes it’s cheesy and I don’t care, it’s awesome. The game ends, people celebrate – and the power goes out, plunging them into darkness.

When the lights come on it’s Jackson who is down on the field, no breathing, no pulse, bleeding from apparently self-inflicted wounds. Melissa runs to help and demands Lydia (power of love time)  help her.

Sherriff Stilinski runs on the field – and finds that Stiles is missing.

I have to take a moment to praise the quality of the acting on Teen Wolf. The emotions in the scenes, the drama, the pain – it’s all incredibly well carried. I haven’t seen anything like it for a long time

The same goes for the directing and the amount of tension that’s maintained throughout this episode. It’s dramatic, it’s emotional, it has sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat moments. And I am desperate to see the next episode and what happens next (dear writers: if you kill of Stiles, I will find you. Yes yes I will. Kill of the Argents instead).

I never expected Teen Wolf to be this good, I admit. I thought it would be cheesy (and it is in many ways), I expected it to be clichéd and a bit silly, shallow and fluffy. I am shocked at how truly excellent it is – and the amount that is packed into each episode.

I love to see Scott’s growth. In the first season playing lacrosse was such a vital part of his life. But now, with all the people he cares for, all his responsibilities and all the dangers, he sees it as meaningless.

Jackson’s development as the weregecko is also well done – he can see that something’s wrong with him, he knows he’s dangerous but he can’t stop or control himself. All the character development is really well done making the 6 main characters, and even most of the side-characters, very real.