Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Teen Wolf, Season 3, Episode 6: Motel California

It’s hot and dusty and windy with dramatic music and a motel in the middle of nowhere – did I mention the dramatic music? Because it’s really dramatic! It’s also apparently 1977 – either that or someone really needs to update the news stand (I know how that is, you mean to take out the recycling but maybe next week … ), and we have a bloke limping around covered in blood. And the music’s really dramatic.

The blood stain is from a wolfy bite on his side. And it’s the full moon. He pulls out a shotgun, puts it to his head and there’s a gunshot. The man’s name was Alexander Argent. Probably evil then.

And in the present, the school bus for the whatever-trip arrives at that same motel. No-one’s impressed but it’s the closest motel with the most vacancies and the least amount of judgement when it comes to accepting a bus load of degenerates (yes, the coach’s words). And Lydia gets the bad heebie-jeebies about it. Or she is concerned about the hygiene.

Time for some Stiles babble – running down his suspects for the murder (the Darach murders) and Stiles objects severely to Scott trying to take back his “I told you so” moments about Matt being a murderer. Scott, to be fair, he did totally call it. Stiles, to be fair, you called it on just about everyone. Scott is surprised that Dr. Deaton is on Stiles’s suspect list and Stiles is horrified that Scott still hasn’t seen Star Wars (agreed). More shocking – a controlled Lydia appears on his suspect list.

At the motel, Scot’s irises are flaring red again, much to his surprise, and Boyd is… very very tightly wound (though I hate it when vending machines eat my money too). And Scott gets all Hitchcock by going into Allison’s room and being creepy while she’s naked in the shower. He comes to his senses with a memory lapse and leaves

Ok, I would go with him being possessed by the werewolf ghost – but that would mean Allison just nearly got molested by a long dead relative possessing her ex-boyfriend which just takes the icky and then ratchets it up tenfold.

And Lydia learns that the motel has an amazing selling point – more guests have committed suicide there than any other motel in California -198! Woo-woo update the guide books guys! I want to stay in the hotel where the décor is so depressing guests kill themselves rather than spend the night! And why do I think I started watching Teen Wolf but someone changed the channel to low budget horror movie half way through? Let’s add some more creepy – Isaac with a scary possessed face clicking through a TV on static – increasing the numbers from 198 upwards, implying we’re going to get a lot more suicides.

And Lydia, always susceptible to any kind of mystical badness going round, starts hearing those suicides. Thankfully Allison doesn’t decide she’s delusional because after all they’ve seen, a bit of medium-ing is pretty small change. And the walls have an interesting wood grain pattern of screaming faces.

Ok, I do not care if I have to sleep in a coyote den surrounded by rabid canines with a bear due to drop in at midnight, I would not sleep in that motel. Lydia agrees with me but Alison wants to play plucky girl detective. They go down to talk to the owner who told Lydia the hotel’s grisly secret  and the number doesn’t say “198” any more, it says “201”

Yeah, this is me, out of there, using a coyote as a pillow and a bear as a mattress. You would not see me for dust.

Time for some individual terrors – Boyd finds the body of a girl, Alesha, in the ice container (someone who he apparently “left”) and Isaac has a horrifying flashback to his abusive father. Scott sees Deucalion kill his mother

And Danny and Ethan finally get it on! The scene’s a little dark but other than that no complaints – at last! 3 seasons and it has happened! Danny has got some – and a real connection since Ethan is discussing turning Danny into a werewolf. Until the ghosty ruins the mood with strange body popping hallucinations

Stiles, Lydia and Allison have a meeting of plucky people with no super-powers and Lydia is still sensibly advocating running like hell, especially if the super-dangerous werewolves are hallucinating and losing it. But Stiles realises that the suicide number went up by 3 – the same number of the Darach’s sacrifices; maybe the next group of 3 is werewolves? They also find each room has its own bible full of newspaper articles on all the suicides that took place there. WHY ARE THEY NOT LEAVING! It’s like the whole motel comes with warning signs! They do intervene to stop Ethan killing himself with a band saw – or his own claws. I’m not sure why they’re intervening to save an Alpha, but hey, they’re the good guys, good doesn’t always have to make sense or be practical. And Stile reminds Lydia that everyone hallucinating and losing it? That’s happened before – when Lydia poisoned them with wolfsbane.

Lydia isn’t thrilled to hear the suspicion as Stiles tries to sugar coat it; but she stops worrying about that when her next hallucination/spiritual medium event is hearing a woman drown herself and her baby.

Boyd, tormented by my hints of a girl – presumably Alesha – who went missing, tries to drown himself in a bath tub. Lydia and Boyd, guided by Lydia’s visions, rush to the rescue, using the road flares from the bus (that burn under water) to snap him out of the vision (as being burned snapped Ethan out of his). They also use it on Isaac, cowering under the bed.

They’ve got one more flare to use on Scott – but Scott already has it lit. And he’s doused himself in petrol. He has fallen to despair, blaming himself for everyone getting hurt. It’s a powerful emotional scene, incredibly well acted and it’s Stiles who talks Scott down, invoking their friendship and brotherhood. He takes the flare off Scott and throws it away.

The flare is pushed by a phantom wind into a pool of gasoline, but before they burn Lydia pushes them clear. She sees a dark, shrouded figure in the flames, he has a heavily scarred face and the chanting we heard previously forms a backdrop to its screech.

The next day, coach announces they’re all going home – and Ethan sits next to Scott on the bus; he knows Scott’s gang saved his life so tells Scott that they think Derek is alive – but that he killed Ennis. Which means either Derek joins them, or Kali goes after him. Lydia fixates on the coach’s whistle and borrows it – blowing it she finds it’s full of wolfsbane. Every time the coach blew it, he blew the anti-werewolf hallucinogen all over.

Meanwhile back in town. Ms. Blake has managed to carry the much bigger, injured Derek back to the Wolf Loft before finally dropping him. My, she eats her spinach.  She checks his wounds and gasps in shock over his amazing body – oh and he’s bleeding black blood. She applies the essential first aid tactic of pressing her face against his beautiful body. She continues to worry about his severe injuries, discusses the benefit of faking one’s death (as you do) and the sexual tension grows thicker until the inevitable kiss happens. They have sex and Derek’s wounds seal and disappear.

Chris Argent is at the scene of the battle doing his psychic tracking thing and discovering Allison was probably there and not telling him everything.

From there he goes to see… Grandaddy Argent. Gerard. He’s still alive in a wheelchair with black goo coming from his nose and mouth. But he wants information – he’s researched the death of Alexander Argent in the motel, he knows he was bitten by a werewolf – he wants to know which Alpha bit him. Gerard says it was Deucalion.

Wow… that was an episode of wow. Lots of wow. Serious wow. Wall to wall wow.

The theme was incredible - the tension, the creepiness, the fear and the whole horror movie atmosphere of the episode was really well maintained. This was a scary episode and it pulled it off extremely well, from start to finish, there was tension throughout.

There were a lot of emotional scenes and they were incredibly well acted and presented. Teen Wolf is one of those shows that’s easy to dismiss – it has a lot of eye candy and gratuitous shirtlessness, it has a lot of snarky humour, it’s about teenagers, it’s about werewolves – all things that are generally not taken seriously or are put in the fluff column. The acting this episode was far beyond mere fluff quality and epitomises just how much Teen Wolf has risen above the expectations for it, while still being frustrating because it’s format and genre means it (and its actors) is unlikely to ever get the praise it deserves.

And Danny got some! At last! It was a brief scene and it was sadly interrupted and Danny can’t be said to be a major presence on this episode, but after 3 seasons we finally got some action from him that didn’t involve a joke or serving a straight person! Ok, the idea that if you have 2 gay character in a show means they simply must get together is old and contrived, but that’s a really minor complaint compared to the litany I usually have. Now to see where it goes from here – I think a happy ending is out of the question with Ethan being an Alpha.

And Lydia’s visions and panics were an asset and a tool – they were a power for her, not more bedevilment and victimisation. This opens up a lot of questions and potential for her.

I loved that Scott was talked down by Stiles, not Alison. So often on these shows – and in media in general – romance is front and centre and friendship is secondary if at all. Friendship is an excuse for the protagonist to have a side-kick, a foil, an assistant, rather than presented as a real connection with real strength and value. Stiles and Scott have been best friends forever, I love that that was acknowledged, underlined and truly valued for what it was.

And Gerard is back!!! More evil Argents!