Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Teen Wolf, Season 3, Episode 19: Letharia Vulpira

In a rather different setting, we appear to be in a Japanese home with a very very very upset man brandishing a gun who is very very very upset about his dog who looks very very sick. He has called for a doctor and it close to shooting people if the doc doesn’t arrive in time – my some people love their pets

The doctor arrives – Dr. Deaton. Who apologises for being late in Japenese before getting to work – the dog is apparently a wolf but that’s ok, Deaton has a little experience with wolves (snerk. Though I still hold that the “wolf” part of the Teen wolf is pretty questionable). After touching the wolf’s forehead and looking at his teeth, Deaton decides the wolf has eaten poisonous lichen (damn he’s good) and needs to see the garden. Man with gun orders one of his lackies to show Deaton the way… and he hesitates

When an angry man with a gun is considered less threatening than the shrubbery, there’s something going on. The man with the gun rants at them but they all avoid his eye – that’s some fierce shrubbery. He takes Deaton himself to an incredible walled garden including a fountain covered in the lichen – but even he seems nervous. Looking at the fountain we have a flashback to when it wasn’t lichen covered and when the yakuza nogitsune confronted the oni – and he bled into the water.  Which may be why the henchmen want nothing to do with the place

Deaton doesn’t actually think the wolf ate the lichen – the wolf probably sensed what happened to the dead man (apparently the current angry man’s father) and won’t go near the place; the angry man pulls a gun on Deaton who doesn’t batter an eyelid. Excuse you yakuza man, Deaton is mid exposition, that does not get interrupted. The lichen is letheria vulpira, a wolf poison apparently. The wolf is sick because Deaton used a paralytic agent on him – and on the yakuza blokey when he helpfully held a jar Deaton handed him (because Deaton’s kind of awesome like that). He drops… but did he just say “kanima” before he fell?

The lichen is born from nogitsune blood and is quite quite special and very very powerful because of it. And Deaton is going to use it to poison “a fox hiding inside a teenaged boy”.

Well Deaton, we missed you, but you came out of the plot box trailing awesomeness.

Meanwhile, when we last left Kira she was outside the hospital, in the path of a broken, live powerline that’s thrashing around quite dangerously. She dodged – but the line causes an ambulance to swerve off the road and hit fire hydrant. Lots of water + live powerline = fun for all the family! The ambulance driver steps in the water and is electrocuted. Newly arrived on the scene Isaac and Allison nearly get wet – but Isaac throws Allison clear, but doesn’t jump free himself.

More people step into the lethal water until Kira leaps over a car and incredibly awesomely (there’s already a lot of awesome on this episode) flips into the water (quite why the flip was necessary I don’t know but it did look cool). She isn’t shocked – and she grabs the powerline DAY IS SAVED. Actually not quite – she then puts her free hand over the sparking end and absorbs the power of the hospital, her eyes glowing golden. She’s watched by Scott – and in the screaming crowd leaving the hospital – her mother.

But Isaac isn’t breathing. Lots of flashes – Isaac is taken to hospital, Agent STILL-isn’t-dead McCall realises sabotage is going on, Stiles has driven off in his jeep and Kira’s mother hurries Kira away before anyone sees

Scott gets up faced with the problem of telling the sheriff what’s happening with Stiles who is still missing; he and Melissa go to the hospital where Allison is keeping vigil waiting to see how Isaac is but they won’t let her in because she isn’t family – because Isaac has no family. Melissa’s not having that – announcing that Isaac has them and adding that she has a keycard she lets them in. Isaac has several severe burns, his werewolf healing apparently not kicking in. Scott can’t help him heal but he does use his werewolf power to help take away his pain

At the police station the sheriff gets a message from Stiles – saying he’s ok and not to look for him. Like that’s going to happen. And Agent McCall (who isn’t dead) wants to know if there’s any yakuza problems in the area, mentioning Katashi specifically, much to the Sherriff’s bemusement.

To school with a quick check in with Kira who tells Scott that Kitsune are tricksters not necessarily good nor evil but probably not understanding either. But for a Nogikitsune to be acting like this, something has probably offended it really really badly.

The coach tells the team to look out for Stiles and sign Isaac’s card – all in his rather inimitable style, when Scott and the twins hear one of the Argent’s noise makers. They head down to the basement and meet Stiles… who promises them it’s really him. The Twins attack anyway so Scott moves in, throwing one across the room and responding to the other’s growl with an “I am Alpha, sit-down!” roar. Yes, that was pretty shiny. Stiles is worried, he knows he was behind the hospital disaster and knows that since then he’s been up to something far far worse. And that may involve the cross country trail and steel jawed traps

At the Argent flat, Chris Argent has a guest – Derek. After the obligatory nearly killing each other it seems Derek also had a sound emitter left in his wolfloft. They raise the scary question of what to do when they do find Styles. They search around and find someone has left them a present - $150,000 from Katashi (Silverfinger) which they refused to take – but it’s there, just as Agent McColl and some police arrive with Katashi’s finger in an evidence bag. A finger they took off Katashi’s dead body. Yes, McCall is being a nuisance again – can something eat him already.

Elsewhere at school, Lydia sees her mother talking to Peter, he vanishes when she gets there but Peter was claiming to be part of the health department setting up student hearing tests. And he gave her his card – well actually he gave her a piece of paper with his phone number on it (“still got it.” I think Lydia’s mother – and her relationship with Lydia – may also be awesome).

Lydia considers hearing to be a coded message and decides to go to the wolfloft to see Peter with Allison. She thinks it’s a bad idea, after all they have no reason to like or trust Peter, but Lydia points out how badly her powers failed and Peter seems to be the only one offering to help her with them

The coach blows the whistle for… a cross country run. Oh this could be messy. Kira and Danny lead the pack while Scott, Stiles and the Twins reach the trail. Ethan tackles Danny and quickly comes up with an excuse of missing him – and kisses him (which is nice and sweet – but Teen Wolf has been using this scene in all the trailers to imply that their relationship/storyline is developing so let me throw in a glare at the marketing people there).

Scott grabs Kira, stopping her. Stiles yells for everyone else to stop and pulls up a chain from their path. Just a chain. Not all that menacing – well that was rather anti-climactic. Coach arrives to mock and be sarcastic – and triggers a trip wire and is hit by an arrow

To which he responds “oh crap” before falling over. Did I mention how much I love the coach? The coach freaks out epicly until Scott uses his werewolf pain-killing power to calm him and have him pass out. They hear sirens as Stiles begins to panic about the fact he nearly killed the coach.

At the police station Derek and Chris are chained up considering that Stiles has framed them for murder (something Derek didn’t think Stiles was smart enough to do which just goes to show how little attention Derek has been paying) and they discuss stalling tactics. Which means convincing Derek not to just leave since there’s no real way the cuffs can hold him.

Back at the wolf loft, Peter tries to get rid of Allison. Given he nearly killed Lydia, they’re not ok with that. He explains what he did in the past and that his bite clearly brought out Lydia’s Bean Sidhe abilities – that wins him no credit since, as Lydia points out, she never asked for that. Nor does his excuse of using Lydia to come back to life so he could HELP her really win him any brownie points.

Allison wants to leave but Peter clearly knows something about Bean Sidhes – the scream apparently doesn’t give them power, it merely drowns out the noise so they can truly hear. Of course he isn’t helping out the goodness of his heart – he wants something in return. He pulls out the box of Talia’s claws (his sister, Derek’s mother) who apparently ripped out one of his memories (being a super-alpha). Which Lydia can restore with her super hearing. Allison and Peter snarl at each other before Lydia tells them to behave and when they don’t Lydia turns the severed claws into rather nifty projectile weapons. Mess not with the bean sidhe. With the claws stabbed into the wall she hears them, hears crying and sobbing and drops the bomb “you’re not just an uncle”.

A baby Peter’s out there then…

Back at where the poor coach was shot and Scott and the twins keep going through Stiles’s supplies and find things that look a lot like Burrows’s bomb making equipment – the bomb he planted on a school bus

To the school and Yakimura evacuates the school buses, getting everyone clear from the buses except one kid, Jared. He has a package, wrapped in the paper Stiles had, and he was told not to move.

In comes the new deputy whose name I’ll have to remember since he’s just expositioned so much about himself to keep Jared calm that he must be a recurring character. He carefully opens the box… but it’s not a bomb. Inside is Sheriff Stilinski’s name plate from his office. And the sheriff remembers the package he received at the police station – yes there’s a bomb. No, it’s not at the school.

Chaos in the police station as everyone panics, someone struggles to free Chris and Derek – when Derek hears the bomb in the package, getting him and Chris to duck – Derek sheltering Chris with his body

Yakimura goes into the school where he’s met by his wife. He pushes her to talk to Kira and pulls out a book with 9 slots in it: he talks about how she’s already sacrificed 5 tails and lost 3 oni. He asks how many tails she will sacrifice and she says “all of them” if she has to – and takes a knife from one of the slots in the book. She snaps it and there’s a flash of power – Mr. Yakimura flinches. She then pulls out a second knife and breaks it as well – apparently creating much much stronger Oni.

They look out the window and at the Nemeton, more fireflies emerge.

At the police station there are lots of cries and chaos and calls for ambulances as lots of police are down. Derek’s not in great shape but he lives and Chris realises the werewolf saved his life – which is way more than any Argent deserves from Derek. Stiles begs Scott to help one of the down police with his pain – he does, but the policeman dies. The Sheriff yells at Scott to get Stiles out – who is confused and guilty and in shock and acting his little heart out and Kira, who was watching her parents, warns them to get Stiles away. They flee to Deaton’s vets since it’s lined with wards

They arrive – and the Oni appear. Stiles runs inside while Scott and Kira fight them – and Kira realises her awakening kitsune-ness doesn’t just make her run really really fast but also means she kicks arse. But in the fight, Scott is stabbed. They get him inside, Kira moves to remove the sword – and Stiles grabs her arm and knocks her unconscious. Evil Stiles is in control. He grabs the sword and starts twisting it, revelling in Scott’s pain. The nogitsune feeds on pain and chaos – and Scott has been doing that a lot this episode: Isaac, the dying policeman, coach – and now Stiles wants him to transfer all that pain to him. He puts a hand on Scott’s face and it transfers to him, revelling even more in that and we have flashes through the episode of Stiles clearly manipulating Scott to absorb that pain, setting all these incidents up to put Scott in a position to do it. As Stiles says “never trust a fox.” They fool everyone…

Except Deaton who comes in from the side and injects Stiles with, presumably, the poisonous lichen. Stiles collapses. As the last one standing, Deaton gets to pull the sword out of Scott (y’know, when someone is impaled with something you really should leave it in there until you get to a hospital). Deaton warns Scott the fox is poisoned but it’s not dead – not yet

Back at the wolf loft, Peter wants to know more details about his kid – menacing Lydia when she says she doesn’t know – so Allison tases him. It’s always fun to see Peter tased. Alison and Lydia leave. And after some checking decide that Peter’s long lost child is Malia Tate – the werecoyote.

I love how the characters in this show handle potential explosives. We shall CAAAREFULLY open it (because a trigger based on the lid gives a damn how careful you are). Or we shall carefully run our hands around the edges to make sure the box isn’t attached to anything – then casually carry it across the room.

What is interesting to see is that Evil Stiles has caused all this utter, terrifying chaos… without one shred of woo-woo. Obviously, intellectually and from experience we know all this chaos is easily created through mundane methods, but it’s still unusual on a show with a supernatural element. The human, the mundane is seen as just that – mundane, pretty harmless.

I’m so very all in with this plot line – so much action and questioning and power and emotion and some truly superb acting. (Evil Stiles? Is so very very very evil. And Deaton can be very very very menacing).

I have a problem not so much with Teen Wolf but how it’s marketed. There is a lot of really undeserved praised for Teen Wolf having gay characters that it shows for a split second; we have gay characters with tiny, minor roles – stop pretending we have more than that, it’s insulting and it’s homophobic. But that’s the fans – what is annoying is the show plays to that, along with the slashbaiting, in its previews and marketing. If you had watched the previews for this episode, you’d be mistaken for thinking that Ethan and Danny’s storyline actually advanced… or that they actually HAD a storyline for that matter. It’s baiting, and it plays on the desperation for SOME representation on TV and certainly in this genre. Teen Wolf has some very minor gay characters playing very very small, briefly seen roles – at that it’s still depressingly more GBLT inclusive than most shows and certainly most shows we’ve followed – but it’s not more than that; pretending otherwise is an insult.