Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Teen Wolf, Season 4, Episode 12: Smoke and Mirrors

Kira moves through the spooky catacombs lined with bones looking for Scott – a lot of tension and a cameraman who clearly wanted to work in horror films - and instead she finds berserkers, one of which beats her to the ground. By his tattoos it’s Scott… so the berserker transformation has taken hold it seems. Kate arrives to talk about her arrival there – at the temple of Texcatlipoca where she found the Berserkers and can both control and create them; she’s also La Lopa, the bone woman. She reminds us all about Scott’s special alphaness and how he’s never had to kill which is something she wants to change. And Scottzerker stabs Kira.

Kira isn’t dead – but she is badly wounded with a knife wound in her chest. She hallucinates her mother teaching her how Kitsune’s heal (apparently pain triggers the healing. This also implies that being stabbed in the chest after being beaten up by a berserker is painless). There follows some unpleasant battering of the obsidian walls and playing with the glass to produce more pain to actually heal.

In Beacon Hills, Stiles wants to go to Mexico on a rescue mission while the Sheriff wants to use proper legal channels rather than storming into another country with a bunch of teenagers. Stiles declares he’s going anyway and the Sheriff is faced with the utter horror of keeping Stiles in town when he puts all his little creative mind into finding a way to go. He finally pleas for some time

Stiles and Malia still grab a pillow from Scott’s bed for scent tracking and try to talk Liam out of coming (and casting scorn on Baby!Wolf for not having seen Star Wars). Since it’s the full moon and he has no control.

Braeden and Derek are also planning to run to the rescue and Derek is having death angst because he misses his super powers (also a Banshee keeps saying he’s going to die). Braeden and Derek definitely seem to have a happy dappy couple and not just a hot sexy couple. Peter arrives while they’re considering how to kill a berserker and he offers… help. Yeah, no.

The end result of all this is bringing Peter AND Liam (using a prison transport van. Hey, didn’t Jackson the Kanima break out of one of them in season 2? And they got said van because being a US Marshal may not actually be Braeden’s cover… it may be accurate. Or she may have just used her cover. Because MYSTERY). Baby!Wolf and Evil!Wolf? This rescue looks promising! Peter also throws in that Kate may do to Scott what she did to Derek and, in doing so, maybe steal his True Alphaness which werewolves can’t generally do (BEHOLD IMPORTANT PLOT POINT! This is why Peter can’t just kill Scott to become an Alpha – not until Scott kills and taints his noble alpha-y-ness). He also has a big pep talk about how Berserkers are totally inhuman and you shouldn’t even hesitate to kill them. Anyway they head off – without Lydia since she’s not answering her phone, so Baby!Wolf ropes in Mason to go looking for her (Mason is on call when Liam needs anything).

Mason doesn’t find Lydia – but does find her phone and a berserker and they both end up captured.

On the journey, Peter tries to corrupt Malia and Derek even pulls the whole “look Liam, I got a magic control talisman” that we already know is epic bullshit (Stiles and Derek sharing conspiratorial glances confirm that). This doesn’t work so they play with mantras instead (and trying to rapidly teach him the meaning of them which someone really should have done before now). I also kind of think it may have been a good idea to put Peter and/or Malia in the back with Liam rather than Stiles and Derek.

They arrive at their destination and straight into combat – with Derek quickly being smacked down (but not dead – yes I’ve been expecting him to die for several episodes now but he keeps on going).  Everyone is horrified by Derek being badly injured (including Peter); Derek insists they find Scott while leaving Braeden with him.

This is also when the Sheriff notices his son is missing and calls to rage mightily down the phone – Stiles enlists him to check on Lydia at the school. Call ends when another Berserker (theScottzerker) arrives and everyone runs until they make a stand – Malia sending Stiles to look for Kira. He finds a healing Kira and she quickly tells him about the Scottzerker. ZOMG that means the gang could be killing Scott!

Because, everyone has had such a good record for doing any damage to Berserkers? (Even mini-zerkers).

Outside, that leaves Braeden with the remaining Berserker and Kate. Where we are reminded, yet again, that Berserkers are bulletproof, yet Braeden still decides to shoot it and not Kate. Thankfully the Calaveras and Chris Argent (he got over the whole sucking stomach wound) and Deputy Parrish pull up with impeccable timing and lots of guns (to further prove to us that berserkers are bullet proof).

While they all shoot the bullet proof thing, Braeden goes back to Derek… and he dies. All that teasing has finally come to pass. They actually killed him. He is actually dead.

Back in Beacon Hills the Sherriff arrives to rescue Lydia and Mason. Berserkers are bullet proof. Berserkers are not claymore-mine proof (and he has them because one of the many assassins used them). When all else fails, use high explosives. Lydia realises it was all a plot to keep her out of the way so she couldn’t use her Banshee insight to realise they’re trying to kill Scott (why, everyone ignored your multiple warnings about Derek).

Back to La Iglesia where the gang is fighting Scottzerker – and Scottzerker is an awful Berserker because they’re actually winning. It’s only Stiles and Kira arriving at the last second that stops them killing him. It distracts them though and Scottzerker starts fighting, knocking down Malia, punching Stiles while he stalks after a cowering Liam (we’ve seen repeatedly that the established tactics for fighting a berserker is to crawl away helplessly). Scott grabs Liam and he puts on his best puppy-dog-eyes. Baby!Wolf’s appear to Scott not being a monster – as Scott once told him he wasn’t a monster – gets through; Scott strips off the Berserker bones.

Scott emerges in full Alpha mode – and glares at Peter; he’s put 2 and 2 together and realised Peter is the villain (this would not have been a surprise to anyone paying attention). Peter has his own villain monologue about his family power being usurped (which is… dubious since Derek lost his Alphaness, Scott didn’t steal it). Peter wolfs out (even if he’s blue-eyed not red) and when Malia leaps at him (behold, his daughter is clearly on Team!Scott) he throws her across the room. Time for the fancy wolf distortion voices as Peter and Scott (does anyone care about Malia with a possible broken spine? No? Ok then) posture before the fight begins.

Outside, everyone is dying as they continue to shoot the bullet proof thing. Someone of them even charge at the melee monster while firing their guns so it can kill them faster. And somewhere along the lines Kate seems to have become bulletproof as well (why? How? What?). Just as the head of the Calaveras is about to be eaten by Kate a wolf arrives – an actual wolf, fur and all, with glowing blue eyes. Everyone stops because it’s a dramatic entrance and the music just hit full epic. The wolf savages Kate – and turns into Derek

Nope, not really dead. Well, I have to give Teen Wolf points for me actually believing it for a moment there. I blame the Banshees. Apparently he was “evolving” because he’s a pokemon now (and, what, is Lydia a Darwin Banshee? Does she scream when she detects genetic mutations?). Naked Evolved Wolves also have the power to crush Berserker heads which is handy because everyone else is now just standing and gaping (Derek’s impressive naked, but c’mon, life and death fight?)

And Chris shoots his sister, Kate, with a wolfsbane bullet. She runs off and Chris staggers after her

Inside, Scott and Peter fight and Peter is winning – I think the message is Scott isn’t ruthless enough to fight Peter despite Alpha vs Beta. But then Peter throws something at Liam and Scott’s uber-protectiveness kicks in. Peter is sent flying across the room. After a dramatic pose and cutting line, Scott knocks Peter out. No, he’s not going to kill him that would kind of defeat the whole “we’re not monsters” meme.

Chris catches up with Kate who tries to claim she’s isn’t the bad guy and blames Scott for Allison’s death (hey, remember her?) Chris isn’t buying this revisionist history. Kate runs and leaves Chris to his 8 bajillion kinds of epic pain.

Aftermath – Chris goes with the Calaveras (he made a deal with them to help hunt Kate so long as they left Scott alone. Are there even any Calaveras left?!) They dose Peter with Wolfsbane to take him back to Beacon Hills and do… something with him (lock him up in Eichen House, apparently with the creepy three eyed guy who breaks people’s minds which is so much more moral). Derek asks Braeden about her marshal-ness but apparently she was sacked when she became obsessed with finding the Desert Wolf (that would be Malia’s mother). Stiles, Sheriff and Malia (aww) all have a group hug (and Malia’s all happy about that). Stiles also gets handcuffed to the desk by his dad – I give it… 40 minutes of holding him.

Kira brought some obsidian home that her dad turned into a throwing star – Noshiko explains it’s her first Kitsune tail.

Liam, Scott and Stiles explain why they missed practice to Coach. Which is hilarious, as always.

And Lydia promises Parrish she will help him figure out what he is (because they seem to be slated as love interests – which is creepy and not ok).

I liked the moment when Malia sent Stiles after Kira – no gender roles nonsense, not “oh I must protect my girlfriend”. She’s the supernatural, she can fight – he cannot. It’s that simple.

The berserkers annoy the hell out of me. There has been these indestructible monsters running around since the beginning of the season and no-one did any research about them, their weaknesses or how to kill them. One thing everyone did learn is that they’re bulletproof. So what do they do? Shoot them. Over and over and over again. Do they hope that the banging noise will eventually become so annoying the Berserkers will run away? The Sheriff had the presence of mind to upgrade his ordinance, why didn’t the actual supernatural hunters.

But the actual finale was a very satisfying, epic episode. We have a lot of loose ends for next season – which I’m wary about – but that’s next season’s problems. For the time being I can be happy with this episode

The whole season though? Not so much

It had a lot of excellent potential storylines – Liam the new wolf, Scott getting into the role of Alpha, Lydia expanding her banshee abilities and discovering her grandmother was a banshee, Kira learning about being a kitsune and actually developing a relationship with Scott. Malia adapting to human society after having missed years of her life. Everyone’s grief over Allison’s death. Even the Mccall’s and Stilinkski’s money trouble. There was a lot to unpack here.

And we did none of it. Oh we got a lick and a promise, but that’s about it. The first few episodes of the season were random and advanced nothing. Derek randomly lost his powers which became a great big distraction (even him and Braeden, which has potential, was another added storyline that just wasn’t developed). Malia’s adaptation to this world became random jokes while we focused more on her and Stiles (because this show needs more straight relationships, apparently). Then  Parrish dropped in as Mystery Supernatural (but no development), there were berserkers – no development until the end. The Calaveras were about and there was no real reason why. Nothing was developed – just mentioned then left to kind of shrivel.

And then we had the Benefactor storyline. It actually started well. It was creepy. It was scary, it really brought home the whole “who are the monsters” meme. But the assassins got more and more ridiculous (Assassin DJ? Really?) dragging out for episode after episode and in the end the whole damn thing was basically “explained by the crazy”. There was no motivation there, no reason, not plot – just tie it off and stick mental Illness on it as an explanation. And I still don’t know why Lydia’s grandmother’s hidden computer was involved.

So a huge chunk of the season was spent on a plotline that ended up making little or no sense. Kate, who could have been the season’s big bad, just kind of lurked around in corners for most of it. None of these vital plot lines were developed. Peter as a big bad only worked as a twist if we completely forget everything he’s done to date. Allison’s death as well as Isaac and Danny’s complete disappearances are just all ignored. It ended up being confused, dull and lost – exacerbated by it HAVING potential – but there being all these plot lines that could have been good.

And then there’s this whole Scott-is-the-true-alpha-so-special. Everyone says it –but we never see this. We never see what makes Scott’s True Alphaness special (and, again, if they developed Scott as an Alpha, helping Liam, talking to Derek, then maybe it could have been sold).

Kira, Lydia, Malia, Braeden AND Kate all made it to the season finale. I’m shocked.  But I don’t think Kira got developed or used as much as she could have been this season – or Malia or even Kate as the true villain to be honest. I’m glad to see Braeden is now becoming a more central role – and we have hints that it will be as more than a love interest; but that’s more foreshadowing for what could be next season than actual development this season.

Dr. Deaton is still there as a resource – and one that is only rarely consulted at that. It’s a waste of a potentially awesome character and he deserves so much more.

Mason is a classic T-Dog chain. When tokens Danny and Ethan were dropped last season, they brought in another token; and Mason pretty much does what Danny did in season 1. He’s hardly around, when he is it’s to help and support a Straight, White person.  He knows the big secret, I guess, so potentially there may be some involvement last season? I doubt it though. The only thing more galling than this show’s tokenism is that it’s still trying to see itself on being so inclusive.

There was also some culture raiding going on – they were happy to bandy around the names Tezcatlipoca, La Loba and the Nuhual but there was no real development of them. These are all Latino/Meo-American myths and legends.

Teen Wolf has been renewed for another season – pick it up guys, because you risk crashing and burning.