Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Teen Wolf, Season 6, Episode 20: The Wolves of War

Opening dramatic scene: we have a teenaged werewolf called Alec fleeing hunters when Scott and Chris rescue him in order to tell this super dramatic story full of drama.

So back to the present with Deucalion just being shot by many many bullets and everyone fleeing for cover. They’re joined by: Stiles (you knew he would be back. And yes with Derek - of course with Derek, they’re not giving up on that, ever. Both of them have amusingly different versions of who saved who and who carried who out of an FBI firefight). Ultimately it turns out rank amateurs with guns, at night, don’t do all that good against werewolves et al. Alas the good guys don’t seem to be murdering the people they beat. Good guys really need to work on that

With the remaining Hunters fleeing, that leaves Deucalion to make a big inspiring speech which is just a little bit too schmoopy. I mean Deucalion being all inspiring and heart rending? It’s Deucalion after all. He’s not fluffy. But we’re on lots of drama and epic here (which is really really really well done, I’ll be honest. Everyone gets a moment and it’s all kind of awesome, I admit, I like it).

Gerard calls to mock him and call the war on (and Derek speaks up confirming his presence which is terrible strategy) and he mocks Scott with his plans: he has Parrish and Rafael (Scott’s dad) and Jackson and Ethan all captured. And Liam is stuck in the hospital and he’s about to get ambushed and murdered. MUAHAHA Gerard is going to make Scott split up all of his pack trying to rescue everyone because he’s just too good and all divided they can be murdered. He mocks Scott because Gerard has such perfect strategy compared to Scott

Yeah yeah tactics and strategy. Here’s my counter:
When your army is made up nearly entirely of completely untrained amateurs with big guns fighting people who are most certainly NOT amateurs and have supernatural physical skills (and night vision) you need 2 things to win: Range and Numbers. Arranging to fight Scott’s army at night, in a hospital, school and mental institution - places with narrow corridors restricting numbers and lots of rooms and corners and cover and no nice long fields of vision are Not. Ideal. Location. Choices. Gerard, your strategy is terrible.

And three truck loads of hunters just got their arses well and truly kicked despite all their weapons because they attacked at close range at night.

I also want to know where all the other Supernaturals of Beacon Hills are? Over 6 seasons this nemeton place has managed to show off wendigo, werewolves, kitsune, just about everything but none of them appear to be around for this grand war. Hey the sheer number of supernaturals should be able to mass kill these hunters even if they’re all angry were-chinchillas.

Anyway, Scott is still holding on to the idea that humanity is basically good and just needs the Anuk Ite to remove its evil influence and then peace will reign.

Oh sweet, Summer child, bless his heart.

Time for a lot of fighting!

At the hospital, Mason and Corey have their token cameo, kiss - then realise after a whole damn season, that invisibility is actually damn useful and manage to hit a couple of hunters. Melissa wakes up Nolan - and can someone check if he’s supernatural? Because he was punched half a dozen times or more in the face hard enough to knock him unconscious without a split lip, a black eye, a nosebleed, a single bruise? Anyway, Melissa grabs him up to his feet, and roughly drafts him into the fight for the hospital. And she has a big taser which she’s more than willing to use.

The main fighters are Liam and Theo willing to fight together and taking down a whole corridor of inept fighters who really shouldn’t be fighting werewolves in confined spaces. Liam’s also kind of saved by Nolan who then ends up in a fight with Gabe before one of Tamora’s minions, at her instruction, shoots at them. Missing Nolan and killing Gabe - redeemed Nolan, and thoroughly demonised Tamora, now officially the worst. Theo also manages to let Gabe die peacefully by taking his pain - Theo is now officially redeemed as well

Never mind a couple of episodes ago he couldn’t take Mason’s pain because he doesn’t
Care. But he can take Gabe’s pain who is the enemy? Uh-huh, this is a terrible redemption. Bad redemption.

But the hospital is won. And the fight scenes are kind of awesome. Really awesome in fact. About time we saw the supernaturals kicking arse

Jackson is imprisoned but manages to rescue himself by asking the guard to come close and examine his claws. Which he does - and then gets strangled by his kanima tail. Yes the guard with the gun came close to look at the monster’s claws. Henchmen need better quality control. He doesn’t have to fight anyone else though because Lydia arrives and screams an entire room full of people into unconsciousness. Those enclosed rooms are bad for fighting werewolves and really really bad for fighting Banshees. Stiles is jealous of Lydia’s hugging Jackson so Stiles/Lydia is back on

Stiles and Lydia learn Jackson is in a relationship with Ethan and Stiles reacts like Jackson just announced he was the emperor of China. Which is still preferable to Lydia’s reaction which is ““I thought you’d never figure it out”. What? No. Can we not have straight people knowing LGBT people’s sexuality before they do. Don’t do this. Don’t make your already shallow cameo a joke.

And what did he have to figure out? Teen Wolf is supposed to be a place without homophobia, which is one of the reasons why the gay characters don’t get storylines; a big thing was made of Jackson’s best friend being gay in the early, desperate milking for inclusivity cookies. In a world without homophobia, without negative pressure, WHY did Jackson take such a long time to figure out he is gay or bisexual (and I’m going to say gay since apparently his sexuality caused issues with Lydia’s relationship that she noticed and identified before he knew)?

Get me back to the action - they pick up Ethan and head towards the school.

At Eichen House, Sheriff Noah Stilinski confronts his deputies and pulls out a few levels of bad arse, shouting them down and giving his three deputies a thorough kicking. Duly convinced and now deeply Respecting His Authority he makes them release Parrish (and Rafael) and turns them to his side because he IS the Sheriff, thank you very much. Parrish also has a nifty trick using hellhound fire to make guns glow red hot and make more mooks drop their weapons and head for the hills.

Basically pretty much everything’s going terribly wrong for Team Gerard here but throw in some more. Tamora does manage to shoot Scott with the yellow wolfsbane - but Derek knows the cure (burning it out. Which is unpleasant of course) so it doesn’t do a lot but make Scott look brave and tough

While at Gerard’s base, Kate Argent his daughter is furious that Gerard gave the wolfsbane to Tamora and not her - that he chose Tamora over his daughter. Gerard dismisses her - because she’s a monster, one of them now. And he shoots her with yellow wolfsbane. Which is when Chris arrives to confront his dad and tell him that he’s lost, that Scott knows how to defeat the Anuk Ite and everything’s falling apart. Gerard finally throws in his motivation - Scott destroyed his family. To which Chris points out they are his family - then he turns and leaves. Leaving him with Kate, and angry werejaguar. I’m assuming Gerard is well and truly eaten now.

But things aren’t going so well against the Anuk Ite at school. Slowly it catches member after member: Peter, Derek, Ethan, Jackson, and many more. The whole pack is being turned to stone, people just can’t resist their instinct to open their eyes: Malia can still heal a heartbeat in the statues so they live - but that won’t last as Tamora has her remaining forces prepare to destroy the statues

Scott finally ends up in the Library, which is the centre of all the bad things in Beacon Hills, really, desperately trying to confront the Anuk Ite as it invokes many of his old enemies (including the Stiles-Nogitsune which was awesome) to try and make him open his eyes.

Instead, Scott gouges out his own eyes. Daaaamn… Scott’s alphaness is showing

Without the ability to turn people to stone, and no more fear to invoke, the Anuk Ite isn’t really a match for Scott at all who beats him back and reveals the weakness. The Anuk Ite, seeking more power, possessed werewolves: Gwen and Aaron. This gave him the strengths and powers of a werewolf: but also the weaknesses as we find when Stiles throws a whole box of mountain ash at the Anuk Ite.

Which turns him to stone… ok mountain ash is well established as the werewolf weakness but it doesn’t generally turn them to stone? But hey I’ll run with it since “weakened by mountain ash and then dismembered by Scott” would also work.

Every statue returns to human form and the minions Tamora had menacing them are quickly defeated - including one beaten savagely by a late appearing Coach because why not? Coach is iconic, we had to have coach. Tamora heads for the hills.

Scott and Malia kiss - so he can calm down enough to heal his eyes and so we can close the season with this relationship clearly established.

It’s time for a conclusion… and it’s weirdly open ended. We got Scott talking all positively about how they were known to a lot of people now but they had a lot of friends and kumbaya. We see little cameos of all the characters (And Melissa and Chris together) and we even briefly remember Deacon exists. It’s nice.

And then we return to the opening scene, with this all being a story Scott tells Alec as he brings his pack together ready to fight Tamora and her thousands of followers…

That’s one hell of a cliffhanger to leave it one when this is the last ever season of Teen Wolf! This is less leaving the door open for a spin off and more outright demanding one (possibly with Alec as lead?)

Aside from that odd ending the episode was one of those deeply satisfying ones in a simplistic, but fun way. Lots of action, everyone getting their moments, happily ever afters all round, lots of awesome, and Scott standing forward and being front and centre - and rightly so. It was a good ending. It was fun, action packed, a fun read and y’know sometimes it’s great to see good guys take everyone down

I have generally liked Teen Wolf - throughout all its seasons though I know others would certainly disagree with me. I think it evolved well and actually became a lot more as we moved beyond it’s fun, schlocky roots and aimed for some nice doses of epic. The inclusion has been poor (more on that later) and the writing has more than its share of plot holes and no show has been as egregious in its blatant product placement - but the world was fun, the characters were compelling, the acting superb and it always had those moments of epic I really liked. It was fun to watch and generally always has been

I think this season has been one of the weakest though - I think particularly since Teen Wolf hasn’t quite known what to do with itself with it ending and the whole spin off rumours. In particular since introducing Liam & his friends it’s entered an odd dynamic.They went from extras and side characters to almost trying to force Liam into a dual-protagonist role: you could almost feel them trying to pass the baton on and it lead to some weird places, de-emphasised Scott (which has been a problem throughout this show: Scott is an awesome character who has been overshadowed on occasion) when he is the heart of the show. There were also too many changes from season 5 and then 6A: dropping Kira for no good reason, Stiles largely away (obviously because the actor is doing other things), Deacon falling off the planet, even Hayden leaving: the core interactions that have been the foundation of the show weren’t there and the new gang (missing Hayden) didn’t have enough to fill it in (how much have we actually seen of Liam and Mason together? And where did Theo fit in at all?) and they didn’t draw upon their deeper talent: Sheriff Stilinski, Chris, Melissa to bridge the gap (which would have been an excellent fall back). The dynamic - the very thing that made this show work, was missing

In terms of Inclusion, Teen Wolf has always had issues. It’s great that we have a latino protagonist but this season in particular the constant pushing of Liam as heir apparent threw Scott far in the background which is a shame because he is an awesome character and, as we saw in the finale, the show shines when the focus is on him. We have 3 Black characters, but I actually thought Deacon died and I missed it as he’s been so absent. Mason does the classic, token, 5 minute appearance-every-3-episodes bit to show some diversity and then run off. And Tamora is the big bad. She wasn’t even a sympathetic or complicated big bad, because they just didn’t develop that well enough. She’s just evil person of evilness. Underlying this from the start was also the appalling treatment of Kira, Arden Cho wanted to return and they cut her - was it just for the Malia relationship? Because I can’t see why Kira couldn’t have fit in this season

Teen Wolf has generally not done well with women in its run either. Malia and Melissa are both awesome, I especially love Melissa but she was so underused. Malia has grown a lot from her days as weak comic relief, actually making her alien viewpoint a more powerful character element. But Lydia? Lydia has turned from the intelligent, insightful, snarky and brilliant character to a vision dispenser which is tragic.

Teen Wolf loves to toot its horn (got to love how they didn’t interview any LGBT actors for this) over and over again about it’s LGBT representation: and thankfully has faced backlash for it. But they keep doing it - Mason is a token as mentioned above who barely appears and then for no meaningful role. Corey even less (as well as his appalling representation): I actually thought he was dead or had been written out. Teen Wolf pulled it’s old habit going to all the gay press to yell and scream “Jackson and Ethan kiss!”. 10 minutes in 2 episodes. This is what they sold us. Let’s be frank - Teen Wolf doesn’t have LGBT characters. It has tokens and cameos and expects to be worshipped for it. These are crumbs, they don’t deserve praise.