Teen Wolf delivered the penultimate episode of the first half of its sixths season, “Memory Found”. For how climatic it was supposed to be, it came up short in a few departments. Let‘s see which ones.
The senior pack prepares to freeze themselves in a cryo chamber to enter into a trance and thus make themselves remember Stiles. Meanwhile, Liam and the Sheriff are planning to serve as a distraction and bait for the Hunt to give Scott and the others enough time. Liam tries to convince the Sheriff that they need Theo’s help, and Sheriff retorts that he’ll rely on Theo when he doesn’t have a station full of armed deputies at his beck and call.
Only to enter the station and find out that he does not, in fact, have a station full of deputies. They have all been taken. But apparently he had no trouble remembering them. It seems to me like the Ghost Rider power over memory stopped working in the last few episodes.
Anyway, Scott enters the cryo chamber first, and is overwhelmed by his memories of Stiles. The girls outside are worried that he‘s in danger and Malia wants to get him out. Lydia bids her to wait.
The Sheriffs considers letting Theo out of the holding cell. We see what is pretty much a retread of the previous episode‘s scene as he bargains to be let out. Only Sheriff is better at this than the junior pack was. That makes sense, I guess. After Theo tells him something about Stiles – “he was smart enough not to trust me” – he is set free.
Lydia realizes that Scott is getting overwhelmed by memories. She provides a visual for him. He‘s supposed to imagine individual memories shut in lockers at school. Scott starts to go through them, but he doesn‘t know which lockers to open.
The Sheriff, Liam and Theo hear the Hunt arrive. They talk about there being about five Riders, and what chance they stand. When the Sheriff opens the door, however, there‘s a small army and he‘s shot immediately. The boys run.
Malia remembers that Stiles said he and Scott were like brothers and reminds Scott of this. That makes him remember the instance when Stiles talked him out of setting himself on fire in the creepy motel in season three. He feels the connection to his friend, but they have to pull him out of the cryo chamber because he‘s getting too cold.
Liam and Theo drive to the hospital, where Liam starts an ambulance siren to draw the Hunt in. Theo has flashbacks of his sister killing him. He and Liam argue, both stating that they won‘t help the other. Liam declares they should have left Theo in the ground. Theo retorts that he wasn’t exactly chilling in there. Um, dearie, and Liam should care why?
Malia enters the cryo chamber next, with a library visualisation, and remembers her first meetings with Stiles. She also thinks back to the times when he was trying to keep her calm and reassure her. But they have to take her out of the chamber, too, and still no portal to the Way Station has opened.
The Hunt arrives at the hospital and looks for the boys. Liam tells Theo that they are going to get caught anyway, and that he could either go out running or fighting. Theo chooses fighting.
It’s Lydia’s turn, but she couldn’t really survive the cryo chamber, so she makes Scott put her in regular hypnotic trance. She visualizes memories of Stiles on a TV, and sees some back from season one.
Liam and Theo are holding out surprisingly – and unrealistically – well against the Riders, killing a few, but there are still more coming. Theo shuts Liam in an elevator to save him and serves as bait for them.
Lydia remembers the moment she first kissed Stiles, back in season three. That helps her remember the last time she saw him, even though, you know, she had already done that once in “Radio Silence”, and that she never told him she loved him. And lo and behold, a tunnel with a light at the end appears, with a silhouette there which is indicated to be Stiles.
As you can probably guess, I do not believe that this episode quite worked. It wasn’t exactly bad, but it didn’t deliver on points where it could have easily done so.
First, let’s take Theo. Why does he get a redemption arc? This is the guy who killed his sister and then all of his friends. He coldly manipulated everyone around him. How does he come to his redemption? Is it because of the suffering he went through in his personal hell, did it teach him empathy?
Fine, but in that case, there should have been signs of it right from the start, as he emerged from the ground. However, he acted like the usual Theo the bastard the entire time…only to switch gears when his life is at stake, and when it wasn’t even all that necessary?
My only hope is that we will find out int he next episode that he tried to join the Hunt after he shut Liam in. But I seriously doubt it would have worked, and it’s not quite in accordance with his dedicated fighting before. So I’m afraid that an actual, genuine redemption arc is still the most likely option. If that’s so, it was an exceptionally badly done one. It lacked the necessary build-up, the character work to make it effective or even convincing. Why didn’t he just jump on the elevator as well?
And speaking of this, the entire fight in the hospital made no sense. Last episode, Liam and Hayden couldn’t handle two ghost riders. In “Memory Found”, Theo and Liam make short work of several. Have the Riders simply forgotten they have guns? They tend to conveniently do so when our protagonists are in danger. Theo and Liam should have been dead the moment they faced the riders. One bullet for each would have done the job. More, they should ahve died alongside the Sheriff, since it doesn’t appear they had proper cover. It’s downright offensive that the Sheriff went down that way, but our golden protagonist and a random antagonist survived.
And, as you probably gathered from the recap, I do not understand how was Theo behind bars again, and why did we have to watch the rehash of the same scene with him.
The last problem could have been easily solved with more consistent direction and writing. As for Theo, all it required was a little more thought put into how his character would act this season.
Teen Wolf gave us two redemption arcs this season, and both were half-asses and hurried and badly done. With Peter, I can at least understand why they would attempt one. It would have packed a bigger punch had Derek or Cora still been in attendance, but it works with Malia, too, and he is a character with elaborate history at least. With Theo, I draw a blank. He was a one-season villain with no redeeming qualities. I might not agree with Liam that he deserved perpetual torture, but that doesn’t mean I needed to see his redemption.
Speaking of that pronouncement of Liam’s, this is a theme I expected this season of Teen Wolf to explore, and which would have justified the inclusion of Theo. Peter, too, would have worked well for it. He was subjected to mental torture in Eichen House, Theo was subjected to mental torture in some form of underworld. It could have been explored, in an interesting manner, whether they truly deserved such punishments, and whether anyone does. And what is the justice in a punishment without a trial.
It wasn’t, and instead, we got two hollow attempts at a redemption.
And then, of course, there’s the elephant in the room whose name is Stydia.
Let me reiterate that if this was always meant to be the end game, a well-done romance between the two that had time to develop would have been fine. But this is not what we got. So, what, the showrunners found out that Dylan O’Brian wouldn’t be available for this season but were so committed to their endgame pairing that they didn’t let a little thing like “no room to develop the relationship” stop them? I’m sorry, but that’s not a good approach. It was a minor irritation in the background until now, but in “Memory Found,” it blew into fully offensive proportions.
We have Scott remembering the time Stiles risked his life to save Scott’s, in a deeply emotional moment and one of the strongest interpersonal ones on the show. We have Malia remembering their actual relationship, which lasted for quite a while and in which he was of crucial importance to her even if she wasn’t to him (as this season seems to imply). He was, as she says, her anchor. A best friend and a brother, a boyfriend and an anchor. Pretty significant relationships, you would think.
And then we have Lydia remembering…a kiss. A kiss she gave a friend to get him out of a panic attack. But of course that’s going to be what breaks the barrier to another world, not close friendship of almost twenty years. Kisses are magical, didn’t you know? And romantic relationships – no, not even relationships, romantic pining – is the most worthy form of interpersonal relationship. All others pale in comparison.
If they had a long, intimate romantic relationship of many years, I wouldn’t say a word. If Lydia’s memories concentrated on the friendship between her and Stiles over the years, I wouldn’t say a word. Or rather, I’d still insist that the friendship between Scott and Stiles was closer, but it’d be better at least. But to focus on the kiss? Seriously? That has so many troubling implications, and it doesn’t work on the character level either.
“I don’t think anyone had the connection like you guys.”
Actual words Scott says to Lydia. I’m sorry, but footage not found. That’s just not true. There is no evidence of this in the past seasons of Teen Wolf, not unless we count this season stating such things over and over again in a desperate attempt to convince us. Yes, they are friends. Close friends. They are not the closest friends, however, and a shared kiss won’t make them so. Nor will it make them an established couple.
We can try to interpret the Stydia kiss as saying that all three of the senior pack had to remember and only the combined emotional energy of their memories would open the gate to Way Station. But it still remains a problem that the kiss, not that scene between Stiles and Scott, was the climatic moment. And notice how no kiss made it to Malia’s memories? Apparently they didn’t want to overshadow the endgame ship…
There isn’t much more to say. Liam’s story was good. He was in character, with his little imperfections but still a good and decisive leader. I liked his vigour in fighting, too. His heroic sacrifice at the very end was moving, and so was his frustration when he was shut in the elevator.
Sheriff was well done too, for the little while he was there. I appreciated his treatment of Theo in particular.
Malia was fine, but there were no particularly strong moments for her – though her attempt at a hypnotic voice was marvelous. Scott would have been excellent, if his rightful position wasn’t stolen by the Stydia focus.
And as a final irritation: of course the only self-declared atheist will be Theo the bad guy. I suppose that it happening in the episode when he has his fit of redemption is a little better, but since I hate the redemption so much, it doesn’t really help.
Here is hoping that the mid-season finale will leave less of a bad taste in my mouth!