Teen Wolf brought the third episode of season 6B, “After Images.” The plot thickens and escalates, and Gerard shows what a terrible bastard he is, in case we forgot.
Brett, the werewolf shot by Gerard at the end of previous episode, is running through the forest trying to get away. His sister, Lori, goes to see Scott because Brett is missing and she found his lacrosse stick covered in blood. Mason is playing videogames at Liam’s and when the finish, basically invites himself to stay over. Liam wonders why, and Mason admits that he keeps seeing the headless dead body they found everywhere. Including Liam’s bedroom.
Brett running and masking his tracks is intershot with Gerard teaching the young hunter (weird schedule lady) the ins and outs of the trade.
Melissa tries to do an autopsy on the headless corpse, but keeps getting terrified and the lights keep flicking on and off, and finally she runs out of the morgue. Mason gets Corey and they go see Lydia, who tries to induce a vision of where Brett is. The two just keep disturbing her, but she manages to write “68” in different languages in trance. She decides to go to the high school to try and get another vision, this time alone.
Liam, meanwhile, joined Scott, Malia and Lori – finally the pack is being divided in logical ways – in tracking Brett. They find the arrow he was shot with, so they know a hunter is after him. But since he’s not dead yet, they decide it’s an inexperienced hunter. Well, they are half-right.
They track him into the underground tunnels. There, he hides near the ceiling on a support beam as Gerard and the young hunter have a conversation bellow him about dividing and conquering.
Soon enough, we see Lori triggering a trap and Scott jumping in front of her. The thing was huge and he’s seriously injured. So, predictably, they split, Malia remaining with Scott and Liam going with Lori. Melissa called Chris, who expresses some surprise at that. He goes into the morgue and gets terrified as well. They go in together, and with mutual support, Melissa manages to get a tissue sample.
Mason and Corey sit in the library when Nolan, a creepy-looking kid, is addressed by the kid-mutated-by-a-fear-demon. You know, the one whose head was eaten and whose body they technically found. The kid-slash-fear-demon urges Nolan to find out what Corey is. Nolan goes to talk to him and stabs him in the hand with a pen, then shows everyone present that his hand healed.
Liam and Lori find badly injured and poisoned Brett, and just then, smoke and “dog whistles” go off. Liam tells Lori and Brett to go while he faces in the direction of the smoke. Well, he’s never been exactly smart, so I guess this is in character. Soon enough, naturally, he realizes there is no one in the smoke and follows Lori.
Scott and Malia have a moment of tenderness which makes it explicit this is a ship they’re actually intending to sail. Malia also insists they should have called Stiles. Then they realise one hunter who knows the tunnels well and could set the trap that got Scott is Gerard, and hobble after the rest of the pack to save them.
Lydia meets Nolan at school and notices that his lacrosse jersey says “68”. She realises it’s him. He says “you’re one of them” and runs away.
Melissa analyses the sample under the microscope and finds out there is no DNA, no cell structure, nothing. Which is impossible. She and Chris are about to say goodbye. It’s awkward and then Chris brings up that he should have called, after the kiss last half-season. They both agree that they wanted to call, then Chris starts with some “I should go” nonsense. Fortunately, Melissa stops him.
Lydia informs Mason and Corey that Nolan wanted to expose Corey, and that she was wrong about her vision. People won’t be turning against each other, people will be turning against the supernaturals.
Lori and Brett climb out of the tunnels and Brett is immediately ran over by a car. Liam then jumps out, shifted, right into the light of many car lights, and countless civilians watch his werewolf rage at seeing the dead Brett. Gerard explains to his young apprentice that yeah, he set that up. He’s building an army, you see, and nothing is quite as useful for that as fear.
A half-season about how hateful jerks can use fear to turn people violent is very relevant right at this time, but it also makes it harder to watch. There were moments when I felt this should have trigger warnings, though I’m not sure what exactly they would warn against. “Gerard being even even more of an asshole than usual”? Actually, that might be legit.
Anyway. I’m getting a little tired of watching all non-protagonist characters die, while the permanent fixtures remain consistently unharmed. I have already complained about this, and this episode made it even more obvious. It was clear from the start that Brett was going to die, yet we were strung along for forty minutes, watching Gerard’s evil masterplan come into fruition. Evil masterplan that was very much a Batman gambit. I mean, how did Gerard know Brett would run into the tunnels? Or was the trap rigged a long time ago just in case someone went there? And the “dog whistles” were planted with the same intention? How long does the battery in those things last? I could go on.
When it’s supernatural villains who are presented as omnipotent by the story, it’s lazy but tolerable. When it’s an old, sick guy, it’s just immeasurably irritating.
(And speaking of his illness, he seems surprisingly chipper. Did he get a miraculous cure, did he get the bite, or is this his attempt to have a last legacy before he dies? An army to fight the supernaturals? If the last is true, my question remains: how is he so healthy that he can run around and prepare traps? Is that part of this new omnipotent perk he seems to have gotten on his last level up?)
Who is doing surprisingly badly, on the other hand, is Liam. Was he not supposed to be getting ready for leadership? That arc seems to have been there at some point, but most of his progress was now erased. A few times, it seems. As it is, it makes one wonder how in the world could Scott believe Liam could handle the pack. But I don’t want to repeat myself too much, though this particular thing will never stop bothering me. Let us just say that is is a persistent issue.
And speaking of contrived plans that work unbelievably well – literally – there was the whole pen-stabbing business. Maybe the fear demon was controlling the reaction somehow, but if he wasn’t…I don’t think that’s how it would go. The people in the library saw a guy violently stab another guy with a pen. Then they saw that the stabbed guy wasn’t actually hurt. I don’t think the takeaway from that would be “wow, Corey sure is something supernatural”. I think the takeaway would be “wow, Nolan sure is dangerously violent, it’s a good thing he wasn’t strong enough to actually harm Corey with that pen.” It would be Nolan they feared after this, not Corey. Not unless they already had some very solid suspicions, at least.
But on the positive side, Froy Gutierrez, who played Nolan, really acted his face off. There is no one too shabby on this show, but he knocked it out of the park with his creepy act in the library. Some credit should also go to Tyler Posey for directing this. The close-ups of Nolan’s face were particularly effective, given how well he acted.
Clearly, the fear that permeates Beacon Hills also brings out the love in people – something that would actually make sense – since we had not one but two romantic moments. Both were more first hints of a development than fully fledged scenes, and I expect to see more of those couples in the future. I think Scott and Malia have a potential for an interesting dynamic at least, with her independence and him being tightly bound to his friends and responsibilities.
Chris and Melissa are being developed in an interesting way, giving depth to their pretty random kiss from last half-season. I hope we will see some adult relationship exploration there. They both have their own issues in the past. Their spouses were idiots, and Victoria’s end was traumatic enough for Chris to have some further reservations. I look forward to seeing some of that reflected in this relationship I’m becoming more and more interested in.
Especially as it’s virtually guaranteed Chris will have some personal hell to go through when he finds out about Gerard’s involvement. I sincerely hope they won’t go with the rather obvious trope of Chris sacrificing himself to stop Gerard. He is one of my favourite characters, one of those with most depth, and I would hate to see him die. Which I do realise might sound contradictory to my previous comment about none of the main cast ever dying/suffering lasting damage. But, well. Chris would not be my first choice for that. The fact that he is on the edges of the main cast is just one of the reasons.
And speaking of lasting damage, I truly enjoyed seeing that Mason wasn’t able to just wave the dead body they found away. I very much hope this wasn’t the last we heard of his trauma, though. Because if it was just there to provide a cool episode name, I’m going to be very cross indeed.
We’re fast approaching the middle of this half-season, so I am half-excited, half-worried about what the next week will bring.