Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Teen Wolf Goes Out Without a Bang

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Teen Wolf delivered its last episode ever on Sunday, “The Werewolves of War.” It was one big ball of disappointment wrapped in fanservice. Let’s unwrap it.


We open with Scott and Chris saving a random werewolf named Alec from hunters. They talk about life stories, and Alec asks Scott how his ends. This is where we cut to the hunters with machine guns attacking, the place we left off last episode. But suddenly Stiles and Derek come in and turn the tide of the fight and just do away with the attackers.

It’s confirmed that Deucalion really dies as stupidly as last episode implied. Just before he does, though, he tells Scott that Gerard knows he cannot beat him and it’s what Gerard fears the most. Scott then sheds some tears over the dead mass murderer before Derek starts to explain why he came back. Before he can get to mentioning the special poison, though, Gerard contacts them over police radio in a car to quote Shakespeare at them. For some reason it is Derek who finishes the quote, even though there are three more qualified candidates standing right there. Then Gerard tells them he has Jackson and the others and dares Scott to come for them. It’s made slightly more complicated by them each being in a different place. Batman looks on with understanding.

Mason and Corey decide to rescue Liam on their own, and kiss and confess their love for each other. It just might be the best moment of the episode. Scott and the rest from that group-–except Peter, apparently, because he is suddenly suicidal and likes being alone when there’s an armed group hunting for him—barricade themselves in the animal clinic and Stiles tells his story. The timeline is all messed up, but who even cares at this point. We got the image of Derek carrying Stiles with those memories, so I’m happy.

Scott is about to walk directly into Gerard’s trap because of course he is. Stiles points it out, but it doesn’t help. Scott is convinced that if he stops the Anuk-Ite he will stop the hunters. Even he admits it won’t help against Tamora though. So…does he believe it will help against Gerard? Not even Scott is that naive. I’m confused.

Melissa helps Nolan after he got beaten up and asks for his help “retaking the hospital”. Scott, Malia, and Derek head to the High School to confront the Anuk-Ite. Lydia and Stiles go to free Jackson. Theo is sent to the hospital for Liam. Agent McCall is apparently left to his own devices, and so is Parrish. Fair enough, I guess – they’re both in law enforcement, so they’re less of a civilian victim than the others, and also less underage.

Peter proves his incomparable survival instinct yet again by…walking into the high school alone, finding Anuk-Ite petrified victims, and then just turning with his eyes open when he hears a noise, in spite of Malia’s warning. Surprise, surprise, he is turned to stone.

At least the good guys (for a given value of good) are not the only stupid ones, as the guy guarding Jacksons falls for the classic “come closer to prove you’re not afraid” trap and Jackson eliminates him with his tail and takes the keys to his shackles.

Scott, Derek and Malia arrive at the high school to find the petrified Peter. He’s still alive, but his heartbeat is faint. After staring at him for a moment, Scott comes up with an idea of how to catch the Anuk-Ite.

Jackson stares at a closed door as it’s kicked down by Stiles. There’s a Lydia/Jackson reunion and Stiles acts like an asshole. Then Jackson reveals he’s dating Ethan, and Lydia implies she knew he was gay all along. I guess bisexuality is not a thing this show recognises.

Ethan gets rescued, and Liam gets rescued as well. By Theo, again. We get a rehash of Theo and Liam having the exact same conversation about their fighting side by side we already had several times before they–-again- decide they will fight side by side. Nolan and Melissa appear at just the right time and help. Then there is a lovely shot of Theo and Liam running away from a guy with an automatic rifle in a long, straight corridor. Life tip: this does not work. They would be dead. Also they just eliminated several guys with identical rifles, so why are they running from this one? Oh, right, he’s a higher level boss.

Scott and company are hiding when Malia randomly runs out of cover and Scott, following her, runs right into Tamora’s shot. Malia pursues and Derek chooses this moment to tell Scott that he’s gonna die because he was shot with yellow wolfsbane. Awesome timing, Derek. He then burns out the wolfsbane wound to get rid of the infection and Scott faints. Afterwards, Derek hears weird noises and like Peter, looks around with his eyes open – it runs in the family, apparently. Unlike Peter, though, he doesn’t get immediately petrified. Probably because he is more of a good guy.

The Sheriff saves Parrish by beating up the three deputies guarding him. Just as easily as they threw him overboard a few episodes ago, they accept his authority after being beaten by him now. Because physical strength is the only thing these people respect, apparently. In any case, together with Parrish he then rescues Agent McCall and they prepare for city-wide disarmament.

Lydia finds a petrified Malia, and Ethan and Jackson are petrified as well. Jackson was actually tricked into it, the first sign of intelligence from the Anuk-Ite. Derek walks the high school until he meets the Anuk-Ite pretending to be Jennifer. He knows it’s not real and refuses to look, until Anuk-Ite gives seems to “dominant person” him into doing so’ and then petrifies him.

Kate is trying to find yellow wolfsbane in Gerard’s stock when he tells her that what he didn’t give to Tamora he kept for the bullet for her. Then he shoots her. Before she can die, though, Chris comes in to tell Gerard Scott is still alive and knows how to save everyone.

Scott is in the library, and the Anuk-Ite pretends to be nogitsune-Stiles as he tells him he failed everyone, and especially Allison. Then it strangles Scott as it tells him to open his eyes, and Scott, who has the Anuk-Ite right within his grasps, tells it he knows how to fight it…and tears out his own eyes.

OK then.

He then fights the Anuk-Ite for a few moments until Stiles comes in with mountain ash, which kills the demon and unfreezes everyone who was turned to stone. So Peter and Derek come to their senses just in time to deal with the hunters who were about to kill them.

Liam and company win another fight and Theo has an Important Character Moment™ when he takes the pain of a dying hunter. (Shot by friendly fire, of course, because God forbid our heroes ever kill someone.) Parrish also melts the guns of some other random assholes. Oh and Chris walks away as Kate, who somehow survived being shot by yellow wolfsbane just fine, shifts and tears Gerard apart. Tamora urges her walkie-talkie to tell her what is happening, and Liam responds with “you lost”, which makes her rather angry.

Scott has some trouble healing his eyes, but then Malia kisses him and it works fine, because God forbid any sacrifice be permanent.

We end with Scott finishing his speech to Alec, talking about how that night Tamora ran, but now she’s unfortunately leading an army of thousands of people against them and he will have to fight and tonight they will need everyone they can get. Then like six of Scott’s friends come, and with a “friendship is great” shot of them, the show ends.



That was underwhelming.

It would have probably been underwhelming for a regular episode, definitely for a season finale, and for a show finale…? It was a disaster.

I know I am not being very kind, but there is little good I can say about it, because even the decent moments were ruined by complete lack of context and depth. Everything that happened came from nothing and led to nothing. It was fifty minutes of fanservice only very vaguely glued together by dramatic and/or uplifting music.

Some things were truly only there to remind us “hey, past seasons were a thing that happened” and were simply incapable of having any impact. One of them was Derek’s dramatic moment with Jennifer. Was that supposed to be a thing? He had a crush on her about two years ago and slept with her once, and then it turned out she was a murderer, and then she died. It wasn’t exactly love story for the ages.

Hell, if he has to be tormented by a past lover, let it be Paige. He barely knew her too and I hate that bit of backstory, but if it exists, make use of it. He was fifteen then and she was his first love, and she actually was innocent and died because of him. If something would torment him, it would be her. But no. It’s random Jennifer, because the actress was available I guess.

The same goes for Theo’s moment of deep character development when he was suddenly able to take some guy’s pain. Why? We don’t know. Why should he care about this one more than about Mason? No clue. It was just there because Theo needed to finish his wonderful redemption journey.

And then there were the scenes that should have worked, on paper. That should have been one hell of a big deal. But they simply weren’t, because of how they were written.

Take Derek and Stiles’ arrival at the beginning of the episode, for example. It was robbed of any impact because it was so random and the tension was not properly set up. They just…appeared. Okay then. Then they got a fun memory together because we have to throw a bone to the Sterek shippers, but nothing came of it. Which is another theme this episode: things are hinted at and never developed. I would give a lot to see many of those properly. Stiles’ encounter with Derek, yes, but also the Law Enforcement triad kicking ass, for example. Or Ethan and Jackson together. I loved their dynamic so much! Too bad we only got about three seconds of it.

Back to things that should have worked and didn’t: the nogitsune and Allison callbacks by the Anuk-Ite. That was damn heavy stuff. It should have hit like a ton of bricks. Instead, because the rest of the episode is empty, this is empty too. Just compare the impact of this scene with the impact of the nogitsune when it was actually still operational. It ain’t even the same sport.

Of course, then there are the things that did not work for entirely different reasons.

To start small: I understand they wanted to bring Stiles back for his famous jokes, but as with previous half season, they missed the mark. He did not come into a situation where he would joke. He is actually capable of taking things seriously, but because they only had one episode with him, they wanted to push in jokes at all costs.

The same goes for aggressively asserting his relationship with Lydia by making him act like a jealous prick towards Jackson. Another missed chance to establish their relationship as actually healthy.

But the biggest, most important thing that did not work was the ending, and Scott’s supposed heroic sacrifice.

Which was apparently a stalling strategy.

And got healed in, like, five minutes.

Can you make up your mind?

Maybe Scott counted on being able to heal his eyes from the start. That would explain why he resorted to it when all he needed to do was stall for about two minutes. No big deal, right? Sure, it probably hurt, but so does being hit in a fight. I suppose if you don’t mind a bit of pain and know you will heal, it’s a good way to make sure you do not open your eyes by accident.

if this is the case though, why the dramatic music as we had tension filled views of Scott’s bloodied face? Why the suspense over whether Scott wouldl be able to heal or not?

Nah, the scene was framed as a sacrifice, and that leads to two things. For one thing–Scott, did you seriously mean to sacrifice your eyesight because you needed to stall for a while? That was your best plan? Wow, I sure can see why Gerard can’t beat you. You’re certainly…unpredictable.

For another, the supposed sacrifice was cheap as hell. As long as I have been writing these reviews, I have been complaining that no one has paid a price for anything on this show since the nogitsune, but this takes the cake. The grand sacrifice of the hero of our story…dealt with with thirty seconds’ tension and a kiss. We just couldn’t have a blind protagonist, could we? Not even at the end of the show. Nevermind that Deucalion showed perfectly well that you can lead a pack—- even The Pack—without being sighted. But no, disabled heroes are not for us. What would the viewers think?

The only single thing I liked about that whole plotline was Lydia’s callback to how she helped Stiles with his panic attack by kissing him, even though the Malia/Scott kiss also showed the difference between them almost glaringly. This was a romantic kiss and the original Stydia one was not, whatever their relationship is now. However it was the one callback to previous seasons that worked, so let’s be thankful for small mercies, I suppose.

Almost as serious as the failure of Scott’s final moment was the failure of the Anuk-Ite as a villain, yet again. Just like the Hunt turned out to be weaker than any random group of people with guns, because the death they caused was not permanent, so did the Anuk-Ite too. It sure is lucky for Scott that his enemies seem to have the same distaste for killing as he does. The Anuk-Ite was holding him by the throat and yet it kept insisting he open his eyes instead of just snapping his neck. Tamora’s lackeys don’t manage to shoot two guys running in a straight line with automatic rifles. No incompetence goes that far; it would have to have been intentional. Everyone is just very humane in Beacon Hills.

Which reminds me of another horrific failure: not even Gerard was very menacing. Had you asked me before this half-season, I would have said it’s impossible to make Gerard non-menacing. He messed up his great war as badly as he possibly could have, and then didn’t even manage to kill his daughter when shooting her from about two meters away. The questions about him, like why did he decide to act now, or whether he was healed, were never answered. While in the first episodes of this half-season, he still had some presence, by the end he was just…there. And nothing happened.

This episode was a failure upon failure. While the previous half-season had its low points, I can only conclude—Derek and Jackson’s much appreciated returns notwithstanding– that the show should have ended there.

Images Courtesy of MTV

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