Allow this to sink in for a moment: “Lies Of Omission” is the penultimate episode of the first half of Teen Wolf’s fifth season. Keep in mind that the Dread Doctors’ entire concept is still ill-defined, Theo’s motivation apparently now relies on Hayden’s survival,* Parrish still has no idea what he is (so we’re going on two and a half seasons of that), and Kira has been sent away. Again. Yes, “Lies Of Omission” is an episode of Teen Wolf that relies on a lot of lists of what is or what is not going on in the lives of Beacon Hills’ teen residents (and Parrish).
(*At the beginning of the episode. By the end—and thanks to the clip for next week—it appears that Liam killing Scott is what it relies on, and Hayden is an easy pawn in that plan. Why would the Dread Doctors even care to help Theo with his supposed plan to eventually usurp Scott? Why aren’t they experimenting on Theo?)
As Scott McCall exposits at the beginning of the episode, five days have passed since last week’s episode, “Ouroboros.” Stiles and Lydia have been looking for the dead chimera bodies (but haven’t confronted Parrish about them), Sheriff Stilinski has all of his deputies looking for chimeras (but hasn’t told them what they’re really looking for), the Dread Doctors and chimeras are nowhere to be found, Scott’s heard nothing from Kira, Deaton’s also gone radio silent, Corey and Hayden (who was certainly more worse for wear) have healed, and no one is talking to each other—not even the no names who litter the Beacon Hills High School hallways. It’s an info dump for sure, but it’s an info dump that could be good, if not for the fact that Teen Wolf season five needs these info dumps in order for it to feel like there has actually been some natural forward momentum. This is a season where we were told from the beginning that everything would be leading to the dissolution of the group, and this opening montage is basically said dissolution, all packaged in a neat little box.
Five days was also apparently enough for Liam and Hayden to turn from friends in peril to drunk in love youths. One could argue that it’s just the speed in which teenagers engage in relationships, but based on the sixth grade blood feud and the two of them just now accepting each other as people, the puppy love that comes with this episode is out of nowhere (except for in the case of it being necessary for Liam to really hate Scott). It’s definitely a relationship that is based on stressful events and probably wouldn’t have lasted or even come to pass in ordinary situations. Put into that context, it’s even more ridiculous.
Given the episode title, it’s important to note that there have been lies of omission throughout this entire season, but this episode isn’t really one with a purpose of revealing them all. For example, Malia’s still keeping the Desert Wolf stuff to herself, while also shouldering the weight of again being the one to see a pretty gnarly Dread Doctor kill. In fact, this episode is a reminder that Malia continues to remain an afterthought as a protagonist, despite how rich (and different) the character’s back story and experiences are compared to others at this point. Back in season four, when I would address the fact that Malia needed a tutor and to possibly be home-schooled, I wasn’t joking. I also wasn’t joking when I questioned where her father was all the time. That season took what could have been a pretty interesting character study about PTSD (at the very least) and made it a joke. Now in this season, Malia’s character thankfully isn’t really played for laughs, but as the show often features the character in a fairly physically strong role (she’s really done a lot more heavy lifting in this season than Scott has), it also constantly dials that back, either to show a strange flirtation between her and Theo or to keep her in the shadows with the Desert Wolf plot-line.
Kira and Parrish are wild cards who can’t control themselves. Theo is a villain. Liam is a joke, and come the full moon, is also a wild card who can’t control himself. Lydia knows kung-fu, which as we know from the season premiere, does her no good. Scott is incapacitated. Malia is the only supernatural good guy who has been physically able to match up to any of the threats this season, and she’s still treated like a tertiary character in these situations. She’s not the alpha, Scott is… even though she’s not even a wolf, she’s a coyote. Why is that major difference not addressed, especially given how she lived her life until recently? There’s a great moment in the episode when Malia tells Stiles that she can’t deal with another death, because she’s not like Scott (all but flat-out stating that he lets the deaths happen), but that ends up being the end of Malia for the episode. This character is the one seeing these deaths close up, after actually doing something to try to stop them, and she’s earned this frustration. But as a viewer of this character, who is kicking the most ass this season, there’s the frustration that comes with watching the show constantly move her to the backburner (which is the onscreen version of sending Kira out of town).
Then again, brute force doesn’t appear to be the Dread Doctors’ weakness anyway. So what is their weakness? The audience doesn’t know, but Scott and the pack haven’t exactly been putting in a lot of effort to figure it out themselves. The cell phone jammer trick (which was supposed to be a low budget version of Eichen House’s electromagnetic waves) was supposed to be a repellent, not a fix. Scott and the pack are concerned with finding, saving, or stopping chimeras, but the actual weakness of the Dread Doctors never appears to cross their minds. Is it the power of love again? Is it the power of love and friendship? Is it in that book they all read? If so, should they all read it again for comprehension? The Dread Doctors are uninteresting thanks to their unstoppable nature at this point, with no one even thinking about the bigger picture of how to stop them—unless it’s happening offscreen, as Teen Wolf’s attempt to pull one over on the audience again (see: The Benefactor). As of this episode—and only this episode—we know it all has something to do with the supermoon that’s coming up. So now the lunar pattern is part the Dread Doctors’ already scattered and complicated mythology. There’s that.
There’s also the fact that this season is one with mass deaths of Beacon Hills High students, which should be a game-changer. Where a lot of that fails, however, is that a season like this, one where hundreds of teens, hundreds of our protagonists’ classmates and peers are being killed, works a heck of a lot better in a show where there is a strong sense of the background, supporting characters.
To pull out the Buffy comparison as this season wraps up, there are no Jonathans or Amys in this show. The world of Beacon Hills really is full of nameless faces outside of those involved with the goings-on of the series. It’s no secret that turnover on Teen Wolf has been high with both its regulars and supporting characters, but the closest Teen Wolf had ever really gotten to a Jonathan or an Amy, besides Danny, was Coach Finstock. (And he’s not a teen.) So as these chimeras show up in the form of these kids we’ve never seen (except for Hayden, who we keep seeing), why should the audience look at them as anything else but fodder? Why exactly is the audience supposed to care about Corey or even remember his back story? His introduction is actually as the significant other of another undeveloped chimera, only for it to then turn out that he is also a chimera. Because of all of the skin grafts in Beacon Hills. I’ve praised the Tracy pit stop in this storyline multiple times, but that’s because it was a competently done horror tragedy for the small amount of time it was part of the show; really, I know more about Tracy in her two (not counting the Dread Doctors-induced hallucination) episodes than I do any other chimera but Hayden, and Hayden has had a lot more screentime.
And it’s not as though the writers of Teen Wolf can be totally unaware of the problem, because the only thing that makes having hundreds of teens massacred “okay” is the fact that we don’t know or care about them. But it’s hard to latch onto a story with that attitude as well.
In the land of the living, after weeks of Theo playing it all close to the vest, he finally starts getting bold and making moves (keeping with the late-game forward momentum). For better or worse, subtlety isn’t really Teen Wolf’s thing, and keeping a character the , audience already knows is unhinged reined in isn’t really all that fun. So this week, Theo finally gets to be “fun.” The fake concern and crocodile tears Theo lets out during his “confessions” about Donovan’s death to Scott and Sheriff Stilinsky, respectively, are the best scenes Cody Christian has had on the show since the one with Theo’s “parents.” They’re also the most interesting Theo and his plan have been, which is mostly a reminder than eight episode before this have been duds for the character. Of course, Theo’s lack of subtlety should be a red flag to Scott throughout the episode, from the beginning (as he’s “counting on” things getting worse) to his mini-conversation with a Dread Doctor right in front of a fairly conscious Scott. But that’s what season finales are for, right?
The funniest thing about all of this is that “Lies Of Omission” is a really good episode of a hypothetical better season of Teen Wolf. I’ll admit it: On a personal, non-critical level, I absolutely enjoy this episode. Even on a critical level, this episode is actually better than most of the rest of the season’s episodes. Tim Andrew’s directing in this episode brings out some interesting choices, especially the use of shadow in the fight scene at Sinema (which finally gives that set a real function). With the exception of the sunnier scenes, “Lies Of Omission” absolutely captures the feeling of dread that lingers all over Beacon Hills, especially the high school; and that’s really Andrew’s doing, especially in the locker room scenes (despite the gross lack of lacrosse this season) and that opening info dump. Even the final Scott and Stiles scene works (from an acting standpoint, really, doing the emotional job it needs to do), despite the cliched choice of having it be in the pouring rain and going the very TV/film route of both Scott and Stiles omitting the key elements of the argument that would allow them to realize Theo played them. But that enjoyment comes with the understanding that this episode and season haven’t necessarily earned the emotion of the good things they’re doing here.
In the actual season the episode is in, it is a cut above the rest. But at the same time, the episode is a reminder that Teen Wolf is again trying to do a bunch of things in its last episodes to make up for underwhelming previous episodes—which also brings up thoughts of the writers starting from the end and working their way back. Things happen in this episode, and it’s unfair to completely dock it for being a part of an otherwise lacking season.
A version of this season of Teen Wolf that really earned this isolation and despair would have this as a hallmark episode, because the idea of season five as the one that leads to an isolation as they all realize they’ll go their separate ways post-high school is an interesting one; that’s how the season started after all. Things like the AP Bio class and even Mrs. Martin pointing out that the whole pack (especially Malia, still) should focus a lot more on school work are interesting in part because the audience is tired of the stagnation that comes with keeping these characters in high school for a ridiculously long time (see: Pretty Little Liars). Mad scientists that can prey on people’s fears (if that’s even what the Dread Doctors really do) is a different spin from what Teen Wolf typically does, and there’s no reason that should be a weak villain arc. Everything falling part is so much more interesting than everyone being broke, and that should lead to some interesting places. Season five of Teen Wolf comes across as believing all of that but not knowing how to execute it. To ask for a do-over is ridiculous, as is hoping for things to change. All we can really ask for is for Teen Wolf to eventually learn from its mistakes, like we would ask of any teen wolf.
- This week’s terrible hashtag of choice is “#FightLikeABanshee.” No.
- I legitimately do not understand the majority of what the Dread Doctors say (even on rewind), and if that’s not an ominous mood killer (and also just a lack of foresight on the sound mixer), I don’t know what is.
- Hayden starts this episode of the belief that the Dread Doctors don’t come out during the day, which as far as I know (and as this episode proved), has never been a rule for the Dread Doctors. Maybe everyone should have kept talking to each other just so they could realize they’ve done a terrible job of researching the Dread Doctors.
- Despite Stiles’ protests, Lydia confronts Parrish about his whole ‘sleepwalking with dead bodies’ thing, because as she points out, “it’s always better when they know.” Lydia is literally the only one thinking clearly at this point. She also brings up the fact that Parrish isn’t just hiding the bodies, he’s hiding the supernatural. Is that a phoenix power?
- Speaking of better when they know, Ms. Martin knows and she does not care. People’s grades are at stake!
- Corey (you remember Corey, right?) continues to spend most of the episode looking a lot like Theo, but he also spends a good portion of it being invisible, literally, until the Dread Doctors kill him. He also has a scene with Mason, which explains that the chimeras are getting stronger, but he really has no bearing on the episode. By the way, it looks like all-knowing IMDB was wrong about Corey being in 21 episodes.
- Liam was honestly planning to run away with Hayden. Liam is an absolute idiot this season. The same goes for him thinking that Scott would turn a volatile experiment like Hayden into a werewolf.