The finale of the “summer season” of Teen Wolf starts out trippy, with Scott, Stiles, and Allison emerging from their tubs of icy water and stepping into… a clip show! After the headlong rush of an especially febrile season, everything slows down so the characters, now a couple of years wiser, can see where they were on the night Scott was “turned,” and the male actors can appreciate just how bad their hairstyle choices used to be. In this netherworld of memories and psychic hints, they learn their parents are being held captive near the tree trunk in the woods that looks like an enormous bear claw. When they finally do wake up, the Mystery Vet informs them they’ve been trancing out for a good 16 hours, and that they only have four hours until the full moon rises and the fight scenes can begin in earnest. That’s the great thing about putting the characters into a hallucinatory state where time is elastic; it makes it that much easier to bypass those boring hours that, in the real world, tend to get spaced in between climaxes. A close-up shows that Doc, who knows an opportunity when he sees one, has used some of these precious off-screen minutes to manscape his facial hair.
Whatever its flaws—and make no mistake, it has some—this episode had the great good fortune to premiere 24 hours after the True Blood season finale, which serves as a first-rate example of just how hard it can be to bring a season’s worth of characters and plot threads together and appear to resolve them in a way that’s momentarily satisfying while also generating excitement over what’s to come. Aside from the necessary but not very thrilling business of rescuing the three kidnapped parents, the finale breaks down into a string of fights and face-offs, the stakes of which keep shifting as the show keeps changing its mind about who’s the scariest creature in the room.
Technically, the Big Bad of the season is Miss Blake, A.K.A. the Darach, but in the first big battle, she’s the one the audience is sort of rooting for, because her opponents include Kali, described by Peter as “an Alpha with a psychotic foot fetish.” I suspect that Jeff Davis, Russell Mulcahy, and company may once have envisioned Kali as a character with a potentially longer shelf life, only to discover, when they saw the rushes, that foot-long killer toes and a smirk do not add up to a fan favorite. They dispatch her midway though, but allow the Alpha twins to live, even after a brutal-looking and excellent effect in which Miss Blake interrupts their transformation process and literally tears them apart.
Miss Blake also crashes the rumble between Scott and Derek and Deucalion, but her presence there is more of a mixed blessing. It gets off to a good start, and it feels like we’re finally allowed to get a taste of the Duke in full wolf form, with red eyes and a stony, bluish complexion. (For a few seconds, I was convinced the Duke’s look was an homage to the monster in the Michael Mann movie The Keep, but then I decided I was probably just taking this whole “1983 week” business too seriously.) Unfortunately, once Miss Blake appears, he’s shunted to the sidelines; he’s not as great a threat as she is, but unlike the Alpha twins, he’s not redeemed and welcomed into the fold as a reformed good guy either. (The twins are pulled over to the side of light by Aiden’s love for Lydia; as of the end of this episode, they’re still a couple, which means the kiss between Lydia and Stiles is something that happened, but the full possible ramifications of it have been left on the back burner.) After Miss Blake reverts to her Scorpius form and flees the scene, the Duke, whose eyesight has been restored but whose pack has been scattered to the winds, is simply permitted to scuttle off with his tail between his legs.
It feels like a comedown for a bad guy who showed tremendous potential earlier in the season, but hey—better to have too many showcase villains than none at all. Maybe he’ll be back, revived and refreshed, when the series returns in January, at which time we can find out whether this show’s special brand of comic-book lunacy also plays in cold weather. In the meantime, the episode closes with a tremendous teaser setting up Uncle Peter to return to his rightful role as chief menace, howling “I am the Alpha! I’ve always been the Alpha!” over a fallen enemy. (Jack Torrence—“You are the caretaker. You have always been the caretaker.”—would take one look at his crazy ass and identify him as a kindred spirit, though even he might urge Uncle Peter to switch to decaf.) It should be interesting to see if he can avoid being overshadowed by the other embarrassing family member now on the show: Scott’s long-lost FBI agent father (played by Matthew Del Negro), a figure of such unsurpassed, floppy-haired douchiness that, if this were 1989, he’d be played by Charles Rocket. When someone asks him how he knows their name, he smugly replies, “You name’s one of the few things I know.” He follows that up with, “I’m not gonna lie. I’m more than a little disturbed.” He might not be able to grow fur and claws, but every time he opens his mouth, it’s a party.
- In her first fight, Miss Blake is practically the heroine—defeating Kali and inadvertently coming to Lydia’s rescue. I wish she could have rescued her from the wardrobe department too; Holland Roden is an excellent clothes horse, but for some reason, she’s been draped in some shapeless blue thing that makes her look home-schooled.
- Roden, by the way, gets the biggest laugh of the post-finale talk show when all the actors are asked to name a “power” possessed by one of the characters on the show that they covet, and Roden says she wishes she wasn’t playing the only character on the show who doesn’t have the power to wear flats.
- Line that most makes you want to read the character’s family memoir: Derek’s “Like my mother used to say, I’m a predator, but I don’t have to be a killer.”
- Derek and Cora also hit the dusty trail, leaving town for parts unknown rather than stick around to see the increase in supernatural activity predicted by Dr. Deaton, which seems surprisingly incurious of them. I presume that Derek, at least, will return when only he can administer the spanking Uncle Peter is going to have coming to him.
- In addition to Stiles and Lydia’s romance remaining a non-starter, Scott still hasn’t gotten things going again with Allison; in fact, she seems to have embarked on an exploratory mission with Isaac, who has been putting all the energy that’s lacking in his battle heroics into his flirting. I understand that the young-female audience for this show is thought to get off on seeing romantic consummation frustrated and postponed, but come January, I’m hoping that somebody will be getting smoochies.