Home stretch! I didn't get this done last night, because it was my friend's annual May Eve Wicker Man viewing party, and I came home tired out and a tad soused on apple-based beverages. As you should be, on May Eve! I'm sure Jennifer would understand.
Aw. There is something quite scary/cute/awesome about Stiles looking like he's not entirely sure if he's saving Derek or if he needs Derek to wake the hell up and protect him. Stiles is a brave little toaster for sure, but this is a heck of a time for him to be trying to handle things on his own! He needs some support, here, okay?
I cannot compliment this bit enough. This original encounter with the FBI and its callback is beautifully done. I love everything about it, but particularly the way they walk that line between frustrating the audience because you don't know quite what's going on but also giving you enough information that you feel like you know what's going on (but then also, you really don't). The way he addresses Stiles as “a Stilinski” obviously suggests that he knows Stiles through his family and evokes that typical trope of the territorial rivalry of local vs federal law enforcement. Stiles' unusual reactions – he's often snarky, but I don't think we ever see him as outright hostile and dismissive of anyone as we do in this scene – suggest that it isn't just about law enforcement, but that he really and genuinely dislikes this particular dude. All that is clear enough that the scene makes sense and you know where to locate yourself inside it, which is what makes everything work. I didn't even guess that there was a reveal coming, other than finding out the details of how Stiles' dad had been screwed over by this agent during a past case.
I don't remember this confrontation between Isaac and Derek from my first watch; it's really nice! I like how thoroughly lost Derek seems, finally at a point where he realizes he doesn't know his own motives and can't make focused choices and really just doesn't have anything to offer anyone in a leadership capacity. Derek doesn't get a whole ton of screen-time in this season – he definitely seems downgraded in terms of his importance as a character vis a vis season one – but they made nice use of what he does get, just keeping a consistent and clear arc leading from his duplicitous power grab at the end of “Code Breaker” through to his voluntary surrender of power here. It's a good, coherent evolution of character, and in a creative and interesting way, since it's incredibly rare to pair a major character's evolution of character with their devolution of power. It's just a really nice arc, and I know I don't say a lot of nice things about Derek, but he's a good character.
You know the plot is about to be wrapped the fuck up, because Chris is on the job! When he battens down, things always come directly to a head, because Chris is not playing around. He hasn't gotten a lot of use this season – it's his “retirement,” after all – but he's still one of my favorites.
Oh my god. They literally said that pack members can give physical and emotional comfort to their wounded members through intensely grooming them. Guys, if I get to the fic-reading portion of my Teen Wolf fandom experience and it is not chock fucking full of grooming-related hurt/comfort fic, I am setting the internet on fire. This has to happen. This has to happen constantly.
This is a nice moment for Lydia; I feel like it completes her transformation from Mean Girl in High School to packmate in a nice way. When she essentially comes to care more (or to realize she cares more) about her strengths and capabilities than she does about what people think of her. That's a nice Life Lesson in the BtVS school of Paranormal Life Lessons for the Kids: your worth is in what you yourself are proud of being able to do, not in being the recipient of others' approval. And it's definitely a change that sticks; I feel like in these last couple of seasons, Lydia is entirely down with being a supernatural crime-fighter with her other weird friends and doesn't do any whining about missing her old life or any such thing. I do like that on his show, evolutionary moments tend to not get replayed season after season.
If Peter is right that Jennifer was trying in part to isolate Derek so that he'd need her to fend off the alpha pack, that reinforces my suspicion that in her own special way, Jennifer really does care about him. Because if that was her plan, and if it resulted in Derek coming back to her for protection, then the thing is, she doesn't get to add his power to hers. It kind of makes me think that what she's trying to do isn't use him so much as force him to simply stay with her. It makes character sense, if you assume that what Jennifer's dealing with is not just the physical trauma of the attack and injuries, but the emotional trauma of being betrayed by someone who claimed to love her. Jennifer has been alone for many years – somewhere between seven and ten, I haven't quite locked that down – and she quite simply can't possibly trust that anyone will stay with her now unless they have to.
This isn't especially tied to this episode, but I've been meaning to say. The internet seems convinced that Isaac's last name is Lahey, and that – can't possibly be right, can it? I mean everyone – every single person on the show – consistently pronounces it with the accent clearly on the first syllable and a long-a sound, not like a Romance language a. It's not Lahey. It's Leahy. I mean, I'm not insane, am I? That's how everyone on the show pronounces it, and most pronounce it with the full three syllables, although occasionally those first two get slurred together. They're distinctly saying Leahy. And yet everywhere I see it in print, it's spelled Lahey. I feel like the whole world is trolling me somehow. It's Leahy...right?
So the animal weirdness – is that just animals “sensing supernatural disaster,” or are those low-level sacrifices that Jennifer is using to siphon off power? Because I thought the connection that Melissa and the Sheriff made between the not-quite-dead Julia Bacardi and the birds that died while she was being treated was meant to imply the latter, but Deucalion's explanation has the ring of something the narrative wants us to treat as authoritative. Confusing.
I don't remember the Sheriff's story about Claudia's death. I wonder if there's a connection I'm supposed to be making there – should I be able to suss out who the dying woman was? At first I thought it was Malia's foster-mother, but that doesn't make sense – they wrecked alone in the forest, not in a pile-up, and there's no indication that she was supernatural at all, not to mention she probably would've been more intent on telling him that there was something wrong with her missing child. Does anyone else of any plot significance die around eight years ago? I guess it could just be a random werewolf/druid/psychic/I'M SOMETHING. Not everything has to connect!
Man, I can't stress enough how much I love the ice baths. And this scene is even more awesome than when Isaac went in at the beginning of the season. It just kills me. And the reveal! With Scott's dad! I swear it was the only time in the series where I sat bolt upright on the couch and said, HOLY SHIT, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Also, I thought Deaton insisting that Lydia be Stiles' anchor was pretty weird, when they'd been moving firmly away from the Stiles/Lydia thing and in fact seemed to have put a cap on it earlier in this very episode. Obviously I was too tired to fully parse what was going on, because all those meaningful Scott and Allison looks and half-sentences are now making a lot more sense to me: Deaton was trying in a kindly way to say that Isaac has to be with Allison, not that Lydia has to be with Stiles. That's the only thing that makes sense out of Scott giving his blessing/permission to Allison there. It's the first public outing of the fact that there's this emotional thing happening between Allison and Isaac, and it can't go forward until Scott says he understands and forgives her for to some degree moving on.
This is just a really emotionally rich, beautifully filmed ending to one of my favorite episodes of one of my favorite seasons. Everything here is really paying off something that's been set up well, and everything is built around the core of these extremely human conflicts that go far beyond “look, more marauding baddies in Beacon Hills!” There's romance and family loyalty and sacrifice and just the whole shebang, and I feel like this is the episode that really is the payoff for season 301. Everything that happens in the next one is really just the housekeeping.