I don't know if there's any way to deliver “Someone young. And male,” without sounding like a creepster, but if there is, Derek is not finding it.
The whole first act of this episode is just fantastic; I can't say enough nice things about it. It's great to see Our Heroes put back out of their depth – and I know earlier I said it was great to see them getting more competent, but that's the thing this show is getting right that so many others get wrong. It's great to get your characters all wrong-footed, but you do that by giving them something legitimately new to deal with, not by making them spontaneously suck at things they appeared to have gotten a handle on a season ago.
This sequence with Liam is just so praiseworthy. It's played for a certain amount of humor, but it's just fucked-up enough to make you feel bad for laughing, because holy fuck, they have a fucking child kidnapped and duct-taped in the bathtub. But really you're laughing in pure shock, because it's such a Coen-brothers level clusterfuck, and everyone is disintegrating rapidly to their worst possible habits: Stiles is running off at the mouth, Scott is too squeamish to take charge, and Liam is a fucking child. It's so startling when he begins to cry because you never see a character you're meant to like on tv crying from fear, and then suddenly you realize how weird that expectation even is, because this is totally something to cry about. And then the world's goofiest chase scene ensues, which really should not work, but it just does.
I didn't remember Peter taking a pickaxe to the sternum! So that was a fun surprise.
Kira's dad the World War II buff is probably pretty embarrassed that his daughter thinks the Enigma Code was an Allied code. Did nobody on this staff see The Imitation Game? Of course, to extend the benefit of the doubt, she does say the Allies “used” it, not that they invented it, which I guess is sort of true.
I don't think I have laughed harder at anything in this entire series than I did at Scott's shitty Derek impression on “We're brothers now,” and “The bite is a gift!” And Stiles' dismay watching him fail is also pretty priceless, although it's awfully rich coming from Mr. “Possibly You Won't Die.”
I bow to the humor value of Kira failing to be a vixen, but I can't quite understand why we're supposed to think Liam was instantly entranced by her. Don't get it twisted, Arden Cho is a knockout, but...that's exactly what she always looks like, right? I mean, she's in a pretty modest blouse, a miniskirt, and sheer tights. This school is full of girls who wear miniskirts. Lydia hasn't been able to pick anything up off the floor since the ninth grade. Can Liam hear the music? Is that how he knows he's supposed to look?
I like Derek's dubiousness on “How does a guy with no mouth say anything?” Um, WITH FUCKING MAGIC, Derek? Where the hell are you from?
I don't suppose it's worthwhile to ask why it's full dark and neither Liam nor Malia are showing significant signs of wilding yet. Didn't it used to happen at sunset? Lalalala.
Okay, there's a moment here that I think is very easy to miss, and if you've missed it, I want to encourage you to dial this episode up just to watch it. When Stiles is trying to get Malia downstairs and telling Lydia to treat this like an actual party, he makes a very Stiles gesture and expression, throwing his arm out and kind of looking like “Why are we still talking about this?” The great thing, though, is that with her fangs out, Malia also throws her arm out and makes essentially the exact same expression. It's pretty fucking priceless.
Since when does Stiles have the kind of social anxiety that makes him hate parties? He practically took a cattle prod to Scott to get him to Heather's party, and that was full of strangers from, I guess, Rival High. He didn't seem to put up a fuss about the black-light party, either. Maybe he's just trying to convince Malia not to worry about him? There's some weirdly inconsistent characterization with Stiles' anxiety, though, where they mention it a fair amount, but we've seen him in ten thousand and five stressful situations, and he's seemed overwhelmed/experienced a panic attack exactly twice, once when he thought his father was about to be murdered and once when he was legitimately losing his mind. Those seem like situations that would test someone without a diagnosed history of anxiety disorders! But for the most part, he's kind of jaw-droppingly fearless. I can't figure out if they're trying to say that Stiles has grown out of his old issues and hasn't fully realized that himself, or that he never really had as much anxiety as he remembers having, or if it's just a sloppy attempt to integrate what the writers' bible says about him with how they actually want to have him act onscreen, or what. It's odd, though.
I kinda liked Demarco. For whatever that's worth.
This whole thing about the Martins desperately needing money feels a little out of nowhere. Her mother didn't even seem that stressed about letting the kids hang out in it; even mentioning that she's holding Lydia accountable for damages seemed pretty off-the-cuff, and she mentioned that there were damages last time (from the “wild animals”) like it was no big deal. I'm not sure it makes sense to go from that scene to Lydia hyperventilating about the carpets, but I guess they figured if they were going to duplicate the Money Problems subplot between Scott and Stiles, they might as well file that sucker in triplicate.
The soundproof room has an interesting aesthetic. It's just late 70s enough and has those blocky square patterns that you can see when the camera pans it to make me think they were evoking The Shining. That's just a gut feeling; it isn't an obvious homage, it just...feels that way.
Hey, Scott, far be it from me to tell you how to do your job, but there's something not very alpha-ish about seeing a maddened baby werewolf about to go on a rampage at an inaccessible party full of kids and, you know...diving out of the way, then standing at the window with that kind of “Oh...huh,” look on your face. For a guy who's supposed to be Werewolf Jesus, that doesn't seem like best practices.
You know, I watched all of 302 and never really made that connection between Stiles' experience being inhabited by the nogitsune and what it must feel like to be a werewolf. I feel slow now. And with that in mind, it makes even more sense to me that he releases Malia – not really because “control is overrated,” but because he does want her to have the chance to assert her power to put limits around the werewolf and say no to it. He wants to spare her the complete helplessness he experienced – and let's face it, going through the full moon in literal chains is pretty complete helplessness. Whether or not it's necessary, it's inherently dehumanizing, and having had his own humanity stripped away, he's willing to err on the side of not doing that to someone else. I feel like that makes it work for me a bit more than Stiles just being a cockeyed optimist, and has the bonus of making it fit in with this through-line of the whole season, about what it means to be monstrous, to see yourself or be seen by others as a monster.
I don't know why “I got your text” is exactly the perfect line, but it is. I guess because Chris, that's why.
( s4 ep4: The Benefactor )