So I've been watching this episode for like three minutes, and two things that I already knew are abundantly clear: Dylan O'Brien is an excellent actor. And Tyler Hoechlin is a dreadful actor. I mean...bless his heart, in certain scenes he manages himself all right, especially when he's acting opposite Bohen, with whom he seems to have a nice, kicky sort of rhythm that suits him. And when he's called upon to act as though he's sad, he can do puppy eyes all right, and his habitual lack of expression comes in handy when he's supposed to be suffering torture stoically. But “She's been shot! I think she's dying,” is a pair of lines that any mostly competent dinner-theater actor should be able to infuse with something like genuine fear and pathos. It doesn't call for any complexity or nuance or any special artistry; it's just “pretend you're super worried and you need someone's help.” And he just botches it so badly that it's almost hilarious, and then I feel bad for laughing at him, because I'm sure he's a lovely person and his mother is so proud that her son is a real actor getting paid to be on tv. I have seriously been at D&D tables where the quality of the acting was better, though. He's really just hopeless.
I try not to stress the timeline on this show too much, because I don't think the effort will pay dividends, but – isn't the core cast in the second semester of their junior year, though? Season 1 began with the new lacrosse season, which seems to happen spring semester, and Scott was a sophomore. Season 2 began immediately afterwards, more or less finishing out that semester. 301 begins when they head back to school, after Scott's summer of Be a Better Scott McCall, happens at a quick clip, and 302 begins just before Halloween – junior year. Season 4 begins with the lacrosse season again, and in fact they take the trouble to mention that Liam is new “this semester,” having transferred in, not entering with the rest of the freshmen class. So they are definitely hovering somewhere around spring break of the gang's junior year of high school, and unless things have changed a very great deal in the two centuries since I was in high school, that is when you take the actual SATs, not the PSATs. When do they plan to take the SATs, if not during their junior year? You apply to college with those scores, and most deadlines are coming up fast for them. Freshmen and sophomores take the PSATs; everyone else needs to start getting serious.
(Okay, I just bothered to Wikipedia this information, and it says that every year 1.59 million sophomores and 1.55 million juniors take the PSATs, rendering everything I just said entirely false and pointless. I'm leaving it in the recap for the sake of transparency, and so you experience a tiny slice of my everyday life, getting overly agitated about things that turn out not to be true at all. It's fun, right!? In fairness to me, I, like Lydia, definitely took it my freshman year, because I'm a genius.)
I really like that Malia takes school extremely seriously. I mean, it's probably not good for her, because she always looks like a huge ball of anxiety when tests and homework come up, but I do think it's sweet that she wants so badly to be able to keep up with her friends, and that she drives herself to do it. I don't know if she worries that they'll go to college and she won't be able to and she'll be left out, or if she feels like being successful at school will help resolve some of the tensions between her and her father (which we don't know much about, but “Echo House” happened, so yeah, there must be), or what. Maybe she's just embarrassed and worries people will think she's stupid because they don't understand why her grades are what they are. But I think it would be easy with that character to go with “Malia is tough and cool and doesn't really give a shit about all this boring mathy stuff,” and I like that they let her have so much vulnerability around it.
So Ms. Martin is awesome, and that's why she's close enough pals with Finstock to know he's fifteen years sober, I totally get that. I do think it's interesting that he's apparently in recovery, given that he's frequently said things like, “This is why I drink every night” and the like. I wonder if he and Douglas Richardson attend the same AA meetings, where they sit around and don't drink but insist that they do.
Holland Roden is also a good actor, and I know I've said this before, but damn, being Lydia is the worst. I really hope something nice happens to this character at some point in the future. Like, at all, ever.
I realize Kira thinks Malia is onto the truth about her and Peter, but she really, really looks like she thinks Malia is trying to tell her Scott and Stiles are having an affair. And of the two things, Malia is far more likely to guess the latter than the former, just based on evidence.
The Hale house had an escape route? Stellar design job on that. I hope Laura was living all those years on the money she won from their contractor in the lawsuit. (I would've said Derek, but it's clear from having met Derek that he was living all those years under an overpass without human contact.)
Sell the house! Jesus, Melissa, sell the stupid house, it's too big for you!
Look, I'm just going to go ahead and admit this now: this episode really worked on me. I mean, I knew that nobody was going to die in that vault. Obviously. But they all looked so miserable and weak and uncomfortable, and there was an instrumental theme playing when Stiles and Malia's fingers pulled apart, and the whole thing just felt drenched in despair, and – I wouldn't say I was worried, but.... Fretting. Let's say I was fretting a little.
I mean, I did realize they were going to be saved, but I underestimated the sheer dumbness of the unbelievable, accidental way they got saved. Someone mentioned a mushroom for no real reason, which is a “remedy for sickness,” which explains her immunity, which is great because there's a bunch of mushroom in the dusty vault that no one ever goes into! Problem solved! Look, I know all shows need to grease the wheels with a little uncanny coincidence now and then, but this is just beyond.
Okay, though, I ain't mad. It's ridiculous, but I still treasure this episode, because it is my pick of the litter for Sciles-shippy deliciousness. Of course Stiles is going to take a bullet in the face rather than give up Scott! Oh, sure, you say, also his girlfriend and his other friend, so okay, you can have that one if you must. But come on! The other scene! With the door! With both of them plastered up against opposite sides of the door, and Stiles just completely freaks out shouting Scott's name and batters himself against the stone wall until he falls down in despair, and if this is not the exact shit that you live for, then you and I clearly just do fandom very, very differently. And then there's lilting piano music while they shuffle around on the ground, both still all sickly and full of feelings. Whatever, they could've solved this plot by having Kang and Kodos beam the antidote into the vault in the form of a mountain of cotton candy and I wouldn't give a shit, THIS. EPISODE. OMG.
It's also convenient that the mushrooms are effective in airborne form, because I can only imagine it would've been unpleasant for our heroes to have to swallow all that glass while blindly eating decade-old bits of dried mushroom off the dirty floor.
It seems to me like they've rushed this Malia revelation a little, or her reaction to it, or something. Seeing her name written as a Hale should be – mostly confusing, right? I guess she definitely knows that they knew something was up and hid it from her deliberately, but that still seems more like grounds for, “Guys, seriously, what the fuck?” rather than “You are all dead to me.” It's not like she knows it is specifically Peter, which admittedly, is terrible and traumatic news. But the Hales were a big family, seventeen years ago, she could be related any number of ways. Or it could've been some kind of mistake! I just feel like she'd be interested in answers, and it's played like she suddenly understands everything, because she saw a thing typed. It's another good song, though, and I enjoy a slow-motion angry-walk as much as the next person.
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