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 )
De-aging plotlines, in my humble opinion, don't really belong in canon. That's the sort of shenanigans that's all in good fun in fanfic, but “your plot sounds like some fanfic shenanigans” isn't really a compliment.
I do find it interesting that even though Derek told us that Peter taught him how to control his shift through anger, but this episode adds some fascinating detail to that. We see Peter attempting to use the Hale-standard mantra, although it seems clear that ultimately it didn't work. So it looks like anger is the back-up method when modulating your emotions doesn't work, in which case it's interesting to me that – unlike Peter – Derek used it as a first, not last, resort when he tried to teach his own betas. Derek: not that great an alpha, as I and many others have mentioned in the past.
I love Scott for his keen reflexes.
So...we won't be using the Hale house set anymore, I guess. I stand by my fondness for it. Goodnight, sweet burned-out shell of a murder house. You had a sweet-ass staircase.
Hey, look, a police force where you can lay hands on an officer and don't just get the absolute shit kicked out of you and a criminal record! I love supernatural shows.
This scene in the Sheriff's office is a definite contender for funniest of the series, I feel. Between the Sheriff gearing up to give them a stern talking-to about time travel (“I need you to be absolutely and completely honest with me...”), Stiles having the gall to act as if that's crazy talk, and just attempting to brazen his way through the story (“...in Mexico”), it's a very brief and highly concentrated dab of awesome. (Extra credit for the following scenes, with Stiles' “that's your plan, huh?” face and his sanguine feelings about Scott's ass. The tone of this episode really does remind me of something that would have fit in s1 – which is a compliment.)
At least someone on this damn show speaks Spanish! They live in California, and the only person we've seen not look terrified at the prospect of speaking Spanish is Lydia, who managed to get through a few sentences in the last episode, albeit with a heavy enough American accent to knock down an oak door. Good for you, Derek.
“Can't someone in this town stay dead?” Well, Allison, apparently! And Aiden. Boyd. Erica. Pretty much anyone you might theoretically want to be alive, yeah.
I always thought it was an odd choice to cast an actor to play young!Derek who's – no offense to whoever he is, but he's pretty doofy-looking, as well as looking far younger than the other ostensibly teenage characters on the show. And I have no idea if this was ever in anyone's mind during the casting process, or if “Visionary” was supposed to be a one and done for him, but this scene really pays off the choice of actors in a big way. Having Kate be seductive with this doofy-looking child really drives home that her motives were never sexual in the slightest; oh, she's totally capable of perving on teenagers, but teenagers who look like Jackson. This kid she's not perving on. This kid she's manipulating. Seeing these two actors together – even given that years ago Kate would've been years younger herself – really drives home how overtly predatory their relationship was, and strips out any misguided sense of romance anyone might have been tempted to project onto it.
I like the shot of the berserker chasing Scott and Malia up the stairs. Actually, I like the berserkers in general; they have good henchman physicality, and the weird combination of almost mechanized-looking armor plating and the bones. Good combat in this episode.
Well...hang on, now. Wait. Somebody planned the heist, but – who could that possibly be? Kate gives no indication that it was anything other than her idea; she's the one who was seen in the temple, she's always the one who has controlled the berserkers, she's the one who knew Derek and could reasonably have come up with this plan. So Kate had to be behind the heist...right? And yet she really, really seems to be upset about the triskelion; she doesn't react at all to that like it was a red herring, or like it was all part of her plan. She seems panicked about losing the thing she's pinned her hopes on. So she planned the heist but expected to get the money and the triskelion, too, right? I mean, I think that's what had to happen, but we also know there's a Benefactor, so.... Basically, bzuh? It's only ep2 and I'm mad lost, y'all. This doesn't bode well for the season.
( s4 ep2: 117 )