It’s nearly season finale time on MTV’s Teen Wolf and with only one episode remaining, a key player – possibly the most dominant character of the season – has taken himself out of the game.
Let’s bitch it out…If it’s been any one character’s season, it’s been Jackson’s (Colton Haynes). His transition from a-hole jock to whiner wanna-be to ‘Big Bad’ Kanima has taken us through the majority of the second season. He’s been the defining image of these last eleven episodes, the chess piece that everyone was desperate to identify, stop and ultimately control. So it feels like a bit of a cop-out that with only a single episode remaining in the season Jackson stabs himself, thereby putting himself on the sideline.
In terms of character development, this is interesting because it suggests that Jackson has finally realized the extent of the damage he’s caused and refuses to play the puppet any longer (Side Note: this line of thinking assumes that Jackson did this to himself and was not ordered by Michael Hogan’s Gerard to act as a diversion so that Dylan O’Brien’s Stiles could be stolen away). If Jackson did, in fact, self-mutilate by choice, then the character has developed some semblance of a conscience that we haven’t really seen before (or at least not in S2).
The name of the episode is a little too on-the-nose for me as we’re given three battlefields and far too many “game” metaphors. The first – and most literal – is the big championship lacrosse game in which the game clock represents death. While Stiles may open the episode lamenting the recent events (including death of a classmate, the disappearance of three others, the dissolution of his best friend’s relationship with his girlfriend and uneasy child-parent feelings) for the comic relief, the only game is the literal one he’s playing. For Scott (Tyler Posey) there are lives on the line.
Stiles’ piece is clearly a distraction put on by Teen Wolf though. After scoring his first goal in a series of scenes played entirely for laughs, it seems only natural that Stiles is the one that Gerard is after. Unfortunately this is one of those times the show clearly thought it was pulling a fast one on its audience because of the discrepancy in tone, but the deliberate exclusion of Stiles’ name from Gerard’s hit list is a pretty obvious clue.
Naturally that means that Scott falls for it. But then he’s already admitted earlier in the episode that he never really knows what he’s doing, so this is in keeping with the character.
The second battlefield concerns the pair of runaway misfit wolves, Eric (Gage Golightly) and Boyd (Sinqua Walls). It’s probably not a good thing that I had to look Boyd’s name up, huh? If the second season of Teen Wolf has proven itself darker, more gong-show crazy and more invested in the delightful suffering of its beautiful young cast, it has certainly committed the second season sin of introducing a bevy of new characters that it never truly bothered to develop. Even when Issac (Daniel Sharman) shows up at Dr. Deaton’s (Seth Gillam) for a bit of Dog Whisperer action, it only serves to remind me that how little I know – and, if we’re being honest, care – about these newbies.
Thankfully Erica and Boyd are little more than fodder for Allison’s (Crystal Reed) rage. This is another one of those plotlines that seems to be on autopilot as Allison delves into a spiral of rage, angst and rebellion in the wake of her mother’s death back in 2×09 ‘Party Guessed’. It’s clear that the show wants to throw Allison into a pit of moral blackness so that she can climb out and repent later, but this feels more like an exercise in turning characters I liked into ones I mostly despise (and not in a good way like Walt from Breaking Bad). I think Reed is doing a good job with her more badass role, but this is playing out like something we simply need to endure so that she can inevitably be rescued – narratively speaking (likely by killing Gerard in next week’s finale).
The third battlefield is the least action-oriented and most cerebral of the three as Peter Hale (Ian Bohen) squares off against Derek (Tyler Hoechlin). Just as Dr. Deaton suggested, Peter is desperately trying to win back Derek’s trust with his silver-tongue and promises of “saving” Jackson. Jury’s still out on who the true villain of the show is: we know what Peter is capable of after last season, plus he’s sly and crafty. Gerard, on the other hand, is so melodramatic and over-the-top that he’s willing to have Jackson shift at center field and rip someone’s head off in front of everyone. Although the finale is entitled ‘Master Plan’, I’m not sure we should be all that worried about Grandpa Argent and his desire for vengeance so much as the monster that will succeed him when he inevitably falls.
- It’s been interesting watching Argent (JR Bourne) turn into the voice of reason this season. Somehow Teen Wolf always finds a way to make this man, who appears to do nothing else but pledge his life to the destruction of werewolves, appear normal. How do they do it? Mostly by surrounding him by psychopathic family members. RIP Victoria & Kate. Gerard will be joining you soon
- We don’t know what the plan is for Erica and whatshisname…Boyd (right!), but since they’ve both been arrowed by Allison, it’s safe to assume that they’re the bait to lure in Derek next week. Considering the way the show has treated them, does anyone care to make a bet which – if any – of our three newbie-wolves dodges the silver bullet to make it to S3?
- While Jackson appears to be down and out, now that we know how to “save him” (with the gag-worthy undeniable power of human love), are we in agreement that this is what Lydia (Holland Roden) will spend the finale doing?
- This is one of the worst episodes of the season for balancing comedy and horror. Clearly all of the humour with Coach Finstock (Orny Adams) and Stiles’ inability to actually play lacrosse are meant to disarm us so that Stiles’ disappearance is all the more shocking (fail), but the laughs themselves feel cheap and compromise any rising action. Jumping back and forth between Stiles getting creamed, or Isaac knocking down his fellow players, and Allison pumping arrows into Boyd simply didn’t work.
- What’s more unintentionally funny: Melissa (Melissa Ponzio) sneaking into the boys’ lockerroom and no one batting an eye or the campy cross-cut between Scott/Stiles and Erica/Boyd’s heads falling to the ground. It’s a craptacular toss-up!
- It seems like Ms. Morell (Bianca Lawson), the guidance counselor, is going to tell Stiles the important thing she and Dr. Deaton were chatting about, but instead she just tells him to live through the agony. Empowering words!
- Finally, I did enjoy that Grandpa Argent recognized that Coach Finstock is ridiculous. It’s about time someone verbally recognized it
- Peter (to Derek): “You’re cooking up werewolves in every self-esteem challenged adolescent in town.”
- Scott (to Isaac): “Actually I always have no idea what I’m doing.”
And so we’re one episode away from the finale. Guesses on who dies? Guesses on who kills Grandpa? Will Peter work his way back into the mix. Any doubts that Jackson makes a full recovery? Will Scott flunk every class and be held back a grade? Throw ’em out in the comments below and we’ll see you next week to talk about how it all ends.
Teen Wolf airs Mondays at 10pm EST on MTV