It’s hell night on Teen Wolf as the track and field bus trip nearly turns into a suicide pact when our intrepid teens spend the night at the motel voted most likely to induce suicide.
Let’s bitch it out…After last week‘s somewhat misguided non-linear exercise, it’s a bit of a relief that ‘Motel California’ is more of a traditionally straight-forward episode. Despite following last week’s “Derek’s (Tyler Hoechlin) Dead” storyline, this is a very different episode. Unlike the high octane, hormone powered episodes we might traditionally associate with Teen Wolf, ‘Motel California’ is actually more of a throwback to old timey haunted house films wherein a bunch of residents are trapped and terrorized by their worst fears in a small location.
Here the hauntings turn out to be the result of whoever is behind the trio murders we saw in the 3×01 premiere and 3×03 ‘Fireflies’. It’s Lydia (Holland Roden) and Stiles (Dylan O’Brien) who once again figure out the clues, targets and methods. They realize that the suicide motel is targeting the werewolf clan and are ultimately responsible for saving Boyd (Sinqua Walls), Isaac (Daniel Sharman), Alpha pack member Ethan (Charlie Carver) and – of course – Scott (Tyler Posey).
If you focus exclusively on the race against time to figure out what’s happening and stop the individual pack members from offing themselves in clever ways (still not sure what Isaac was planning to do under the bed), then the episode works really well. The suicide set pieces (don’t often get to write that) are well staged and allow the human members of the show to pick up the slack for once. Plus anything with Lydia hearing voices is suitably creepy.
As always with Teen Wolf it’s probably best not to think too much about the details. Your mind will only ache if you begin to question some of the logistics, such as how does the 198 suicides card advance three spaces on its own? Why does no one else notice that Scott has doused himself with gasoline in the middle of the courtyard? Why did the Coach leave flares lying around on the bus?. Ow…migraine
What works is the Scooby Doo vibe: there’s a mystery to be solved, disaster to be averted (Ethan’s saw to the stomach would have been particularly messy) and a really solid emotional beat at the end when Stiles has to talk Scott off the ledge. In the other suicides, it appeared that the boys were in a trance thanks to the airborne wolfsbane, but with Scott it feels like a more genuine reaction to the pain he’s been struggling with in the wake of Derek’s death. It’s rare for Teen Wolf to embrace the pathos that surrounds these characters – more often than not the show is too busy embracing its madness – so this is a very profound moment.
I hope that when next week’s episode rolls around, we’ll continue to see payoff from this moment, particularly when Derek inevitably turns up alive.
- Not really a big episode for either Boyd or Isaac, but it is nice to get some insight on what fears are driving them. Once again Isaac’s abusive father rears his head, while Boyd feels responsible for his sister’s accidental death
- Also not much for Alison (Crystal Reed) to do aside from reenact the start of the shower scene from Psycho with Scott. The real test is yet to come when her father (JR Bourne) confronts her about lying to him about her extracurricular arrow activities and she learns that he’s been lying about the status of Grandpa Argent (Michael Hogan), who is both alive and oozing black blood
- I feel like I should implicitly understand why it’s significant that a member of the Argent clan was bitten by Deucalion (Gideon Emery) back in 1977 but I can’t say I do. Readers, help me out!
- Just in case we didn’t think Teen Wolf was fairly depicting a diversity of relationships, there’s a fairly graphic make-out scene between Danny (Keahu Kahuanui) and Ethan. While I appreciate that this may turn off some of Teen Wolf‘s delicate audience members, I’m just happy that Danny has finally scored some loving. Now let’s see if we can get these guys a room that isn’t haunted!
- I’m a little worried about Ms. Blake (Hayley Webb). I think we can all appreciate how beefy Derek is, so we share her sentiment when she cracks wise about his physique. But to then go all the way with him as he’s bleeding black blood and practically dead? Girl, you wait for him to shower up and heal. That sh*t is nasty!
- Finally, Scott hasn’t seen Star Wars??? Someone get this kid to the video store
Your turn: did you find this more traditional narrative format more palatable? Were you picking up what Scott was putting down during his emotional confession? Do you think that Lydia and Stiles make a good pair, even as he accuses her of murder? What’s Grandpa Argent’s deal? And would you go all the way with Derek even if he was bleeding out? Sound off below
Teen Wolf airs Mondays at 10pm EST on MTV