Flashback, flashback, flashback! Series creator Jeff Davis pens and directs this mythology-heavy tale that is more than meets the eye (see what I did there?)
Let’s bitch it out…I’ve been hard on Teen Wolf this season. I’ve called it out for a variety of issues such an incoherent plotting, poor characterizations and shoddy CGI special effects. It’s important that I mention this so that you fully appreciate the significance of the following statement: ‘Visionary’ is the best episode of the show this season.
Yes folks, we have our first tried and true slam dunk of the third season. All it took is the guy who steers the ship to step in and right the course, offering up a tale of two stories, both historical in nature, set in fair Beacon Hills. It’s the story of a stupid teenage boy, Derek Hale (an unseen Tyler Hoechlin) who loved a girl and allowed his evil uncle, Peter (Ian Bohen) to subject her to a death sentence. It’s also the story of a pack of werewolves led by Deucalion (Gideon Emery) who made the mistake of initiating peace talks with Gerard Argent (Michael Hogan), a hunter who would never stop trying to kill them.
This is an exceptionally well-constructed episode featuring two unreliable narrators. While I would have preferred that the show allow us to work this angle out for ourselves rather than have Stiles (Dylan O’Brien) and Scott (Tyler Posey) directly state it, it’s important to consider that the episode we see and the dialogue we hear are inconsistent with one another.
Considering who’s doing the talking, it’s safe to say that Jeff Davis is the author of the visual flashbacks, while Gerard and Peter are the ones telling the tale to their respective captive audiences. And that basically means that our characters got an earful of partial truths, while we – the audience – get the true story of what happened fifteen years ago. The result for both the characters and for the audience is that we have a better understanding of what set in motion the events that are currently overwhelming Beacon Hills. As Stiles laments to Cora (Adelaide Kane), the series of unfortunate events that have befallen the group since the start of season three have kinda sucked.
And so we hear what basically amounts to an origin story: how Derek Hale became the brooding werewolf we know and how the werewolf/Argent conflict escalated. It’s a primarily reactive episode in that nearly all of our core cast are either stationary or sidelined, leaving the heavy lifting to Hogan, Emery (Brian Patrick Wade) and a trio of teens playing young versions of Derek, Peter and Derek’s doomed girlfriend, Paige.
It’s not an insult to the main cast that the reason ‘Visionary’ works is because they’re not really in it; it’s because this is one of the first scripts of the third season that focuses on characters at the expense of the action. In several ways the episode reminds me of many of The Vampire Diaries‘ flashback episodes, which exist to give us insight on how the characters tick (in addition to letting us chuckle at bad wigs and funny clothes). By jumping back in time, ‘Visionary’ not only provides much needed backstories to Derek and Deucalion, it reorients the relationship to the disparate plotlines that have yet to click in this discombobulated third season – namely the druids and the trio sacrifices.
The result is that we now know about the relationship between werewolves and druids, the myth-heavy creation tale for all werewolves (which involves Zeus!) and why Dr. Deaton (Seth Gillam) and Mrs. Morell (Bianca Lawson) have been caught up – but never hurt – in all of this drama.
Suddenly things are beginning to make sense (though not everything, of course). There are still plenty of mysteries to explore: the impact of the “vendetta” mark, what happened to Derek’s mother, shapeshifterTalia Hale (Alicia Coppola), why the druids are demanding sacrifices, and how the emissary role protects Deaton and Morrell. But now suddenly everything feels like it’s on much more solid ground than last week…
- There’s been a lot of talk this season about the eye colour of werewolves: we knew yellow was traditional flavour, red was alpha flavour but no one knew what blue meant. Now we do: it’s what happens after you lose a piece of your soul for taking an innocent life
- With this in mind, I’m interested to hear your thoughts on why Peter and young Derek have them. Considering Peter is our unreliable narrator, we should trust the visuals of his flashback story and not his words, which suggests he is at least partially responsible for Ennis biting Paige. And yet Derek waits in the locker room and also has blue eyes at episode’s end. Are the blue eyes confirmation that they were both complicit in her death?
- I love some good ocular damage, so the visual of Gerard stabbing Deucalion in the eyes with sparkler arrows is pretty awesome
- We also learn why Deucalion still moves like he can see: he’s using his wolf sight, despite his ruined human eyeballs
- It’s still unclear why Gerard is still bleeding black fluids. Shouldn’t he be dead by now? It’s not as though Scott shows up every few days to steal some of his pain
- Just in case the similarities between the two “sides” of the werewolf/hunter conflict isn’t clear enough, both Peter’s story and Gerard employ the fable of the scorpion who kills his companion because it is “his nature.” Key to this repetitive motif is it’s sole distinguishing characteristic, which is that the companion changes in each telling. In Peter’s story, Deaton relates the tale of the frog and the scorpion, while Gerard suggests it is a turtle. The fact that there’s an element of uncertainty (which is it: a frog or a turtle) is your clue that these two don’t quite get all of the facts in their stories correct
- Another clarifying question: would Stiles really spend the day hanging out with Peter and Cora considering he doesn’t really know either of them very well?
- Finally, is it too early to begin shipping Peter and Stiles?
- Stiles (when neither Peter nor Adelaide will tell him their age): “Forget I asked”
Your turn: was this the strongest episode of the season? How much of either story can we trust? Do you feel that you have more insight into the Alpha Pack and the werwolf/druid connection now? How did you feel about half of the cast sitting this episode out? And would you ship Peter and Stiles? Comment away below
Teen Wolf airs Mondays at 10pm EST on MTV