Teen Wolf does a slow roll-out for its latest villain as unexpected new information is revealed about a background character with a big surprise.
Let’s bitch it out…‘Riddled’ features one of Teen Wolf‘s trademarked non-traditional narratives. Things begin quite suddenly as Scott (Tyler Posey) receives a late night call from Stiles (Dylan O’Brien). The latter is breathless and desperate, speaking in panicked whispers about being imprisoned in the cold, wet dark and he’s not alone. As far as set-ups go, it’s a doozy, trading in equal parts horror, psychological thriller and action feature as the group desperately converges to find Stiles before he expires from hypothermia on the coldest night of the year.
Of course, as an audience we’re privy to information that the characters don’t know, namely that Stiles is a budding villain. He may not know it yet, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s possessed by some dark entity and it’s safe to say that his imprisonment is likely related. Early on we see that his foot is caught in a bear trap and his cell mate is a hulking brute with a head wrapped in bandages and a mouth full of jagged teeth. As soon as the creature speaks, like an old friend but also in riddles, it’s clear that we are dealing with some kind of hallucination. After Scott’s father Rafael (Matthew Del Negro) deduces that Stiles is sleepwalking and he and Melissa (Melissa Ponzio) discover Stiles near the Nemeton, my suspicions are confirmed: the mysterious captor is actually Stiles himself.
Suspecting this doesn’t lessen the impact of Stiles’ diagnosis at the hospital, however. In an episode that masterfully balances shifts in tone and how information is doled out, the slow reveal that Stiles has been overtaken by his evil shadow self is thrilling. It’s kind of shocking: Teen Wolf has actually gone through with turning its most likeable (arguably highest profile break-out) star into the principle villain.
In the final scene Stiles (now fully corrupted) confronts Kira’s (Arden Cho) mother, who is revealed to be in cahoots with the Oni. It’s a badass scene considering the two basically just stare each other down in front of the elevators, but it’s awesome because these developments are so unlikely. A secondary character we’ve only met once is suddenly in charge of the creatures we thought were the villains, but who are actually trying to protect people from one of the main characters. In just two episodes, we’ve done a complete 180 on the conflict for this second half of the season. It’s pretty amazing. Kudos to Teen Wolf for pulling it off.
- The episode also succeeds admirably by activating diverse characters in service of the A-plot: in addition to Rafael and Melissa, Aiden (Max Carver) and Lydia (Holland Roden) use her siren powers to track Stiles while Scott and Derek (Tyler Hoechlin) follow his scent to the hospital rooftop where an exposed powerline lies waiting. It’s a strong ensemble episode that gels because there aren’t any distracting B-plots.
- The sole exception: Allison (Crystal Reed) who misses most of the episode because someone turned her phone off and she sleeps through everyone’s calls (ohhh mystery!). In what could be a cool or completely disastrous development, she also receives a series of calls consisting of instructions from Japanese internment camps following Pearl Harbour. Um…what? Clearly this has something to do with Kira’s mom.
- At one point Derek explicitly lays out a key piece of information: Barrow’s attack on Kira released her foxfire and that somehow opened Stiles up to demonic possession. I have no idea how he got that from Stiles’ magnetized bat.
- I’ll be interested to see how fans react to Scott and Stiles’ incredibly emotional talk before Stiles is tested to see if he has an atrophied brain (aka what his mother died of). Their hug is surprisingly touching; it’s a nice moment of levity among the usual Teen Wolf madness.
- Question: Why is Lydia’s siren power linked in to Stiles? And does her scream suggest that Kira is about to die from the exposed power line? Or is it Stiles that she’s screaming for as the demon once again takes possession of his body? Does this mean that Stiles is going to die?
- Finally, how hilarious are the sketches of the Oni on the wall of the police department? One is an ancient samurai and the other is Zorro. Good to know that despite the shizz that happens these cops have a sense of humour.
- Derek (when Ethan asks if Stiles was just sleepwalking): “In this town there’s always something more.” Too true
Your turn: did you enjoy an episode mostly centered around a single plot? Did you figure out who Stiles’ captor was before the reveal? Who is Lydia screaming for? Is Kira dead? (she can absorb electricity after all) Who is her mother? And what does any of this have to do with Japanese internment camps? Sound off below
Teen Wolf airs Mondays at 10pm EST on MTV