Thank you, as always, for all your patience waiting for this humble recap to post. I'm especially sorry to have taken so long this week, when WE HAVE SO MUCH TO DISCUSS. That ENDING.
But first, some awards.
THIS WEEK'S WOLF PACK PUPPY
Parrish. It's obviously Parrish. Welcome to the pack, deputy!
BEST REACTION TO SOMETHING SUPERNATURALLY RIDICULOUS
ME, upon seeing Meredith round the corner of that metal shelving unit.
WEEKLY REMINDER THAT BEACON HILLS IS ON A HELLMOUTH
Presented without comment (or else I'll break down):
REIGNING PRESIDENT OF THE SCOTT MCCALL FAN CLUB
Coach Motherflippin' Finstock.
Narc?? You can count on McCall to personally carry any intoxicated little bastard in need of stomach pumping to the hospital and #BAMFMamaMcCall on his BACK, should the need arise. Scott's a heroic idiot with a heart of platinum, is what I'm saying.
PREVIOUSLY ON TEEN WOLF
Some evil genius put together a Caesar-ciphered dead pool of all the supernaturals in Beacon Hills, to the tune of 117 million dollars. Mouthless Nightmare, the Orphans, the Chemist/PSAT Proctor, and the Crying Blonde Sharpshooter all tried their luck conquering it, only to be felled by allies of our heroes in the process. Super Human Deputy Jordan Parrish saw his name show up on one third of the dead pool with a multi-million dollar bounty. Scott almost died on purpose then used his brains to figure out that at least someone on the Benefactor's team has to be a banshee, who can confirm who is dead without seeing them. Malia found out Stiles was keeping the secret of her true dad's identity from her. Her true dad is Peter Hale. Lydia discovered her grandmother was probably a banshee but definitely in on the whole supernatural thing and also maybe faked her death in order to work for the Benefactor. Her clue: a Caesar-ciphered note left by Gma Martin just before she died.
…every possible way in which humans could prove themselves to be worse than any of our poor supernatural teen heroes is demonstrated in spades.
Not for nothing is next week's episode titled "Monstrous."
Previous seasons toyed with this idea—pitting Kate's human hunter against Peter's crazed alpha in season 1; Matt & Grandpa Argent's human vendettas against the kanima's voracious need for companionship in season 2; awkward human teacher against her worst monster-druid self in season 3A—but this season has just brought the hammer down on the idea that humans, when pushed even the tiniest bit, might not have the capacity and willingness to be far more monstrous than any of the "classic" monsters embodied by our core pack. We do. To things that threaten our sense of normalcy or safety or belonging, whether reasonably or not. For love. For hate. For money. For fear. For a 117 million reasons—and none of them that we are textbook werewolves or lizard monsters or banshees or even malicious trickster fox gods. We are human, and that can be monstrous enough. We don't even have to look at history to prove it; we just have to look to the suburbs of St. Louis, or the border of Ukraine, or the mountains of Iraq.
My point is, we don't just write and read and watch monster stories to be entertained (or ogle endless abs and grief beards, in the case of TEEN WOLF). I mean, we obviously do it for those reasons, too. But we, as humans, come back to these stories because we know we live among the abstractly/facelessly/too-vastly monstrous, and putting a concrete face and name to that horror is Step One in confronting it. A tiny step, a baby step. But something. And the skill with which the TEEN WOLF writers have shone the villain light so brightly on humanity this season—brightly enough to better outline the villainy of humanity in previous seasons—is just one of the myriad reasons* I love the show.
Okay! Philosophical ramblings over! Back to the recap.
*Most of the others consist of abs and grief beards. I'm only human.
Humans Suck: Pyro Edition
This week's episode opens on Deputy Dreamboat aka Deputy Jordan Parrish of the 5 million dollar bounty, unconscious and zip-tied to the steering wheel of his police cruiser. Outside, another deputy is just dousing the thing with gasoline. He evinces some measure of human emotion when Parrish awakes right in the middle of the whole process, but it is just disappointment: he'd hoped Parrish would stay out longer so he, the gas-thrower, wouldn't have to watch a man watch himself be killed. But Parrish woke too soon. Whoops, too bad for you, guy!
Parrish uses his few moments of panicked consciousness to try to talk Deputy Haigh out of this frankly horrific act, but Haigh is unmoved. Parrish is worth 5 mil, so Parrish has to die. It's simple math, once you think about it. Parrish quickly counters that he doesn't know why he's on the list, or why he's worth so much—he makes barely 40k a year!
"I only make THIRTY-SIX, jackass!" Haigh snaps, then sloshes the rest of his gas jug right at Parrish's beautiful face.
Parrish tries frantically to connect on a human level one more time by demanding to know if Haigh is really going to stand there and listen to a fellow deputy burn. Good question, but joke's on you, Jordan! Haigh is on an MTV show and so came PREPARED. He sticks his Apple-white earbuds in and tosses the lighter into Parrish's lap. Then watches as the cruiser is swallowed in flame.
Cold, Haigh. Cold.
A Story We All Need To Hear
At the sheriff's station, Lydia and Stiles are pulling Sheriff Stilinski into his office to reveal their theory about fake-dead, probable-banshee, possible-Benefactor Grandma Martin. Stiles is there, presumably, because Lydia saying the word code three times out loud makes him apparate at her shoulder like a regular old Beetlejuice.
Stilinski is very interested in the idea that they might have a lead on the Benefactor, as far-fetched as it sounds, and is ready to hear more. He is also sure that Parrish, who is sort of in, sort of out of the loop on the Benefactor/dead pool business, will also be interested. Only, Parrish doesn't seem to be anywhere around the bullpen. There’s just dummy Deputy Haigh, who, after wearing his own deputy’s uniform to light a fellow deputy on fire in the middle of an open parking lot, is now using his own work computer to communicate with the Benefactor about a wire transfer while looking shady as hell.
"Nope," he tells Stilinski, "I haven't seen that very valuable, very flammable deputy to whom you are referring."
But then! Dramatic shot change!
Naked, ash-covered Parrish, come to wreak vengeance. And by vengeance, I mean a skull being crushed in by bare fists. The lack of visible blood and gore makes this scene all the more gruesome (although later, the lack of visible blood and gore on Haigh's smirking, still-alive face will just make this scene all the less comprehensible).
On screen, as Haigh's skull gets pummeled some more, the words KILL NOT CONFIRMED appear. Oof. Rough day, dude.
Welcome To The Pack, Part I
Post-beatdown, Parrish makes his way to Derek's inexplicable loft, so, it's official: he's part of the pack. Derek examines the deputy's hands, and seems to be amazed that his hair and nails (the parts of the body that are technically dead) aren't gone, what with all that gasoline and death fire. "You are kidding me," Parrish says. "You're worried about my NAILS?" But Scott and Derek are too busy having a private supernatural parent chat about how to determine Parrish's identity to pay his bafflement any mind.
The crux of the private parent chat? Derek has no idea what Parrish is, or how to find out. He doesn't know everything, Scott! Try a parent one league up; consult Argent! Argent, unfortunately, is MIA. So no grief beards and piercing gazes for us, and no Argent bestiary for Scott and Parrish.
"WHAT IS A BESTIARY," Parrish interrupts. Then interrupts himself to say no, nevermind, who cares what a bestiary is: what are they? Are they all like Lydia?
Parrish. Stop trying to make Psychic happen.
Derek all but laughs out loud at this suggestion, then gives Scott the nod. And Scott turns on his bright red alpha eyes to show Parrish just how unlike a psychic he is. Aw! Maybe Parrish will want to touch his non-monstrous wolf face, too! I know we all do.
We Take Care of Each Other
The real person suffering the aftermath of Parrish's return from the flames is Sheriff Stilinski, whose shoulder was punched by a bullet from Haigh's weapon accidentally discharging as it (and he) smacked the floor. The slug is deep enough he'll need surgery to have it dug out. And in case any of you wolf fans are living in Canada or something and are unaware of how it works in the good ol' USofA—surgery here costs more than your actual arm and leg are probably worth.
So, of course, as Stilinski is attempting to get his attending physician to clarify the insurancese on the surgery release forms, Stiles' eyes are bugging right out of his skull. He knows about the bills, the credit cards, the collectors calling for Eichen House—he knows everything! And yes, obviously he goes through all of his dad's stuff! How ELSE is he supposed to protect him? And of course that triggers a whole shouting match about just who is supposed to be taking care of whom in the Stilinski household, an argument that ends with Stiles dropping, exhausted, into a chair, muttering, "We're supposed to take care of each other."
Welcome To The Pack, Part II
"Wait," Parrish stops Scott from what has presumably been the world's most scattered TW recap. "What's a kanima?"
THE 5 MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION that brings us back to the Hale loft. Scott claims they’ll get back to that, but we all know that’s a lie. More baffling is why, in the middle of being hunted by assassins, they bring the kanima into things at all. They may none of them know what Parrish is, but they can be sure what he isn’t: a kanima. DON’T TRY TO SOLVE YOUR ILL-EXECUTED SEASON TWO PLOT DEVICE NOW, WRITERS.
Anyway, Derek points out: the assassins don’t care what the supernaturals on the list are, just that they are on the list. Parrish wants to know how many assassins they’re talking about, but Lydia says they’ve lost count. And now there aren’t just pros; Haigh hadn’t done anything like that before, Parrish thinks. He was just taking a chance. And if he was willing to take a chance…well. The probability of all of their imminent doom is paralyzing.
Lorraine and Maddy
Parrish isn't the only pack member with news to share, however—Lydia, too, has a story, presumably told her by her mother back at the lake house as they were sorting through crazy Grandma Martin's not-ashes and such.
The story? How Meredith met Grandma Martin. Lorraine, as her friends and lady love, Maddy, called her. Lorraine, we learn through Lydia's half-flashback-lensed monologue, worked at IBM in San Francisco back in the day, and was at work one sunny afternoon when all of a sudden her head was filled with the sound of pounding rain and thunder, and her heart with foreboding. Thinking of her regatta-champion lady love, Maddy, Lorraine called to check in on her and make sure she was safe. Maddy was about to go out on the water, and since it was sunny and calm where Maddy was, too, Lorraine didn't say anything about her gut feeling. But the sound wouldn't go away, and Lorraine eventually did her banshee scream, and Maddy, of course, died in a storm.
Being a woman of science, Lorraine dedicated the next decades of her life to trying to figure out how she knew what was coming, and how she might harness that power for preventing other loved ones' deaths (presumably; I'm attributing some superhero qualities to her, because, well, Lydia). She tried parapsychologists, psychics, the occult, and even a soundproofed, all-white record room. The only progress they ever made was when, somehow, Meredith came to their attention, and they brought her over from Eichen House to have the wall voices in the white room explode her ear drums.
RIP Meredith. Were you not already deceased, we'd look at this flashback as suspiciously Villain Origin-y…
His other guns. The ones we've been looking at for just the past few episodes, not the past few seasons. Hey-o!
After the new pack disperses—Parrish to absorb this new reality in his brand new squad SUV; Lydia and Stiles to add Lorraine's story to his official murder board—Scott wanders over to Derek's bed, attracted by the glint of metal. And then there is a scene that I guess was in Wolf Watch as a sneak preview last week, that I somehow convinced myself was IN last week's episode. So, pulling directly from myself, a week ago:
Scott sees the gun and gets the same explanation from Derek that Braeden gave him: he needs protection, now that he's basically human. And Scott chooses that moment to tell Derek that it was his name that broke the last third of the dead pool list. Because he's Scott, he calls a Banshee's power "knowing whose in danger." But Derek isn't one to beat around a bush: a Banshee predicts death. And he has to be ready for that.
Scott needs some more dunks in the ice water of truth: Derek might die, and that blood money stuffed under his bed is going to drive him CRAZY if he doesn't do something with it soon. When he leaves for school the next day, the duffel screams to him from its haphazard place beneath his bed, and he makes himself late pulling it out to count the piles and make sure everything is there.
Scott. Give Derek his money back! Let him build a whole arsenal. (Basically, turn him into Argent's permanent New Hunter partner.)
Liam's Living Nightmares
…start, of course, when Liam can't sleep. Alone in his dark bedroom, he tosses and turns, but he doesn't even have a memory of a Malia to keep him company. He just has sheafs and sheafs of paper spitting out of his printer without warning and without cease. And what is the ghost in the machine trying to show him? The current status of the dead pool list. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over, until Liam yanks the machine's plug from the wall. So much for sleep.
The nightmares follow him to school the next day, where he starts hallucinating Berserkers behind every other scrawny freshman, even as Mason is trying to get him psyched about that night's big lacrosse bonfire. Liam wants to care about the shallow partying his BFF cares about, but his mind is too full of PTSD flashbacks to his rooftop Berserker battle, and whatever it was on the dead pool lists that spooked him out even further.
But Mason won't take No for an answer. First of all, Liam is on the lacrosse team: he has to go. Second of all, he needs Mason to find him a great girl to get drunk and embarassed in front of. Third of all, he needs to find Mason a nice lacrosse player, because…
(And by "statistically," I assume he means, if 1 in 3 players is a supernatural something, 1 in at least 10 has to be gay. Beacon Hills statistics are…not exactly universal statistics.)
Cowed by Mason's insistence—and the thuddingly approaching Berserker hallucination—Liam acquiesces. He'll go to the bonfire! Just let him get out of the hall!
Later, after Coach Finstock's stirring show of fraternity/disapproval/bafflement/resignation at the fact that his whole team will be getting themselves stumbling down drunk around a massive open flame later than night—and after he promises all of Scott's attention and time to every last one of the "little bastards'" safety—Scott tracks Liam down in the hall to find out what's up.
What's up, it turns out, is the fact that Derek's name is no longer a part of the dead pool list. And Liam's? His bounty has jumped…to 18 million dollars.
Yeah, kid—I'd be hallucinating Berserkers, too.
The Stiles and Lydia Show, Part I
Because why would they? Lydia and Stiles are not attending school today. Instead, they are holed up in Stiles' room, right under his murder board, trying to crack their way into Lorraine's coded message.
"Maddy!" Stiles exclaims. "It has to be that!"
Lydia—and every single person watching—is super aware of how very obvious and thus unlikely this possibility is, but she tries it anyway. No dice. Lydia? Nope. Natalie? No go.
The ashes were left for Lydia, Stiles says (un)helpfully—the code was left for Lydia. SHE'S supposed to be able to figure this out! Way to keep the pressure low, Stiles.
However, much like the last time he was hovering over Lydia's shoulder, piling on the pressure for her to crack a ciphered text, he has a brain wave revealing something so simple it makes us feel dumb on his behalf for only hitting on it now: Lydia. The whole point is that LYDIA is the only one who can crack it, so the code won't have something to do with Lorraine, but with Lydia.
So what did Lorraine and Lydia used to do together, just the two of them? They read. Specifically, they read THE LITTLE MERMAID. And no, Stiles—not the movie. The Hans Christian Andersen tale. And not only did they read it, but Lydia was obsessed with it to the point that she refused to answer to anything but Ariel for three months.
And wouldn't you know it, but Grandma thought that wee Lydia's stubborness was adorable enough to enshrine in an assassin hit list code.
While Lydia is exulting over her success uncovering Lorraine's handwritten cipher code, Stiles is dealing with another ghost in a printing machine, spitting out revised dead pool lists ad nauseam. Whatever he sees draws him up short, and he declares they have to call Scott. But likely whatever has drawn Stiles' attention, Scott has already seen, as the same Benefactor ghost has possessed Coach Finstock's printer at the high school, sending a copy of the revised list straight into Scott's own hands.
Humans Maybe…Don't Suck?
At the Bonfire of Bad Decisions (although, is any bonfire a bonfire of NOT bad decisions?), Scott is casing the perimeter, looking for trouble. And boy does he find it! Malia, thus far MIA this episode, is dancing alone with a flask. Liam, too, is looking to drown his dead pool terror in a bottle, but at least he is doing it at Mason's side.
Scott tells Malia that he gets why she's upset—discovering Peter Hale is your real dad would SUCK—but drinking? It isn't the answer. And not for the reasons you'd think. Nope: for our supernaturals, getting drunk is an impossibility. Something about their quick-heal powers, the same powers that made Scott getting a tattoo worthy of a whole hour-long episode back in season 3.
Liam, over on the logs with Mason, is finding this out the expensive way, downing bottle after bottle of vodka without feeling a thing. He side-eyes Mason. "Aren't you going to tell me to slow down?" he prompts. Nope. Not Mason. He wants Liam to det drunk. Like, super drunk.
Yeah, that sounds exactly like what a dummy 15 yo with a heart of gold would say to his BFF. You're going to grow into a great adult, Mason.
Between this and the way he stands up for his friend(s) later on, when the new assassin deputies start hauling them off? Oh, humanity: there is hope for us yet.
BAMF Braeden Interlude
Also giving us hope for humanity is our friendly mercenary/Derek-lover, Braeden, who shows up to the sheriff's station with (borrowed?) US Marshall's identification to question a suspiciously fresh-faced Haigh.
She gives him one chance to take her seriously, and when he wastes that chance smirking at her girlness and asking about her scars, she just straight up punches him.
ILU forever, Braeden. FOREVER.
No, Nevermind: Humans Suck (Pyro Dubstep Remix)
Here, Malia, is the flaw in your reasoning that a smaller bounty makes you that tiny bit safer: a clever (or bold)(or stupid) assassin may just try to take out as many dead poolers as possible in one go, meaning, mere proximity to the valuable Scott and newly-valuable Liam equals death. To be fair, you were trying to go lone desert wolf, with nothing but Devil Daddy issues and that flask to keep you company, but friend! Beacon Hills is a small Hellmouth. The pack was going to find you eventually. And when they did, the assassins found a way to take you out.
In the case of the bonfire, they found some way to really get the supernaturals drunk. Only! It isn't the liquor that's affecting them. It's the HOUSE MUSIC.
I always knew I was right to mistrust you, house music.
Scott staggers Malia over to Mason and Liam, the latter who is feeling the effects, too, and while Scott is starting to go wobbly, he directs Mason to keep watch over the other two while he, himself, tries to get close enough to the DJ to turn the music off.
This is dumb. Obviously he should have sent Mason, the only non-supernatural, over. But Scott figured out that it was the music (as opposed to the bonfire smoke, which was my first guess) in the first place, so I am having trouble deciding how mad to be at his brain. I'll blame the second, bad decision on his having been made half-drunk already.
So, yeah—Scott collapses halfway to the DJ, and is grabbed by the friendly bear arms of the local sheriff's deputies-turned-assassins, who are ready to cart all three supernaturals off to the school hall to finish what Haigh started. Mason rightly smells danger, and tries to stand up for the three unconscious teens—even going so far as to say he will accompany them to the station—only to be pushed violently to the ground for his troubles. And I know that the cops here are corrupt because of the supernatural hit list, not because of racial politics, but watching this scene in the midst of the protests in Ferguson…it was hard.
So Mason is left reeling on the ground, while Scott and the others are brought inside and thrown against lockers and doused in whatever gasoline Haigh left behind. You know these dummies are Haigh's dummies because they don't even try to come up with a way for the DJ's carefully manufactured drunkness to be able to be used as the reason behind their deaths. Drunk teens might fall into an open bonfire. Drunk teens will not collapse INSIDE a school hall, then douse themselves with gasoline, then set themselves on fire. THESE. DUMMIES.
Thankfully, human cavalry of all sorts is on their way to save the day. Out in the dance party, Mason remembers Scott going for the DJ booth (and/or realizes how terrible house music is), and makes his own very human way over to yank the whole power station to the ground. This gives Scott just enough time to get back his alpha eyes and twist the lead dummy deputy's lighter wrist clean around, before Braeden, Derek, and the few remaining uncorrupted members of the Beacon Hills Sheriff's Department to come storming in to fight of the rest.
Speaking of dummies:
The Stiles and Lydia Show, Part II
And now for the worst thing this show has ever done. I'm already short for time and space and heartache, so I will keep it brief: Stiles and Lydia bring the decoded list to Parrish for clarification, and discover everyone on the list died of suicide in the past ten years, of apparent suicide. Stiles thinks he can bribe the Awful Orderly from previous episodes, and so he and Lydia head over. Awful Orderly is, predictably, awful, but agrees to help for the joy of seeing the pain he can inflict on Stiles, and also for the $500 Lydia has in her wallet.
Only, it turns out Awful Orderly isn't what he seems. He is a cassette afficionado, a tape written on with very familiar handwriting sitting on his desk. He is certain this has given him away, so after leading them to a distant, forgotten storage room, he drugs and ties up our heroes. He is going to kill them, yes, but he has a problem he needs Lydia's help with first. See, he's not a monster. Not a murderer. He released the souls of all those tortured supernaturals who died in Eichen House over that ten year period. He was helping. And the last person he helped? Lorraine. AND HE HAS THE TAPE TO PROVE IT.
And he plays it. For Lydia. Like it's a dusty old lecture.
Lydia talked Stiles down from his worst demons last season, and now it is Stiles' turn. He performs as admirably as he can (see awards section above), but in the end, Awful Orderly gets his way. Lydia hears her grandmother beg—not for her own life, but for Ariel's safety. And that's what Awful Orderly can't understand—who the hell is Ariel? But as soon as Lydia hears that name, her will is galvanized. She will not bend, and will not answer.
So Awful Orderly pulls out the needles he plans to use to stage the two "troublemakers'" deaths. He has the needle halfway into Lydia's neck (which is terrifying, but again: YOU DUMMY. What teen would shoot up in their own neck??) when Parrish storms into the room. He didn't stop investigating once the other two left, and saw that Awful Orderly's name was the sole connection amongst all the suicide reports.
Awful Orderly doesn't think he has the nerve and/or skill, but Parrish is as BAMF as Braeden. He walked out of an inferno, dude. Don't mess with him.
Once Awful Orderly is down and Parrish is releasing Stiles and Lydia's bonds, Lydia is overcome with tears of relief. It was him—Awful Orderly was the Benefactor all along.
But Awful Orderly isn't dead, and hearing Lydia call him the B-word makes him laugh a lava burst of death blood straight into the air. You think he was the one behind the dead pool. You think he was the one pulling Meredith's strings? Oh, little girl. SHE was the one. SHE was the one all along.
"But he wasn't on the list!" Lydia stammers.
VILLAIN ORIGIN STORY. BAM.
We are watching our favorite Beacon Hills supernaturals evade constant terror and death on SUNDAY (as in, tomorrow), right before the VMAs. Set your reminders!
I solemnly swear on my wished-for Marauder's Map to have the next recap up by Tuesday evening.