What a great and weird episode! Great as in great, obviously. Weird as in quiet and careful and slow and SUPER INTENSE without relying on a billion things happening. Honestly SO VERY LITTLE happened this week (like, so little that the awards section will probably feel as long as the recap). It was fantastic. And terrible. And fantastic.
THIS WEEK'S WOLF PACK PUP
Kira, for soldiering through a lot of anxiety on both the personal level (Scott's unwitting I love you from last week) and the supernatural level (her unconscious and unstoppable surge in kitsune power).
WEEKLY REMINDER THAT BEACON HILLS IS ON A HELLMOUTH
Which doubles as an award for Weekly Reminder That Teen Wolf Treats Its Fans With The Most Respect, as this living nightmare was the winner of creature design contest, the fan who won not only getting her creature on screen, but also getting to visit the set and meet with the cast and Jeff Davis and the art department, all of whom were genuinely bowled over by her talent and vision.
Runner-up OBVIOUSLY to the wendigo leech mouth in Donovan's neck. #nopenopenopenopenope
BEST REACTION TO SOMETHING SUPERNATURALLY RIDICULOUS
The normally pragmatic and single-minded Malia caving to Theo's supernaturally killer smile. Seriously. No wonder they kept Mike Montgomery off screen on PLL all those years. If he'd been around any more it would have been like Black Hoodie/A/Red Coat/Uber-A/ChArles WHO?
REIGNING PRESIDENT OF THE
SCOTT MCCALL STYDIA FAN CLUB
Scott! Although I suspect that his waxing poetic was less in fan service to the rabid Stydia shippers as it was a Chekhov's gun for the coming horrorfest.
BEST PRODUCT PLACEMENT
I guess one could say Theo is pretty CALCULATING, eh? Eh? EH?
Even secretly villainous teen wolves gotta slog through it.
(j/k love you math, you're my favorite)
PREVIOUSLY ON TEEN WOLF
Scott's meanie AP Bio teacher publicly shamed him for taking notes on a biologically relevant topic she was lecturing the whole class on, which topic was chimaera, which nightmare Scott and his pack are currently barely surviving. The chimaera? All teens! And while Tracy "It's Just Senior Stress!" Stewart was put down by her macabre steampunk makers, BabyWolf Liam and NuStiles Mason and HotWolf Brett's discovery of more than one incubation grave in the forest means that there are plenty more chimaera where she came from. Like that poor gay werescorpion that Kira's avenging kitsune spirit nearly decapitated last week, and also that psychopath housebreaker/death threat shouter Donovan, who was last seen having wendigo leech mouths installed all over his body while one 2 Hot 2 Trust Theo Raeken smooth talked him into going after Stiles to get back at the Sheriff.
Thanks a lot, ROSEWOOD, PA. YOU SENT US A MONSTER.
We open exactly where the last episode left off: with Stiles and his Jeep stalled on the side of the road while Donovan's leech-fanged palm grabs his shoulder from behind. It's the most awful thing! Stiles quickly engages, and manages headbutt Donovan before too much damage is done.
While Donovan is reeling, Stiles grabs the wrench off the side of his Jeep and takes off on foot for the safety of the school/new card-keyed library (lolololol). And you know what the new library stage is, why its look/feel is both dramatic AND familiar? It's Derek Hale's loft! Sorry, Derek. I like this use better.
Anyway, turns out the library isn't as safe as Stiles hoped because Donovan? He's a recent enough BHHS student that he's a card key for the door, too. A card key, and a vendetta—turns out when Sheriff Stilinski was just Deputy Stilinski, he was partners with Donovan's dad, and one night Stilinski stayed in the cruiser calling for backup with Donovan Sr. went into danger alone, ending up with a bullet-severed spine and complete paralysis below the waist. "Did he tell you that he was too much of a frightened little bitch to go in after my dad?? Or do scared little bitches not tell their little bitch sons about their failures???" Donovan goads from the center of the silent library, while Stiles hides, gripping his wrench, shaking, tears in his eyes.
Donovan starts climbing the stairs, and Stiles waits below, listening hard, thinking he might soon be able to make a break for it. Alas, Donovan has on his monster sneaking shoes and monster sneaks to the other side of the bookcase Stiles is hiding behind, where he viciously yanks him through the shelves, starting the brawl all over again.
Stiles manages to get all the way to some painting scaffolding set up against one of the walls and starts climbing, but Donovan isn't far behind, and soon Stiles' only visible option is to pull the pin from the side of the scaffolding he isn't on so that the whole mess will go tumbling down on Donovan's head. It's a great plan! TOO great a plan, really—one of the steel bars falls vertically, impaling Donovan right through the chest, pinning him like a monstrous bug to the tarpaulined floor.
Stiles, obviously, is shaken to his core. And while I knew this to be true, I guess I had never really thought about it deeply—until now, none of Scott's pack (minus Nogitsune Stiles) has been personally responsible for someone's death. Tangentially, yes, but not personally. Not like this. We see Stiles consider trying to help Donovan, to play the hero like Scott's pack always does, but then we just as clearly see him make the decision not to. He couldn't have done anything to keep Donovan alive, of course—the Dread Doctors would have put him down even if the impaling hadn't taken—but it is the decision to to try that changes something integral inside Stiles. He watches Donovan die, then calls 911 from the library land line and silently waits long enough for them to establish the origin of the call and send over a patrol car, then leaves the scene (only remembering to retrieve his dropped cell phone from Donovan's pocket at the last minute, when the buzz of Malia calling reminds him that Donovan had taken it). And then Stiles restarts his Jeep, hides it in a bushy corner of the school lot, and watches for the patrol car to come and find the body and bring the whole of the Beacon Hills County Sheriff's Department down on the school library.
Only—no body is found. The patrolling deputy radios in that it was a prank call. And when Stiles returns to the library to see for himself, he find no body, no blood, no scattered rebar, no sign of anything. And then he is racing home to his mystery board, desperately adding the events of the night to the blank space next to Tracy's name, unable to determine if Donovan died, or didn't die, or his body was taken, or if he was ever even there at all.
Did you notice how I didn't once use the phrase "Stiles says" in that section? That's because Stiles, Beacon Hills' resident motor mouth, the smart aleck who responded to Donovan's tirade of death threats to the Sheriff a few weeks ago with a whole stand-up set of smartass quips, didn't once speak during the whole ordeal. Not when attacked; not when goaded; not in response to Malia's call; not to the 911 operators; not to himself when adding to his mystery board. In fact, the words he DOES add to his mystery board even end up being too much communication for Stiles, as he frantically and violently erases them from existence almost the moment he finishes writing them. It is not until minute thirteen of the episode that Stiles says a single word, answering Scott's call from the animal clinic with the news that someone is stealing the bodies. THIRTEEN MINUTES. Last week it was Malia's/Shelley Hennig's turn at slaying us with compelling, contained/constrained introspection; this week it is Dylan O'Brien's. The things this show is doing this season? So very great.
Someone Is Stealing The Bodies
We knew it already, but after Stiles' first-hand experience and also the animal clinic alarm being tripped and Scott and Malia finding Tracy's body missing, and Melissa confirming that Scorpion Lucas' body is also missing from the hospital morgue, now Scott and crew know it, too. And while it will be awhile yet before the pack puts one and Parrish together, we at least get to see our poor night-terror-walking deputy park at the edge of the Beacon Hills Nature Preserve in his off-duty leather jacket (hawt) and haul Donovan's body out of his trunk, phoenix eye burning (hot) as carries it towards the Nemeton.
Malia Reads, Too, Lydia
The other thing Scott et al know now? The "Dread Doctors" moniker, thanks to Malia's humanity-induced snooping from last episode. Something about the cover of the pulp novel seems familiar to Lydia, but she can't put her finger on it. "Has anyone actually read it yet?" she asks on Monday morning as Malia trails her down the school hall like a puppy waiting to be congratulated for its first trick. "Just me! But I didn't understand any of it!" Malia responds. Lydia half-condescendingly notes that they should probably all read it, which Kira and the library printer are currently working on making possible, but I'd like to point out that the last time Lydia was condescending to Malia about the newer human girl's inability to understand something arcane that Lydia was intimately involved with, it was the math notes Lydia had written entirely in Deadpool computer code cipher. So. Hold those condescending horses, Banshee.
Minus the mention of a small New England town, the copy from the back of the Dread Doctors book describes a situation exactly like the one the pack is finding themselves in now: teenagers disappearing, being buried alieve, then reemerging as monsters, all at the hands of "an ancient order of parascientists known only as the Dread Doctors." And it doesn't have an ending, because it is just Volume 1! Super cool!
Malia thinks they are living Volume 2; Lydia thinks the book could as easily be prediction as history; Scott thinks the Dread Doctors ("Are we REALLY calling them that?" Kira smartly demands) aren't the ones stealing the bodies. And because he is book smart now and has really been working on those logical thinking skills, his reasoning is sound: the kids that have died were failed experiments that the Dread Doctors appeared from nowhere to dispense of before immediately disappearing. Why would they do all that, and then come back to take the bodies? It doesn't make any sense!
Nope! But the thing that does make sense? Scott's dire note that all these dangerous kids that almost killed them, they were the Dread Doctors' failures. Imagine what a "success" will look like.
A Wild Theo Raeken Appears
Because Theo is still washed in the positive light of Melissa McCall's tourniquet praises, Scott brings him the Dread Doctors manuscript to scan, just in case his time in the supernatural world outside of Beacon Hills might have given him any insight (I mean, he HAD heard about True Alpha Scott McCall, after all). But nope! Theo lies. He's never heard of anything like those very terrible creatures Scott is describing. Maybe the author, though…?
"A pseudonym," Scott sighs. One that doesn't seem to exist anywhere else. "Well what about this guy?" Theo asks, flipping totally by accident and with no nefarious agenda at all to the author's note on the last page, where one Dr. Valack is thanked profusely for his insight into the scientific world. "Yeah, what ABOUT this guy??" Lydia echoes from the other side of the school as she uses the back corner of Malia's non-genius math class for her own personal mystery-solving office (I mean, there really is no other reason for Lydia "I could have graduated last year and only have one AP class this year" Martin to be there, right?).
"VALACK." Scott and Malia and Lydia groan together, realizing simultaneously that they have to return to Eichen House.
"They took the bait!" Theo gloats to the Dread Doctors when he gets home (to the parascientific murder basement) after school. "They're going back tonight."
"To Eichennnnnn," the Dread Doctors hiss (yes, even without sibiliants) through their masks in what must be…glee? "To Eiiiiiichennnnnnn."
Fine Then—To Eichen
So the pack (minus Malia, who knows that that place is a "nightmare asylum of insanity and death") readies themselves for the trip to Peter Hale's jail (minus Peter, who maybe was eaten by Dr. Valack's third eye???). Even Stiles, whose shoulder-chomping, Donovan-killing shenanigans from the night/early morning before prompted him to stay home sick from school. "You don't have to go!" Lydia insists when she goes to pick him up. Good try Lydia, but no way Stiles is letting you go back there alone—you almost died there! "SO DID YOU!" she retorts. "Exactly," Stiles responds. "Team work. Now stop asking me about the shoulder injury I am obviously hiding and let's go."
Speaking of things people are hiding, Kira's pretty sure her kitsune powers are going crazy, so she interrupts her and Scott's frantic search for her sword belt to ask him to look at her, with his eyes. "I…am?" he says, looking at her with his eyes. But she means his alpha eyes. He does, and sees that giant flaming fox figure surrounding her that he saw at the bi nightclub however many days earlier. It sees him looking and slowly points its giant foxfire hand in the direction of Kira's belt, which causes Scott to blanch.
"What? Is something wrong??" Kira wants to know. "Nope! Nothing! Not a THING! Definitely nothing wrong with you that would be safer for us to talk about now rather than when shit really hits the fan and your kitsune spirit butts wills with my True Alphaness! LOOK YOUR BELT LET'S GO!"
Cool, Scott. Good plan. Also probably don't tell Stiles exactly what you saw Kira's FOX spirit trying to do, and be vague about what your anxious about. And Stiles will misinterpret it as proof that you wouldn't be on his side with what happened to Donovan, so he won't tell you about that. Then you and Kira and Stiles will all be on opposing legs of a triangle of future violent disagreement and unhappiness. That will be awesome. Good, good plan.
The orderly who will lustily jab Lydia with needles in the future is on desk duty when the pack arrives. He makes them empty their pockets, and even makes Kira give up her belt. "But it…really ties the outfit together!" she tries, but no luck. The patients, Shit Orderly explains, could use it to strangle themselves and/or harm others (oh, and how), so she's gotta give it up. But that's okay, the pack reasons: they still have claws and teeth and kitsune warrior martial arts skills between them, so Lydia and Stiles will be perfectly safe should Valack prove a more formidable foe than they expect.
Psych! Valack's cell is on the other side of a wall of mountain ash. No werewolves or kitsunes allowed. Banshees? Yes, apparently. Supernatural enough for a Deadpool, but not enough for mountain ash. I guess.
And so Scott and Kira are left to wait in the service hall, while Stiles and Malia traverse the monster patients' corridor together, alone. They walk past a lot of scary creatures, not least of which is DONOVAN? WHAT? DONOVAN ISN'T DEA—oh wait. Yes he is. That is the Sluagh, who "legend has it" can take on the appearance of lost souls that have latched themselves to whomever is looking at it. "So who did you see, Stiles?" Dr. Valack asks. "TELL US ABOUT THE BOOK," Stiles counters.
It takes plenty of British hemming and hawing and misdirection and creepy requests for a recording of Lydia's scream, but eventually Valack admits that yes, he was the author (using a pseudonym to keep his professional name clean), and that he wrote the book in the hopes that it would trigger the memory of anyone else who had seen and experienced the Dread Doctors. Because one of their parascientific talents? Making you forget you ever saw them. Which fact triggers Lydia's memory of them in her operating room after Tracy's kanima attack. And maybe from another time before that? It is unclear.
What is not unclear is that Kira's kitsune powers are interacting with whatever electromagnetic wave signal ley line telluric current magic spells are in place to secure this particular wing of Eichen House. Without her permission or ability to stop it, lightning starts crackling in her hands, around her limbs, through the walls and ceilings and floors of the building, interrupting the story Scott was telling about Stiles' lifelong obsession with/love for Lydia…
…and how they have become such a great team who always manage to survive, and how Stiles' greatest weapon in getting Lydia to notice him was that he paid attention to her and figured out she was smart and remembered, just like Scott remembers—
LIGHTNING STRIKE KIRA DOWN WARDS DOWN THE DOCTORS ARE COMING THE DOCTORS ARE COMING THE DOCTORS ARE HERE
In the hall, Scott can't get close to Kira without getting electrocuted; in Valack's isolation cell, Lydia and Stiles can't get him to talk without the scream. So Lydia gives it to him, and Valack explains that the Doctors are here because of the Nemeton, that it is the kids waking it up without thinking about the potential consequences, that have brought the Doctors back.
Lydia and Stiles take off then, finding an empty room down the hall to hide inside while the Dread Doctors pass by on their way to forcibly remove Valack's third eye. It's pretty awful, but not awful enough to kill him, unfortunately; they leave, and after they do, Valack makes a poor man's speaker of a paper cup and throws his recording of Lydia's scream inside and presses it against the glass wall of his cell and BOOM he is FREE.
Also free are Scott and Kira, after Scott returns to that page he took from Lawrence of Arabia's book and accepts the pain of Kira's electrocution and doesn't mind, lifting her unconscious body into his arms and forcing their way out of the building. When they finally get outside the ley lines' magical interference he collapses, but has just enough energy to tell Kira that what he said in the club? He remembers. And he meant it. And then she holds his hand and they fall unconscious together.
Back in Eichen House, Lydia and Stiles linger as long as possible to make sure they don't run into the Doctors, and then longer still as they each finally get a moment to come to terms with what Valack concluded about their role in waking the Nemeton. Neither thinks things are okay. "All of this? It's all our fault," Stiles says, have pissed, half resigned. "It's our responsibility," Lydia counters, doom in her voice. Neither is great! Thanks, Peter Hale and Kate Argent, for setting so much injustice into motion with all your crazy craziness.
Yep this nightmare is all the fault of these two kids and their constant striving to save everyone's damn lives
Thelma and Louise? Try Theo and Malia
While the rest of the Senior pack is burning Eichen House to the ground, Malia camps out in the library to get in some more studying. She is interrupted/joined by Theo and his Precalc book, then is interrupted/joined by Theo in leaving when he displays his creepy knowledge of all her means of escape ("No more buses; walk is long; didn't I see you running over fake pedestrians in Drivers Ed?") and spins it into a flirty friendly offer to let her get in more driving practice in his car.
So Malia gets behind Theo's wheel (did that sound dirty? the show certainly wants to make you make things dirty when thinking of these two) and lets him lightly mock her grandma tendencies for awhile before reminding us that there is a reason Malia is having trouble picking up her license. And then another vision of the night her mom and sister died overtakes her, and she pounds on the gas, then brakes and rolls out as she remembers her family's car stopping for someting in the middle of the road. Something, and someone—a woman, with two silver pistols, shooting straight at Malia's oncoming car.
"It was her!" Malia gasps after Theo manages to wrench her from the road just in time to avoid an oncoming vehicle and then hold her close to his heaving chest, "it was her! THE DESERT WOLF!"
Malia, you barely know this dude. A little decorum, please!
But also, that's cold, Mama Malia. Cold.
Fan ship Marrish heats up in sparring practice, and Theo sets boy candy bait for Malia in the weight room.