Hey, wolf fans! Welcome to another DEPRESSING WEEK in Beacon Hills! Honestly, I really struggled not to make this my entire recap:
Because as far as Jeff Davis et al are concerned,
You know what? That's actually a great idea. Whenever I get to a point in the recap that make me too sad to want to go on, I will just take an Isaac Lahey gif break. Then at least SOME good will come of this week's/season's doom and gloom.
THIS WEEK'S WOLF PACK PUPPY
Theo—in the crazy impressive psychopathic liar sense, that is. What an actor! What a nightmare!
BEST REACTION TO SOMETHING SUPERNATURALLY RIDICULOUS
Natalie Martin, responding to Malia's flashed blue werecoyote eyes.
WEEKLY REMINDER THAT BEACON HILLS IS ON A HELLMOUTH
Two more kids leak black+silver blood all over themselves, other students, and school grounds (and then are subsequently and brutally murdered), and yet classes remain in session.
Look—there is only ONE WAY out of this Hellmouth, and that is through out-of-state higher education. No (emotionally and psychologically scarring) pain, no gain!
REIGNING PRESIDENT OF THE SCOTT MCCALL FAN CLUB (MEMBERSHIP: 1)
Mason. Literally the only person left in Beacon Hills who believes in Scott McCall (including ol' waxwings himself).
BEST PRODUCT PLACEMENT
Apple MacBook Pro! More Power (to Predict Your Imminent Demise) Behind Every Pixel.
Like the heavy lifting to make up for the terrible sound mixing on the Doctors' incomprehensible BUT ACTUALLY IMPORTANT lines
PREVIOUSLY ON TEEN WOLF
Using his personal experience of throwing away his library ID card to throw his dad off his trail in Donovan's ongoing murder investigation, Stiles connected the dots between Parrish's abandoned, sooty name badge and the disappearance of one more dead teen chimaera to figure out that hey, the body thief is Parrish! Deaton used much less experience and much more Rosewoodian LiarLogic™ to extrapolate that the Dread Doctors are trying to use science to create their own supernatural beings. And Liam's old enemy/new flame Hayden is one of them! She's probably fine, unless she starts leaking mercury from all her orifices, in which case she will be put down by the Doctors in short order, and no one, not even Scott and his pack, will be able to help her. Because Scott and his pack? They're broken! And Scott is pretty sure it is HIS FAULT.
There are a few specific cold open styles one can expect in any given Teen Wolf season, and so far 5A has hit most of them—random kids in danger/dying; OUR kids in danger/dying; Deaton investigating a secret lead our kids really would be better off knowing; in media res action we flash either forward to or back from for the rest of the episode; one character recounting the death and danger and futility of their current struggle in a voiceover monologue to an unseen person who they think can (BUT CANNOT ACTUALLY) help.
In Season 2, that cold open featured Stiles and Ms. Morell, i.e. the school counselor/Deaton's sister/the Alpha Pack's druid/Eichen's group therapy leader, who obviously was going to be no help to the pack because she A) shares Deaton's blood and B) had (and probably still has) very grey loyalties, and in Season 4 the open featured Stiles and his Murder Board/Sheriff Stilinski, neither of whom could see the shape of the puzzle when not even half the pieces were in place. This time around?
…Scott's monologue starts with his inhaler, which he has apparently taken to carrying around with him all the time, just like her used to before he became a wolf. Because just like it used to before he became a wolf, his asthma is hitting him hard and hitting him often. How often? Well, anytime he remembers what they are up against and how many kids have already died and how little he understands and how very little he can fix and how very VERY little everyone else in the pack is speaking to one another. So, pretty much all the time.
Scott knows that some of his friends prefer not speaking, because that makes it easier to keep secrets (Malia and her renewed hunt for the Desert Wolf; Stiles and his ongoing quest to keep Donovan's accidental death/the wendigo bite on his shoulder hidden) and even to lie, if not outright, than at least by omission. Like especially with Stilinski (Scott calls him, unconsciously distancing himself from Stiles by avoiding calling him "Stiles' dad") and Parrish, neither of whom have been told that Parrish is the one taking the bodies (Lydia and Stiles searching for the Nemeton on their own, instead). And this even with (or because of) the Sheriff's doubled-down effort to seek out more chimaeras by distributing a list of all the young adults in Beacon Hills with a medical history of borrowed tissue and/or a current rap sheet of atypical psychosocial behavior. Like a certain Deputy Clark's sister Hayden, for example, a certain Deputy Clark thinks, putting two and magical healing powers together.
Hayden and Corey (the other known chimaera kid) are at least doing okay, Scott notes with minor relief—minor because since they don't think they either of them need the pack's help, they neither of them WANT the pack's help. Certainly not Scott's, whose last efforts amounted to digging into Corey's memories uninvited and offering Hayden up as Dread Doctor bait, respectively. And since Liam was caught in the crosshairs of that last boondogle, he's not too keen on Scott lately, either. Parenthood! It is NOT EASY.
Anyway, Scott concludes, between all that and the fact that he hasn't heard from Kira OR Deaton in far too long (the latter long enough that Scott had to close the clinic), whatever had been his pack when Theo showed up, well, there's not much left of it now.
Yep! Scott's last, worst confidante is none other than a wild Mike Montgomery! Whose face we finally see not outright, but reflected upside down in the shining surface of the exam table. Because he is reflecting back on everyone in Beacon Hills precisely what they need to see him as for him to get what he wants. Because he is secretly evil. DIRECTORIAL MAGIC.
"Not the pack you came to join, after all," Scott sighs apologetically. "Don't sigh apologetically!" Theo exclaims. "For better or for worse, I'm with you!" Like the plague, is what he means. Get it? Because of the Dread Doctors? And plague doctors? Puns from the literal Dark Ages!
Look, Theo's about to rain unholy horror down on our heroes' heads. Gotta break up the nightmare somehow.
I promised, didn't I?
Reminded of how he's only one half of the evil masterminding ruining our pack's lives, Theo races off to the Dread Doctors' lair, where a new personal nightmare is born at the sight of one of the Doctors sans steampunk suit, injecting neon green fluid from the grown man's fetus tank into his withered, Frankensteinian arm. PARASCIENCE!
Theo's not there for a biology lesson, though—he's there to remind them of the deal they struck with him to give him his own pack, for which he, on his end, evidently needs more time.
Perigee-Syzygy, the Doctors hiss incomprehensibly, PERIGEE-SYZYGY. THEN WE WILL KNOW. And just what is a syzygy? I hear you asking. WELL, let me tell YOU.
No, really. Let me tell you. It's just a fancy way of saying "when three celestial bodies perfectly align." That is, a thing that happens literally twice a month, every month.
A perigee-syzygy seems like it should be a BIT more interesting, but all perigee means is the point at which an object orbiting Earth (in this case, duh, the moon) is nearest to us. And the moon orbits Earth…once a month. So there is a perigee once a month. Now, the concurrence of the two events is not so regular—but it isn't IRregular, either. We've had plenty of perigee-syzygies in Teen Wolf's series run alone—we just call them Supermoons. BUT YES ALSO we are talking Teen Wolf, in which the very regular monthly occurrence of a full moon makes teen wolves blood run hot and wild. So, yeah, okay, perigee-syzygy may be utter nonsense, but bring it on! I wouldn't have the show any other way.
Okay, so the Doctors are getting ready for something big to happen to their successful chimaera creations on the upcoming perigee-syzygy. Unfortunately for Liam, that group does not contain Hayden. Wait, did I say for Liam? I meant for Theo! Because for some reason, Theo NEEDS Hayden to start his own pack, regardless of whether or not the Doctors consider her a failure!
Inconsequential, the Doctors hiss at him as his anger threatens to explode. Then the one who normally has a cane yanks a long, thin steel out from the spine of the teen on their operating table and sheaths it back in its cane-shaped case. And Theo winces and takes a step back. He'll speed up his con, he promises—he just wants them to consider leaving him Hayden.
Turbo Boosters: Engage
So Theo heads to school to start moving the final pieces of the chess game only he knows he is playing into place. "Hey, Scott," he whispers in the middle of one of their non-AP Biology classes. "I need to talk to you about something, something I should have talked to you about forever ago, but…"
At the prospect of someone, ANYONE, finally wanting to confide in/come clean to him about something, Scott nearly jumps out of his skin. "TELL ME TELL ME NOW" he demands. And Theo is about to, regardless of whatever Great Work of Literature and/or Moment in History they are meant to be learning instead, but just then AMBULANCE. Because Corey? Who was so strong that Mason just HAD to have him come to the weight room to show it off (for science, ofc)? Surprise! He's spewing black blood and mercury just EVERYWHERE. Down his chin, down his chest, all across Mason's hands and body. Totally safe and innocuous liquid mercury, just everywhere on the BHS campus/student body! But don't expect the CDC to show up. One trip to Beacon Hills was enough to that government body, thankyouverymuch.
"They're coming!" Corey calls to Mason as he is loaded up into the back of an ambulance. "Don't let them kill me!" Thankfully, Mason leaves this one in the hands of actual supernaturals, sending Scott and Theo to the hospital after Corey while he seeks out a bathroom in which to wash up. Like one does. After being doused in liquid poison. NBD.
On the way to the hospital, Scott demands that Theo finish his story/confession from earlier. "Now is REALLY not the time!" Theo says, but after like two seconds of Scott's fairly soft insistence he gives in ("gives in"). "Look in the glove compartment," he directs, then proceeds to weave the sordid tale of Stiles' jealously guarded secret about The Night of Donovan's Murder, when Stiles chased Theo into the school library and beat and beat and beat and beat and beat his skull in so hard it was barely recognizable as human when Theo, having caught the scent of blood from down the road, finally came in and pulled him off, all while Scott stares at the blood-spattered wrench Theo had waiting as Exhibit A.
"I tried to get him to stop!" Theo says, near tears. "But he just kept saying, I had to do it, I had to do it, I had to do it. He must have thought it was self defense, but Scott, I've never seen anything like it. I'm so sorry." He is SO sorry. You can FEEL how sorry he is (I'm not being facetious). (It's terrifying and glorious.) (Mona Vanderwaal taught him well.)
The hospital is in chaos when the boys arrive, of course, because it is Monday. Oh, well, also because it turns out Corey can turn invisible and has been racing around the halls unseen in an effort to escape before the Dread Doctors show up. I watch too many superhero shows for this to have really sunk in the first time I watched, but INVISIBILITY IS NUTS for Teen Wolf's mythology. Wings last week, and now this? Nuts!
Invisi-Corey makes it to the bus (ambulance) bay unscathed, and even has time to turn invisible again once he hears the Dread Doctor shush-stomping his way, but it doesn't matter. The Dread Doctor knows where he is. The Dread Doctors know all. And like a DICK, the Doctor unsheathes his cane sword and, not even breaking his stride or looking where he is aiming, guts our poor chimaera boy, leaving his pathetic, silver-streaked body behind as one more dead failure with which to taunt Scott.
(With bonus Danny and ALL THE ABS for this particularly brutal moment)
Wherever he is, Scott, try to remember that Isaac still believes in you.
Don't Go Chasing Mercury
Hot on the trail of Theo's completely made-up rescue of Liam and Hayden from that abandoned mansion's basement, the Sheriff and Deputy Parrish spend their morning dragging spilled mercury across their bare skin and holding it up to their breathing holes, like they never took a Chemistry class, either of them. Sure enough, the Sheriff isn't inhaling the mad hatter fumes too long before he has the bright/completely illogical idea stop investigating the missing bodies, and start investigating the department, itself—with a UV light.
It is unclear if he intends the light to pick up mercury in his deputies' blood, as though one of them might be chimaera, or if he means to find traces of it on one of their uniforms, as though they were the thief. And the fact that the Sheriff immediately decamps to the BHS library with his UV light to investigate the reading room floor does little to ILLUMINATE the issue.
Still, he does find traces (AKA a full-surface wash) of mercury on the floor, which causes him to flashback to Deputy Clark listing Theo as one of the two students whose cards swiped the reader the night Donovan went missing, and THEN to flashback to Stiles insisting fervently that Theo was bad news with trouble to hide. Looks like Stilinski's got a suspect!
Meanwhile, across the school in science class, Malia is finding it impossible to pay attention—and not just because Lydia's mom is playing with some real heavy situational irony with her lesson on anthrax and airborne biologic warfare (see: the CDC BHS SAT lockdown of 2k14). No, Malia is having trouble paying attention because one of her classmates is OPENLY and UNAPOLOGETICALLY using her BEAUTIFUL APPLE MACBOOK at the front of the class to research perigee-syzyrgies (reminder: supermoon) while frenetically biting her nails down to black-silver blood.
When the girl (Beth) races our of the room, horrified someone might see her lips smeared with chimaera blood, Malia tries to chase after her. And like Lydia before her, is stopped by a firm science teacher and told that what the crying girl needs is not physical comfort and aid, but rather the knowledge that her classmates are staying behind to complete their day's lesson.
"Lady dude," Malia says, flashing her super-baby blues, "you know what I am." "Coyote girl," Lydia's mom says, "go learn some more science."
Malia is not one to be held back, however (and certainly not by school), so after Beth she goes. Not that Beth is too happy about it! She uses her super-chimaera strength to throw Malia into a wall of lockers, then escapes out the school's side door. Escapes right into the waiting arms of a Dread Doctor, who waits until he is sure Malia is watching before snapping Beth's neck and dropping her, mouth spilling mercury, to the ground like a sack of nothing.
(With bonus Derek for THIS particularly brutal moment)
It is outside of this crime scene ("I'm not like Scott," Malia mutters to Stiles, unaware of how little she understands who Scott has always tried to be, and who she was up until she kept herself from killing Tracey, "I can't keep failing, losing, watching kids die,") that Stilinski finds Theo and pulls him aside for a totally legal and kosher private chat about murder in the boys' locker room (well, not murder IN the boys' locker room, although that has happened too!!).
"It was self defense," Theo starts, tears in his eyes, as he proceeds to weave the sordid tale of how he caught Donovan on his way to find Stiles so that he could kill him in front of the sheriff, then attacked Theo when Theo tried to get in his way. "We fought in the library, and I climbed the scaffolding to get away from him, and then a piece of rebar fell and ran him through, and it was an accident! and I couldn't do anything to stop it! and I panicked! And then after I called 911 and they came and found nothing, I went in and found a room that was completely empty, no body OR blood. And, and, and—I'm so sorry."
Yes. Stile's story almost exactly, but told by Theo first, complete with tears and utter remorse, capped with a forgiving hug of understanding from the Sheriff.
Hot Take: Is Theo the new A after Ali five years in Rosewood's future? Probably!
Give Marrish a Break
With the Nemeton no closer to being found, Lydia makes the unilateral decision to just let Parrish in on his own secret already. "We have to tell him. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER WHEN WE TELL THEM," she declares to Stiles before storming out of the woods to the Sheriff's Department.
Stiles isn't convinced of her wisdom, but is convinced of his own inability to stand in her way, and so doesn't try to stop her. Well, that is until the two new chimaera bodies turn up, right after Lydia has trapped herself in a speeding vehicle with the superhuman fire-man who won't let anything or anyone get in between him and his duty—THEN he tries to stop her. But no luck! Her phone is on silent, and Parrish's subconscious has finally started leading them in the right direction.
Well, almost the right direction. Once in the woods, even Parrish gets lost. "You're thinking too hard," Lydia determines. "Stop thinking." And when he can't, because who in the world has ever been able to stop thinking once commanded? she makes her move…to punch him.
This scene's cute enough to keep its original imagery. No Isaac necessary!
"What are you doing!" he laughs. "Is that supposed to scare me?" No, you dummy. It's suppose to make you stop thinking. And after several more jabs and kicks and parries, it works, and Parrish leads them to the edge of the nemeton's clearing, where a dozen bodies are clearly visible. And then all playfighting and laughter and flirting dies.
"I think you're protecting us," Lydia suggests. "You're NOT the bad guy here." Us the supernatural, being protected by Parrish's supernatural side, from them the human, represented and defended by Parrish's utterly moral human side. Just that clashing of worlds and needs on its own would be compelling enough, but then Parrish goes and tells Lydia the one thing he left out of his dreams, when he told her about them before: the fact that he is adding to a pile of not just a dozen bodies in the dreams, but hundreds.
Guess Isaac was needed after all.
Silver Blood, Silver Screen
So that's two chimaera kids down—what about the third?
Oh, she's just kissing up on Liam everywhere she can, that's all! Aw. So cute. Case closed. Good week, you two!
I'm lying. Obviously I'm lying. A lie of omission. Because YEAH Liam and Hayden are making up and making out all over the darn place. But also she is bleeding mercury from her nose! And begging Liam not to tell anyone about it! And running away with him in the chaos following Corey's mercury face explosion!
Liam's dumb kid thought this week is to help Hayden get her hands on some cash so she can skip town, where parascientists who travel on unheard of radio frequencies and have lived for hundreds of years definitely could not ever manage to track her down! Also, all the money they can find is her own $200 in tips from the Sinema safe (code 12-34-56, thanks to Phil the Idiot). Well, not stealing from anyone in pursuit of this end—at least Liam is just dumb, not criminal!
Not that it matters, because of course the Dread Doctors find the two of them there. And of course they knock Liam aside with their first blow. Thankfully, despite the sour moment between Alpha and Beta in the locker room that morning, Scott (and Theo) managed to track them down, and he launches an attack the Doctors before they can lay hands on Hayden. It's a cool fight scene, backgrounded by the skipping and looping black & white movies that play into Sinema's whole gimmick, Scott and the Doctors and later Theo whooshing through the silvery curtains as they fight, everything much easier to make out with only a handful of bodies in the shot.
Scott makes a good showing, in spite of his recent loss of confidence in his own skills and renewed dependence on his inhaler, but there isn't a world in which he wins this fight. And with foes like these, you can't help but wonder just what victory Scott thinks he could achieve, without finding a way to kill them. The Doctors, like the Oni in 3B, are relentless. Also like the Oni, they are basically immortal, with unknown powers and motives. But UNLIKE the Oni, they are (or were) human. So while Scott can't even expect to INJURE them, he certainly doesn't intend to kill them. So what, then? I guess that is the crux of it. The so what has always been, figure something else out.
But always Scott has had a larger group of more seasoned (adult) killers in the wings ready to bear the necessary battle blood while he took the time to find that something else that would win the war (that was, in the end, what Kate felt to be the deepest unfairness about Scott McCall). And this season, all those adults are gone, and now Malia, the closest he might have had to a blood-bearer, has seen the promise in his humanity and picked up his annoying savior tendency. So Scott is alone, with plenty of enemies who won't stop until they are dead, but no one willing to step up and do the killing. Making the hard decisions! That's what growing up is all about.
Anyway, there is Theo, then, jumping into the fight to give Scott a break. "I need more time," Theo whispers to the Doctor strangling him. Perigee-syzygy, the Doctor strangling him hisses. Perigee-syzygy perigee-syzygy. But then he lets Theo drop, and all the Doctors leave as one.
Woo! The (mini) pack won! Hooray! Except, not quite, as the reason the Doctors left turns out to have been the fact that one of them got to Hayden with his syringe of mercury before Liam could stop him. The needle went in, the plunger went down, and Hayden's eyes turned to dead mirrors. But then they came back! And now she is okay! At least okay enough to get to the animal clinic so Scott can have some space to check her and think!
Nope. That's not true either, turns out, as Hayden falls unconscious almost the moment Liam gets her into the backseat of Theo's truck, just after Scott peels away on his motorbike. "They're not strong like us," Theo says anxiously ("anxiously"). "They're like cheap knock-offs. They can't do what REAL werewolves can do…" "Well then we make her a real werewolf!" Liam exclaims, excited, hopeful, desperate. "Yes, that is a great idea that you just had completely on your own and I am totally surprised and impressed by!" Theo says. "Only, only Scott can do that. Not either of us."
And here we are. The hard part. Stiles and Scott finally facing each other, outside the animal clinic in the pouring rain (angst), coming clean about everything while coming clean about nothing, Scott so caught up in the failures and breaks surrounding him he can't even consider asking his best and oldest friend for his own story, and Stiles so caught up in needing to defend against the proof positive of his season-long spiral into guilt and self-doubt that he can't even consider saying the words of his own story himself.
Earlier I brought up the Season 2 episode that starts with Stiles' monologue to Ms. Morell. That episode—2x11: Battlefield—is paralled by 5x09 in more ways than just the cold open, though. Like 2x11, 5x09 is the season's penultimate outing; like in 2x11, 5x09 features an attractive teen wolf of unknown loyalties asserting his trust in Scott's judgment during a heart-to-heart in the animal clinic; like in 2x11, 5x09 sees a relative newbie to the pack run away from the hell the rest of them are struggling just to survive.
And like in 2x11, 5x09 has Stiles laying out starkly and succinctly the fact that he is not, and cannot be, what Scott is—although where in Season 2 we had Stiles apologizing for his inability to step up and fight their foes physically in the way that Scott the Werewolf could, three seasons, a dozen Big Bads, and one demonic posession later we find him instead apologizing for his inability as a HUMAN who makes MISTAKES to step BACK and refuse to meet his foes on the actually deadly battlefield in the way that Scott the True Alpha insists.
And here is where the parallels between 2x11 and 5x09 end, because after Stiles' confession in Season 2, Scott stared at him unwaveringly and told him that it was okay. Now? He physically backs away from Stiles in fear when Stiles waves the hand holding the bloody wrench in desperate surrender.
Man, I know that these two will make it back to each other eventually; this show is about friendship above all else, Jeff Davis promised me that at Paley Fest. But this development, for all its supernatural, parascientific, chimaeric dressing, it is real at its core. People grow up. They learn to value different things, and align more and more strongly with those poles until they find themselves on opposite sides of a planet. But boys—it is still the same planet. Polarity shifts. Perigee-syzygies come and go. You can make it back to each other.
Just, not tonight.
So Scott leaves Stiles alone in the rain, cutting him off from the rest of the pack and all the pack's problems for fear of what Theo's bedtime story version of Stiles might do to them if he stayed, ready as he is to let innocent kids die in service of a greater goal.
If Scott wanted to put off figuring out his true stance on that topic for any length of time, though, he is SOL, because inside the animal clinic, Hayden is dying. And her only option is Scott's Alpha bite.
"You promised me you would do everything you could to save her," Liam reminds our rain-soaked, tear-soaked True Alpha. "Well, this is it."
Pan in, pan in, extreme close up.
Growing up. It's hard.
It's the 5A finale! Let's all cry now, just get it over with. And in the meantime, let's just remember when Scott was the hottest girl, and both Stiles and Isaac agreed.