“Battlefield” S2 / E11
- B+ Community Grade
In a weird way, tonight’s episode—the last before the season finale—is structured as the apotheosis of Stiles. In the first scene, he’s talking about Matt’s death with someone who questions him about his feelings and talks to him about how he’s processing the whole thing, as if she were a grief counselor, except that she looks younger than he does. She also acts as if he has reason to be broken up about Matt’s death, which doesn’t make a lot of sense, given that the two weren’t close and didn’t spend a lot of time together until the night Matt died, when he was planning to kill Stiles. Stiles himself seems hard-pressed to understand why he’s having this conversation, saying of Matt, “Just because a bunch of dumbasses dragged him into a pool when he couldn’t swim doesn’t give him the right to kill them, one by one.” This is the kind of thing someone says in a scene like this when he’s angry at the dead person he actually cared about and is trying to cover up the feelings that, with the counselor’s help, will finally bubble to the surface and move him to tears. When the scene wraps, it’s as if someone, Emily Litella-style, suddenly remembered that Stiles didn’t care about Matt and that what he’s saying is the simple, obvious truth.
Everyone is making dramatic last stands and delivering speeches summing up what’s going on around them and what they intend to do about it. With only one more episode coming up to tie up as much of this season’s storyline as possible, it’s kind of sweet, like watching kids clamoring for a chance to help set the table for Thanksgiving dinner. Derek’s resurrected Uncle Peter, the werewolf who seems to have single-handedly given all the other werewolves a bad name, taunts his nephew about how things have gone to hell in a handcart since his demise: “Lizard people, geriatric psychopaths, and you’re cooking up werewolves out of every self-esteem-challenged adolescent in town.” Derek tells him he doesn’t need the help of “a total psycho.” Ian Bohen earns the gold cup for line reading of the night when he replies, “I’m not a total psycho.”
Hot on his heels is Michael Hogan as Gerard, geriatric psychopath in residence. Trying to get Scott’s attention, Gerard breaks into his bedroom and gives him a talking-to while the slithery pet monster now under his control is holding Scott’s mother in the air by the throat. Scott always does his best to keep his mother in the dark about his dangerous lifestyle, because you know how moms worry, but on this occasion, she comes this close to sensing that something is wrong. That doesn’t keep her from coming out for the big lacrosse game, even though the coach, in the single most implausible and supernatural occurrence in the series to date, tells Scott that he won’t be using him on the field tonight, despite a serious manpower shortage, because his grades aren’t good enough.
As Scott is cooling his heels on the bench, Gerard invades his mind and threatens him in voiceover, telling him that unless he delivers Derek and his pack to his tender mercy, “I’ll have Jackson rip somebody’s head off right on the field and drench everyone you love and care about with blood.” But whose head should it be? “Should it be your mother, who so bravely came out to support you? Or the sheriff, your best friend’s father? Or how about the pretty little redhead who managed to survive the bite of the alpha? Or maybe one of these innocent teenagers, with their whole life ahead of them? Or should I do everyone a favor and kill that ridiculous coach?” Longtime readers of this space will know who gets my vote. (Stiles’ father, incidentally, has a funny moment when he sees his son on the field and wonders aloud what the little drip is trying to pull this time, before someone reminds him that Stiles is actually on the team.)
Meanwhile, out in the woods, Allison is pumping arrows into Erica and Boyd, who have been duped by tape-recorded wolf howls into wandering about in search of a phantom pack, thus confirming Peter’s implicit accusation that Derek has been producing a pitiful breed of second-rate werewolves. Isaac misses the party because he makes a surprise appearance, suited up, at the lacrosse game. “You’re here to help?” says Scott. “I’m here to win,” says Isaac, which, as snappy comebacks go, is so much better than anything Scott has come up with lately that, for a moment, I began to wonder if this show might have the wrong teenage werewolf as a its hero. But it’s just a temporary aberration from Isaac’s usual wussiness; his real defining moment comes earlier when the little sissy tears up after the Mystery Vet has guided him to use his powers to relieve the pain of a dying dog. Instead, the hero of the hour is Stiles, who actually scores a goal, setting off such pandemonium among those friends and loved ones of his who are in attendance that, if I were in his shoes, I might feel a little condescended to. They seriously did not ever think he might have it in him. Seconds later, all is dark, and Stiles has disappeared from the field, presumably a hostage to Gerard’s dark designs. From campus sports hero to male damsel in distress, before the first car has even left the parking lot: That’s got to be a new record for high school comedowns.
- Least welcome addition to werewolf lore: “There’s a myth,” Peter says, “that sometimes, you can cure a werewolf simply by calling out its Christian name.” Seriously, there is? If that’s not true, it’s even a sorry myth. And it better not be true. If, in the finale, people start getting shorn of their hair and fangs just by having their names yelled at them, I’m gonna garrote my TV set.