Teen Wolf can be surprisingly educational for a show set at a high school where nobody ever seems to get through a whole lesson plan. Sending Allison off to do some research, Lydia calls out, “Remember, in Latin, the ancient word for ‘fly’ is masca!” Later, Lydia hits the blackboard and deduces that Kira is in danger by use of a code that spells out her name using chemical symbols. (“’Potassium’ is a ‘K’!?” says Stiles, clearing astonished at still finding reasons to be awed by the resourceful and well-informed Lydia.) There’s also a little lecture on the circumstances under which a man would take his Japanese wife’s family name, which is occasioned when Kira’s father takes the initiative and invites Scott home for dinner.
The biggest news, though, may be that Coach’s birthday falls the day before Halloween, which means he’s a Scorpio. Scorpios are famously smoldering and magnetic, which helps explain all that sexual tension between Coach and Stiles. Stiles also continues to expand his father’s understanding of the supernatural by informing him that Lydia is a banshee.
“Basically,” he says, “it mans that she can sense when someone’s close to death.” Dad, who has a lot on his plate, asks Stiles, “Can she sense that I’m about to kill you?”
Mainly, though, this episode boasts the show’s greatest casting coup since Michael Hogan came on board to show the kids what a noble calling scenery-chewing can be. It’s the magical Doug Jones, of Pan’s Labyrinth, the Hellboy movies, and the “Hush” episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. He plays Barrow, the Shrapnel Bomber, who once blew up four kids on a school bus and maimed a fifth. He’s taken from his prison cell to the hospital for an emergency operation, and gives Scott’s mom a good scare when he confides to her the reason he killed those kids: Their eyes were glowing.
Jones plays this role without his usual layers of prosthetics, but he does a dandy job of suggesting something terrifying and unworldly just with his obsessed eyes and mop of damp hair; he’s like one of the actors in a silent German Expressionist film who transformed themselves into part of the set design. When Barrow goes under the knife, flies pour out of a tumor in his torso, and before you can say, “Gross, where’s that thing been?” he’s gone, leaving a mess of crumpled bodies in his wake. And Lydia is complaining that she hears an incessant buzzing noise, like the sound of flies.
There’s a fairly exciting (and unresolved) climax, but the real thrills are in that dinner scene, with Kira’s father trying to impress Scott by serving him sushi, which Scott has never eaten before. (“Is it all raw?” asks Scott. “Not the rice,” Kira’s father says sheepishly. “We were supposed to have lasagna,” complains Kira.) This episode has more in the way of heavy-breathing ambitions than any other episode so far this season; the twin former-Alphas are back on campus, trying to put their lives back together without a pack, and there’s a moment when Aidan crashes into Coach’s empty office with Lydia in his arms, followed by a scene in which Ethan jealously catches Danny smooching another guy. There’s an even sillier scene with Isaac romancing Allison by stripping off his shirt, with the mere sight of his six-pack sending her into such a fit of lust that she immediately goes from telling him she’s not interested to tearing off her shirt. (Her father interrupts them, thank God.)
But the sexiest scene by far is the dinner at Kira’s, even with Scott downing his wasabi and choking. (“I thought it was guacamole.”) The high point comes when Scott, wrestling with chopsticks for the first time, drops a morsel of food, and Kira catches it with her own chopsticks. It’s a striking and tender erotic image, even with her parents sitting right there, grinning and trying not to shudder. Afterwards, the two of them repair to her room to fortify themselves with pizza and soda, because you know about teenagers and their appetites. “You seem like a really nice guy,” Kira tells Scott, “and not just because you kept me from getting eaten by a coyote.” The measure of how well she fits in on this show is that she can make a line like that sound as if it’s not a euphemism for something.
- Coach is on the war path because kids have made a tradition of pranking him on Mischief Night. They’ve even egged his house. “A man’s house is supposed to be his castle,” he rages. “Mine’s a friggin’ omelet!”
- Angry at Stiles, Coach brays, “If I were four years younger, I’d punch ya!” Stiles doesn’t know exactly what the hell that’s supposed to mean, but Coach assures him that he does. What does it mean? For the record, I look forward to learning more on the subject more than I ever really cared about what the Dharma Initiative was up to.