Teen Wolf:  "Illuminated" 
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Teen Wolf:  "Illuminated" 

I’ve made this confession before, and I’m sure I’ll have reason soon to make it again: I often feel as I’ve missed something when I’m watching this show. Take, for instance, the transition between the end of last week’s episode and the beginning of tonight’s. Barrow, the psycho played by Doug Jones, had kidnapped Kira and taken her to a power station, apparently with the intention of killing her. Our heroes lit out in hot pursuit but are unable to prevent Barrow from striking Kira with a live electrical wire—which does not kill her, but instead causes some kind of supernatural power override that blacks out the town. Meanwhile, Isaac is in his room at Allison’s house, having a hissy fit and enduring a visitation from some masked, robed guys who as if Dr. Doom has joined Daft Punk.

That, I thought, was a cliffhanger, and I assumed that tonight’s episode would begin by showing what happened next at the power station. But instead, Scott, Kira, and Stiles are all at the police station, explaining to Scott’s frothing G-man father what happened. Naturally, he doesn’t believe a word of it, even though it’s all pretty much true, even when Scott and Kira insist that, earlier in the evening, they were chowing down on both sushi and pizza. Meanwhile, at the Argent’s, Allison and her dad finally break the door in and mop up poor Isaac, lying motionless in a pool of his own sweat and other bodily fluids. So the upshot is, I’m not sure where Barrow is supposed to have disappeared to, and I’m not sure that anyone on the show knows, either. But the opening does firmly establish the one thing we did already know: Isaac is some kind of useless.

This is an episode about carefully drawing precise distinctions, always an important thing in the Teen Wolf universe. For instance, the twins are still trying find a way to reinsert themselves into the show’s power structure, and Aidan is still not getting it. Ethan tries to reason with him: “Scott doesn’t care about power. He cares about people. Want to be a wolf in his pack? Try being a human in high school.” Ethan has an incentive to be a human in high school, since that’s his best play to get back into bed with Danny. Aidan still has his sights set on Lydia, but she has recently had an attitude adjustment and shoots him down: “You’re not just a bad boy, Aidan. You’re a bad guy!” All too true. Stiles is trying his own hand at being something of a bad guy, supplying Scott and Kira with key cards that will enable them to break into the sheriff’s office. Scott accepts them gratefully but is then suddenly moved to ask, “Did you steal these?” No, says Stiles, “I cloned ‘em, using the RFID emulator.” “Is that worse than stealing?” asks Scott. Stiles can only shrug: “It’s smarter!”

Scott and Kira need to break into the evidence room because there’s a photo there that Barrow took of Kira, in which she seems to be bathed in a golden astral soup. Scott recognizes that it’s important that no one sees that picture, because if anyone does, they’ll spread the word that the cell phone Barrow used takes crappy photos, and then stock will plummet. Mission accomplished, everyone heads over to the ginormous Halloween rave that Ethan and Aidan, angling for cool-kids-on-the-block standing, have gracious helped to stage in Derek’s garage. Unbeknownst to Derek, the place is packed to rafters with kids in glow-in-the-dark paint pogoing up and down to a techno dance beat. Isaac, naturally, thinks the point of a set-up like this must be to sit down with his girlfriend and have a good, detailed conversation about her ex. Allison, who by now knows that she has to take charge with this yoyo if anything is going to happen, fixes him with her archer’s eyes and says, “Do you want to talk about Scott, or do you want to paint my body?” Since he’s a teenage boy, I can’t give him high points for knowing that the right answer to that question is whichever answer contains the words “my body,” but I am relieved that I don’t have to think about the implications if he hadn’t known that.

Lydia, meanwhile, is still resisting the advances of the werewolf hottie, wandering through the colorful noise and talking about how, if she wanted to attend a rave, she’d set her time machine for the ‘90s. Before the night is over—before, in fact, Derek appears and loudly reclaims his personal space from the revelers—both she and Ethan have fallen victim to the mysterious masked dudes, and Stiles has contracted a bad case of the oblique hinties, telling Scott’s dad that both he and his father know “the real reason” that  he has a problem with the two of them, and, in the final scene, seeming to suggest that it is he who’s been leaving coded messages calling for the extermination of Kira. I look forward to seeing the start of next week’s episode, in the hope that it’ll be connected to this ending in a way that even I can make sense of.

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