Backstory and exposition, so much backstory and exposition! Teen Wolf is a show that has to devote a certain amount of space just to explaining what the heck is going on, and I personally am very grateful that the post-episode talk show—Wolf Whistle, or whatever it’s called—has become a regular thing. It’s one show of its ilk that actually serves a purpose beyond giving the host and the guests a chance to enthuse over how blown away they just were, and to make book on who’ll make it to the end of the season alive. (What’s that you say, Holland Roden? That throwaway moment where a sedated Stiles absently addressing Scott’s mother as “Mom” as he slips into the arms of Morpheus, wasn’t just a sweet little touch, as I assumed when I was watching it, but actual foreshadowing? Crikey!)
Tonight, though, the post-game chat show is an extension of an episode that is itself very long on talk. It may be a necessary evil, but a lot of promising elements are all but wasted in the process. At one point, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa even has to explain the custom, among members of the yakuza, of hacking off their little fingers to show penance for some gangland faux pas. This is presumably for the benefit of viewers who just tune in hoping that Tyler Posey will take his shirt off, viewers who may not be well-versed in the films of Kinji Fukasaku.
Remember Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, the magnetic good-bad boy of Phil Kaufman’s Rising Sun and bad-bad guy of the movie version of Mortal Kombat? He plays a former yakuza who knows his monster lore, and who Daddy Argent once met many years ago, when he was sent by Grandpa Argent to perform his first gun deal. You and I probably did our first gun deal in some parking lot outside a roadhouse owned by L.Q. Jones or a motel room rented by a gentleman who has Travis Bickle on speed dial, but Grandpa Argent decided that his son should go all the way to Japan to do his with some yakuza. (I see this as confirmation that the old boy has one ripe sense of humor.) That deal was interrupted by a monster, a man possessed by a nihilistic form of the kitsune called the nogitsune, and right about here is where anyone who watches this show in order to write about it says a little prayer of thanks for closed-captioning.
Ever since that deal went south, Tagawa’s character has been “a paranoid recluse” who, like everyone else on this show, “has a thing for rare and unique weapons.” (Isaac and the Argents get inside his home by arranging to sell him an antique flintlock pistol.) I hope the character will stick around for a few episodes where he gets to deliver sportier dialogue. He informs his guests that the Darkseid-looking creeps who’ve been showing up to get in our heroes’ faces are demons called the Oni, and points to the mark that an encounter with them left on Isaac’s head: “This is Japanese kanji for ‘self.’ This means he is still himself. The Oni are looking for one who is no longer themselves.”
This, it only slowly becomes clear, means that the demons are trying to figure out who in town has been possessed by the spirit of the nogitsune, a terrible force that, like Shonda Rhimes, “draws its power from pain and tragedy, strife and chaos.” When Scott, who is trapped inside his home with Kira, Derek, and the no-longer-Alpha twins, learns this, he knows what to do: He actually lets the Oni enter his home, so they can run a check on Scott and Kira and confirm what Scott knows: i.e., that they are not possessed by dark spirits. He gets points for that, though he loses them by not failing to instantly guess that it’s Stiles who is sharing his body with a knight of darkness, even after Stiles confides in him that he’s been leaving frightening messages on the blackboard while in a semiconscious fugue state.
The upshot is that, after all that explaining, Scott comes across as slow even for Scott. Scott’s father is injured at one point, and while he lies there with Scott’s mother leaning close to assure him that he’ll be okay, he babbles about the real reason he’s come back, so that he can tell Scott this important thing he needs to hear from his father. Maybe it’s something to do with that foreshadowing business regarding Stiles’ true parentage. On the other hand, it would be just as plausible if Daddy didn’t want to leave this Earth before leveling with son about the truth regarding the Easter Bunny.
- This episode was directed by Jennifer Lynch, real-life daughter of David Lynch and director of such films as the critically mauled Boxing Helena and the twisted, sun-baked noir Surveillance. Her presence behind the camera here may be felt most strongly when Isaac complains that he looks ridiculous dressed in a suit to distract the Japanese gangster’s security entourage, and Allison gives him a pep talk. “You’re not a boy! You walk in there acting like man,” she says, while stuffing the tail of his white shirt deep into his pants, and then adds, “Go in there with confidence, and all they’ll see is a boyish-looking man,” while guiding his hands to cup her behind. Would a male director have staged the scene like that? I’m not sure that a male director who had the nerve to stage that scene should be allowed to walk around unchaperoned.