That all ended quickly, didn’t it?
After the promise of high-school-freshmen assassins in love in “The Benefactor,” this week’s episode immediately reveals to our heroes that these characters are threats. In fact, it’s a little insulting to even call Garrett and Violet “characters” now, seeing as how no real characterization exists for them other than being a couple of sociopaths in these two most recent episodes. As it stands right now, they’re both firmly in the plot-device camp.
While a teen genre show burning through five episodes’ worth of plot in one or two episodes is typically welcome, sometimes it’s just nice to stop and smell the supernatural roses. It’s especially frustrating because this comes fresh off Mute’s death, which eliminated a more fascinating character. After getting off to a rough start, The Benefactor storyline finally added some intrigue, with assassins young and mute coming out of the woodwork to earn a chunk of that $117 million pie. So eliminating the physically imposing threat so soon and outing the more absurd (which is what made the Garrett and Violet reveal work in the first place) youth threat now appears less like burning through plot and more like Teen Wolf burning itself.
It almost feels like Jeff Davis and company are attempting to prevent new characters and concepts from outstaying their welcome this season—introducing them and cutting them off at perhaps their peak. With this episode, Garrett and Violet have probably peaked themselves, providing a horror-movie-opening teaser worthy of Teen Wolf’s rich history—a feat The Mute already achieved in his introduction. But if this new approach to keeping a storyline from going bad is in fact the new normal around the Teen Wolf headquarters, then the Calveras clan would have been eliminated in the season premiere. As it currently stands, there’s no real rhyme or reason (outside of season-length constraints) why the show tips the Garrett and Violet hand to Scott’s pack so quickly. (Then again, Garrett and Violet kind of deserve to be found out solely based on the fact that they’re child—or posing as such—assassins full of hubris.)
Also frustrating: An episode called “I.E.D.” is not being mostly about Deputy Parrish, who taught the audience all about I.E.D.s so recently. The scenes with Parrish are more than enough to sustain interest in his character, but if the episode needs an alternate title, “Bait And Switch” might work perfectly fine.
Still, the audience may have to stay for Liam (and his own brand of I.E.D.), but with the title, they most likely came for Deputy Parrish. His upfront approach to Sheriff Stilinksi, asking him point blank if Stilinski thinks Lydia is psychic (because he himself does) is surprisingly not one of those Teen Wolf moments that’s played for maximum laughs, even with the sheriff’s standard befuddlement. Parrish has been around long enough—being “open” to the strange happenings of Beacon Hills—for the audience to really wonder how he connects to it all. He’s supposedly one of the good guys, and with his name showing up on the second part dead pool list (with a five next to it), him not being the focal point of the episode ends up being alright, albeit mildly disappointing.
As briefly mentioned above, the title “I.E.D.” actually refers to Liam and his Intermittent Explosive Disorder, which is certainly on the list of things an alpha would probably not want a new beta wolf to have. Liam being officially diagnosed with anger issues gives Dylan Sprayberry more screentime to do the one thing he really struggles at (which is unfortunately his go-to expression): angry face.
As Scott and Derek mention themselves, Liam is a wildcard. He could be extremely strong, but he could also be extremely dangerous; at this point, he’s certainly leaning more toward dangerous. There’s an underlying current of terror, which may not actually be intentional on the show’s part, that stems from Liam’s Mr. All-American facade. He’s not a rage monster because he’s a werewolf; he’s a rage monster who is now also a werewolf.
Teen Wolf, for as dark as it gets supernaturally, may not really delve into the darkness that is Liam the person—but it’s still important to address this. The more that’s introduced about the character, the less humorous all of those “funny” scenes of Scott and Stiles trying to subdue him become. Teen Wolf has depicted werewolves bred from abuse and neglect before, but Liam’s anger stems from a different place. Liam is not the victim here, which is really becoming more and more clear with each passing episode. In fact, there’s every chance of him making another member of the pack a victim. So hopefully it’s not ultimately swept underneath the rug.
The episode itself is a lot more active than most setup episodes—but truth be told, setup is really all that “I.E.D.” is. It’s a serviceable episode with no real failures—even with the freshmen-assassin storyline moving faster than expected—and it’s only major pitfall is continuing to depict the hunters (thanks to the Calveras family) as this mafia-type family (a problem long-established outside the episode itself). Teen Wolf remains on the right path, even if there are a few bumps along the way.
- As mentioned in the comments for last week’s episode, that was in fact an audio glitch on the HD broadcast of “The Benefactor.” Apparently Lydia’s family is broke, and Lydia chose to share that with a freshman she’s never interacted with before. I don’t mean to tell Jeff Davis how to do his job, but the muted, artistic version (or “glitch,” if we’re being technical) was kind of better.
- Stiles has moved on from crazy red string to sane and collected red tape. No sign of Malia’s red highlighter though.
- If I may climb atop this soapbox for a moment: As much of a pack as the Teen Wolf clan are, one thing that always sticks out about a lot of their fight scenes and battles (outside of maybe the season finales) is how much every character is in their own little fight scene solo mission. So Coach Finstock benching Kira for choosing showboating over teamwork is an understated mental fist pump moment. A little teamwork on the field, off the field, and in the underground bunker goes a long way.
- Meredith (Banshee number two), returns in this episode for the first time since “Insatiable,” and she’s able to help Lydia figure out the second password. Hopefully Lydia sends her an Edible Arrangement to apologize for snapping at her.
- If Tyler Hoechlin isn’t the next to leave Teen Wolf after this season, then the writers are doing one heck of a job fooling the audience into thinking he might be. In this episode alone, the glee Derek displays at harassing another young teen (for old times sake) and telling Scott that’s he’s going to be good at this whole wolf-mentor thing makes it hard not to see this season as a Derek Hale Farewell Tour. The eye situation (and now the loss of powers that comes with it) feels like the type of thing that gets wrapped up as soon as the season ends, so he too can go.
- I can’t think of Intermittent Explosive Disorder without thinking of WWE Superstar Randy “I Hear Voices In My Head” Orton. The second Liam goes around knocking people down, yelling “stupid stupid” and doing this, remember these words.