All Teen Wolf had to do was stick the landing with the reveal of The Benefactor, and then frustrations with the direction of the fourth season would fall to the wayside—at least momentarily. Teen Wolf benefits a lot from having successful, game-changing reveals; so even if the rest of the season before it doesn’t quite past the test, the Big Moment makes it all worth it for a while. Rose-colored glasses allow the rest of the episodes to look slightly better in retrospect, because there’s that sense that “it was all building up to this!”
Having Meredith be The Benefactor is not one of those instances. In fact, Gerard Argent now looks like an excellent alternative this time around.
In “Orphaned,” the episode where Meredith “committed suicide” (there aren‘t enough air quotes in the world now), I pointed out that Meredith herself has always been more of a plot device than a character. She’s the type of idea of a character that Jeff Davis and the writers have more of a fascination with than her depiction actually warrants. A drab, off-her-rocker banshee is in direct contrast to Lydia. On paper, she’s the perfect parallel. That’s why she’s allowed to overstay her welcome, while the quick shot characters like The Mute and The Orphans are immediately discarded; they’re seen as cool freak of the week characters, but Meredith (even if not written as such) is seen as a great character.
So having her fake her own death and be The Benefactor is supposed to be an impressive, shocking feat. However, that’s not the result. What it does for the character is cheapen what was an emotional moment (for both her, in terms of loss, and Lydia) and removes any chance of the character being looked at fully as such—as a character. As she stood pre-”suicide,” Meredith was more of a plot device that illicited some semblance of sympathy. Now she’s definitely a plot device, only at the forefront of the Benefactor storyline because every other possibility is a real person. Meredith is 100 percent expendable, because once she’s gone, truly gone, no one’s going to think about her for more than three episodes. Meredith being The Benefactor has no bearing on the plot in the same way Peter Hale, Danny, zombie Mama Argent, or Papa McCall would. She’s the lesser of all evils. The reveal is truly shock value for shock value’s sake, dressed up like it actually means something when it doesn’t. Suddenly, Lydia doesn’t need to feel terrible about her behavior toward Meredith in what were presumably her last days. Lydia is the victim here now. Meredith is simply a vengeful, crazy girl. The show pulled the wool over our eyes, and it expects to be congratulated for it.
The only immediate good to come from this reveal is that it allows for a more lucid Meredith—the crazy talk gets old fast.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the much better parts of the episode, which would happen to be everything else. Again, money and control is the topic of conversation, as the bills keep on piling up in La Casa De Stilinski and the youthful lycanthropes now have to worry about music inhibiting them and their abilities. Before really getting into the heart of all the fun (well, the good) of this episode, I need to bring up two points:
- How does worker’s compensation not cover Sheriff Stilinski’s medical bills here? As much fun as the writers must be having piling every obstacle imaginable on our protagonists, this one stretches some credibility.
- The terrible music on the show is finally killing our heroes. This is why MTV doesn’t play music videos anymore.
Having the episode be titled “Perishable,” Teen Wolf once again (like it did with “I.E.D.”) gives the impression that this is going to be a Parrish-heavy episode. Unfortunately, that is again not the case, but strides are made with the character in this episode. Having Parrish survive being burned alive, without even a burn or a scratch on him, is a lot more than just having him being on a dead pool. The episode starting right off with his jerk of a partner Deputy Haigh (Lou Ferrigno Jr.) trying to kill him is the type of opening that keeps the episode on a high level throughout—like a shot of adrenaline. Parrish walking into the sheriff’s department stark naked is complete and total (much appreciated) fan service, but then again, he’s just been burned alive, so there’s no way his clothes were going to make it. Still, the show continues to drag out what Parrish could possibly be (#WhatIsParrish), at least making sure to finally really clue him in on what’s going on in Beacon Hills.
Haigh, however, does usher in the new era of completely unimpressive assassins. After going top heavy with The Mute, The Orphans, and even The Chemist, Teen Wolf is officially out of fascinating assassins. Meredith/The Benefactor is at the point where she’s sending the dead pool out to anyone with a printer to get the job done. I haven’t seen the movies, but in my mind, this is how the Purge starts. Beacon Hills being a literal beacon for monsters would presumably make it one for monster hunters, but as it stands right now, it’s just a bunch of random citizens attempting to kill members of the community. And most of these members of the community that are being targeted are minors. As far as the audience knows, if just anyone is getting involved now, then they don’t necessarily know this is a supernatural situation—they just know that if they kill a high school student, they’re getting a pay day.
Actually, the more thought put into the Benefactor plot now, the less any of it holds up. Luckily it’s just a crazy girl’s revenge plot, right?
It’s all so strange, because on a surface level, “Perishable” is a great episode. As mentioned, the episode never comes down from the pace the teaser sets. The Stiles/Sheriff Stilinski scene in the hospital is heartbreaking, Lydia and Stiles teaming up to get to the bottom of all of this Benefactor stuff (because honestly, who else is going to do it?) is much appreciated, the mostly absent Malia attempting to drink her way through her issues makes so much sense, and Liam’s PTSD is so very, very Liam. The backstory for Lydia’s grandmother and Meredith also works extremely well, and the way its shot is quite perfect in the same way the introduction of the white room was perfect before it turned out to be technical issues. But it all ends up leading back to the final result of the nonsense that is The Benefactor. Eric Wallace (Eureka) pens a competent script that suffers from the endgame that it has to reach, as well as the fact that this—a culmination of the major mystery of the season so far—is Wallace’s first episode of the series. It’s amazing how one aspect can so greatly affect the rest of the episode, but that’s the case here in “Perishable.”
- Derek Hale Farewell Tour Update: Well, there’s this, of course. But there’s also the fact that Derek is completely content with a banshee predicting his death—and with telling the truth to Scott about losing his millennial wolf (well, he’s not a teen wolf) powers instead of drawing it out. And then his sense of humor at the school with Scott. Derek Hale having a sense of humor is a death omen, and no one can say otherwise.
- Scott: “What happened to your gun?” Derek: “You’re covered in gasoline.” Scott: “Oh yeah.” And then he helps Scott up and pats him on the shoulder. While smiling. See? He’s doomed.
- Lydia: “We read.” Stiles: “Okay. What did you read?” Lydia: “The Little Mermaid.” Stiles: “You read that movie?” Lydia: “It was a book first.” Words cannot describe how much I loved that exchange.
- Let us place our bets on Deputy Parrish’s supernatural alignment. Is suggesting that he’s a phoenix too on-the-nose, or is it just right for Teen Wolf?
- A high school bonfire where teenagers drink copious amounts of alcohol isn’t something one has to suspend disbelief for. A high school bonfire where teenagers drink copious amounts of alcohol on school property definitely is. That is a hundred lawsuits waiting to happen.
- As expected, no Kira in this episode, even though you’d think she’d be at her first ever lacrosse team bonfire.
- Farewell, Brunski. No one will miss you.
- Liam’s Berserker PTSD isn’t given as much weight as his printer working without his say-so in this episode. Hopefully next week’s episode goes more into it, maybe if Kira’s around.