This episode opens with the image of the night sky lit up with bright flashes of lighting and the sound of thunder as a storm builds to apocalyptic proportions. The camera pans down to show—not Dracula’s castle, but the local hospital where Scott’s mom works. People are racing outside, battered by torrential rain winds that seem to be threatening to level the fortress-like building. Inside, a tree branch smashes through a window. And then, suddenly, there’s Mom, surrounded by medical personnel. They’re working on evacuating the building, but they take a moment to listen attentively as she patiently explains that, given that there’s a tsunami going down in the parking lot, “All medication should be sealed in plastic bags.” Deep in the bowels of the hospital Cora is in a coma, but Uncle Peter, decked out in a deep-cut, cleavage-baring V-neck, is taking his shift sitting by her bedside. Mom walks in and gasps at the sight of him: “You’re supposed to be dead!” she says. At first, I was surprised Scott hadn’t told her he’d been resurrected; it seems like the kind of thing a teenager desperate for dinner table conversation with the parental unit would clutch at gratefully. But then I remembered they used to date, and, given their history, “supposed to be dead” could be ambiguous.
Derek, who had been watching over his sister faithfully, is suddenly back in his vast, underlit and underfurnished lair. Maybe he just heard a weather report and remembered he’d left the skylight open. Jennifer, who you will recall was revealed, in last week’s episode, to be the demonic force that has been killing people left and right, that staged a recital for the express purpose of adding to her tally, and then tried to kill Lydia, made off with Stiles’ father, and actually looks like a skinned gila monster whenever her magic fails her, comes running in and interrupts his brooding. She is all like, hey, some weird shit went down at the recital tonight, and your dumbass friends are probably gonna want to tell you a whole bunch of stuff about me, and I wanted to get here first and make sure you heard my side of it! Then Scott and Stiles barge in and blast her with mistletoe, which causes her to drop her cosmic facial shield, and Derek, who has hit that, gets to see her in full skinned-lizard mode. It’s a great moment, but also kind of a wasted opportunity. If ever MTV was going to have an excuse to do a Teen Wolf/ Catfish crossover…
I started laughing out loud about three minutes into this episode, and that’s a good thing. Teen Wolf is sometimes scary, sometimes sexy, sometimes affecting, and, especially when Crystal Reed gets the chance to play action heroine, sometimes stirring. But it’s always ridiculous, and when the ridiculousness feels half-hearted or doesn’t quite hit its marks, the results can feel trapped in some silly limbo, neither here nor there. Tonight, it keeps hitting that gong just right. It helps that there are a lot of characters confined to a relatively tight space: The Duke and his A-Team are trying to get their hands on Jennifer, who is trying to evade their clutches with the help of Scott, Stiles, Derek, and Peter, and everyone is stuck at the hospital. For much of the episode, Derek and Jennifer are trapped inside an elevator. She takes advantage of the situation to talk his ear off, babbling nonstop about her backstory and the role her kind have traditionally performed and why mistletoe messes with her, while Derek silently practices his famous thousand-yard stare. She talks, and he remains unresponsive for a hell of a long time before she addresses the elephant in the room and tells him, in essence, she really hopes he’s not being an asshole and still trying to process the fact that he’s seen her other, less kissable face.
In terms of revelations, the big one is that Jennifer, whose name is really Julia, used to be the “emissary” of the killer-toenailed Kali, who was supposed to kill her, along with the rest of the pack, when she came to join Deucalion’s fancy-shmancy Alpha pack. Kali cut her up real good but was unable to finish her off; it’s implied that their relationship may have gone beyond that of werewolf and emissary, which might give Derek something else to roll around in that oversized head of his while he’s counting traffic lights in the next county. When Deucalion reminds Kali she failed to do as she’d promised by letting Jennifer/Julia live, and Kali tries to change the subject by talking about how much it hurt her to shred someone she loved, the Duke sneers, “My heart bleeds for you, Kali. Apparently, hers could have bled a little more.” The most disappointing thing about this episode—aside from the tender dramatic moment when Stiles is sitting in the back of a parked ambulance, telling the dead-to-the-world Cora how worried he is about his dad—is that he didn’t get to add a “Mwah-hah-hah-hah!” But he does say his line with that British accent, so maybe it’s implied.
- Stiles has his own uncharacteristic badass moment at the beginning, when he and Scott march into the hospital, and Scott asks Stiles why he’s carrying a baseball bat. “You’ve got claws, I’ve got a bat,” Stiles says, with tough-guy pithiness. Then Scott’s mother sees them and asks. “Why does Stiles have my bat?” Of course, it’s a mom-bat. The guy can’t win for losing.
- Uncle Peter has a few good moments, especially when he and Scott are trying to escape the Alpha twins and Peter dives down a laundry chute. He falls into a hamper and then, before he can get out, Scott comes crashing into him. “You couldn’t wait, like, 10 seconds?” asks Peter.
- The most under-the-top scene, considering what a big deal it seems like it ought to be, is the moment when Derek is informed that Scott is a “pure Alpha,” and so may be of more interest to the Duke than he is himself. It seems as if it’s been a month’s worth of episodes since everyone else learned this, and I’d assumed the show was postponing the moment of revelation because it would hit him so hard. But he doesn’t even seem to be sure what a pure Alpha is. I'm constantly amazed at some of the things the characters on this show don't know about what’s going on around them. Do they even know that they have their own Wiki site they could consult?
- The single craziest moment in this crazy episode may be when, with everyone running amok inside the hospital and nature losing its shit outside, Scott, struggling to find a reason to still be on his own show, proposes that he create a “distraction.” That’s what a Brit would call offering to bring coal to Newcastle. For a second, I thought that maybe he’d go all “Jim Morrison in Miami, 1969.”