Let’s get right down to it: “Time Of Death” is a pretty fantastic episode of both Teen Wolf’s fourth season and the series as a whole. It’s a reminder that the show doesn’t always play it safe, and it’s actually at its best when it remembers that.
Since Teen Wolf tends to play up the the humor factor when it comes to the very fact that these (sometimes scatterbrained) high school teenagers are constantly the ones saving the day in Beacon Hills, it’s easy to forget just how intense these characters’ lives are. Episodes like “Anchors,” where the gravity of what these characters are really going through on a daily basis is on full display, are typically relegated to season premieres and finales. “Time Of Death” manages to be that type of episode without falling under either one of those seasonal categories.
A good deal of what makes the episode so good is the execution of what just so happens to be a terrible plan. As a matter of fact, the plan is so terrible that everyone sees just how terrible it is beforehand—with the exception of Kira, who actually calls it a “good” plan. In theory, it actually is a good plan—Chris Argent pretending to kill Scott so he can collect on The Benefactor’s payment and the pack can, in turn, catch The Benefactor. As far as plans go, that’s a solid eight and a half. But if it were that easy to find The Benefactor—especially with the brains of your whole operation off at her family’s lake house of mysteries and mountain ash—then this wouldn’t be an arc. The Benefactor would just be another villain-of-the week. If this whole thing went off without a hitch, that would actually be even more suspect than whatever Kate and Peter are up to (which can’t be too bad if they want Scott alive, right?).
However, the biggest part of what works for the episode is the familial and parental aspects. And money issues aren’t a factor even once.
“Why are we doing this? Why are we asking them to fight these fights?”
“Because otherwise we’d be asking them to run and hide.”
Teen Wolf may be a show about lycanthtropic youths, but there’s no arguing that the show also really has the adults in a teen show aspect down. Mama McCall, Papa Argent, and Sheriff Stilinski are all just as fascinating, if not more so in a lot of ways, than their children. It’s one of the saving graces of money being such an overwhelming component of this season; if it weren’t for the fact that these parents are all so lovable and integral to the characters and the story at hand, not even the kids’ desperation when it comes to helping their parents would hit the mark. And it’s not just those three: Despite technically being a part of the show since it’s first season, Mrs. Martin is the least fleshed out parent character of the bunch, and yet these past couple of episodes have more than earned her those Beacon Hills parenting stripes. And it’s not easy for anyone to earn those stripes—just ask Isaac.
So here in “Time Of Death” (and always, really), the Beacon Hills parents are understandably worried. Mrs. Yukimura believes that asking the kids to run and hide is the wrong option, but why exactly is that the case? Sure, if the kids cut and ran, there would really be no show (unless Jeff Davis is willing to listen to my pitch about Peter, Kate, and Chris all living together in an apartment in New York City). But these teenagers wanting to avoid the fate of their fellow teenage friends and live real lives—Scott admitted just last episode that he still wants to go to college—isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s simply a sign of their humanity. If being a part of this world is chipping at what makes them human, then what exactly is so admirable about that?
No matter what the “right” path for these kids is—and the show definitely considers it to be the one that allows the show to even exist—that doesn’t change one simple truth about Teen Wolf. The biggest winner in the game of Parental Life, by a country mile (apologies to Chris, his guns, and his leather jackets) is Melissa McCall. It’s not been said enough, and this season hasn’t made it easy to say it with the lack of Mama McCall, but Melissa Ponzio is terrific. She was terrific as a gossipy army wife on Army Wives, and she was terrific as a victim to Logan “Scum” Fell on The Vampire Diaries. She’s always been terrific. If someone were to tell me Melissa Ponzio’s middle name is “Terrific,” I probably would find that suspect, but if she herself said it, I would completely believe it. That’s why she’s so believable—she’s terrific.
So witnessing Melissa’s reaction to the “death” of Scott is an absolute punch in the gut. Until the moment the audience is shown that she’s in on this plan, it feels like the very real reaction of this woman to her son’s death. In fact, it’s so real that the pain felt for Melissa in that moment immediately turns into anger towards the other characters for not letting her in on the plan. The moment it’s revealed that she’s in on it is the sigh of relief after being startled in the dark and then realizing it was just a teddy bear, not a demon coming to kill you in the middle of the night. It’s—say it with me—terrific.
Not nearly as terrific, but still rather interesting, is Lydia’s never-before-seen or even mentioned grandmother possibly being The Benefactor or at least having something to do with him/her/it. This has the potential to be really intriguing, especially if it gives Lydia something more to do. Especially if it gives her anything to do. In retrospect, it’s actually sort of strange to think about how Lydia’s character has fallen so much to the wayside post-season two; not only has the character (in terms of her supernatural nature) always been so inherently different from others introduced on the show over the years, but Holland Roden spent a good portion of early Teen Wolf being the stealth MVP of the series. At this point, it’s almost as if Jeff Davis and company are simply aware that because Holland/Lydia is so solid, there’s no need to do anything more for her. So to have a recent increase in Lydia-related story—especially if it ultimately pertains to the big mystery of the season—feels like a big coup for the character and her fans. It just has to prove itself as such.
And now for the biggest (and most unexpected) question of the episode (which is the main reason why it’s not a solid A episode): Why is Liam here?
Although Liam is a part of a technically nonexistent Teen Wolf: The New Class regime and has a troubling anger issue, Liam isn’t a bad character. He’s cute, he’s wounded, and he’s ideally everything one would look for in a Teen Wolf crush (as soon as Dylan Sprayberry turns 18). However, after becoming Teen Wolf’s Scrappy-Doo and literally being stuck in a well, Liam’s very presence has become more and more questionable as the episodes go by. Liam being the non-Mute constant of Scott’s dreams sticks out almost as much as Liam even being a part of the plan. Sure, the Derek Hale Farewell Tour is currently making its scheduled stops (this week: The Bone Zone), but eight episodes in, Derek not even being a blip on Scott’s radar for this type of situation simply directs the questions about relevance in Liam’s direction. He’s a newbie, volatile wolf, and this is a sensitive plan. There’s no reasoning behind having him be a part of this unless Scott subconsciously (which clearly he does, after the fact) wants Liam to get killed.
Plus, after this episode, there’s also the chance that Liam still has a crush on Kira, could possibly become stronger than Scott (he did take on a Berserker and win, after all), and that a love triangle will ensue as a result. It’s not as high as the odds of Lydia and Deputy Parrish getting together soon since she’s turning 18 in a couple of weeks (which deserves props for Susan Walters seamlessly throwing in that clunker of a line), but keep it in the back of your mind.
Something else to keep in the back of your mind? How terrific Melissa and Noshiko’s new found friendship is.
- As of this review being posted, it’s my birthday, and my wish is for none of you to disagree with any of my points. That’s how this works, right?
- As usual, last week’s review was getting much longer than intended, so I removed the Derek Hale Farewell Tour (which is about 50/50 in terms of joking versus serious at this point) update. It was going to be about how Dylan Sprayberry being officially promoted to series regular for next season, so pretty soon the old dog is going to have to let the young buck move in on his territory (and other terribly mixed metaphors).
- Because this week’s review also has become too long, I didn’t even get to go into my new Benefactor theories (or how whenever Kate appears onscreen, “Dream Weaver” plays in my mind). Not considering it actually being Lydia’s possibly alive again grandmother, The Benefactor is either Mr. McCall (who both includes the buzz words “visual confirmation” in his recorded testimony and informs Scott that he wants to be “in the know” once he gets back) or Deputy Parrish (whose supernatural identity is still unknown, has a close enough relationship with all of the characters to never be suspected, and would make the expected hook-up with Lydia a red herring). Or Gerard because of mountain ash and a secret love affair with Lydia’s grandmother.
- So “The Proctor” is actually “The Chemist.” I prefer “The Proctor.”
- Stiles remembering how he and Malia first started spooning is the scene that perfectly sums up how much the two of them, for lack of a better word, complete each other. This and last week’s episode make the two of them really make sense together. It’s nice.
- Kira is going to Palo Alto with her mom, which means she will most likely not be in next week’s episode. Come on, Teen Wolf. At least falling into a well includes some screen time.