“Status Asthmaticus” is an episode of Teen Wolf. In its placement on the schedule, it is also the summer finale of the fifth season, but for the purposes one would expect from a finale, it doesn’t quite fit the bill. This summer finale neither closes major aspects of this half season nor does it provide any real interest for the second half. Allow me to make one thing perfectly clear though: I completely understand (and have always understood) that the plots of this half season will carry over to the second half season. However, that doesn’t excuse seventh-inning MacGuffins, a lack of progress on the entire concept of the Big Bads, and absolutely no closure whatsoever. To compare Teen Wolf to a show it actually has a lot more in common with than one would think, Pretty Little Liars has perfected (as much as Pretty Little Liars can perfect something) the half season finale. Teen Wolf has not.
After an entire half season of the Dread Doctors, there is no climax to that, not even one where Scott (or anyone in the pack) gets somewhat closer to defeating them but still fails. Instead, they’re very much a non-entity in this episode, following Teen Wolf’s pattern of hyping something up, only to make it not matter at all until the very, very end. Theo’s motivation drastically changes in the final minutes of the episode as, despite the fact he’s treated as an absolute strategic genius throughout the episode and even becomes omnipresent, he ends up losing the members of the pack that he wants so greatly. Of course he does: He alienated Stiles from the pack in the first place, he actually has no reason to tip his hand to Lydia but does, Kira’s out of town, and he figuratively throws Malia to the wolves because she’s not receptive to his dick (that’s how it comes across).
In terms of blatant evilness, Theo’s lines in this episode are basically a continuation of his “I’m counting on it” line from last week, only now certain characters finally address the fact that he is clearly an agent of chaos (though they address it slowly, especially in the case of Lydia, an actual genius). Lydia realizes someone’s going to die in the library—and she’s absolutely right—but she’s neither clear who nor does she know who the killer is. (“You know what’s coming, don’t you?” “Someone’s going to die here.” “You’re right.”) Yet Theo immediately turns on her and knocks her out (super moon!). For what? Again, this entire season—this episode especially—relies on the protagonists all being mind-numbingly dumb in order to fall victim to the evil “genius” that is Theo.
A major problem with “Status Asthmaticus” is how poorly paced and edited it is, which is what in turn makes Theo come across as that omnipresent force. It’s a very disjointed episode, like it was rushed, despite being the tenth episode of a season arc that will continue on. Based on this episode alone, one would not be ridiculous to assume that Theo either has super speed or a Time-Turner to get him through the day. (That, or Beacon Hills is a mile long.) He would also need to have trackers and bugs on every member of the pack in order to know when and where they were in his “master” plan. In fact, right before Theo returns to the library to kill Scott, I actually considered the fact that Theo is another twin werewolf or that the Dread Doctors have more practical experiments in the form of cloning. Those are simply the only things that make sense given Theo’s ability to always show up at the right place, at the right time—several times offscreen—and also inform characters of the right time and right place to be—also several times offscreen. Theo is the smartest, quickest person in the room at all times in this episode, and it also turns out he’s the rare chimera success. But all of this means that everyone else has to be the dumbest person in the room, which has thankfully (for Theo) been the case from day one in this season.
How did Theo think his original plan—which meant killing Liam—would get everyone to be his pack members? What allegiance would any of them have to a kid Scott and Stiles knew in third grade, and why would any of them want to keep fighting the good fight with the death of Scott? Is Theo an actual alpha now? Did he become an alpha for 15 minutes and then lose it? (Vampire slayer rules says he’s still an alpha.) Or, did he never become an alpha in the first place, for the simple fact that he’s a chimera and neither wolf nor coyote really? By the way, why does Theo work as a chimera when literally every chimera besides him fails miserably? There is time for these questions to be answered, even offscreen (where Theo does half of his evil-doing), but instead, the episode just goes to Theo using Lydia to find the dead chimeras, then turning the dead chimeras into zombies with the Dread Doctors’ zombie serum. The Dread Doctors have a zombie serum, yet they have been making new failures regularly and dumping the bodies. How is this supposed to make sense and be acceptable as even decent storytelling?
As for the star of the show, Scott spends a good portion of this episode sulking about how everyone has left him behind, and that’s also the note the character ends this half season on.
Scott: “I lost, mom.”
Melissa: “Every leader suffers loss. Sometimes more than you think is bearable.”
Scott: “This time I lost everyone.”
Melissa: “You’ll get them back. You have to.”
Scott: “Why would they come back?”
Melissa: “Because you’re their leader. And even when a leader thinks they have nothing else to give, there’s still one thing: hope. Give them hope.”
What Scott and Teen Wolf appear to have forgotten (or just plain dropped, in the case of the latter) is that the pack is supposed to be a group of friends first. This is where joking about Scott and Lydia having never texted each other before this episode’s fake Lydia text (when all of these people really should be on a group text or Facebook message) isn’t enough. In making the characters teen warriors, with a true leader at the helm, Teen Wolf has progressively forgotten that the reason behind their pack’s unbreakable bond is that they’re all great friends who put each other before themselves. It makes sense when the show is trying to tell a story about them drifting apart come college time, which is what the first couple of episodes of the season did. But it also fails to address how the friendship factor has been in disarray for longer than Theo’s most active scheming has. There is no cohesive unit coming into this. They all keep secrets from each other. Except for the instance of him being chained to the tree in the premiere, Liam didn’t spend any time with the pack until Hayden turned out to be a chimera. Malia has Kira and Lydia, but Kira had her own kitsune problems and is now off to wreak havoc wherever she and her family ran off to, and Lydia mostly exists in terms of Parrish. Plus, despite how useful to the fight she is, Malia is obsessed with her homicidal mother.
I wrote so much about this last season, but it’s still relevant: Liam is a liability and shouldn’t even be in the pack. He should be an omega, and this isn’t even because of the events of this episode (well, now it can be). The fact that Scott and Stiles had to chain Liam up to a tree in the premiere—which Liam pissed at them for, even though he hurt himself during it—was already a problem. But if he gets as upset as he does in this episode—to the point of hurting Melissa without thought and mauling Scott, almost to death—on a super moon (or at anytime), omega status is the only rational thing for his future. Like so many of Malia’s problems, there hasn’t been too much of an effort to resolve Liam’s IED and lack of control, and that is a problem. Having a ticking time bomb be part of the pack is a problem. Also, Liam officially delivers the most “I am now a super villain” dialogue ever in his fight with Scott, and it’s just embarrassing. (“It’s making me stronger!”)
10 episodes of the Dread Doctors, and everything about them makes even less sense than before. They make their presence known in two scenes, bookending the episode, for equally confusing reasons. Why do they just watch Sheriff Stilinski and Deputy Clark in the school instead of killing them? Why do they take time off from their mad scientist agenda to start smashing walls? It’s episode 10 of a season, not just the final episode of half a season; By episode 10 of Buffy The Vampire Slayer (the peak series of this genre, thus the constant comparisons) season five, Buffy knows that Glory is after The Key and that The Key is her own sister, Dawn. That’s a clear, distinct motivation, one that is lacking with the Dread Doctors and one that doesn’t even really make sense with Theo. That show also managed to remain fun at that point, which is something Teen Wolf hasn’t been doing with any of this. (And for the argument that it’s because of the dissolution of the pack, I direct you to season four of Buffy.)
There are far too many questions in this episode that is supposedly a finale. After pointing out how this season feels like it started from the end and worked its way through the plot that way, an episode like this makes it feel like there are still no answers going into the second half (and season finale). Or at least not good ones. The episode does, however, answer what mythical creature Parrish is: a Black Dog (aka a Hellhound, which was part of the story Kira ignored when her parents told her back in the premiere). It’s refreshing to finally be over that guess who, but it also comes across like a result of too many people guessing the obvious choice; it wasn’t until this season that the specifical Black Dog behavior of basically being a supernatural cleaner became a part of Parrish’s character, after all. It would be one thing to be disappointed that he’s not the cut and dry phoenix, but really, there’s no reason to care either way. In true Teen Wolf fashion, it’s been stretched out past the point of intrigue. Plus, it’s another canine (sorry, teen wolves and teen coyotes) and another opportunity for the show to throw in complicated mythology. Teen Wolf loves to shock its audience for the sake of shocking its audience, and given Lydia’s intense reaction to reading the information about Black Dogs (completely with her slamming the book shut), that’s supposed to be the audience’s reaction too.
As for the good in the episode, it’s all few and far between, as it is pretty constant in its decision to have Theo pop up anywhere and every where throughout it. The Malia/Stiles car scene is short and has the line “How come you let it get so bad?” to show depth, but it’s also an understated, well-acted, and much-needed scene for the pair. I don’t even know if I can call them a couple any more, but any the acting and chemistry between the two has never been a problem. Melissa Ponzio works a miracle with a lot of the lines she has in this episode, especially when she’s in denial and tries to bring Scott back to life. Scott getting to the roof of the library is actually pretty smart too, despite the fact his plan to get past the mountain ash that way ends up failing. The Lydia/Parrish scenes are legitimately sweet and much more interesting than the respective scenes that follow them. Braeden’s return breathes a life into the season for only a moment, even though it’s with news of the Desert Wolf (after a reminder Braeden is lucky enough to have to have no idea what a chimera is). But these little are so greatly outweighed by an episode that is ultimately confirmation that Teen Wolf has again put all of its rotten eggs into one narrative basket.
- This week’s terrible hashtag of choice is “#DadVsSon.” No. Actually, no, that honor goes to “#RaekenBall.”
- R.I.P. Jeep. This is the result of no one having money. I’m telling you, that plot’s going to have a pay-off one day.
- If Wolf Watch answered any of the questions above, have at it. As a rule, I don’t watch it as a companion piece to all of this.
- The actual smartest thing Theo has done during all of this is spike Scott’s inhaler with wolfsbane (which, using Teen Wolf science, explains Scott’s recurring asthma attacks). I have to give credit where credit’s due for that one.
- According to someone who can decipher the Dread Doctors’ jumbled speech patterns, at the end of the episode, they were saying “la bête” (or “the beast”). So now that’s part of the Dread Doctor’s mythology soup.
- Teen Wolf has characters named “Hayden” and “Braeden.” There’s a “Jaden” on the horizon isn’t there?
- The fact that no one (specifically Scott) actually tries to find Hayden’s sister is absolutely terrible. There’s no explanation for that one, and it’s the only time I felt bad for Hayden. Now she’s a zombie, so it’s totally fine, right?
- Disclaimer: Speaking of zombie time, I definitely didn’t know which one was Corey when Theo started reanimating them. Great, diverse casting. (And no, I’m not using “diverse” as the general term for minorities.) Is one of the zombies the talky chimera who was locked up with Liam and Hayden?
- Actually, speaking of casting, I have to give a shout out to the blond male deputy who I immediately took to calling “Rolf [from The Sound Of Music]” in my notes. After my initial “holy Aryan nation” response, that is.
- To close the half season, this is a screencap of Theo and his facial hair holding a key in a way only characters in television and film hold keys: