Teen Wolf 2-11: “Battlefield”

In the guidance counselor’s office, Stiles has a heart-to-heart with Ms. Morell about Matt’s death over a montage of flashbacks. It’s a lengthy scene, with a lot of exposition—we learn that Sheriff Stilinski has been given his badge back, that Boyd, Erica and Isaac are in hiding, that Scott’s mom is avoiding him now that she knows he’s a werewolf, that Scott and Allison’s relationship is still on the rocks—but most of that information gets delivered organically throughout the episode anyway, so what’s the point of this? The scene is so long (over six minutes, which in television terms is freaking ridiculous) and so slow and so unnecessary that I suspect it was crammed in late in the game to pad out a light episode. Slow scenes aren’t always a bad thing, obviously, but Teen Wolf’s strength lies in its fast-paced, high-energy, wildly-careening plots. It stumbles badly during introspective moments.

As if to make amends for the lethargic opening, the very next scene features Scott taking a shower. Apology accepted, Teen Wolf.  A towel-clad Scott walks into his bedroom and finds his mother dangling from the ceiling with the kanima’s tail wrapped around her throat while a very smug Gerard Argent gloats and smirks. Gerard orders Scott to deliver Derek and his pack to him, or he’ll kill Melissa. After Gerard and the kanima leave, a terrified Melissa urges Scott to give him whatever he wants.

While wandering in the woods at night, Boyd and Erica hear nearby howls and assume another werewolf pack has moved into the area. They inform Derek of their intention to leave him, due to his piss-poor pack-management skills, and join up with the newcomers. At this news, Derek scowls and glowers even more than usual.

Derek’s mood is not improved when Peter Hale shows up to gloat about how Derek has really made a hash out of being the Alpha: “You’re cooking up werewolves out of every self-esteem deprived adolescent.” I like Peter. Since last season, he’s dialed back on the sheer unrepentant evil while ratcheting up the gleeful snark. It’s a good trade-off.

Moody and depressed, Isaac slumps his way into the animal hospital to mope at Scott about how being a werewolf hasn’t been nearly as much fun as he’d thought. He’s considering following Boyd’s and Erica’s lead and leaving Derek’s pack, though it seems like he’d rather just hang out with his new buddy Scott. He mentions that Jackson is planning on playing in the upcoming big lacrosse game. As Jackson tends to murder people wherever he goes, Scott reacts to this news with consternation.

Locker room: The lacrosse team suits up for the game. Danny, who is an absolute sweetheart but maybe isn’t the most observant guy ever, mentions that Jackson hasn't been his usual self lately. He asks if he’s okay. “I’m perfect,” Jackson snarls, with something resembling his former icy hubris. (“Well, we all know that,” Danny admits.) Jackson, who looks sick and devastated, urgently warns Danny to stay in the relative safety of the goal box if anything weird happens during the game: “If you see me running toward you, run the other way.”

Jackson, man. Jackson. I’m still not sure how he manages all those razor-sharp turns from hilarious odiousness to wrenching tragedy, but that line delivery just made my cold, hard, shriveled heart break a little. Jackson is Teen Wolf’s most fascinating creation, and Colton Haynes nails the role.

Scott finds out he’ll be sitting on the bench for the entire game. This is all part of Gerard’s ploy to keep Scott off of the field for some sinister purpose, but, as Coach Finstock points out, Scott is failing three classes and thus is legitimately 100% ineligible to play. So… blame Gerard all you want, but this one’s your own dumb fault, Scott. Scott sits on the sidelines as all his teammates, up to and including perpetual benchwarmer Stiles, are called upon to play. Gerard delivers an ominous message to him: If Scott doesn’t hand over Derek by the last thirty seconds of the game, he’ll order Jackson to kill someone.

Peter and Derek sort of half-assedly battle for a while, more to keep up the pretense of still being mortal enemies than out of any real animosity. After calling a truce, Peter gets to the point of his visit: He’d like to join Derek’s depleted pack.

Isaac, having decided to stay in Beacon Hills, suits up and slips onto the bench beside Scott, who fills him in on Gerard’s threat. Isaac realizes Scott needs to keep close enough to Jackson to stop him before he starts murdering people. He takes the field and systematically knocks his own teammates out of commission, forcing Coach Finstock to either let Scott play or forfeit the game due to a lack of players. The plan works swimmingly, until Jackson nicks Isaac with his poisonous claws and paralyzes him.

In the woods, Allison and Chris drive around on sporty all-terrain vehicles and broadcast loud sounds of howling wolves to lure Erica and Boyd out of hiding. Upon spotting her prey, Allison shoots Erica, then riddles Boyd with arrows while Erica tearfully pleads with her to stop. Just as Allison is about to murder them, an appalled Chris shoots the bow out of his psychotic brat of a daughter’s grasp. He bawls her out for flagrantly violating the werewolf-hunting code. Allison shrugs him off, flippantly holding up her hand for silence while she calls Gerard to tell him the mission is going according to plan.

Huh. Got to say, Teen Wolf, it seems like a weird creative decision, turning likeable, sensible Allison into a mindlessly sadistic jackass.

Still mostly paralyzed, Isaac drags himself around the locker room to evade Gerard, who charges after him with a broadsword and tries to chop him in half (consider yourself warned: a ghastly “halftime” pun is made). Scott arrives in time to save Isaac and shoo Gerard away.

Peter tells Derek he’s figured out how to stop Jackson—possibly even without killing him. As the kanima, Jackson has lost his sense of identity. If the right person can appeal to his heart, he might snap back to normal. Skeptical, Derek makes an excellent point: “In case you haven’t noticed, Jackson doesn’t really have much of a heart to begin with.” Peter begs to differ—Peter’s spent enough time with Lydia lately (mauling her on the lacrosse field, haunting her nightmares, popping up in her bed, manipulating her into carrying out his dastardly schemes) to know that Lydia and Jackson still have a strong bond. Lydia, he believes, might be the key to saving Jackson.

Stiles, who’s been an utter disaster on the field, finally rallies and begins scoring goals. With thirty seconds left on the clock, Scott returns to the game and prepares for Gerard to carry out his threat.

Jackson takes off his gloves and throws them down on the field. His claws come out.

Due to Stiles’s improbably stellar playing, Beacon Hills wins the game. Everyone swarms onto the field to celebrate… and then all the lights go out at once. Amidst darkness and screaming and general pandemonium, Scott tries to figure out what’s going on.

The lights come back on. An increasingly panicked Sheriff Stilinski calls out for Stiles, who has vanished. And Jackson is lying dead on the field, having stabbed himself with his own claws.

Shaky start, strong finish. One episode left in the season.


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