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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Teen Wolf S4E4: The Benefactor.

Teen Wolf S4E4: The Benefactor. 

 So, I started this episode and forgot I was writing a review. Which is a thing.

After last week's Wendigo-Werewolf-Superman-Mouthless Bairn battle, we open this one on Sheriff Stilinski investigating the scene of the crime – the crime in this instance being that Wendigo Sean was killed via military tomahawk to the back. He tells Parrish he has an expert coming, who turns out to be Derek, who I'd really call more of an enthused hobbyist than an expert. They go over how Derek had no idea there were Wendigos in Beacon Hills, before Derek realises that Scott, who apparently told the Sheriff there were only three people (himself, Wendigo Sean, Mouthless Laddie) up on the rooftop, was lying.

The reason why Scott didn't mention it seems to be in large part because after biting Liam, he then took him home, tied him up with a large amount of duct tape, and hid him in the bath. Stiles' discovery of this is not a happy one, to say the least, and Scott explains that he panicked. They try to explain to Liam what's going on, with – questionable efficiency, and when he starts crying are moved enough to untie him. At which point he hits them with the chair and flees, because I think that's what anybody would do in this scenario.

He doesn't look happy.

Elsewhere, Peter gets a tomahawk to the chest. I will say this for our Mouthless friend, he works fast.

After the credits, we get an awkward scene with Stiles and Malia where the Sheriff walks in on him restraining her and for some reason gets the wrong idea even though he must know that Malia's a werecoyote and that the full moon is coming up. Then we switch to Lydia and Kira at school: They're looking at the computer code, which Lydia says is a variation of a Vigenere cipher. Which – okay. It doesn't look anything like a Vigenere cipher, which I've talked about on this blog before, being essentially a Caesar cipher enacted character by character according to a repeating key (or non-repeating, if your key exceeds the message in length). It looks nothing like something decrypted by Vigenere cipher, actually, but fine, fine, that's what the word 'variant' is there for. Although, Lydia may have just said this in order to make a reference to keys by which the show could segue into her mother giving her a house-and-or-lakehouse key and setting down rules for a house party that will almost certainly go horribly wrong, given that this is Teen Wolf, and they've had one party per series now: The party that ended in shadow ninjas, the party where everyone was drugged and then Peter came back to life, and the party where Lydia was bitten by a werewolf.

Some 'freshmen' – I still don't know why these men are apparently so fresh, nor why these apparent fourteen year olds look like they're all about twenty – encounter Liam, who just ran to school despite his apparently injured leg. It's pretty clear by now that he is, in fact, becoming a werewolf, and Stiles and Scott confront him in the corridor. Scott, apparently unsure what to do, goes full Peter-and-Derek, proclaiming that they're brothers now and that the bite is a gift. Liam is unimpressed.

But the full moon is coming up, and they need some way to keep him restrained, which means getting him to Lydia's party so that he can be tied up in the boathouse. Lydia suggests that Kira, as a trickster, should be the one to lure Liam into a trap, but to be honest, I don't trust Lydia's motives here. She seems very keen on setting Kira up as a seductress, and I think it may just be for personal whimsy. Kira's seductressing, it turns out, involves a lot of tripping over on stairs, but it apparently works.

The majestic kitsune, right before tripping over her own feet.

(In another scene, we learn why Derek should never be a doctor.)

While Liam is on his way to the party with Kira, Stiles reveals to Scott that the kid is psychotic. It's not even the smashing in his teacher's car with a crowbar that makes me say that, that could just be anger issues: But if you're meticulously carving 'this is your fault' into metal and you don't either get bored or feel less angry by the time you reach 's', then you have problems that go deeper than anger.

Once Liam arrives, things very swiftly start to go wrong. Liam wolfs out, then Malia does, and while all that's happening, it turns out that Liam invited a bunch of people to the 'party', and now they're all at the house expecting cake and not the more likely option of death.

(At the Sheriff's station, Derek and Stilinski are discussing the Mouthless Boy – with typical Derek snark – and end up dragging Parrish into their conversation when he reveals in passing that he used a tomahawk and voice device similar to that of Mouthless Guy when he was in Afghanistan. Doing unexplained tech things to the voice device brings up a list of commands on the computer, including a money transfer from 'the Benefactor'.)

The party ends up, predictably, not going well. The arrival of a beer keg that Lydia didn't order is the first problem, although a kindly freshman pays for it. Malia breaking her bonds and Liam having to be knocked out with a paddle aren't great either, although Malia and Stiles are very sweet in that scene. The beer keg guy apparently being a werewolf, and shortly thereafter being assassinated, is an entirely new level on the bad-things-happening staircase that is this party, especially when it turns out the assassin is one of the freshmen, the girlfriend of kindly-paying-for-beer freshman, and that they're both in the employ of the Benefactor.

The next scene with Lydia is probably the high point of this episode, although it did make me have to check my earphones. I won't talk too much about what happens in it, because not a huge amount does, it's mostly just the surrealist imagery that comes with her banshee powers. What I will say is that it's very – I can only imagine the term is Kubrickian.

Echoes of The Shining here.

Stanley Kubrick tended to tailor his works to his preference for subtly expressing the themes of an inner struggle, and he liked to be quite oblique about it, which is part of the reason for his interesting directorial style which seems to be being mimicked here. Odd angles, shots held for too long to be really comfortable, extreme close-ups, settings with very stark colours, the use of sound but especially the use of silence to create an unnerving effect. There were several shots, like the long, lingering shot of a red record player against a white wall, that could easily have come straight from a Kubrick film.

There are definitely worse people for Teen Wolf to imitate, too, the man was a visionary, if also apparently a pain to work with.


Scott and Kira have a very sweet romantic scene, right before Liam breaks his chains and dives out the window. My god, you two had one job. Don't take chances! Just mummify him in chains, he'll thank you later! Scott pursues, and ends up tackled to the ground and only just barely saved by the arrival of Chris Argent, and I'm wondering just why Liam seems so much stronger than a regular werewolf. Things are at least looking up on Stiles and Malia's end, though, as after a short speech about control and the Nogitsune, Stiles takes off Malia's remaining handcuff and she keeps herself from tearing him apart.

Things are going less well for Stilinski and Derek, who track the Mouthless Fellow down to the school, only to find themselves a) Nearly blown up, and b) Attacked by said Mouthless Gentleman. They subdue him without, it seems, too much trouble – he seems to be just a regular human with a lot of training and rather less lower facial features – but before they can arrest him, Peter arrives and rather thoroughly kills the dude. 

None of these people are happy with this situation.

Scott tracks down and calms Liam, while Kira finds Lydia, who has apparently been told the key to the code by – I don't know, the dead? It's 'Allison', which may be the first proper allusion to her being dead we've had (and was also Scott's password at one point. Suspicious), and when used to decode the code, shows it to be a list of supernaturals in Beacon Hills with prices on their heads. Incidentally, really, you made a Vigenere cipher with a seven letter key? Lydia shouldn't have even needed the key to decode it, she should have been able to use the other, long-winded methods of decoding a cipher to do so. There's a reason why when people use Vigenere ciphers effectively, they for preference use long strings of random letters, and then utilise random spaces to further obscure it.

This is as bad as how the Confederacy in the US Civil War just used the same distinctive two-word keys over and over again.

I admit, my immediate thought after seeing the password is that Chris Argent has gone evil with grief and made that list, but we'll probably find out soon enough. We're now a third of the way through the series, and we're starting to get some major developments on the plot, so it'll be interesting to see where that goes, and if the plot is in full swing two episodes from now, when we'll have reached the midway point.  

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