Teen Wolf Recap: Alpha Pact
With one episode left to go before the show goes on hiatus, things are going from bad to worse for the werewolves of Beacon Hills and their assorted hangers-on.
This episode starts right where last week‘s left off: With Scott just having joined forces with the Alpaca Alpha Pack in exchange for their help rescuing Mama McCall and Sheriff Stilinski. Derek’s still unconscious on the floor of the elevator, and Stiles is slapping him, trying to get him to wake up. Broody McBrooderson checks back in right as Stiles is about to punch him, which is pretty good for Stiles’ hand bones. Stiles catches Derek up on the situation and tells him to vamoose, because the police are coming.
Out in the parking lot Isaac and Peter are waiting for Scott, Stiles, and Derek to come back. When the Argents show up instead Peter nopes right out of there because, as Isaac so helpfully points out, the last time he saw them was when he killed Allison’s aunt and they helped burn him alive. Probably a good move, Peter. Derek comes out and lets everyone know about Jennifer taking Melissa (awww, Isaac’s faaaaaace) and Scott switching teams.
Later, in the hospital waiting room, Stiles is being interviewed by an FBI agent he obviously has some history with. “A Stilinski at the center of this mess. What a shocker,” says the random (for now) agent. “You think you can answer a few questions without the usual level of sarcasm?” I love that he said “a Stilinski” and not just “Stilinski.” Yeah, you know Stiles got that sass from his dad. Agent Jerkbag proceeds to quiz Stiles on his dad’s history with alcohol, which is just a no-go. You do not mess with the Sheriff in this fandom. You just don’t. Stiles deflects like a boss, but when Agent Jerkbag asks him about the name spray-painted on the elevator door even he’s caught off-guard.
Accompanied by some Inception soundtrack-like BRAHHHHMMMMs, we see that someone has helpfully provided a tip on who Jennifer’s going after next by graffiti-ing “ARGENT” in big red letters.
Derek’s gone back to his loft to be with Cora, who’s started coughing up black blood. (There’s only one episode left in the season after this: Is it ever going to be explained why Jennifer poisoned her? I assumed it was so she could heal her and get Derek on her side, but keeping her promise to heal Cora doesn’t exactly seem high on her list right about now.) Isaac lashes out at his Alpha for doing nothing (aside from Jennifer, ba-doom-ch) while everyone else is trying to stop people from being murdered. He asks why Derek even created a pack: Was he bored? Lonely? “Maybe,” Derek responds, and I would let loose my inner awwwwww except I am 1000 percent done with Derek Hale manpain at this point. You’ve overdosed us, Jeff Davis. In fact, I’m going to go a step further and say I’m proud of Isaac for calling Derek on his awful Alpha skills, even if Derek’s lack of said skills isn’t really his fault. Derek-Hale-as-Teen-Wolf‘s-Whipping-Boy has officially worn out its welcome.
Derek refuses to leave Cora’s side, saying he’ll help the others once he’s figured out how to help her. Hey, Derek, I have an idea: Call Deaton. Your sister is about to die from a combination Alpha wound/mistletoe poisoning. Deaton is pretty much a werewolf doctor. It’s not that hard to figure out.
Isaac storms out, and Peter tells Derek not to take what he said personally; he’s just lashing out because he’s angry. What’s more, he’s shifting allegiance from you to Scott. Derek points out that Scott’s not an Alpha yet, but Peter says he’s on his way.
Back at Casa de la Argent Chris says that Jennifer is going after guardians, when that’s not something he’s been exactly good at lately. Allison points out that Scott’s mom and Stiles’ dad being taken isn’t a coincidence, and Stiles mentions the literal writing on the wall. As innocuous as it sounds, this one exchange encapsulates what, for me, is one of season three’s biggest problems. Everyone knows that “guardians” can also mean “parents,” so Chris’ angst about not protecting the town has nothing to do with anything, and they all know it. Give me internal consistency and not pointless dramatizing, please and thank you.
Allison says that she thinks Morrell might have left the warning, since she clearly knows more than she’s letting on. (But why would she write… oh, forget it.) A majorly freaked out Stiles suggests everyone get on finding Jennifer ASAP, since the lunar eclipse—aka when she’ll be making her final move against the Alpha pack—is only two nights away. Chirs thinks they have time, as it seems like Jennifer’s still moving pieces into place. He decides they’ll go on the offensive, venturing to the site of one of Jennifer’s failed sacrifices in the hopes they’ll find her there. They’re going to need all the help they can get, so Stiles suggests they bring in Lydia.
Yes. I have been waiting for that to happen for seasons.
They get more help in the form of Isaac, who shows up and says he’s not all that good with knives or guns, but he can pop out a mean set of claws.
Meanwhile Derek is doing his best to siphon some of Cora’s pain away, but it’s obviously only a temporary fix. Peter says he’s heard of something else that might work: An Alpha can go turbo on the pain-taking and give up their “spark,” effectively giving up their Alpha power in exchange for healing a member of their pack. It might not work—it might even kill the Alpha trying to do it—but Derek’s determined. Peter, facing away from his nephew, gives a little smirk. You were planning this the whole time, you creeper, just like when you planted the idea that teenage!Derek should turn Paige. We’re onto you. But I’ve been wanting Derek to go back to being a beta somehow, so I can’t really complain.
In a later scene Peter keeps trying to convince Derek not to give up his Alpha powers for Derek, despite the fact that we all know some major-league reverse psychology is going on here. You probably would’ve gotten your butt kicked by Kali come the next full moon even if you were an Alpha, but if you’re a Beta? Forget it. You’ll die. And what if this was what Jennifer wanted all along: You losing your power so you’d have no other choice but to ally with her to defeat the Alphas?
Derek doesn’t care: Saving Cora is his only concern. He also shouldn’t care because it’s already been established that all werewolves will lose all their power on the next full moon, so the Alpha/Beta distinction is moot. He mentions that, but only after Peter’s gotten his pointless “but the full moon!” argument in. You go on ahead and milk that drama, writers.
There’s a quick scene of Lydia getting ready for school with her mother, who’s talking about how easy it would be to hide the very noticeable bruising around Lydia’s neck from where Jennifer almost killed her. But Lydia objects: Someone tried to strangle me, and I survived. I don’t want to hide that.
One: Scenes like this are why I love Lydia. And two: This episode just passed the Bechdel Test! Pretty cool.
While Stiles goes to get Lydia, Allison, Isaac, and Chris investigate the bank vault. Chris tasers Isaac and handcuffs his daughter to the wall so Jennifer, who shows up right then, can take him as the third sacrifice. Chris, you dumbo. Why did you do that? You’d better have a dang good plan of ganking Jennifer from the inside.
Over at the school Lydia is questioning what she could possibly do to help take down Jennifer. Sure, she’s a “geiger counter for death,” but she doesn’t know how to use that power. But she comes to a realization: Jennifer didn’t know Lydia was a banshee, so she must’ve tried to kill her for some other reason. Figuring out what the reason is might be of some use.
Back in the bank vault Isaac pulls Allison’s handcuffs apart and engages in a bit o’ sexual tension-y gazing, which I frankly couldn’t care less about because the clock is ticking on the Sheriff and Mama McCall possibly dying. Priorities, people! Luckily Isaac and Allison have them, because they snap back into gear and let Stiles know about Chris being taken. The news causes Stiles to have a panic attack, since if Jennifer has all three of her sacrifices she’s probably going to start with the killage pretty soon.
Lydia takes him to the locker room and tries to snap him out of it by getting him to think of happy things, but it doesn’t work, because… well, because panic attacks don’t really work like that. So Lydia, more than a bit anxious herself by now, kisses him. Happily, it works. A thoroughly dazed but no longer panicking Stiles asks how she knew what to do; she responds that she read once that holding your breath, which happens when you kiss, stops panic attacks. “Huh. Thanks,” Stiles says. “That was really smart.”
My initial reaction to this scene was “Oh my God, no, you’re not supposed to kiss someone who’s having a panic attack! Don’t do that!” But I’m willing to give the show some leeway because I thought this kiss, which has been showing up in all the promos, was actually handled really well. Stiles/Lydia is my brOTP, and I love that Stiles’ reaction to Lydia, his childhood crush and former obsession, kissing him is to appreciate how intelligent she is.
Chris comes to in the Nemeton, where Mama McCall and Sheriff Stilinski are quick to let him know that, yes, Jennifer took all the blades he had on him that he would’ve used to cut his ropes. Jennifer waltzes in and says she took his taser, too. She proceeds to go on an Evil Villain Monologue (TM), explaining once again that she’s been hunted, and that sure, she’s killed innocent people, but there have to be sacrifices if a better, Alpha Pack-less world is to be created.
Jennifer, I’m going to stop you right there. Sacrifices aren’t some morally upright thing when you’re sacrificing people against their will for a cause they may not agree with or even know about. I’m getting really tired of this “noble villain” schtick from her. I really hope it’s just a trick she’s playing and she’ll be revealed as a full-on murderous baddie next episode.
Stiles and Lydia go to see Ms. Morrell for some guidance of the supernatural variety, but they learn from superfan-turned-cast member Shantal (whose character name is technically Danielle, but she’s always Shantal to me) that Morrell is mysteriously absent from school. Stiles and Lydia proceed to talk about how the guidance counselor “knows something” and is probably not just late but missing, all when Shantal is not two feet away and listening to every word they say. I swear, everyone at this high school has to know about werewolves by now and just keeps their mouths shut to minimize their chances of dying.
Stiles breaks into Morrell’s desk and pulls out Lydia’s file, which contains one of those tree drawings she’s been making so many of this season. Stiles, recognizing it, pulls out Lydia’s notebook, which has a drawing of that same tree on every single page. Lydia’s freaked out, because apparently all her tree doodling happened in some sort of fugue state. Shantal says that Lydia clearly has bigger issues than she does and evacuates the premises.
You keep being smart like that, Shantal. You’ll outlive them all.
Stiles realizes that the drawing isn’t the branches of a tree, but the roots of a tree, and recognizes it as the Nemeton, which must be where the parents are being kept. He sends Lydia off to ask Derek about its whereabouts and is then intercepted by Agent Jerkbag. He knows Stiles’ dad is missing and knows he knows something about it. What’s more, Stiles’ “clique”—including Isaac, Allison, and the Alpha twins—are all out of school that day, and there’ve been a lot of crazy happenings in Beacon Hills over the last few months, so obviously Stiles is involved somehow. Stiles runs conversational rings around the agent, who eventually gives up but says Stiles has to be looked after by someone now that his dad is gone. Deaton pulls a Derek and shows up out of nowhere, offering to take Stiles in and make sure he doesn’t die or anything. It’s ironic, given what happens later.
When Lydia goes to see Derek it’s Peter who opens the door, which makes for a winceworthy-yet-awesome bit o’ interaction between the manipulative, formerly dead creeper and the teenager he used to bring him back to life and who is clearly having to restrain herself from kneeing him where it hurts. Don’t worry, Lydia. Your time will come, if only in fanfic. Peter says neither he nor Derek know where the nemeton is, as Derek’s mom Talia took the memory of its location away from them so they’d never be tempted to go back.
Meanwhile Morrell’s running through the forest, being chased by the Alpha Pack, plus Scott. He and Deucalion have a little chat about killing innocent people, which Deucalion says he’ll do if they get in his way. It’s a point that’s confirmed when the Alphas catch up with Morrell, who’s spewed up some mountain ash-looking stuff to serve as a barrier between her and the werewolves. She lets the assorted werewolves know that Deucalion killed Ennis to make Kali extra-intent on killing Derek. She also says she’s the one who called the mystery girl from the series premiere—Braeden, she calls her—into town, to help ~preserve the balance~.
Deucalion throws his spear/walking stick at her, and the force of it going through her shoulder throws her out of her protective mountain ash ring, leaving her open to attack by the Alpha Pack. Scott stops them so he can quiz her on where they might find the soon-to-be-dead parents.
Meanwhile, back in the Nemeton, Sheriff Stilinski actor Linden Ashby gets his time to shine with a heartbreaking monologue about his mysterious dead wife, Claudia. Eight years ago he was at the scene of a car wreck, determined to stay with a girl who was trapped in an overturned car until the paramedics showed up. The girl told him that if he wanted to see his wife again he had to leave now, but the Sheriff stayed, clinging to logic and refusing to believe that the girl could somehow psychically know his wife was about to die. Stiles was with Claudia when she died, but the Sheriff wasn’t because he wasn’t willing to believe in the supernatural.
Ow, my heart. What is with these Stilinski family guilt trips?
Deaton says he might have a way to find the Nemeton, and he, Stiles, Isaac, and Allison meet up with Scott, who’s apparently just left a wounded Ms. Morrell with the Alpha Pack. Please tell me you took her to a hospital or something!
The deal is that Stiles, Allison, and Scott have to ritually sacrifice themselves in place of their parents. Hopefully they’ll only be dead for a second, but to come back they have to have A) something of their parents to anchor them and B) someone with whom they have an emotional connection who can bring them back. There’s a bit of awkwardness when Deaton tells Allison that Isaac should be paired with her, but Scott handles it, because he’s a prince. If the plan works they’ll have the power to defeat the Nemeton, but that power will attract other supernatural forces to the town like a… wait for it… beacon. I see what you did there, Deaton. Plus the power will leave “permanent darkness” around their hearts.
Do I see the bare bones of a plot for season 3B? I think I do!
There’s a quick look back at the Nemeton to see Chris setting off a sonic emitter in the hope of attracting his werewolf buds (why did you not think of that earlier?!) and a bit of a Bzuh?! moment when it turns out Agent Jerkbag is actually Scott’s father. Then the episode ends with Stiles, Scott, Allison, and Derek all sacrificing themselves: The first three temporarily (I hope) give up their lives for their parents, and Derek gives up his Alpha powers for his sister, his eyes turning from red to Beta Blue.
On a general note: The first half of season three has had a lot of problems—the aforementioned reliance on screwing over Derek has a narrative device, general loose ends and inconsistency, sloppy storytelling, weaksauce villains. But I’m going to play the optimist here and say it looks like we’re being set up for some potentially awesome things in the second half of the season. Other types of monsters coming to Beacon Hills (ohai, Teen Wolf fanfic)! Dark!Stiles (slightly less Teen Wolf fanfic)! Derek going back to being a beta and therefore hopefully losing some of his angst and interacting with the other characters a bit more!
Don’t screw it up, Davis. Don’t screw it up.