Teen Wolf "Alpha Pact" Review: The Trouble With Triples (PHOTO RECAP)
Parents love to do a lot things: Sneak into teens' rooms to find all the drugs; hassle everybody about chores; be ten minutes late picking people up from hockey practice; failing to understand the Fresh Prince at all let alone DJ Jazzy Jeff. Parents love doing all of these things so much! But what parents love to do MOST of all is get murdered on supernatural teen dramas. Go ahead, ask any parent what they love to do, and getting murdered on supernatural teen dramas will be right up near the top of the list if not #1. Murder by ancient deity and a nice glass of white wine, that's any parent's dream. This is why teen supernatural dramas usually have a crazy-high parental fatality rate: Because teen supernatural dramas KEEP IT REAL.
Take the current gold standard of the genre, The Vampire Diaries. Uh, have you noticed that almost 100% of the parents have been brutally murdered on that show? The show has even introduced dozens of surrogate or replacement parents (aunts, teachers, long lost birth parents, uncles) just to kill THEM off too. The premise of The Secret Circle involved no fewer than EIGHT murdered parents. And let's not forget the infamous Episode 14 all-parent massacre of My So-Called Life. Haha just kidding, Patty Chase would've TORE UP a demon. (But no joke, that show had at least TWO episodes with supernatural phenomena, never forget.)
What I'm saying is, the writers behind supernatural teen dramas must find a still-alive parent so tantalizing. See, killing off a character's parent both increases our sympathy for that character and also increases that character's agency. (Dead parents enforce no curfews.) Among the many ways Teen Wolf has embraced the tropes of this genre only to later transcend them, its treatment of parents is probably the best I've ever seen on any teen show. Sure, at least two characters' parents have died on-screen, but for the most part this show seems to really value the lives of its parents and the impact living parents can have on their kids' lives. This has never been truer than in Season 3 where most if not all of the parents are now fully aware of their kids' extracurricular activities, and better yet, actually getting in on the action. Further, and this shouldn't seem so shocking to me, but especially in "Alpha Pact" these kids seemed SO UPSET when their parents were endangered. Like upset in real, heart-wrenching ways. I just don't know how many times I can bear to see Stiles' eyes well up in tears or Allison collapse into sobs and not follow suit myself. These kids really, really care about their parents, and by extension so do I. (It helps that the parents are legit awesome characters anyway.) That's one reason why "Alpha Pact" was a truly phenomenal episode: With three characters' parents now in danger, the stakes have never felt higher.
Okay fine twist my arm, let's talk about "Alpha Pact"!
The story began--as good stories always do--with a teenage boy straddling a grown man in an elevator trying to slap that man awake.
Seriously Stiles slapped Derek SO MUCH. But it wasn't until he decided to start throwing closed-fist punches that Derek decided to wake up. Be careful with Derek's face, Stiles! Anyway, then Stiles told Derek that the Darach stole Scott's mom and Scott stole away with THE DEMON WOLF.
Meanwhile the Argents were still all scrambling around outside and Derek showed up just long enough to grab Cora out of the backseat of Isaac's RAV4 while Peter Hale ran off and hid in the bushes because he was still afraid of Mr. Argent? Something like that. Everybody was a mess!
Also Derek broke the news to Allison about Scott having joined up with the Alpha Pack and also told her he was now OFF-THE-CLOCK as far as rescuing people was concerned. Dying sister stuff, who knows.
Meanwhile a tall FBI agent with a suspiciously asymmetrical face started questioning Stiles like they'd had a long history of hating each other.
I guess it made sense, since (and I'm about to get real here) Stiles' dad was not that great at his job and maybe the FBI had been hassling him about it for a while now? Just putting that out there! Anyway, Stiles was still not about to tell this dude that his father had been taken by moths. That is just not something you tell a stranger, you know? But especially when that stranger is super judgey about what kind of a job your dad is doing. Carried away by moths does not look good on paper.
Oh, but look at what the possibly-good-at-lacrosse FBI agent pointed out: Somebody had taken a can of spraypaint and put the Argent family ON BLAST. (Spoiler: The Darach's a tagger.)
Meanwhile at Derek's loft, Cora was not looking great. I've definitely seen Cora looking better than in this scene.
You know who was SO MAD at Derek? Isaac. Isaac was hella mad at Derek for not only boning the Darach but also choosing to watch his sister die rather than be pro-active and find the Darach or help his friends or anything else Derek should've been doing. It's very upsetting seeing Isaac lose his temper with his new dad/brother/friend, but he had a good point. Derek was clinging to Cora because he was afraid if he lost her he'd have no one else? Like Isaac had no one else until he fell in with the coolest hunks in California? Get real, Derek. So basically, Isaac's feelings were hurt, but Peter Hale had a different theory. He thought that Isaac was just transferring his loyalties away from Derek and toward Scott. Which, fine, they share a bed.
Anyway, tons of strife going on at the werewolf loft. In my opinion they needed to put on some Iron & Wine and just relax for a bit.
It was pretty cool that Stiles decided to go hang out with the Argents as they armed themselves for battle. But it was obviously even cooler when Isaac popped by all bragging about his werewolf manicure.
Stiles ended up having to go to school because there was a chance his dad would survive all this and ground Stiles for cutting class? I don't know. But Isaac didn't have a dad anymore (his dad was killed by a lizard) so he could obviously miss school all he wanted, thus he decided to tag along with Allison and Mr. Argent on a quest to find that darn Darach.
So at some point Peter Hale changed out of his cashmere deep-V and into a new shirt, which either means he keeps a duffel bag in Derek's loft or he was wearing one of Derek's shirts. This isn't an important thing to think about unless of course it is VERY important to think about.
Anyway, at this point Derek was using his werewolf powers to suck out Cora's pain, but Peter decided to tell him about a much more drastic way to save her life. Basically, Derek could use his "Alpha spark" to cure her, which sounds like something out of Transformers but also would have the side-effect of turning Derek into a beta again! A werewolf demotion, basically.
It kind of seemed like Peter Hale was angling to regain his Alpha status (I'm not sure how the line of succession works necessarily), hence his sorta creepy grin when Derek was ALL ABOUT trading his red peepers in. On the other hand, the plan seemed like a reasonable idea. How else would Derek save his sister's life? But then again, maybe Peter Hale had cut a deal with the Darach and Cora's illness was just an elaborate scheme for Peter Hale to regain Alpha status so that he could turn back into a cartoon and destroy more Blockbuster videos. We'll see, I guess!
This was a nice scene. For one thing, I'm just glad that Susan Walters gets to still be a mom on at least ONE good TV show seeing as Klaus drowned her TVD character during some kind of weird springtime Christmas party. But also I liked how creepily heartfelt this scene's message was: Lydia opted not to cover up the strangulation marks on her neck. I feel like an entire academic paper could be written about this tiny character moment, but in a general sense I liked that it commented on both Lydia's bravery and vanity. Clever and illuminating, imagine that.
After looking at that weird UV map of his, Mr. Argent decided that the Darach would be doing some Darach-related business at the bank vault again. So that's where they went!
Unfortunately for Isaac, Mr. Argent had a trick up his sleeve, and that trick was shocking Isaac nearly to death and then handcuffing Allison to the wall while he offered himself up as a sacrifice to the Darach.
Yup! This whole thing had been a way for Argent to become the third member of the parental sacrificial trio! Clever girl.
Allison was understandably shaken by the whole thing. It's always pretty rude when people don't trust you with their secret plans, but also she was probably pretty tired of having her parents be in mortal danger. Fortunately she still had Isaac.
Like, sorry, but don't tell me this scene didn't make you feel something. I ship everybody with everybody but in this tiny intimate moment I was so happy for both of them. Not because this was a hot 'n heavy romantic moment, but mostly because it wasn't. I don't know if I'm explaining that correctly, I may have mental probs.
So, of course Mr. Argent's plan involved waking up in captivity, freeing any one of the dozens of knives hidden on his person, and then cutting that druid UP. What he failed to consider, however, was just how thorough the Darach's busyfingers were.
Whoops! Suddenly Argent's plan didn't seem quite so brave as it did outrageously stupid.
At that point the Darach walked downstairs and cleaned the blood off Mr. Argent's forehead (had she accidentally dropped him while carrying him across town?) and made some speech about how she and him were ultimately on the same team because they were both merely trying to rid the world of werewolves. Then she cut Scott's mom a look.
Meanwhile at school, Stiles found out that Allison's dad had been taken, thus giving the Darach all she would need to make her sacrifices. He did not take this news very well.
I was amazed by how much I liked this moment. Well, there was the kiss aspect, yeah, but also just the fact that a character in a stressful situation had an actual panic attack. It's amazing that TV characters aren't constantly experiencing them, if we're being honest. Anyway, Stiles couldn't get it together, and Lydia knew exactly what to do.
So that happened! Stiles and Lydia kneeling on the most disgusting surface in all of town mashing mouths together to a smooth jam. It was very touching, and since Lydia has been in a pretty earnest and subdued mood lately, she didn't say anything super mean afterward. In fact, it seemed like she was pretty into it? I don't know. I just liked that this happened, it seemed very earned and 100% charming.
So then the two of them decided to pay Kendra the guidance counselor a visit, but she hadn't shown up to work that day. Which, duh. Honestly, Stiles and Lydia really shouldn't have gone to school either. What a weird choice they made. Anyway, look who was sitting in Kendra's office? That girl from the house party in episode 2 who had won a contest to be on Teen Wolf. The BEST girl, basically.
I mean, really. Make her a regular pls!
So at this point Stiles and Lydia rifled through Kendra's desk and found their own files. That's how they figured out two things right at the same time: Where the final sacrifices were going to be happening and also why the Darach had tried to kill Lydia earlier.
Remember that time the Darach was an English teacher still and saw Lydia drawing this tree-thing in her notepad? Turns out Lydia had been drawing upside-down versions of the roots where the Darach was making sacrifices. That's why Lydia had to die. So now they just had to find out where the roots WERE and to do that Lydia had to pay a visit to the werewolf loft.
There was a highly amusing run-in between Lydia and Peter Hale, which, oh yeah, I guess they hadn't seen each other since the incident in Season 2 when his ghost seduced her into using moon voodoo to resurrect him. Let's be real, Peter Hale should be in jail for macking on a teen like that, but whatever. Unfortunately this meeting didn't come to much because Derek's mom had erased the location of the tree root thing from both of their memories. Ugh, Mrs. Hale was kind of the worst, right? I mean, the live wolf aspect alone was enough to put her on my bad side.
So the episode was more than halfway over by the time we finally caught up with Scott and his new bestie, a blind a-hole named THE DEMON WOLF.
For a minute there it seemed like dude was about to explain why there were fireflies in California all of the sudden, but then he basically just shrugged and chalked it up to animals being sensitive to supernatural phenomena and whatnot. Whatever, guy.
Meanwhile, we found out why Kendra had skipped school that day: Because she was being chased by werewolf twunks! Fortunately she's basically a sorceress and threw down a mountain ash circle like it wasn't even a thing.
So yeah, if it wasn't clear by now, druids are officially Teen Wolf's answer to witches. Like, I'm sorry, but there has been some straight-up MAGICK afoot this season. Not a complaint.
As it turned out THE DEMON WOLF wanted Kendra to shed some light on what the Darach is trying to do, and also he wanted to know why she'd infiltrated their lair prior to the season premiere (when Isaac was rescued by that rando on a motorcylce). The answers weren't super interesting, but it WAS interesting when Kendra proceeded to rat out THE DEMON WOLF for having murdered that super tall Alpha that Kali had a thing for.
So yeah, expect some dissension in the ranks after that one. At first THE DEMON WOLF tried to pretend he didn't care, but then he did this:
Yup, a mountain ash circle doesn't really protect you from super sharp sticks, it turns out. But before the Alphas could descend upon Kendra, Scott fought them back and protected her. Then she told him the same information the other characters had learned by now: The Darach was at that cluster of tree roots.
But yeah, again, nobody seemed to know WHERE exactly that cellar was. Inconvenient!
Another nice moment: Mr. Argent and Mrs. McCall and Sheriff Stilinski talking openly about being "in the know" with regard to their children's hobbies. After Mr. Argent all but rolled his eyes at Stiles' dad for not catching on sooner, the sheriff admitted to having looked past obvious supernatural phenomena, even one specific incident that will haunt him forever.
In what had to have been a series highlight for this show, Sheriff Stilinski described the night his wife died. We'd always known that Stiles' mom had passed away from an unspecified illness (NOT an animal attack), but in a truly moving monologue (seriously, huge, huge props to Linden Ashby) the Sheriff Stilinski recounted the night she died and how he wasn't there with her because he'd opted to stay with a dying highway crash victim despite the fact that the victim had had a psychic premonition that the sheriff's wife was also dying at that very moment. Anyway, it's almost too devastating to properly recount here, but suffice to say if you didn't already feel so badly for the Stilinski family, you did now. So good.
So, haha, oh man. Deaton the Veterinarian came up with quite a plan to stop the Darach.
Now I'm definitely not a genius, so the fact that I didn't quite grasp the plan shouldn't shock you. But I think the idea was that Scott, Stiles, and Allison would all kill themselves in lieu of their parents getting sacrificed, imbue the Nematon (tree root thingy) with the energy that the Darach wanted, and then Deaton would bring them all back to life. But it would also mean that Beacon Hills would become a monster-magnet and also the three of them would have permanent scars of evil branded into their hearts. I really don't know, I'm so tired.
But then Deaton went and got HILARIOUS with it. Not only would the three of them have to be drowned, each of them had to be paired with someone he or she had an emotional bond with. And because Deaton is nothing if not highly perceptive when it comes to burgeoning teen romance, he immediately paired Lydia with Stiles and Allison with Isaac!
Which created a bit of an awkward situation for Scott:
Aw poor guy. To Scott's credit, he seemed relatively cool with it. And to Isaac's credit, he hadn't really actively pursued Allison necessarily. Like, yeah he's into her, but he hadn't done anything obvious about it that might betray his friendship with Scott. Guys, I normally hate love triangles, but I don't think I hate this one? Here's why I think that is: Usually these shows really oversell the love triangles, like jam them down our throats basically. In this case it's just three decent people not necessarily looking to fall in love who've started to forge connections both subtle and deep. The fact that they are all three very likable and trying to do the right thing by each other just makes it all so much more painful. Do you know what I mean? I guess love triangles are just more effective when the people in them don't seem too interested in love triangles. I dig it.
ANYWAY. (Sorry.) The montage that closed out this show was so intense that it made me feel even MORE emotional. But that doesn't mean we can't have fun with everybody's "ice dippin' faces"!
WHO WORE IT BEST:
I vote Allison. She looked SO ANNOYED about about having to kill herself in ice water.
Oh, and Stiles was a rascal because just before they all three went under, he dropped THIS bomb:
THAT'S RIGHT! Lookit:
Did NOT see that coming! Teen Wolf has been holding onto certain backstory nuggets for a while now, and the story of Stiles' mom was one of them. We had no reason to expect this would ALSO be the episode we'd meet Scott's DAD! Or that he was a super tall FBI agent who, I guess, broke into Scott's house to cry on his bed? Dang, what a trip this episode was! And it wasn't nearly done getting real:
Yep, that's right. Derek traded in his Alpha status to suck away all of Cora's sickness! On the upside, those beautiful blues were back.
And nothing definitive was revealed about Peter Hale's werewolf status, but he was clearly ready and willing to accept any new titles floating around.
But then came time for the gang to get serious. In what had to be a situation that created mixed emotions all around, the triple murder/suicide pact was put into action.
And it was kind of upsetting! Hey, I LIKE these people and they were drowning!!
And then, most upsetting of all...
NOOOOOOOO! How dare you, Teen Wolf?
Actually, go ahead and dare, Teen Wolf, I'm into it. Obviously this was going to be a two part finale and I'm just thankful this title card didn't appear after NEXT week's episode. Could you even imagine? A chill went down my spine just now when I imagined it.
This episode was an instant classic. Hear me out. Just kidding, I have no further arguments, your honor. "Alpha Pact" was an instant classic. I cried. Yeah, I can say that here right? There were A LOT of emotions at play in this episode, plus it was exciting and revealing and surprising. Like, SO surprising. MR. McCall? WHAT? A surprise kiss? A compelling love triangle? A triple suicide? How did the writers even brainstorm this episode? "Everything. Let's just put everything in this episode." And then they did and it was terrific. (Sigh.) I'm not doing so great. WORTH IT.
... Is Deaton's plan a good one? Be honest.
... Are you concerned that the reappearance of Mr. McCall will interfere with the single-parent love triangle currently forming in that root cellar?
... Did Derek make the right choice?
... What kind of monsters will come runnin' to Beacon Hills NOW? Pinhead? Pumpkinhead? The Grimace?
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