Teen Wolf "A Promise to the Dead" Review: Spoiler Alert (PHOTO RECAP)

By Price Peterson

Sep 03, 2014

Teen Wolf S04E11: "A Promise to the Dead"

Not to sound overly morbid (which we should NEVER do while discussing a horror-themed supernatural serial), but a lot of people probably have an idea of how they want to die. Maybe your ideal ticket to the grave involves heroic actions like saving orphans from a burning building or crashing a helicopter into an orca. Me, I want to be Final Destination'd on Splash Mountain. Not even during the drop, but probably during the "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" part. Animatronics going haywire, an acid leak, the photo at the end is just my flaming skeleton sitting in the log, you know what I'm saying. But whatever the case, the main thing is I want to be SURPRISED. The LAST thing I want is for some banshee to show up at my door and tell me I'm about to bite it. Banshees are the supernatural world's equivalent of a live-tweeter. DO NOT spoil me, banshee. 

Alas, Derek had his own death spoiled for him this week in "A Promise to the Dead." I know what you're thinking, "Was Lydia's warning a promise or a threat?" It was a promise, jeez, didn't you just see the episode title? It was a promise to the dead. But also it was a MAJOR SPOILER if Derek was, like me, hoping to have a surprise death. Relax, banshees.

However, despite being strictly a set-up episode for presumably insane season finale, "A Promise to the Dead" was highly enjoyable on its own for a multitude of crazy reasons. Let's talk about those reasons!

So we started off in a giant Wendigo refrigerator (the refrigerator was giant, not the Wendigo) where a Wendigo was preparing a light snack.

But like somebody running up and slapping a Snickers out of your hand, Deaton was NOT about to let this Wendigo eat a lady.

After a brief tussle involving a meat hook and an expandable baton, Deaton told the Wendigo that he had to go back to Eichen House and then whapped him in the face until he passed out. Meanwhile the lady in the body bag seemed pretty relieved about this.

So add one more duty to Deaton's resume: In addition to being a cat neuterer and a druid he's also a part-time bounty hunter?

Which brought us to a tiny moment which was one of my favorite Teen Wolf reveals so far: The show has its very own Arkham Asylum!

A head guy at Eichen House is well aware of the supernatural monsters of Beacon Hills (though apparently not quite as aware of the active serial killers on his staff) and there's even a secret floor where many of them are contained. Including this guy above with silver eyes (not Wendigo eyes, so he's something else) and what looked to be maybe another Kanima chilling in a different cell. But the main resident of the Eichen House monster bin was Dr. Valack, who was sort of a psychic Hannibal Lecter with a taste for macabre body mod. (P.S. Macabre Body Mod is the name of my goth synthpop band.)

Like, look what Deaton saw when he peered into Dr. Valack's forehead hole:

AAAAAAHHH!! This was grody. But don't worry, it wasn't just a brain eyeball, it was also the WINDOW TO ANOTHER REALM. Or something. Usually when somebody says that a person has a "third eye" it's a metaphor, but not on Teen Wolf. On Teen Wolf, you are going to see a LITERAL third eye and it WILL be disgusting. Anyway, buried the lede, there was now a straight-up psychic wizard in the mix finally and Deaton was going on a vision quest.

Meanwhile Mrs. McCall was chillin at her house with the power shut off because she's poor. (Question, does the hospital even pay her? Maybe reprioritize your bill-paying strategies, lady, because the power should be pretty high up there.)

But then Scott came home and discovered that his mom had found his duffel bag full of cash and she had questions!

This was a great scene in which Scott was pretty honest about where the money had come from, and again I was relieved that Melissa was so in-the-know about everything, it saved us a lot of time and didn't turn Scott into a liar. It was a dead assassin's blood money, what of it? And I loved her point about how Scott can save a life, but he can't save people from life—which includes power bills, for example. But then he listed off all of the things that this cash could buy, like a new roof, or more tattoos, or a yellow Lamborghini Countach, or a whole box of Blue Razz Blow-Pops. But then Mrs. McCall handed him a blood-soaked stack of cash and Scott got TOLD. 

Then over at Liam's house he and Mason were playing video games very intensely.

This part kinda killed me. Mason had to leave and Liam got SO SAD. I love that just because you become a very powerful monster doesn't mean you're mentally equipped to deal with being a very powerful monster, and Liam's still pretty scared of his new reality to the point that he can't even really sleep anymore. Like, we the viewers have become desensitized to the extreme violence and terror of Beacon Hills, so I love that we're seeing an outsider try to cope with it as his main plotline. I'm really glad he wasn't just thrown into the mix and asked to catch up ASAP. This stuff just makes me like Liam so much more.

Because yeah, as soon as his lil' head hit the pillow he was hallucinating Berserkers in his bedroom.

But Liam was not the only person having trouble sleeping:

There was somebody on Derek's premises! So of course Braeden jumped up and started cocking her shotgun while dressed only in her unmentionables and Derek (who I guess was wearing pants in bed) answered the front door. 

It was a banshee! Come to scream in Derek's face. We get it, banshee, Derek's in danger. Couldn't you just DM him? Banshees!

First of all, Malia is homeless now, right? I mean, I know her adoptive dad is the dead priest from The Originals, but does she live with him still? Second, does Sheriff Stilinski know that his son is having sexy sleepovers with his girlfriend all the time? But third, this was very cute when Malia was mad that Stiles wouldn't wake up for lacrosse practice, but then she looked at his evidence board and got all smitten and mouth-attacked him. That is some nerd stuff right there and I agreed with Malia. Amateur detectives are very cute sometimes. (Also it helped that he seemed especially interested in finding out who The Desert Wolf was, but it's not clear if she'd told Stiles that was her mom yet or not.)

So get this: Derek honestly did not give a sh*t that Scott had a duffel bag full of Hale money. In fact, he more or less just gave it back to Scott, on account of hating his uncle or whatever. Also this was where we learned a new thing about Derek: He's a SLUM LORD. That's how he has money, he owned this whole building of lofts. If there's one thing you can say about Derek it's that he has an interesting eye for real estate. First the burnt down house he was living in, then that old subway car. Derek should have a show on HGTV. But anyway, yeah, Scott seemed pretty unsure of what to do about that bag of money.

Meanwhile, guess who was still staring into a psychic monster's brain eyeball?

Deaton woke up in what was very obviously a Berserker factory! But he wasn't actually there, see:

The Eichen House dude had WARNED him not to fall into a brain-eyeball trance, but Deaton didn't listen. Now he was probably going to have to be committed or whatever. (Don't worry, he doesn't get committed, Lydia shows up and screams at him off camera and he's fine.)

I liked this scene at school mostly because it's rare that we get to see the girls just being friends. Like here's Malia thanking Lydia for helping her get a C-.

And Kira tried to cheer Lydia up about the dead pool being over, but come on, Kira, it's not the season finale YET.

This weight room scene was pretty cool too. I guess Liam had something to prove about his toughness so he loaded tons of weights onto the bench press and then told Mason to scram because he didn't need a spotter due to awesomeness.

But while Liam was weightlifting he had bad memories of a Berserker growling at him and he started getting crushed under the bar! Fortunately his teen dad showed up and saved him from being crushed to death!

But it was clear Liam was far from okay. (I just loved this shot of how tiny Liam looked next to a Berserker.) Again, this is some ripe psychological exploration Teen Wolf's doing, and even though it verges on stakes-free dream sequence stuff (of which I am not normally a fan), I like that this feels like the set-up for a moment of triumph. And again, it keeps this show grounded in a really good way. THESE ARE JUST KIDS.

So then Argent showed up in the sewer and started going through all the Berserkers' personal items.

But of course Peter Hale was down there too and he sicced a Berserker on him! Then he stabbed him into the wall with an iron rod!

Not a great day for Argent. And yeah, Peter Hale is full villain now. I guess I'm fine with it, he IS a good villain.

Oh, remember how Scott and Kira hadn't gone on a proper first date before? Now they have:

I liked when he got her to light up the lightbulbs with her kitsune powers, but mostly I had questions about how long it had taken Scott to rewire the loft and install all those lightbulbs. Weeks? But the main thing I liked about this was that Derek officially cemented his status as a cool older bro. He let Scott use his loft for sexin'! Very chill of him. 

So yeah, first they tried to watch Star Wars on a laptop but then they just started mouth-attacking each other instead. As teens do.

Unfortunately the makeout party didn't last long.

Ugh, Kate. Couldn't you have waited like eight to ten minutes? I know you are kind of a villain, but that doesn't mean you gotta c*ckblock.

Holy moly did I love this part:

So, Stiles' dad invited him and Malia to dinner and Stiles straight-up asked him if he could afford it. And he claimed he could because Eichen House had forgiven their debt on account of Stiles having almost been murdered by one of its employees. Problem solved! (Also, the Sheriff's Department does indeed pay Sheriff Stilinski right?) But the best part was obviously this part: Sheriff Stilinski asking Malia what her favorite food was.

Usually I don't recap the jokes because they are funny enough on their own and I risk ruining it by talking about it (which is why a lot of people think I ignore Stiles too much, but the reason is that he's too funny) but this is maybe my favorite Teen Wolf joke ever? At least based on how hard I laughed. Malia likes to eat deer. (Also Shelley Hennig's voice dropped an octave when she said it and that alone made me laugh out loud.) In conclusion this was definitely one of those moments that gave me heart-eyes for this show. 

But then Stiles covered for her and told his dad that Malia actually loves pizza. So they all went out to pizza!

Meanwhile Scott was not having anywhere near as good a time:

A Berserker carried him through the lightbulbs and threw him on the stairs and then Kate back-handed him. Meanwhile Kira grabbed a chain and tried to go all Gogo Yubari on him.

But it didn't work. MINOR RANT. I get that the Berserkers are presented as indestructible and super powerful, but why didn't Kira try to electrocute him with the chain? Is the idea that she still doesn't really know how to control her abilities? Even though she lit up the lightbulb a few minutes earlier? In fact, I thought that was the whole point of the lightbulb thing, to remind us that she can do things like that. But all season it feels like she's been really underwhelming when it comes to her powers. From her surprisingly dull samurai sword (against the Berserkers at least) to how often she gets punched across the room, I'd kind of like to see Kira get sliiiightly more powerful. And again, I realize that it can be boring for a hero to have no flaws, but I know I would like to see Kira hold her own a little bit better. It's probably not fair to compare her to Allison, but personally I came to really love Allison just as soon as she started getting stronger and fearless and started winning fights.

But then there's Scott. HE IS AN ALPHA. Why is he getting slapped around by some newborn were-jaguar who can't even control her own transformations? The only reason I can come up with was that he was uncomfortable hitting a lady, which is fair. But again, him getting beaten up here felt like a narrative need rather than an organic display of his abilities. Before this season we'd seen four batches of episodes that proved he's up for any challenge, especially physically. I wish the writers would have maybe figured out a surprising way that Kate could have gotten the upper hand rather than just a simple fight like this. It made Scott look weak and it's frustrating as a viewer to see him backslide into helplessness. Like don't tell us he's this Super Turbo Alpha who could hulk out at any minute and then have him lose a slap-fight. I know Teen Wolf can't be about invincible heroes, but it CAN be about ingenuity, and I wish there would've been more of that here. Kate's plan was seriously just to burst into a window and punch everybody? Okay I'll stop.

Wait one more thing. The kids have lost what feels like DOZENS of battles against the Berserkers. Should they perhaps have figured out the Berserkers' weaknesses by now? Just askinnnnng.

Anyway, I DID really like Kate's motivation. She basically told him that she was tired of seeing her family die and it all began when Scott entered the picture. Now she wanted to know why exactly the town was letting him be this magnet for destruction all the time. 

So, you know, actually a very good scene that addressed major conceptual issues about what makes a hero, and how much collateral damage should bystanders be willing to put up with. Kate might be a jerk and a c*ckblocker but she WASN'T wrong. I guess the bear bones and the dead pool and the assassins were a temporary diversion and Kate's grievances against Scott were actually the bigger theme of the season? That's rich territory to explore, so it's weird that the season hasn't really explored it up until now. I like mouth-less assassins and golden lacrosse twink assassins and shirtless Wendigos a lot too, but at this point I wish maybe Kate had been more front-and-center with this stuff earlier. Imagine if she had been like, "THIS is for Victoria" or whatever before throwing Peter Hale into the open mouth of a Great White Shark I don't know, I shouldn't back-seat write. I guess I just really like this righteous Kate Argent stuff way more all of the sudden, sue me. (No, don't!) But I would at the very least enjoy hearing Kate Argent grapple with being a revenge-minded hunter versus being the exact kind of creature she would normally murder. A monster hating monster hunter monster is a very good internal conflict!

So anyway, Stiles and Liam had to play lacrosse without Scott and Kira, but he assured Liam he could handle it on his own because he'd been practicing. 

But then he got tackled right away! Poor Stiles. Question: Is Lacrosse mostly tackling? With the occasional stabbing?

Haha just kidding, there were no stabbings and Berserkers are not eligible to play high school lacrosse. Liam was still just seeing things.

This was another very good scene. Malia clearly hates Peter Hale for, I guess, accidentally creating the dead pool. But he had a bargain for her: He'd tell her who her mother was if she would do him the tiny favor of murdering Kate Argent. I loved this because he had obviously tasked her with killing Scott, and now he's hiring someone to kill her, maybe as a way of tying off loose ends, who can be sure? Peter Hale's plans are always so twisty. But also, it's this definitely Call of the Wild situation where Malia is trying to become a normal human teen and Peter's trying to get her to become a murdering coyote again. He probably only needed to dangle venison jerky in front of her, but he dangled her bio-mom's identity instead. And from the looks of it, Malia seemed ready to take him up on the offer.

Once upon a time in Mexico...

Whoooops, Kate had taken Scott and Kira to Mexico! Who among us hasn't woken up on a pile of bones in Mexico? It's actually more comfortable than it looks, but that's beside the point. Kira was now in a dungeon of some kind!

Here was a major dreamboat moment: Brett returned to (a) kick Liam's butt all over the lacrosse field, and (b) dole out some dreamy tough-love in the locker room. It mostly had to do with how much Brett reaaaaally loved Scott now, and he tried to impress on Liam how lucky he was to have such a sweet, nice, "true Alpha" like him in his life.

I'm not sure that Liam is totally okay now, but I liked that this random hunk was able to remind him that he's tougher and braver than he thinks and he just needs to get it together and respect his father or something like that, I don't know. Look, I'm just glad Brett's still alive and I hope he transfers to Beacon Hills, what about you? 

Hey look who found Argent nailed to a sewer wall! Deputy Parrish! I guess he'd been following Peter Hale around lately (fair enough!) and now he was very concerned about Argent's health in that he was nailed to a wall in a sewer. So the next thing we knew he took off his jacket and yanked on Argent's pole.

But—and this was another very good moment—Parrish needed Argent's help freeing him and Argent was too depressed to care, so Parrish told him he needed to get mad about Allison's death and it worked!

And of course Parrish's dreamy eyes turned orange. What are you, you fire rascal? You know what, I think I just answered my own question. Parrish is a Fire Rascal. The secretly buff volcano sprite of myth and legend. Awaken, Fire Rascal! Burn away our problems and probably also your clothes! Love this guy.

And then we came to the ending and NO ME GUSTA.

Oh no, Scott is a Berserker now! On the downside, it looked like the inside of that bear skull smelled extremely nasty. But on the upside, now Scott will be better in fights? Haha j/k j/k. But seriously, Scott is a Berserker now. It seemed like Kate's plan was to convert Scott into a Berserker so that his friends would murder him, but uh, did she notice that none of his friends are effective against Bersekers at all? I don't know, Kate, this seems like a fishy plan to me. But anyway, that is definitely a shocking way to go into the finale. 

I think I am sympathetic to fans and viewers who maybe felt like the Benefactor stuff didn't prove to be more important, especially when everything was leading back to Aztec myth eventually, but when it comes to a season finale you still have to ask yourself: Do I care? Because I DO. I care about every plotline as it stands and I want to know what happens next in all of them. "A Promise to the Dead" introduced a lot of concepts and teased so much endgame (while also being scary as h*ck in certain moments) that only a true contrarian wouldn't be entertained and intrigued by all this insanity. Because we are definitely in the realm of insanity now and personally speaking that is exactly where I want to live. THIS IS WHO WE ARE. Let's do this.

Ok talk soon BYE


... Why does Peter Hale want Kate Argent dead?

... Will Scott look good as a Berserker?

... Will Derek die?

... Is a "bad eye day" even a thing?

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  • KateSullivan May 26, 2015

    So, I engaged in a marathon this past Memorial Day weekend with the intention of watching only the very, very good seasons (so I was going to only watch Season 2, obviously) and then I was like screw it and discovered I am missing my season 3A (seriously, I searched my whole apartment, its totally missing and I don't think I loaned it out, it was getting to the point of, well, I am going to check on Amazon that I even bought it in the first place...which I am pretty sure I did because I have a memory of thinking if I was going to advise anyone to watch it, I was thinking they could skip Visionary, you wouldn't be confused by baby Derek in Season 4) and then when I finished Season 3b, I was kind of depressed (RIP Allison) I decided to watch Season 4 again and get annoyed that they won't release the DVD until a week before the season begins. I just rewatched this episode during lunch and will watch the season finale again tonight and I think my thoughts on the whole season are actually more generous than they were to begin with. I mean not like the when you watch 3B and are actually able to fill plot holes in 3A, but still. Season 4 wasn't the best season in the world but it was majorly improved by these two episodes.

    But, some thoughts, around 117 (the baby Derek episode) I was sort of like, this season really wasn't that great. Then I sort of noticed, wow, I sort of wish they had saved Kate for these episodes because she kind of got in the way of the Benefactor investigation a lot. And hey, did anyone else realize that Scott actually figured out the Benefactor? It was a little sweet conversation with Kira in which she was telling him she had to leave to be with her mother at the end of his faked death episode, but still. I mean, he didn't say, Meredith, but they thought she was dead at that point.

    I sort of hope that the Season 4 DVD answers some questions, like in that time of death episode, it seems apparent that Kate called off the Beserkers and that was how Kira and Liam got back, but it was so random. I also hope that sometime after the big shoot out fight at the end of the Dead Pool episode that the little girl or someone mentioned Scott's transformation and so, he was holding back in his fight until...well, for people who haven't seen the season finale yet...and how interesting it was in 3B where Scott was mentioning his fears if he embraced his status that he never mentioned turning into a Deucalion type wolf and isn't just so obvious that would be his journey especially since the younger Deucalion we met was very much like Scott now...but I thought of another fairly legitimate excuse for him (I read somewhere that it didn't even occur to the writers that Kira would electrify the chain and then again in the season finale....) and it actually occurred to me with what Derek was going through. Now, Braeden is undoubtedly a good teacher, but he became a better fighter because of that and using skills he had as a werewolf. Kate was a trained and experienced hunter who has given totally into the animal. But overall, yes, if they had just thrown in some smoke bombs or something. But, Kate, Scott wasn't totally responsible for your family's downfall. That was kind of your fault and arguably your father's when he set the wolves against each other and then you turned the stable and rationale wolf family against your family so that their crazy person would go after you.

  • yurune Dec 30, 2014

    I am so missing Isaac, Danny, Ethan & Aiden about now. Also Jackson.

  • alcalde Oct 18, 2014

    While the title "A Promise To the Dead" could also refer to Lydia's banshee appearance, I thought it had to do with the opening when Deaton told the Doctor he needed to know what was happening to Derek because he'd made a promise to a woman he loved. I assumed that woman was Derek's mother, and hence a promise to a dead person.

  • qingfetzer Sep 13, 2014

    I am so excited for season 5!!!!!!!! I LOVE TYLER POSEY!!!!!

  • mortalmadmatt7696 Sep 09, 2014

    I wish they would stop emphasizing the fact that Scott is a true alpha, only for him to get his butt kicked by everyone.

  • ChiefWiggums Sep 09, 2014

    This entire season has been badly written, and even the acting hasn't been up to par. I'll be watching the finale but I hope that Season 5 gets back to the awesomeness it used to be, because Season 4 has been terrible. No wonder it lost nearly a million from its audience.

  • ILoveTVandDDsBB Sep 08, 2014

    Nothing deadlier and sexy than a woman in her under garments with a shotgun! also loved the TSC pizza nod. This is gonna get interesting Scott as a berserker

  • wolfette Sep 08, 2014

    So excited for tonight! (I apologize if I say anything that has been said, haven't read all the comments). Anyhoo here goes my theory..

    I think Peter had Kate make Scott a berserker. Now he is having Malia kill Kate because he no longer needs her. also with his emphasis on they have to kill the berserkers... So if Peter kills Scott as a berserker he can get the alpha powers? Would they still be alpha powers? Or maybe berserker alpha powers? That would be a scary thought if Peter could still retain his control/evil plots...talk about a fun big bad.
    I'm worried about Malia though, love her + want to see more of Stalia- they are too stinking cute! Hopefully she will realize that blood doesn't always equal family, sometimes the best family are those you choose (although now is the time I have to remind myself they are teenagers with a lot to learn).
    Love Lydia, I think they brought her storyline + she is a stronger character for it- so she better make it.
    I hate to say it but just not feeling Scott + Kira...there just isn't chemistry IMO....but maybe the finale will fix that?
    I'm thinking Derek will make it...I really like him, maybe he will get his Powers back if he kills Kate, she caused it!
    Parrish... I really like him. So I'm thinking we will see his powers develop like Lydia. Still going with him being a phoenix.
    So much more to say but this has gotten too long! So excited for tonight, watching the marathon now!

  • wolfette Sep 08, 2014

    Oops! Wanted to add if a main character has to die I think it will be Deacon (he just got a new role on another show)

    Also the whole desert rose may be the storyline for next season...

  • Scout27 Sep 08, 2014

    The entire time I was waiting for this recap, I was hoping that you would bring up Malia and Pizza and find a way to tie it back to Diana and Pizza (PIZZANA) and you DID NOT DISAPPOINT PRICE! (as if I had any doubt!)
    The Deer scene might have been one of my favorites of the ENTIRE SHOW to be honest. I think a bit of what had been lacking in the past couple of eps was the lightheartedness and FUN and just plain goodness of Stiles and Malia together, and as a team. I just love their interactions and I'm REALLY glad that got worked out sooner rather than later (and I hope they last in to next season, because I'm not ready for it to end!)
    This episode was a great set up for what will hopefully be an amazing finale to an amazing season. The wait for season 5 is going to be kind of torturous no matter what goes down (ALMOST A YEAR? SERIOUSLY MTV?)

    And last and most importantly, you were awewsome on Wolf Watch Price! Is Shelley Hennig as amazing as I always thought she might be?

  • Nevena3344 Sep 08, 2014

    Did anyone watch Being Tyler Posey? Can you give me a link to watch it online now or at least tell me what they showed, please? It was 5 am here... :(

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