Teen Wolf Season 3 Finale Review: Game Over (PHOTO RECAP)
It's that time of the season again; time for me to shout down the imagined straw men who still don't love Teen Wolf. I'm not even sure if there's a reputable human being left alive who hasn't accepted Teen Wolf's legitimacy as an inspired work of next-level television. But that doesn't mean this conversation is over! Not by a long shot. Even if Teen Wolf's qualities are manifest to you and me, it's important to still point out why and how it's so very, very good. You know, like how we always go around the Thanksgiving table every year saying what we're grateful for. It might even be the same things as last year, but we should still say it. I am grateful for Teen Wolf. And for many reasons! Some of these reasons are boring pseudo-intellectual yammering, some of these reasons are admittedly contrarian, some of them are probably personal, but when taken as a whole it is like my heart and brain are united and shouting from the mountaintops: Teen Wolf is one of the best TV shows I've ever seen.
A TV series affects individuals differently. It's not that your opinion is necessarily different than mine, it's that we literally do not see the same shade of color. Our rods and cones are not arranged the same way, and our eyes communicate with our brains using different optic nerve fibers. The differences between how two people perceive one thing are so fundamental that we often ignore them entirely and then find ourselves baffled by a disagreement. 'Why aren't you seeing what I'm seeing?' So, sure, there are probably people who look at something like Boardwalk Empire and are like, "perfect." But that's how I feel about Teen Wolf. Everything about it, from its cast, to its creativity, to its visual style, to the emotions it evokes in me, these are all things that swirled together in a soupy brine and were struck by lightning and created life in me. Does that sound dramatic? Good, because we're talking about Teen Wolf here.
Teen Wolf is about young people. It is about heroism. It is about unknowable nightmares. It is about very attainable joy. It's written and produced and performed by talented people who seem to know the audience better than we know ourselves. We might think we don't want something to happen, but Teen Wolf knows that deep down we do. We need the push-pull catharsis and the white-knuckle surprise. We need stakes and for that we need tragedy. Teen Wolf is a show that knows what it's doing; it knows when to shake, it knows when to lull, it knows when to explode. Why does this show have the ability to make me gasp-cry during an otherwise wordless moment between two characters? Because when the people who didn't get it were off discounting this show for being a remake of an '80s comedy we were falling in love with the humanity on display. We became invested in their dark adventures, we tiptoed in the shadowy corners of Beacon Hills, and we bonded over the roided-out emotions of these supernatural hunks and heroines. Teen Wolf is our show. It is a show for us.
"The Divine Move" was a doozy of a finale. Fortunately it was nowhere near as devastating as last week's prelude, but it was still VERY heavy and VERY tense. And also so satisfying. Let's just go ahead and talk about it right now, okay?
We began in the Sheriff's station with three shell-shocked teenagers sitting on a bench. No other way to handle Allison's death, really. She was so essential to all three of their lives that it was like they were really all just staring into an Allison-shaped hole in the fabric of the universe. I was already crying. And that was BEFORE we flashed back to an on-the-scene Mr. Argent pep-talking a distraught Scott into telling the police a plausible cover story. That Allison had been carjacked by men in masks and a long knife, which in Beacon Hills is a say-no-more explanation. The truly tough moment was when Scott turned and asked Mr. Argent how he could be so calm and collected about his daughter's death, and in that fleeting beat before he finally answered "It's what we do," Mr. Argent just looked completely shattered. J.R. Bourne, you guys.
That sentiment continued in his scene with Isaac:
I mean, these two. Holy jeez. We were right to wonder what would become of Mr. Argent in future seasons now that he has no family left, but if Isaac becomes his de-facto son, that will ruin me. RUIN ME. I mean, do we even need to get into all the reasons that these two are destined for greatness together? Ugh, it's too good. But it will ruin me for sure. [UPDATE: Oh no. No no no.]
Meanwhile Kira's family was hiding Stiles in their home for the time being, which meant that Kira's awesome mom (I really love Kira's mom just FYI) had one last chance to tie the season's mythology into a game of Go. In this case the episode's title, "The Divine Move" was named after a strategy in Go in which you do something really dramatic that nobody sees coming. By that logic every season of Teen Wolf has ended with The Divine Move, so no big deal. But still, it was an appropriately Japanese metaphor in this case, so fine.
Back at Derek's loft, he had opened a free walk-in clinic for wounded werewolves:
But it seemed as though the twins weren't feeling super brave these days, what with the mysterious forest shooters and evil flies and trickster spirits running around.
Fortunately Derek pep talked them into being brave and strong bbs, mostly because in order to be in Scott's pack they needed to do the #1 thing Scott does best: Keep his friends alive. Which he was going to need A LOT of help with in this episode.
Because then the Nogitsune showed up at the hospital and all of the strobe lights placed conspicuously on the walls started to flash and then the Oni started straight MURDERING people.
(Don't you love that whenever there's carnage, entire reams of paper start falling from the ceiling? The hospital should not store so much paperwork by its ceiling fans.)
No but seriously this scene was very terrifying. All slow-mo and surprisingly gruesome. Just innocent bystanders getting cleaved right and left! And don't tell me that they all healed when the Nogitsune dies later, these are some fatal wounds right here. This villain left a body count that no federal law enforcement agency should be able to overlook!
In my opinion the Nogitsune was not a very nice guy. I mean look at him just watching the carnage. Total creep.
Meanwhile the other two Oni were busy tearing up the Sheriff's station!
Despite some quick shooting and a few craftily deployed shotguns, the Oni still managed to slice up Sheriff Stilinski and his cute deputy and both of their wounds were smoking!
Obviously it looked very painful but also I bet the stench was ridiculous. But the Oni disappeared right after they delivered these wounds, so it seemed like they had probably poisoned them with evil fly poison or something, I don't know, I am not an ancient Japanese mom with all the answers. I can't explain this to you in terms of a board game, sorry.
But I do know that Stiles' dad wasn't the only parent in danger! For example, Scott's mom and dad were in the hospital elevator bickering about how Scott's dad should probably not just leave town for no reason without telling Scott, which was his plan at the moment.
And they were attacked by the Oni! Or at least Scott's mom was. The Oni just looked at Scott's dad and were like "no chumps" and then disappeared. And yeah, her wound was also smoking. The Oni also took out Deaton, so that was three major authority figures with smoking, smelly wounds. The Nogitsune was definitely using some kind of board game strategy, let's put it that way.
But the good guys weren't outmatched just yet! For one thing, Isaac quickly put together that Allison had been working on a top secret arrowhead forging project that likely led to her ability to murder an Oni.
And sure enough, she just happened to have made four additional silver arrowheads, perfect for Oni-slayin'! The rest of the team was already on the move, however.
The team had discovered that the wood from the Nematon could trap the evil fly that lived in the Nogitsune, so Derek brought that wooden cylinder that he kept his mom's toenails in because Deaton had made it out of Nematon wood. I had assumed that somebody had just bought it at the Container Store. (Unless, does the Container Store sell canisters made out of Nematon wood? DM me.) But yeah Derek brought that canister and a pair of twin hunks and they were ready to throw down with the Nogitsune and HIS pair of ghost ninjas.
Meanwhile the other four kids ran into the high school to join in but got sidetracked.
There was this part where Stiles tried to pretend he was ready to self-sacrifice for the better of the group and everybody just scoffed in his face because GET REAL. Not happening.
But this was really cool:
Inside the high school it looked like the backyard from the House of Blue Leaves sequence in Kill Bill! Or maybe it was just a snowy version of the Yakuza courtyard from that time when hot young Mr. Argent shot an Oni in the face. Doesn't matter, it was very haunting and beautiful. But then THIS bozo sashayed in and started screaming:
At this point he started telling them that all their parents were dying and the only way to prevent it would be for Stiles to commit suicide via samurai sword like all the warriors did it in olden times. I'm pretty sure that seppuku is not just suicide, but also you have to rip out all your organs and scream in a bad lip-dub, but I'm not sure, I've never done it. It definitely does not seem fun, though, so Stiles was like "I'll pass" and a fight broke out.
But it wasn't long until Stiles started feeling martyr-y again and decided he was just going to go ahead and commit suicide already.
And THAT's when he remembered that he's supposed to have a Divine Move or something around this time. And guess what Stiles' Divine Move was?
He rejected the entire scenario as just a big lie! Which it was! Because come on, do the math, there were already four Oni outside doing Jah-knows-what, so these ones were clearly fake. Also, you know, there's simply not a snowed-in zen garden inside the high school. That was the main tip-off to me that this scenario wasn't "real." Anyway, Stiles told them to bust on outta there and to ignore all the slicing and dicing, because it wasn't real either.
And it worked! They bustled on past the Nogitsune and were back in the hallway again. Phew! So yeah, just for the record, the Divine Movie was calling bullsh*t on the entire game. Take that, you dumb fox.
But the gang's victories kept coming! Outside, this happened:
Argent and Isaac had arrived with their special arrowheads! And the Oni were suddenly exploding right and left! Except for the last guy, whose arrow got knocked to the ground before it could penetrate. Luckily Aiden was ON THE CASE.
And he finished him! The Oni were all dead now!
Except WHOOPS. Just because the Oni evaporate into black smoke doesn't mean their weaponry does too.
Meanwhile in the locker room the Nogitsune had one last gasp, and it involved running up behind the group and pushing them into lockers.
At this point Lydia and Stiles reminded him (and us) that there had been that comically tiny scroll from earlier in the season, a glorified fortune cookie really (wrong nationality but whatever) that alluded to the idea that a Nogitsune could be defeated if its "host" was changed into a werewolf. So, suddenly, this happened:
That's right! A bite, a stab, a fly-vomiting and suddenly Isaac had the Nogitsune's spirit trapped in a wooden cylinder. BOOM. Defeated.
As for the host body...
Now it was the janitor's problem.
Meanwhile all the wounded people (well, the ones who weren't FATALLY STABBED) started feeling MUCH better:
Phew! I mean, tons of dead nurses and doctors and cops, but whatever. At least the ones we liked were still alive!
Also Stiles passed out, which was just a cheap stunt on this show's part. Because right when we got back from commercial he was waking up and everyone was laughing about how he'd fainted. Although there was a very devastating moment when he asked his friends if everyone was alive and Scott's hesitation was absolutely brutal. And that was before Lydia suddenly had a very bad feeling about what was going on outside:
Oh no, Aiden died! Obviously he became much more likeable after he and Ethan had spent the season redeeming themselves for their past crimes, but the hardest thing was seeing Lydia have to deal with yet another death of someone she'd come to rely on. But watching her fall into Stiles' arms (after an episode in which she basically had her arm around him the whole time) was especially meaningful. I don't claim to know what's going to happen between these two but I genuinely love that their relationship has deepened beyond mere romantic infatuation. It's like they are each others' rocks now, and that is just insanely touching to me.
But while the Nogitsune's reign of terror was now over, this episode was not finished being very heavy. I mean...
Just Scott's mom hugging him while he sobbed at the kitchen table.
Or when Isaac and Mr. Argent left the apartment together seemingly on a mission, but then glanced back sadly at Allison's bedroom door. So tough.
Even this moment was bittersweet: Kira knowing that she was still ostensibly an outsider and openly wondering how she could even hope to fit in with a crew that not only had a history, but were now bound by tragedy that she'd never fully appreciate. And then, as if on cue, the school's newest student walked by:
Malia! I'm sure people may have found it jarring to see such a clear passing-of-the-baton like this (the Coach was literally discussing track with her as they passed), but I don't think Teen Wolf was declaring Malia to be the new Allison. I think this was mostly just an acknowledgment that life goes on, class goes on, team try-outs will happen, new characters will join the fray, and it's better to just accept that everyone will have a story to tell and people will continue to bond and forge relationships we might not expect. And this look that Malia and Lydia shared really moved me:
Remember, Lydia helped Malia become a human being. So as bummed as Lydia was probably feeling, she could look at this new girl and take a sense of pride in the knowledge that she (and Allison!) had had this positive effect on the world. Who knows if Malia and Lydia and Kira will be as close as Lydia and Allison once were, but that's what's exciting about the future: We'll get to find this out at the same time they do.
Anyway, this was all montage still, really, but I really appreciated getting to see this tiny moment with Malia getting some were-coyote lessons:
And yeah, it definitely appears as though she and Stiles will still have a thing. Um, also, this is just a friendly reminder that I really love Shelley Hennig and the announcement that she'll be a series regular next season makes me insanely happy. Very, very stoked about this. Trust me, Malia is going to be awesome.
But there was still one more goodbye left: Ethan.
The most shocking reveal of this scene, however, was that Danny straight-up KNEW about the existence of werewolves! I mean, after all that he saw during the black light rave I'd assumed that he knew everything, but this was definitely confirmation that he was no longer a know-nothing. Which, finally. The longer a serial goes on the less sympathetic we are to characters who don't know what's going on. As far as I can tell, basically all of the characters (aside from the coach) are 100% informed now? I like that. Anyway, Ethan was off to walk the earth or find himself or star on an HBO series with his dead twin, so we probably won't be seeing him again. It was nice knowing you, E!
I truly loved this brief moment wherein Deaton explained the concept of "regression toward the mean." Meaning, as bad or as good as things ever are, they will always balance out in the end. It's the kind of thing that can sound trite, but it's exactly the kind of sentiment that has gotten me through some rocky times in the past, and it seemed like it was exactly what Scott needed to hear. This last batch of episodes was VERY dark and he had every right to be very bummed about it. But things were guaranteed to get better. That's just science!
Meanwhile in the episode's closing stinger, Derek approached Stiles for advice about losing one's mind. It seemed as though Derek had had a crazy dream and he wasn't yet sure if he'd awakened yet.
He counted Stiles' fingers and everything! Which meant that the dream was true somehow? I'm not even sure, I'm still all grossed out by the six fingers to be honest. Anyway, the gist was that Derek had been cornered by those Spanish hunters and they demanded to know where the "she-wolf" was. He said he'd never tell them where Cora was, but they weren't looking for Cora. So then a smoke bomb went off and suddenly someone was moving through the fog murdering everybody!
IT WAS AUNT KATE! ALIVE! SHE had been the one to shoot at the twins in the woods. And oh yeah, guess what else?
BOOM. Lady is a werewolf. AND a hunter. AND a talk show host. She does it all!
A lot of you called this and in retrospect it makes tons of sense. Why else would Jill Wagner have done the thankless task of hosting that after show? Also those early season hallucinations involving Aunt Kate were very good foreshadowing. And also villains tend to not completely die in this world, so there's that. But I honestly think this is a great twist because it will ensure that Mr. Argent sticks around Beacon Hills just a little longer. And because Aunt Kate's insanity is so unpredictable we really have no way of knowing how this will all play out. Also I really like Jill Wagner and Aunt Kate was one of the best things about Season 1. How will she react knowing that Allison is dead? Will she lick Derek's abs again? I'm very excited to have these questions answered.
Oh boy, how to even sum up this season? I truly loved it. My relationship with Teen Wolf is not a complicated one; its various ingredients hit the exact right center of my brain's pleasure center and this show is basically all I can think about most of the time. On the surface I can intellectualize all the inspired creative decisions it makes, but I feel like there's also a dog whistle just constantly blowing that I can hear and it sounds like an angel choir to me. That is the effect Teen Wolf has on me. This season was a total nightmare in the best sense, and even though it broke everybody's hearts toward the end I think we all needed it. Teen Wolf is NOT messing around and I for one hope it stays this unpredictable. This show is a blessing. We are truly blessed.
See you in June!
... Who will you miss most next season: Allison, the Twins, or Isaac?
... Did you expect the Aunt Kate reveal?
... How open-minded are you about the new characters?
... Should Beacon Hills install more bug zappers around town?
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