Teen Wolf "Visionary" Review: Ex-Men Origins

By Price Peterson

Jul 23, 2013

Teen Wolf S03E08: "Visionary"

A lot of people don't know this, but on the same morning the Founding Fathers wrote up the U.S. Constitution, they turned it over and scribbled onto the back of it a whole set of rules for supernatural TV series to follow. (If you're wondering how the Founding Fathers anticipated the existence of television 170 years ahead of time, take it up with a time-traveling witch named Sheila. Sheila is not my problem.) Among the legally mandated rules set forth for supernatural dramas? There must be shirtless hunks. There must be morally questionable metaphors about humanity played out via monster murder. Parental neglect should border on illegal. Characters must occasionally enter creepy locales wondering aloud "What is this place?" Finally, and perhaps most important of all, there MUST be flashback episodes. So now, three seasons into what is amounting to the most perfect television show in recent memory, Teen Wolf unveiled its very own flashback episode, "Visionary"! Somewhere the angel of Benjamin Franklin just got his wings.

Here's the thing. Full disclosure: I don't really like flashback episodes. Sorry. It's for the same basic reason I hate prequels: If the the backstory wasn't compelling enough to be told first, then we don't need to actually see it. Infer, imply, allude: That's enough. Flashback episodes are usually just stakes-free, fan service information dumps that make no logical sense. Like, characters were walking around with these crucial memories or information the entire time and they're only bringing it up NOW? I mean, sure, "Visionary" showed us adorable Muppet Baby versions of characters we love, but for the most part I was antsy for something interesting to happen in the present tense. Also, for an episode designed to answer some major burning questions, it was still so confusing? Several scenes I had to watch multiple times and I still had trouble understanding anything (which you'll see in a second when I struggle to reiterate what I learned). Which would be fine, because as I've said before, confusion is a very underrated and potentially powerful emotion to evoke in an audience. However, I'd rather be confused while thrilled instead of confused while bored. You know? Personal preference! Also: "Visionary" had no Isaac. How dare you, "Visionary"?

All that being said, we're still talking about the same characters, actors, writer, and director of the show we all adore every week, so it would be impossible to not enjoy at least some aspects of this hourlong Teen Wolf bonus feature. Let's talk about it! (And for the love of Zeus, please help me understand this episode in the comments, thanks in advance!)

"Visionary" began with imagery straight out of the pilot: A handsome young teen dashing through some improbably foggy woods to escape armed hunters! But it wasn't Scott doing the dashing it was a teenage DEREK doing the dashing. And dashingly. (P.S. Just a warning we are all going to jail after this episode.)

After another random werewolf teen ran into Young Derek and got momentarily starstruck (the Hales were a famous family apparently, like the Kardashians but less monstrous *rimshot* *sad trombone*), he was immediately murdered by an approaching hunter. But just as another arrow was about to take out Young Derek, Young Peter Hale caught it and led Young Derek away! Cool uncle stuff. (It was pretty neat to see Young Peter Hale again. We hadn't seen him since Season 2 when he was a ghost who made out with Lydia before forcing her to resurrect his dead body that used to transform into a CGI cartoon and tear up Blockbuster Videos.)

It probably won't surprise you that the Argents were at the fore of this pack of hunters. The first confusing thing about this was, didn't Chris Argent and his family not move to Beacon Hills until the pilot episode? Also, this episode bent over backwards to keep the aging process of werewolves a secret, more than once suggesting that werewolves age super slowly and keep their youthful good looks for a long time. So that means that however far back we'd flashed to see the Hales as teenage boys, add tons more years to that. But then why did none of the humans seem to have aged at all since then?

So uh, yeah. Were the Argents supernatural also? They hadn't aged at all! What I'm trying to say is, right off the bat this episode was making my head woozy.

And this was BEFORE we learned the flashbacks would be told by multiple untrustworthy narrators. This first vignette was courtesy of Cora, who was attempting to explain to Stiles why Derek had gone missing suddenly. Because when you're being hunted you should regroup and heal in a truly creepy hiding place of some kind, so that's probably what he was doing at the moment.

But then Peter Hale walked down the spiral staircase and grabbed the storytelling baton. For the rest of the episode his job was to explain, I guess, why Derek was such a sensitive soul.

Meanwhile at the world's most understaffed assisted living facility, Gerard decided to cackle out the story of how THE DEMON WOLF came to be, not to mention shed some light on how druids related to werewolves. 

But in exchange for these crucial deets, he needed a favor from Scott. Yup, you guessed it: Pain suckage.

Uh oh, Scott. Don't be suckin' up everybody's poison now. Very worried about this, you guys.

So anyway, the rest of the episode switched off narrators, but I'll try to go in order of what we learned.

First and most importantly, 15-year-old Derek was SMOOTH AS HELL. Much of his story related to how he fell in love with a cello-playing dreamgirl at school, and how she was able to get past his cocky jock demeanor to reveal his more sensitive side. 

Like, this scene was pretty cute: The girl wouldn't tell Young Derek her name unless he played an instrument, any instrument, properly.

These children were falling instantly in love, pretty much. Next thing we knew they were making out in a creepy old barn. But whoops, they were interrupted by a gathering of the wolf packs!

You see, before there was a pack of Alphas, each of those mean jerks had packs of his or her own. Ennis, Kali, THE DEMON WOLF, they all had packs. Heck, back when he was a normal Alpha, THE DEMON WOLF seemed like a pretty good guy even.

The reason they'd all gathered here was because the kid that the hunters had killed in the cold open was one of Ennis' betas and he wanted all the packs to team up and get revenge. I think? Yeah, I think that's what was happening.

This part broke my heart. We were told that among all the packs in all the world, one Alpha was most respected: Talia Hale, Derek's mother. Her main thing was she was a shapeshifter, a rare ability among a race of shapeshifters, apparently. The reason this part broke my heart was that Teen Wolf did what I'd hoped Teen Wolf would never, ever do: It featured a werewolf that looked like a real, live wolf. So incredibly disappointing. Everybody knows that the werewolves on The Vampire Diaries and True Blood are so terrible and weak and lame, so I'd taken for granted that Teen Wolf knew better since werewolves were its main thing. Live dogs are just NOT fearsome or awe-inspiring in any way. Give me a fake-looking CGI monster or waxed hunk in muttonchops: EITHER is better than a wimpy looking wolf. 

So here I am, informing you with a heavy heart that Talia Hale's big entrance seemed like basically just a tired dog loping across a meadow looking for Kibble. 

Anyway, Derek's mom Talia arrived and seemed super earthy and serene and wise and all that and-- Dang, sorry, I'm still all mad about the live wolf. Why did you do that, Teen Wolf

As much as everyone tried to calm him down, Ennis was like "No way, I want revenge and I also want to scrape a spiral into corrugated metal, watch me go, watch me go." Ennis was in a weird mood, basically.

Here was Sheriff Stilinski in a deputy uniform trying to convince an angry giant that he had no right to see the dead, bifurcated body of his young teenage henchman.

Oh, and look at what Young Derek did to his ladyfriend:

This is why we are all going to jail. These children were being VERY sexy with each other. It's amazing that Young Derek grew up to be so awkward and non-sensual later on because as a teen he was sensual as EFFFFF.

At this point Young Derek started stressing that even though he was 15 (or whatever), he was staring down the barrel of mortality and his girlfriend of a few days would eventually die of old age before him or-- I'm really not sure. Find out that he was a werewolf? Was there anybody in this town that would've been surprised to learn that werewolves exist and are hella sensual? Exactly. But Peter Hale still decided that Young Derek should somehow turn the girl into a werewolf against her will so that she would stay young longer I guess? 

Obviously turning Young Derek's girlfriend into a werewolf against her will was a terrible plan and didn't make tons of sense to me, but who am I to question the logic of teenage monsters? 

So then the episode started trying to explain how druids factor into werewolf lore. First of all, the discovery of this blood-soaked basement tree confirmed that druids were definitely operating in Beacon Hills and that they were total weirdos.

But at this point Gerard decided to bust out his history books:

It turned out the druids and werewolves had been besties ever since Greek mythological times! According to myth (and therefore fact) werewolves happened when a dude named Lycan tried to feed Zeus nachos topped with chunks of human being and Zeus was like, "No thanks, dude."

So Zeus turned Lycan and his family into wolves! Because, as I mentioned earlier, wolves are sucky, unscary creatures. Wolfmen are awesome, but wolves, no me gusta. Zeus and I were in agreement on this. Wolves are the worst.

So then the wolves became besties with some local druids who taught them how to shift back and forth into humans, thus making the druids paranormal wingmen to werewolves. And THAT is what the veterinarian and his sister were: Druidic emissaries to werewolves, or, I guess, assistants who act as liaisons between werewolves and humanity? Don't quote me on that. But the veterinarian's sister Kendra currently serves the Alpha pack, which explains why she was chillin' in the bank that one time. Also the veterinarian is some kind of free agent after having once served Talia Hale, though it was unclear why the current Big Bad druid kidnapped him last week. Druid on druid crime, man. Shameful.

Anyway, back in the day a war was brewing between the Argents and the werewolves, but the veterinarian (OKAY I'll use his name now I guess) Deaton felt that Gerard was not trustworthy and the werewolves shouldn't fall for his tricks. To illustrate his point, he recited that famous fable about the scorpion and the frog:

Unfortunately THE DEMON WOLF and Talia did not listen to Deaton's warnings and the peace summit happened as planned:

But WHOOPS! Gerard had tricked them! 

He gassed the whole room, then he busted out a spiked club and started murdering HIS OWN MEN.

Though they were ostensibly on his side, he did not approve of their peace-seeking ways, thus their heads and faces had to be pulverized. Sorry, that's just how it works, fellas. Meanwhile we then learned how THE DEMON WOLF had come to become blind:

Haha Gerard poked them out with electrified arrowheads! Classic Gerard.

Meanwhile the Hales' planned assault on Young Derek's girlfriend went according to plan; they'd gotten Ennis to bite her.

At the last minute Young Derek changed his mind about taking away his girlfriend's agency and forcing her to change species against her will, but it was too late: Ennis had bitten her and she immediately started dying. Whoops!

Classic Peter Hale!

Poor Young Derek. Just when he thought he'd found love, she became a bleeding, dying mess in his arms.

At that point she decided she wanted to die, so he did what he had to do.

It was sad. That girl got a raw deal to be honest. She hadn't done anything wrong! But that was the point, I guess. As Peter Hale revealed, when a werewolf takes the life of an innocent his eyes turn BLUE:

Also, I guess that explains why Jackson's eyes turned blue after he'd spent Season 2 murdering folks. But anyway, yeah. At least one semi-burning question was answered in this episode! Blue eyes equals murderer.

Come to think of it, this whole episode was very eye-centric, which-- Oh! Now I get it. "Visionary." Haha, well-played, show. Yeah:

So, THE DEMON WOLF's eyeballs healed, but his vision was gone forever. Except, of course, when he wolfed out, in which case his vision was fine. We learned this when one of his betas tried to become the new Alpha:

Also this is when THE DEMON WOLF probably learned that murdering his own betas would give him increased powers and whatnot. So the moral of this episode was, the Argents were basically responsible for creating THE DEMON WOLF and everything that was happening now was the product of a decades-old cycle of vengeance between the two factions.

For his part Gerard seemed to have developed a sudden fondness for Scott, mostly because Scott was able to suck away his pain, like a walking bottle of morphine in the shape of a hunk. But Scott was savvier than to fall for Gerard's tricks.

Scott could tell that Gerard had been fibbing all throughout his storytelling hour. Specifically, he'd claimed that the peace brokering meeting between Gerard and THE DEMON WOLF had been an ambush in which the werewolves slaughtered Gerard's guys. Obviously we saw something different, and Scott had a feeling this lie was at the root of all their troubles. Long story short, Scott put Gerard ON NOTICE Y'ALL.

Then both Cora and Stiles commiserated about how much they were worried about Derek and his troubles because they both LOOOOOOVE HIM. Basically. I mean that's basically what they were both saying right?

Anyway, then we finally got to see what Derek was up to all episode:

He'd been hanging out at that old warehouse, clearly brewing up a fresh batch of vengeance! That spiral symbol meant payback was a'comin' and THE DEMON WOLF seemed to be directly in Derek's crosshairs. Probably? Because suddenly Gerard was back in the mix in a big way also. And hey, whatever happened to Gerard's brother that committed suicide in the motel, was that addressed in this episode? I seriously wouldn't be surprised if I missed that part entirely. Wait, was that why the hunters were chasing the teens at the beginning? Because they were getting revenge for Gerard's brother's death? Wait, was all this going down in the 1970s? Guys, I need to lie down.

So yeah, in conclusion. "Visionary" was like a TeenWolfWiki article brought to life. There were some truly lovely moments between Young Derek and his girlfriend, but for the most part this episode would have only worked if we'd been able to immediately start the next one right after. The extended look at scenes from future episodes was a welcome dessert, but it still just made me wish I could've skipped this episode. Just being honest! Maybe you guys loved it? That would be totally fair. I still truly adore this season and am eager to see if all these plot threads will come together in the end. To the future!



… Did Young Derek have more game than Modern Derek?

… How often do you use YOUR spiked club?

… Was Derek's mother able to only shapeshift into a large dog or did she merely have a limited imagination?

… Did everything in this episode make sense to you be honest.

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  • LenoreKeith Dec 08, 2013

    I've seen a lot of meta and fic on how Talia's wolf shape and Laura's wolf body in death was because they were less homicidally insane than others. This theory has Derek's shape being because he always expected to be a beta all his life and didn't really want to be one (just to kill the guy who killed his sister). The whole explanation Derek had for the kanima - the shape you take reflects who you are - is interesting if you take Visionary and the Alpha Pack into account. Kali is perpetually partially shifted (even when it might be better for the mission), the twins can do their twin-meld thing... sorry, I didn't pay a lot of attention to Ennis (why is it that Kali killed her pack & started a druid revenge thing for a guy she didn't care about - she didn't care about his dead pack mate, and Cora said a pack member is like a part of you).
    Although about the Ennis being boring thing, it was a nice touch when he insisted that the body of the dead kid be given to him - both halves.

  • _Fire_Ice Nov 18, 2013

    Not gonna lie, murder or no murder, I like the blue eyes better. Derek really needs to improve his luck with the ladies, this is getting ridiculous, especially since it's obvious his new girl is evil.

  • GirishKrishna1 Aug 31, 2013

    Yes, most of the stuff made sense.
    PS: That kid was the girl on Supernatural who had a great rapport with Dean.

  • _Fire_Ice Nov 18, 2013

    I know I LOVE that actress, she was also in the Mentalist she is very good at playing sassy teenagers.

  • katikool Aug 25, 2013

    This episode did not make any sense to me because WTF WAS UP WITH THE CLOTHES??? When did the mid 2000's get to be so late '80's??? I happen to remember those years quite clearly (since it was only like 8 years ago!) and I don't recall girls wearing baggy-ass acid washed jeans, or crop tops, or guys running around with hightop fades. That was the 80's, yo.

  • WildPict Aug 02, 2013

    Well, until now I've been a lurker, but I finally decided to make a few comments. The first thing I wanted to say is that, like one of the posters said below, I also don't understand the confusion with the timelines and ages. Derek is supposed to be mid 20's. If the fire happened 6 years before 2011, that makes that year 2005 and he'd have been about 19 or so. Even if he was 16 or 17 in the flashback, that would mean that that year was maybe 2002 or 2003. Since only a few days happened between the end of S1 and the beginning of S2 (Kate dies, and psycho Gramps shows up for the funeral),that adds only one year since the first season. That means that all of that happened only about 10 or 11 years ago. Since Peter and Derek have been the youngest of the adults in the current timeline, that means that they would have changed the most once they had their last growth spurt into adulthood. However, the older adults would not have changed that much in just 10 or 11 years. Take it from someone who's seen over 3 decades since high school. If you keep yourself fit, and the Sheriff and Hunters definitely would have, you don't change that much in just a decade.
    As to Price's questions:
    1. Did Young Derek have more game than Modern Derek? Definitely!! He's become one damaged puppy since then.
    2. How often do you use YOUR spiked club? I don't have one...yet. I'm not sure where I'd be able to fit it between all of my swords, axes, bows and spears.
    3. Was Derek's mother able to only shapeshift into a large dog or did she merely have a limited imagination? I love that she was a shape changer in the true sense of the word. But I also bet she had a more menacing shape as well.
    4. Did everything in this episode make sense to you be honest. Yes it did, and it really added depth to all of the characters, including Peter and Scott, as well as Derek.
    After watching the preview for the next few episodes, I have a feeling I know who the freaky shape changer may be, and that's just wrong on so many levels. But I'm still up in the air over who the Darach may be. My bet right now is either Jennifer or the Alan's sister (the guidance counselor) who's name escapes me at the moment.

  • alcalde Sep 28, 2013

    The problem with this timeline though is that flashback Peter Hale wasn't nearly old enough to be Derek's Uncle. Stiles also got confused by Peter refusing to give a date and Cora talking about age "in years". That still leaves the possibility that this could have transpired earlier.

  • trulyoriginalxo Aug 02, 2013

    I have to address this mainly because I need to know if u guys are thinking the same thing. Peter Hale said that he took the body into the woods where he knew it was going to be found. He said that it would just be addressed as an animal attack if sage had slashes all over her body that's a key. And she said that she experienced alphas and they don't know what they are in for. Derek was madly in love with Paige and when he met Jennifer he could.not.heal on.his own. It was the first kiss she gave him.that healed him automatically

  • Daliaticdhanny Jul 30, 2013

    This episode doesn't make any sense... Both Peter & Gerard were lying about the past...Anyways I think Derek's story is still missing a part ... i know that this is not an important point,but when Derek & others joined Allison's Dad to trap Boyd & Cora,Derek didn't say anything about those sound generators...? I mean he already knew about them according to this episode right?

  • jonnegroni Jul 30, 2013

    That episode was worth it just for Derek's backstory. Who *didn't* absolutely love that tragic love story? ANYWAYS, the promo for the next episode hints that the big bad druid is someone close to Allison. I'm going to say this ONE MORE TIME before the episode airs tonight and you heard it here.

    It's Mrs. Effing Argent.

  • AuntyMib Jul 28, 2013

    Young Derek had more game than Modern Derek but then pretty much every character has more game than Modern Derek.
    My spiked club is just for show these days.
    I'm sure that Derek's mother could grow sideburns and a unibrow if she wanted to.
    Given how much they emphasized that Creepy Grandpa/Creepy Uncle were lying liars who lie lies I'm chalking inconsistencies up to the likelihood that the stories weren't entirely accurate.

  • mikelalba Jul 27, 2013

    Too many comment to check them all, but even if I liked the review, this time I am afraid I missed one bit of information.
    Gerard's comment about the third murdered doctor, just after the vet, Deaton, was rescued. "As if it was expected to be saved" or something like this.
    I think this is a huge hint about the Darach, as the only ones helping Scott to save Deaton The Vet were the DEMON WOLF and his sister.
    And as murdering your own brother would be seen as "not candidate" for Darach indentity, and now we are learning that it probably was staged.... I am totaly for Darach = vet's sister,
    or else the female character didnt die at the first chapter and this is why we sometimes see the Darach's face as a scary "cirurgy-needing" candidate. IMO.

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