Uh-oh, this is definitely happening. We've all started reading Playboy for the articles. Whatever lurid thrills might have drawn us into Teen Wolf at the outset—atmospheric horror, morbid humor, towel scenes, oh Lord, the towel scenes—this show quickly made us care about its characters and story. Imagine that! I don't know about you, but this week's episode, "Raving," was by far my favorite episode of Teen Wolf yet. Now, of course there's a chance this has something to do with the fact that I got to watch it projected on a huge video screen with a rapturous audience at Comic-Con, but upon re-watching the episode alone in my living room, I was still completely thrilled by it. I think the mark of a winning series is when it can wring thrills out of the mere presence of a character (Mrs. Argent staring through the door!); the day-to-day stresses of high-pressure jobs (Stiles' poor dad!); and best yet, small moments of unexpected tenderness between characters (Scott and Isaac, Scott and Derek). It's definitely saying something when an episode can be this fun without Lydia or shirtlessness, you know?
Anyway, yeah, call me Tilda Swinton because WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT "RAVING."
Things got off to an eerie start when Jackson received a mysterious text message in class, then embarked on a sinister, Terminator-esque march downtown for some unspecified purpose. Oh, and I guess he might've stopped off to loiter at a 7-11 at some point because by the time he arrived it was dark and a lot of his fellow classmates had beaten him there. I don't know, maybe whoever was controlling him was easily distracted or needed a frozen burrito real bad.
Scott popped his head out from around a corner because he'd been following Jackson apparently. Anyway, they were all lined up in an alley to buy some tickets for that secret, drug-free rave Matt had invited Allison to in the previous episode. Matt was there buying his tickets and there was a seriously awkward moment where Scott asked Matt if he could borrow $75 to buy a ticket too. Oh, Scott!
This sequence was intercut with scenes of Stiles and his dad teaming up to link all the Kanima's victims so far. Their relationship has always been one of the show's best, but this episode took it to a whole 'nother level. For instance, it was the first time Sheriff Stilinski had ever opened up and allowed Stiles to help solve a case, right? And we learned a lot more about what was going on: All the victims so far had graduated from Beacon Hills High School in 2006 (and in the case of Isaac's dad, Isaac had a deceased older brother from that class as well.) And guess which teacher they'd all seemingly shared? That's right, the creepy science teacher with the Einstein bumper sticker!
Oh, and this '06 grad selling rave tickets seemed to be in A LOT of trouble now:
Yeah, that face is a creepy thing to have to deal with when you're just trying to sell underground rave tickets from an old elevator car, you know?
Meanwhile at the morgue (where hospital staff doesn't much care who comes and goes apparently), Mr. Argent was turning the Kanima situation into a teachable moment.
Mr. Argent was now fully aware that they were looking for both a Kanima and a master, but when Allison proved reluctant to reveal who the Kanima was, he made a pretty convincing speech about why she needed to 'fess up. Seriously! I thought he made some good points. Specifically he said that the family's role was more than just werewolf hunting; it was to protect people who couldn't protect themselves. Apparently Allison saw the nobility in that too, because pretty soon she spilled everything she knew about Jackson. Wuh-oh!
But the Argents weren't the only ones trying to mitigate the Kanima trouble. Scott, Derek, and Isaac showed up at the vet's office looking for help on how to trap the thing (after Derek reluctantly gave up hope that they'd get to kill Jackson.) The vet then busted out his witchcraft spice rack (or whatever) and demonstrated that a ring of Mountain Ash could trap a supernatural creature in a building (similar to the ring of salt that Esther used to trap vampires in The Vampire Diaries.)
There was also some mumbo jumbo about how you can, I guess, cut corners in this ash-ring business by simply visualizing the ring and letting the power of positive thinking do the rest. I'm not sure either!
Probably my favorite element of this episode was how formerly warring factions were now working together. Like this tiny moment where Isaac took it upon himself to wrestle up some rave tickets for Scott and Stiles by roughing up a fellow student on their behalf.
And Teen Wolf did one of my favorite visual jokes where it just kept the camera on bystanders while we just heard violent sound-effects. (Other funny versions of this gag can be found in Wet Hot American Summer and Strangers With Candy. The More You Know [starburst])
It must be impossible for writers to come up with new spins on the one-on-one romantic scenes, especially on shows like this. But this scene felt fresh and compelling! Reasoning that they needed to take their relationship even more underground by pretending to date—and even kiss—other people, Allison then challenged Scott's idea by kissing him super passionately.
And then he responded, "Yeah, not like that." I just really liked all the layers of this scene! But that was nothing compared to how it ended:
I KNOW RIGHT? Holy moly. STILL THE BEST.
Quick question: Were you expecting Mr. Argent to look this jacked? Jeez! Parents are really representing on this show! Anyway, it was time for the Argents to mobilize for a Kanima-hunt! I was really into Gerard's dinky switchblade:
Get 'em, Gramps! Actually, Gerard was really fun and campy in this episode. Aside from very conspicuously taking pills from that ornamental locket (relax with the taking pills from an ornamental locket already!), he was also fond of ominously intoning trite one-liners like "Something wicked this way comes." [Spoken in gravelly Michael Hogan voice] Let's be real, this guy's becoming pretty hilarious.
Decidedly less hilarious was this exchange in which we learned that Stiles' dad lost his job! And not only that, it was decidedly due to Stiles' inappropriate behavior around the Sheriff's Department. The saddest part was how he couldn't even look his son in the eye when he explained what had happened.
But then it got even MORE devastating when Stiles asked why his dad wasn't even mad at him, and Mr. Stilinski answered that he was already sad enough and that yelling at his son would only make things worse. Just totally devastating. Stiles' wordless response said it all. This scene was a sucker punch in the best way.
Quick aside: Teen Wolf is the kind of show that not only gives its adult characters purpose, it also suggests that there are real-life consequences to being overly focused on epic supernatural problems. Like how Scott's failing his classes. Stiles' dad just got fired. The town's leaders get regularly overthrown by a powerful upperclass (in this case, Jackson's attorney father seemed to be the orchestrator of the Sheriff's dismissal.) All these bummers not only ring true, they raise the stakes while simultaneously keeping things grounded. See what I'm saying? The writerly decisions this show makes have become downright refreshing.
Hey, let's go to a rave!
For a $75 drug-free experience, it didn't look all that fun. Just being honest! But I did enjoy how Isaac and Erica sashayed into the party like they owned the joint. Those two.
But there was trouble in paradise when Scott saw Allison hanging with Matt and he'd seemingly forgotten that she'd told him outright that she would be attending this thing. Scott got real mad all of a sudden! Especially when he learned that Allison's dad was going to try and take down Jackson, which posed a clear threat to HIS plan to drug Jackson and capture his master.
To her credit, Allison (who didn't really do anything wrong in my opinion) pleaded that she'd try and help fix things, but Scott was super mean to her and stormed off. Uh-oh! Maybe this would be the rare high school romance that WASN'T forever?
I did enjoy the fact that even in a bad mood Scott was still capable of expressing tenderness toward his friends.
This was right after he'd handed Isaac a syringe full of ketamine with which to subdue Jackson on the dance floor. Ending the exchange with meaning "be careful" was really sweet, you guys. I mean, come on. Isaac was an abused loner and here's his teammate giving him an agenda-free pat on the back for the first time ever? The ensuing gaze between them was almost unbearably long. AKA I LOVED IT.
I also loved Erica and Isaac's method of getting close to Jackson. Nothing says inconspicuous like a couple of werewolves (that you hate) coming up and engaging in a bi-curious three-way grind! But apparently Jackson wasn't TOO fooled, as he caught onto their weirdness and clawed Erica real good right there on the dance floor.
Fortunately Isaac had the wherewithal to recover his weird syringe-gun and jab Jackson good and hard. Pretty soon he was dragging a limp jock off the dance floor and nobody even noticed!
Meanwhile outside, Derek and Boyd were having a showdown with Mr. Argent and his goons. I loved that they were all there for the same purpose but still found time for a VERY public gunfight!
And, like, fighting moves straight out of Super Street Fighter II Turbo?
I loved this though:
Two dudes tased Derek at the same time, so he just yanked the cords together and knocked the guys into each other. Just a very realistic way to handle a double-tasing, in other words.
Meanwhile Scott was NOT having a great night. After running outside to see what was up with Derek, a black SUV slammed into him. And guess who got out?
Yep! America's favorite mom.
Meanwhile Stiles' main task was to encircle the entire warehouse with Mountain Ash. It's unclear where he bought so much of it in bulk (Costco?), but this sequence came to a head when he ran out of Mountain Ash a good fifty feet away from completing the circle. Then thinking back to what the vet had said (oh, and noticing a nearby bumper sticker which contained an Einstein quote related to the power of imagination!) Stiles closed his eyes and imagined that the circle was complete and then IT WAS. So, um. Was that technically magic? It kind of seemed like magic to me. I suppose it could be argued that Mountain Ash is just an offshoot to the werewolf lore which is inherently magic and that Stiles didn't necessarily practice his own magic. But still. IT SEEMED LIKE MAGIC TO ME.
I would not be mad if Stiles became a wizard. You know?
Sensing that Allison's nervous, vulnerable sadness made for a great opportunity to seal the deal, Matt kissed her right then and there. She obviously recoiled, stammered something, and took off. But don't give up hope, Matt! (And FYI it didn't escape me that he might be the Kanima's master, but if so, he's a great multi-tasker for reasons we were about to discover.)
P.S. this guy was at the rave. Because of course he was. I think he only goes because of how happy it makes his girlfriend.
Meanwhile in some walk-in freezer (?), Stiles and his werewolf budz woke up a highly drugged Jackson only to find themselves speaking to the Kanima's master directly!
It confirmed that it's only been killing murderers. Verified! And when Stiles asked him WHY those people in particular, it creepily responded "They murdered me." Whoa, that was unexpected. I mean, I knew it was a revenge-based thing, but the added element that perhaps the master is some kind of undead (or back from the dead) supernatural creature himself is kind of amazing. This plotline just got even cooler somehow.
Unfortunately the cat tranquilizer wore off and the Kanima was OUTTA THERE.
I loved when the kids ran outside and fortified themselves against the door but the Kanima just busted through the wall. That was some Looney Tunes stuff right there! But awesome obviously.
The Kanima's first order of business was jumping back on the revenge train. Goodbye ticket taker lady! (In all seriousness, one of my big phobias and something that unsettles me the most in horror movies is when people are killed in public but nobody notices. This part really freaked me out!)
Oh, Mrs. Argent. So obviously she was trying to kill Scott, but her method was just straight-up hilarious: Wolfsbane in a pot vaporizer! It would look like a fatal asthma attack, she claimed. But really the main thing about this scene was it allowed Mrs. Argent to totally chew the scenery. I could seriously watch her talk ALL DAY about just about anything. But seeing her behave so sadistically was just a total thrill. Such a good villain.
But this was great: Scott growled for help and Derek heard him!
Seriously, another thing I love about this season was that they originally implied that Derek would be turning into a bad dude, but if anything he's a lot fonder of Scott now and ultimately a pretty decent guy. So it was definitely believable that Derek would fly into hero mode at any moment to save him.
Um, and his tussle with Mrs. Argent was THE BEST. She came at him with this huge dagger and she put up a heck of a fight. It was kind of hard to tell exactly what was going on with all the strobe lighting and techno music, but it was obvious that Mrs. Argent knew how to fight and fight dirty.
At some point she just disappeared from the room and Derek dragged Scott to safety. He then brought him to the vet's office where he looked super concerned about Scott. Just another surprisingly touching moment.
But then, in what constituted a BIG hint about things to come, we learned that the guidance counselor was as "in the know" about supernatural creatures as the vet was. From the way she sassed him, I immediately assumed they were family, but who knows? This vet character has always been pretty audacious: Teen Wolf skipped the part where it explained this guy's credentials and just made him an all-knowing mentor figure. And you know what? I kind of dig that. I like not knowing what his deal is. Was he a witch doctor? A former hunter? A part-time banshee? No idea. But this scene ended on an ominous note when the guidance counselor asked, "Do they have any idea what's coming?" And he nervously answered that they all had enough on their minds these days. WHOA. Was this the beginning of a Season THREE big bad? WHAT was coming, lady? I can't with this show. So tantalizing.
Oh, but then. BUT THEN.
That's right, Mrs. Argent got BIT UP during her tussle with Derek. I am still a bit speechless over this. One word: YES. I don't even... I mean. Just yes.
Nothing like a season finale cliffhanger in Episode EIGHT. Man, "Raving" had a ton of elements that I love in a TV show all packed into 42 minutes. It's anyone's guess who the Kanima's master will be (promos have been teasing that we'll learn in the next episode), but the strength of this storyline is increasingly the WHY and not the WHO. That's an impressive feat to pull off in what's essentially a mystery plot. And now with Allison's MOM getting the bite? Holy jeez, that'll change basically everything!
That's all, I GOTTA GO LIE DOWN BYEEE.
... Will Mrs. Argent actually turn or will she pull a Bill Forbes?
... How often do you go to $75 drug-free secret warehouse raves?
... Is Scott accidentally taking over Derek's pack through niceness?
... Are Scott and Allison dunzo?
IN CASE YOU MISSED THEM...
Teen Wolf: Snake Snacks & Schisms (Season 2, Episode 7: "Restraint")
Teen Wolf: Up in the Club (Season 2, Episode 6: "Frenemy")
Teen Wolf: Scaling Back (and Neck) (Season 2, Episode 5: "Venomous")
Teen Wolf: Paralysis Analysis (Season 2, Episode 4: "Abomination")
Teen Wolf: Makeover Takeover (Season 2, Episode 3: "Ice Pick")
Teen Wolf: Crazy, Good, & Crazy Good (Season 2, Episodes 1 & 2: "Omega" & "Shape Shifted")
Comic-Con 2012: Teen Wolf Cast Q&A;
Comic-Con 2012: The Teen Wolf Cast Announces a Mega-Sized Season 3 Renewal
Teen Wolf: Season 1, Episodes 7-12 (Still To Come)
Teen Wolf: Howls, Growls & Towels (Season 1, Episodes 1-6)
What Teen Wolf Gets Right