Few of us make it through high school without learning a tough lesson or two about the friends we keep. No matter how much you love your particular circle, there's always at least some drama: A surprise betrayal. An unrequited crush. The two of you slowly growing apart. One of you is a murderous reptilian abomination. Could be any of these things, but sooner or later you learn that everyone has baggage and you either have to accept your friends or cut them loose. "Frenemy" presented this dilemma astutely as Scott and his circle dealt with the knowledge that Jackson is the Kanima and then had to decide what to do with that information.
Personally, I couldn't help but relate to this plotline as during my senior year of high school I found out my best friend Jeremy was just a regular raccoon. Was it his fault for hiding that from me, or was it my fault for just not being very perceptive? We may never know. But I was faced with a decision: Keep being Jeremy's friend even though he was always rooting around in my trash cans and leaving garbage all over my driveway, or call animal control? I chose the latter. But there isn't a day that goes by where I don't wonder whether I made the right choice or not. (MISS U JEREMY.)
But yes, what we had in "Frenemy" was a killer metaphor: Jackson had a split personality condition— like the supernatural world's answer to bipolar disorder, basically. What was Scott's appropriate response in that situation? Sure Jackson was harmful, but he also needed help! The answer ended up being a lot more poignant than I expected and overall "Frenemy" was among Teen Wolf's best episodes ever. Let's talk about it!
First of all...
What the! Thanks for all the nightmare imagery, Teen Wolf! This episode began with an elongated glimpse of Jackson's camcorder footage and apparently his transmogrification into the Kanima was NOT a good time for him. I mean, it was probably safe for us to have assumed that before, but now we knew for sure.
Meanwhile it was shortly after all the nonsense at Scott's house and Allison was taking a confused Lydia home.
I kinda didn't realize this, but Lydia was still totally in the dark about Scott being a werewolf, or even, apparently, that she'd been BITTEN by one? But it did make sense: Lydia had been on pills ever since seeing the alpha for the first time outside that busted Blockbuster; then she was in a coma and/or a fugue state for a few days; and suddenly she was being dragged around town without explanation. You know? She really had some of her own stuff to deal with. Anyway, Lydia seemed kinda hurt that Allison wasn't telling her what exactly was going on, and there was this poignant moment where Allison attempted to describe how great the love was between she and Scott and Lydia admitted she'd never felt that way for Jackson or anybody else. Quit your bragging, Allison!
Meanwhile Derek and the gang were in hot pursuit of the Kanima! Derek tracked him down and pretty soon they were throwin' down under an overpass!
Unlike last week's weird, let's-break-a-chair-and-call-it-a-day fight, this showdown was intense! It even included our first full-CGI animated creature of the season as occasionally the Kanima would turn into a silly CGI animation and scurry up walls. But just when it looked like the Kanima was about to get the upper claw on Derek, this happened:
Mr. Argent! He showed up shooting his gun all over the place and Derek fled into the shadows. But then Mr. Argent made the total rookie mistake of assuming he'd killed the Kamina and the next thing we knew he was getting round-house kicked in the gut!
But then another weird thing happened: Grandpa Argent got out of his Range Rover and shared a moment of hushed understanding with the Kanima just before Scott arrived and chased it off. What did it all mean?? Didn't matter, because buckle up...
Things were about to get GAY. Even gayer than normal!
That's right, Scott and Stiles tracked the Kanima to a gay bar in downtown Beacon Hill and that joint was BUMPIN'. Typical small town gay bar on a weeknight. Meanwhile Danny was already inside dancin' it up and avoiding his ex. That was apparently what was happening here... The Kanima was looking to straight-up murder the person who'd been helping Jackson decrypt his camcorder footage, even though Danny was SO trustworthy that he hadn't even watched it!
Anyway, who cared why we were here, everything about this scene was THE BEST. From Scott and Stiles' hilarious fake IDs...
...To a stranger paying for Scott's virgin rum-and-coke but not Stiles'.
Note the complete lack of gay panic in this scene. Neither of these guys were bothered AT ALL to be there and if anything Stiles was even kind of upset that he wasn't getting MORE attention. In my experience that is the absolute most accurate part of going to a gay bar: Invisibility. Trust me, straight guys reading this: If someone is up dancing on a platform, ain't nobody looking at you. The More You Know [SHOOTING STAR].
So, is anybody else going to have NIGHTMARES from this image?:
No for real, that slow creep across the shadowy club ceiling was like something straight out of the original Alien. The Kanima had never looked creepier, but especially when we knew it was after Danny—this town's most beloved character—and the tension just skyrocketed. And THEN it got even worse when the fog machine started up and the Kanima started PARALYZING clubgoers en masse!
Dang, this was the best nightclub massacre scene since Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth took out a whole dance floor full of '90s goth cokeheads!
And THEN things got even more amazing when Derek showed up to take care of BEEZ.
Derek just reached out and SLASHED the Kanima's throat! All this went down more or less in plain view of the entire club!
At this point we got the first hint that Scott viewed the Kanima as more than just a monster when he followed a trail of black blood to the parking lot.
That's where he discovered a passed out Jackson and he seemed really concerned about making sure Jackson was okay. It was really touching! I mean, at one point he had to knock Jackson out to prevent him from being seen by Stiles' dad, but even the punch seemed empathetic:
Meanwhile Stiles' dad was starting to get FED UP with the fact that his son had been somehow involved with every single crime in Beacon Hill for the past six months.
Almost every scene between Stiles and his dad is perfect, and this was a really good one: Stiles even attempted to claim he was gay in order to get his dad off his back, but the dad immediately rejected that idea on account of Stiles' bad fashion sense. I don't tend to point out the jokes in these recaps so much, but that part just made me laugh out loud. And the scene still ended up heartwarming when Stiles more or less honestly claimed that he and Scott had shown up to "be there" for Danny and Sheriff Stilinski was all proud. Just a nice moment.
Sitting in a parked car on the other side of the parking lot was ANOTHER father-son duo, but this one significantly more effed up. It was clear Argent was already getting pretty suspicious of what his dad was up to, what with all the pill-popping and Kanima seduction. But Gramps just growled something about knowing thy enemy or whatever. I honestly sometimes cannot make out what he says half the time. That's not even a complaint, I love Grandpa Argent, he's great. I just can't make out most of his lines.
Another scary moment came up in the form of Lydia momentarily losing her dog.
It was the dude from school! And he wasn't just in the neighborhood, he LIVED in the house behind hers! Oh, and also he pretty much immediately began to hit on her.
Some of you theorized that this guy might be a figment of Lydia's imagination, or perhaps a spirit of some kind. I love that idea! I'm voting for phantom now. There's going to be some kind of supernatural tie-in that will cause Lydia to somehow cure Jackson and/or Scott and this kid might be the key to that somehow. I don't know, but this plotline is fun.
Scott and Stiles imprisoned Jackson in a stolen paddywagon, and apparently Jackson still didn't believe he was a monster? I mean, we've SEEN him react to scales forming on his skin, but apparently his split personality erases those experiences? Even though he'd been bitten by a werewolf, had super-sensory abilities, and knew his camcorder footage had been tampered with? I mean, come on, Jackson. That you're a reptilian shapeshifter would be the most plausible explanation at this point. Go with it. Anyway, definitely a strange situation to be in and he had a bad attitude about it. Fortunately Stiles was not too flustered by it and he even brought by some sandwiches. And he also dressed Jackson in pants but not a shirt, which seemed fair to me.
Meanwhile Allison was having a hard time at school the next day. First Principal Grandpa was being a total jerk about her friends and to add insult to injury he gave her an impromptu lie detector test! It wasn't weird or creepy in the slightest!
Also the school had installed security cameras everywhere. I'm generally anti-Big Brother, but I make an exception for this school. If any place needed security cameras, it's here.
Oh, but the BEST thing to happen during the whole episode was this... GUESS WHO was the substitute teacher in Allison's English class??
Haha WHAT? How are the Argents just taking over the school uncontested? I mean, I believe that sort of thing happens all the time in tiny towns where powerful families can run roughshod over the local government, but Beacon Hills isn't THAT small. Surely there's a PTA or a Board of Supervisors who'd complain about the super unqualified family who'd moved into town and chased administrators from their jobs? I don't know. I don't actually care either, I just LOVED this scene. Also, after class Mrs. Argent had another great bit where she tried to empathize with her daughter and what she'd been going through, only to say outright that if Allison couldn't end it completely with Scott, they'd be forced to murder a 16-year-old. Parents!
Meanwhile Scott visited Danny at the hospital just in time for him to be changing clothes. Whew! That was a close one. Danny didn't remember much about the club attack (the whole spectacle had apparently been chalked up to spiked drinks or something), but he did fill Scott in on what the Kanima's motive had been: It was trying to cover its tracks with regard to the video footage Danny fixed for Jackson. I don't know why I'm telling you this again, this was already made clear earlier. I think it's because I needed a reason for the above screengrab? Just doin' m'job!
Scott was cornered in the hallway by his mom who was VERY mad at him for almost failing 2 classes. He'd had a lot on his mind lately!
Actually, I genuinely loved the idea that a character in a supernatural teen drama MIGHT actually fail for not going to class. Imagine that! Not comparing this show to anything else, but the idea that a teenager has to deal with life-or-death trauma on the daily is actually HELPED by the added pressure of maintaining a proper facade, you know? That seems pretty accurate to the high school experience. Everything's this life-changing drama all the time, but you'd better have your butt in home room in time for the quiz.
For my money one of the best moments this show's ever had happened out in the woods after school. After Stiles flippantly suggested they just let Derek or someone else murder Jackson, Scott gave an eloquent (well, eloquent for Scott) speech about how his transformation had only gone okay because of how cool his friends were whereas Jackson didn't really have that.
... And Jackson could hear every word of it. I mean, not only was Scott 100% correct that Jackson DID kind of deserve some love (even if it's tough love), the scene was just good drama. How often do you see a proper articulation of what it means to accept a friend's flaws? Scott is definitely not the smartest character on the show, but that's why moments like this work so well. His basic human decency is unparalleled and that's why he's the hero. He's not standing around hugging himself or pondering suicide. He's actively trying to figure things out for other peoples' benefit.
Oh, but this episode wasn't ALL perfect. It also had the most egregious product placement in the history of this show, while also managing to put most anything on the CW to shame. In the middle of a quiet moment, Allison specifically asked Scott to turn on her brand-name stereo system and turn on a particularly prominent internet streaming service.
Anyway, that was ridiculous. And here I was hoping most of Teen Wolf's product placements would be candy-related. Fortunately the ensuing conversation was pretty meaningful: They talked openly about their future and whether they could maintain a secret relationship for the next TWO YEARS. Scott even discussed the possibility of finding a cure for his lycanthropy via Lydia. That would obviously be a premise-rattling turn of events, but it DID seem like a plausible choice Scott might make in order to be with his girlfriend. I bought it and so did Allison. Next thing we knew they were shirtless hugging in the backseat:
But all those sloppy neck kiss noises must've really brought out the beast in Jackson!
So yeah, we finally saw him fully morph into a Kanima, then he busted out of there!
At that point the trio decided they had no choice but to come clean to their respective parents about what was going on. Scott even prepared himself to reveal to Stiles' dad that he was a werewolf. Unfortunately when they arrived at the Sheriff's station, Jackson had beaten them there.
I mean, WHERE TO BEGIN what that story! Didn't matter, this was probably just a cliffhanger fakeout. Jackson was probably going to cover for them in gratitude for what Scott had said earlier. Or something. I'm just guessing.
Oh, and in the final scene Allison arrived home to find Lydia sitting creepily on her bed. She needed someone to talk to, but Allison kinda bitchily shrugged her off before complaining about how she needed to translate a dozen pages of Archaic Latin. In probably one of the more ludicrous examples of Lydia's brilliance, she just happened to know Archaic Latin. Haha this show. I did love her hilarious explanation though: She only knew Archaic Latin because she'd grown bored with Classical Latin. Made sense to me! Anyway, as some of you had called in last week's comments, Lydia uncovered a discrepancy in the guidance counselor's translation. Instead of searching for a "friend," the Kanima was actually searching for a "master." Dun-dun-dun!
So, um, I guess that verified the previous episode's cliffhanger? I dunno. What it does suggest was that either Jackson had been following the orders of some other person/creature or at the very least he wasn't personally responsible for murdering anybody yet, and the "master" had been doing all that. (So far this show hasn't been THAT cavalier about its main characters committing murder.) Scott had already mentioned that the Kanima typically only pursues other murderers, so we may find out that the murder victims were linked somehow. My current guess, and it's just a stab in the dark: The chemistry teacher was once a student at the school and was severely bullied by the lacrosse team (which included the mechanic) and the coach (Isaac's dad) and now is somehow using Jackson to carry out his vengeance. What do you think??
I loved this episode so much you guys. Not just the casual treatment of the gay stuff—which, to be clear, is EXTREMELY rare for a TV show and therefore kind of important—but it was noticeably much better written, scarier, funnier, and better filmed than the past few episodes. It probably wasn't a coincidence that "Frenemy" was written by showrunner Jeff Davis and directed by Russell Mulcahy. Those guys know their stuff. This episode was a definite series high for me. Kinda wish Jeremy was still around to talk about it with me. (Sadface.)
... Who is the Kanima's master? What is his or her ultimate plan?
... What's the deal with that creepy new kid?
... Is Jungle's carding policy a little TOO chill?
... Would you have been a better student if Mrs. Argent was your teacher?