The first time I took part in an armored truck heist was on my 11th birthday. I'd been trying to think of a fun group activity that would be cooler than Josh's laser tag birthday and less stressful than Laura's Discovery Zone party. So there we were, me and 8 kids from my class who didn't speak to me very much but who my mom said came from good families and I should be friends with. We were all wearing Halloween masks and staking out an armored car during its routine deliveries down at the diamond mart. If I had known then that I'd be the only survivor that day, I probably wouldn't have gone through with the heist to be honest. But when it comes to armored truck heists, the main thing is, you should never give up. Follow your dreams. Get those diamonds/Benjamins/Japanese supernatural artifacts. Get them and don't look back. I can't even count on both hands how many armored truck heists I've taken part in since then (mostly because my hands are now made of wood and fiberglass), but let's just say I've experienced enough armored truck heists to know one thing: Life is what's happening when you're robbing an armored truck.
Guys, "Echo House" will probably prove divisive because of how removed from the normal goings on of Beacon Hills it was, but I very, very much enjoyed it. There were no classroom scenes, no raves, no back alley slow-mo flip fights, no towel scenes, not even house party hijinks. This was just a sad and scary hour that paid homage to all our favorite mental asylum narratives. From Girl, Interrupted to AHS: Asylum to, I don't know, Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, so many of my favorite things take place in asylums full of attractive teens! And I obviously bring A LOT of Secret Circle baggage to the table wherever Shelley Hennig is involved, so I was ALL ABOUT the Stiles-Malia hookup. A lot of this episode felt organic and rewarding in a way that an early-season set-up episode might not. I love how things are coming together and falling apart simultaneously. This show just gets more and more layered and we are the richer for it. Also, a teenager had sex with a coyote.
Let's talk about it!
We started at the Eichen House, easily the show's Scooby Doo-iest location yet! Which is saying something considering A LOT of this series has taken place in a burned down house.
Despite Sheriff Stilinski thinking that Stiles' problems were merely just medical, Stiles convinced him that self-admission into a mental hospital in the middle of the night was probably the best course to take. Scott half-heartedly tried to convince Stiles not to do it, but then Stiles was like, "Well, it'll be harder to murder everybody this way" and Scott just sort of sat down and ate a potato because Stiles was right.
Anyway, yeah, this was an asylum for crazy teens so it should have come as no surprise that a lot of crazy teens were hanging around in the lobby looking crazy. At some point everything was just too grim for Sheriff Stilinski to take and he tried to command Stiles get back in the car, but Stiles wasn't having it.
Well, okay, he didn't just come out and tell his dad was was really going on (I'm not sure why not), but I did love this moment when he reminded his dad that it didn't matter if he no longer had the comforts of home, because even with them he hadn't slept in weeks.
Oh, but then right after Stiles' dad left, this happened:
And this freaked me out... Look who was watching from the ground floor:
THAT GUY AGAIN. Ugh, evil fox spirits can be real creeps sometimes. Quit rubbernecking that hanging dude and get outta here!
Meanwhile Deaton was on the phone with Argent who was still in jail and using his last quarter to tell everybody about yet another mythical artifact that might help them in their quest to, uh, get info.
They needed to find some kind of ancient scroll which was most likely shaped like a RED HERRING.
So yeah, conference call over. The kids knew what they had to do.
Back at the sanitarium Stiles was still getting to know his roommate, who had casually mentioned having eaten a bug, but don't worry that won't come into play at all later, relax. Also Stiles hadn't slept and hadn't even tried to.
He didn't even lie down! That is hardcore right there.
Then the roommate showed Stiles around the hospital, which mostly just involved pointing out all the people who believed they were Jesus and then having a run-in with a girl who'd fingered one of them as evil but was talking about it on a phone that didn't work. Typical asylum stuff. But what was NOT very typical was the girl that Stiles had fleetingly glimpsed the night before:
It was Malia, the coyote girl that the gang had rescued! And she did not seem very happy to see Stiles!
She clocked him but good! I guess she missed being a coyote, or maybe she was just steamed that her dad locked her away in an institution, or maybe she was still all ticked that everybody had stolen all her sh*t from her home under a tree stump. That I would understand, but maybe punching Stiles was kind of extreme. I don't know, I'm not here to judge.
Oh, but look who'd gotten a job here!
This lady! The guidance counselor/teacher/Druid/DEMONWOLF personal assistant. She is one of these characters who's been around for a while but I straight-up am not sure what her name is. Looking it up, it appears to be Ms. Morell, but it sounds like people are calling her Mireille? But maybe that's how Morell is pronounced? She goes by her last name only? I guess Deaton does too. Huh. Look, forget about it, it doesn't matter. All that matters is she ran out of the crowd and helped Stiles stare into a glass sidewalk to the basement and he realized he'd been there in his dreams. Something like that? I can't be bothered to clarify any of this because I'm too busy filling out my application for a little thing called THE PULITZER. Just kidding, I'm eating Starbursts.
Because this was an episode set in an asylum there was a mandatory group therapy session. But in my opinion it was rude of Ms. Morell to ask Stiles about his issues because she knew full well that he has monster probs and that is probably not what the rest of the patients need to be hearing about in therapy. But yeah, we get it, both Malia and Stiles felt guilty for having killed/threatened their family and friends. Also Stiles was hallucinating again, so that was not a good sign.
Meanwhile Ms. Morell noticed some spidery red marks on Stiles' neck and took the opportunity to try and get him half-naked finally.
As it turned out the marks were a side effect of that moss junk that Deaton had used to expel the nogitsune from Stiles' bod, so as long as the marks were there he'd be safe from re-entry. But also he shouldn't sleep either (because he'd heal too much) and that's why Ms. Morell slipped him some drugs.
And then she hilariously informed him that if he became re-infected with demonfox then she'd probably murder him. Fair warning!
Meanwhile Argent and Derek were in some kind of cage playing harmonicas due to prison blues. But Derek used his werewolf hearing to learn that all the evidence being used against them in the legal system was currently being moved to a federal facility somewhere. Also Argent told a very good story about Berserkers who, to me, sound like were-bears and the gist was that sometimes people can go full-on call of the wild and turn into beasts permanently. But honestly the whole time I was just murmuring to myself "Oh please let Season 4 involve were-bears, PLEASE."
Anyway, that's when the kids sprang into action in one of the show's most hilarious B-plots yet: AN ARMORED TRUCK HEIST to get back that evidence that would incriminate Argent and Derek.
Ugh, so good. Honestly, a Heat-style armored truck heist WAS the next logical progression now that the show regularly begins with Yakuza drama, so I was EXCITED. Except I think Isaac was still in a coma, so that dampened my enthusiasm a little. How could everybody be going about their regular monster business when an all-time great was still in the hospital? Very rude.
Meanwhile Stiles tried to stay awake by splashing water on his face and he learned the hard way that former coyotes prefer to take showers in boys' locker rooms.
That's when Malia explained why she'd been so steamed at him for turning her human: She LOVED being a coyote. She got to just live under a stump with her doll and all her other sh*t that people kept messing with, plus she didn't have to deal with the fact that she'd basically tried to eat most of her family. And you know what? Fair enough.
But that's when Stiles saw an opportunity: If Malia would help him access the basement he would introduce her to monsters and/or druids to help her switch back to coyote form whenever she wanted. Or, you know, he'd at least introduce her to a ton of hunks. Seemed like a pretty good deal either way.
Their plan involved a group therapy tussle! Guys, let's be real, Malia is amazing. She picked a fist fight with Stiles' roommate and then swiped the orderly's keys.
Unfortunately none of them worked on the basement door and double-unfortunately Stiles got caught!
Next thing we knew he had been injected with sleepin' juice and was lying on the bathroom floor defying Ms. Morell's direct orders to not fall asleep.
Then in his dream he was locked in a locker while locked in a shouting match with the nogitsune!
This honestly creeped me out so much. "Let me in" is a very alarming thing to hear from the other side of a locked locker door, especially when it's being shouted by a mummy with a silver grill.
Fortunately Malia busted the door open and woke Stiles up. No nogitsune possession YET.
Meanwhile Kira seduced Scott into letting her join their armored car heist, mostly by waving a samurai sword (confusing sexual metaphor alert) in his face!
I don't know. It was cute though.
Speaking of cute!
THIS LADY came back. Remember the Spanish Fratellis from the earlier episodes of this season? Apparently they were hunters and this old lady (the only surviving member) had arrived in town to tear Mr. Argent a new b-hole. It was only a matter of time before the Argents had to start answering for their wolf-tolerant ways, so it looks like that's where this lady factors in. She's bad news in my opinion. And VERY grumpy.
So anyway: THE ARMORED CAR HEIST! As you probably predicted, there did not end up being a Heat-style armored car heist sequence. Nope, just as the kids were laying the groundwork they realized that the dead Yakuza dude's personal werewolf had already broken into the truck in pursuit of a silver finger.
But to their credit the kids did all they could to get that
red herring finger back! And to this guy's credit, he fought back HARD.
Just after the brute had clobbered Scott, Kira, and Allison and then even made fun of Scott for being a puny weakling, the twins jumped down off a fire escape and beat the dude up BAD. In fact they were borderline ready to MURDERIZE him, but Scott pulled a werewolf Gandhi and told them to back off.
Meanwhile, they ended up finding the scroll, it was a Polly Pocket type deal hidden inside the silver finger!
Oh boy. That is just straight-up silly but I am not complaining.
So then Stiles and Malia busted into the basement where they examined that weird backwards-5 glyph on the wall and also read tons of paperwork about lobotomies, ALL OF IT an aphrodisiac.
I am not going to lie, I really, really loved this part. Just two troubled teens getting some action on the musty couch in the basement of an asylum! Typical coming of age stuff. Also I love Malia/Shelley Hennig, so I approve of this match for Stiles/Dylan O'Brien. What kind of cold-hearted monster wouldn't? They are great!
Now the ultimate conundrum: Is it considered a shirtless hug if only one shirt is removed? This is the nogitsune's most cryptic riddle yet!
Then Malia got an idea: Stiles should beat down the wall with a pipe! That's when they found a familiar-looking corpse.
And in his pocket was a photograph. We didn't get to see who it was of, but Stiles recognized one of the people in it. Was it his mom? It was his mom, right? He didn't seem super happy about it, whoever it was. (Was it his mom?)
Oh, then both Stiles and Malia got suddenly tased!
The roommate had been under the control of the nogitsune the whole time. He even rudely referred to him as the Renfield to his Dracula. Ugh, the nogitsune is a real cheeseball sometimes.
So then Stiles and Malia were tied up and the nogitsune offered Stiles a choice: He could either voluntarily allow the nogitsune into his body (and save Malia's life), or he could fight it and watch Malia die. Stiles' choice probably did not shock you.
Boom! Stiles' hand was forced but only for the best reasons. He let the nogitsune back in!
To be fair, the nogitsune immediately clobbered the Renfield dude and also kept his word about not harming Malia. So maybe the nogitsune is a pretty chill dude deep down? Aside from his thirst for chaos and murder, maybe he's not as bad as we thought? Something to think about.
Anyway, remember that whole B-story involving an armored car non-heist and a tiny red herring hidden inside a finger?
It all came to nothing, basically! Deaton claimed the Japanese writing merely said that Stiles' body would have to "change" in order to expel the nogitsune. Which, of course, meant only one thing.
Scott may very well have to turn Stiles into a werewolf. But seeing as that was ALREADY on the table as a possibility I'm not sure where this subplot got us. Well, it did get us an undeniably entertaining mission for our local monster squad, but still.
The next morning, and with Evil Stiles on the move, Malia realized she needed to get down to business.
She needed to find Scott! I'm guessing to both save her new sexual partner but also figure out how to turn into a coyote. Personally I'm not super eager for Malia to turn into a coyote because I really hate when the humans turn into actual animals (I will drop kick a coyote, I don't even care) instead of the much cooler beastmen and also I want Malia to remain in Shelley Hennig form as a regular character for the next 18 seasons at least. BUT whatever it takes for her to join the squad I'm happy with. She can go on the next armored car heist, maybe!
"Echo House" was a good, old-fashioned exercise in asylum horror and I for one appreciated it. It's always fun seeing characters inhabit new locations/sets and this dynamic between Stiles and Malia was incredibly compelling. I'm still sorta laughing about how useless the truck heist ended up being, but I will never not love Teen Wolf for its ambitions. Any other show would have had these characters sitting around an all-ages bar playing darts or whatever, so I really loved getting to see them be physical with monster brutes. Now somebody please wake up Isaac!
... So wait, what connection did Lydia have to that basement a few episodes prior?
... Who was in the photograph?
... Do you love Malia or are you too intensely jealous of her to deal?
... Should the citizens of Beacon Hills be more careful about fireflies going into their face holes? Why or why not?