By now it should be obvious to everyone that weird is good. Just as a general fact of life: Weird things tend to be the best things. The mere presence of weird is like a steroid: Add it to any situation and that situation becomes funnier, scarier, more uncomfortable, more memorable and by extension BETTER. Weird is something that jars us out of monotony. It forces us to re-examine normalcy. It demands that we pay attention to things that make us laugh, it compels us to pick up the phone and tell our friends about the lady we just saw wearing a fur turban in Long John Silver's. Weird makes our brains tingle!
But while I know that weird is good and you know that weird is good, in my opinion tons of other people only pretend to like weird things but deep down do not like weird things. For instance, you can SAY you'd like to see a tiny rhinoceros jump into a bowl of gummy cherries and swim around in it like Scrooge McDuck in his coin vault, but in reality if you saw a tiny rhino do that you'd probably scream and hit it with a hammer and then call 911. Too weird! Or you might SAY you'd like to eat a tequila popsicle, but if you actually tried one, you'd gag, immediately throw it in a mud puddle, and then refuse to speak to your butler for weeks. Too weird! What I'm saying is, and I'm not trying to call anybody out here, but when it comes to things that are weird, different, or offbeat, there are two types of audiences: Those who embrace the weirdness and those who stand there with their arms crossed, just with very closed-off body language. The most depressing aspect of the latter group is that many of them are often very smart intellectuals who will hide behind a criticism like "Oh, it's just weird for weird's sake." DUH, yes, weirdness is often intentional, explain why that's a bad thing. Or, "Well, it was a valiant effort but the weirdness was not successful." Uh, the second anything deviates from the norm it must forge its own path, quality-wise. Weirdness has no standard for success. Weirdness is a dark forest full of strange creatures and mystery. Stop trying to make weirdness conform to your boring standards, man! (I'm feeling very righteous right now just FYI.)
What am I talking about anymore? Oh, right. Guys, "Frayed" was WEIRD, and not coincidentally, it was most likely the best episode of Teen Wolf I've seen yet. I would testify about this in a court of law. Put me on the stand. I will wear a veil and I will point a trembling finger in the direction of Teen Wolf. "That's it, your honor. That's it right there. Its best episode so far is 'Frayed'." And then I'd collapse from all the humidity.
All right, it's time to talk about this thing! The main thing to know is this episode basically blended two episodes' worth of events into one and told the whole thing via flashbacks and occasionally flashbacks-within-flashbacks. So, much like an early '90s dance-rap anthem, this recap is going to jump around.
This episode basically started off in David Lynch territory, with this spooky single-take shot that tracked back from a quicksilver skyline to the various students on a school bus. In what would be a trend for the episode I realized I'd totally missed or gotten wrong key things from previous episodes, like the fact that all the main dudes are on the cross-country team now! (My brain is the worst.) Anyway, here they were off to a cross country meet and Scott was not having a great time.
We knew something was off because he was having dream imagery of things we hadn't seen happen yet. And also he had an as-yet unexplained nasty wound:
So yeah, if all these clues weren't enough of an indication that we'd suddenly jumped forward in time 'We Have To Go Back to the Island!'-style, then the next part probably did the trick:
Derek was dead! Or something. Maybe? So yeah, just to recap, Scott had been injured very badly and he believed Derek was dead. Even more worryingly, Isaac had chosen to sit beside Boyd on the bus and NOT Scott. WHAT was going on?
Haha oh right, the props department really wanted us to know that this episode would be playing with conventional chronology. Between Lydia's light reading and Stiles' Word of the Day iPad app ("INCONGRUOUS"), the thesis statements were right up front. By the way, we all knew that Lydia was a not-so-secret genius, but it turns out she's borderline blind? Why was she holding the book that close?? Was it a scratch-n-sniff?
Due to whatever mysterious thing had happened the night before, Allison had decided to follow the boys' school bus to their cross-country meet. You know, to keep them safe. I honestly thought this was really refreshing. After watching four seasons of The Vampire Diaries wherein the central bros constantly followed Elena around in order to keep her safe, this was a nice gender reversal. And it wasn't a joke either: This episode did a lot to prove that Allison has become a very formidable warrior in her own right.
A quick flashback revealed that Lydia was definitely getting it on with one of the twunks. It's unclear if she did so before or after discovering that he was a murderous werewolf, but I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and say it was before.
Meanwhile a flashback showed us that Scott and Allison had started to hang out again, but their friendship had taken on a bit of a sparring element in which they argued over who was the better fighter or something. Not gonna lie, Allison didn't look too comfortable doing kung-fu at Scott, but this was still a very charming scene. Up until Scott sorta hurt her and she got ticked.
Another thing I totally missed from previous episodes: The Argents had moved! I mean, I saw the boxes in her room during the season premiere but I assumed that she'd returned from Europe with tons of tchotchkes? Also we knew that all the sets had been rebuilt during the show's move to L.A. so I guess it never occurred to me that her bedroom was supposed to look entirely different. Anyway now they live in a highrise because recently Beacon Hills transformed from Mystic Falls into Gotham City and I am really glad. The small town setting was getting less and less believable by the episode. Anyway, the bad news for the Argents was their new upstairs neighbors were EVIL WEREWOLVES.
Scott obviously had an elevator run-in with THE DEMON WOLF, who said some creepy stuff about Scott's potential as an Alpha or something. Who knows. All I could think about was how much I'd hate to live downstairs from that lady Alpha. So much toenails-on-hardwood floors click-clackin'! And you know they listen to the worst music way too loud and way too late. Ugh.
Meanwhile back at Derek's loft, most of the 'good' werewolves had convened to look at blueprints and figure out how to murder THE DEMON WOLF.
It was pretty much agreed that they needed to sneak into the Alpha Werewolves' apartment and murder them in a sneak attack, but Scott was quite frankly annoyed at having to go on another murder mission.
Meanwhile further flashbacks and flash-forwards clarified what Scott had meant when he said Derek had died.
But of course his body had disappeared (along with the body of the giant Alpha that he'd fallen onto the escalators with (holding hands?) and guess who was ON THE CASE!
I'm not sure how the Hales came to the conclusion that only ONE of the two had lived, but there we had it: Either Derek was dead or the other dude was dead. Meanwhile you know what was alive and well? Peter and Cora's sassy uncle-niece relationship.
Danny was sitting beside one of the twunks on the bus. I guess I have to call him Ethan now that they have lines? Or was this Aidan. I don't know, guys, baby steps. Anyway this was a funny bit in which Stiles texted Danny over and over to find out just with whom his boo had been texting all day. It turned out he'd been waiting to hear word about whether his Alpha friend was alive or not. So it seemed like the Alpha was the one who was alive! Bad news for Derek.
Meanwhile I don't know about you guys but I am LOVING the massive amounts of sparks that are happening between Danny and Ethan. Theirs is a passion that could burn a fire. Just chemistry for days.
So yeah, guess where the Alpha Pack brought their dying friend?
And to his credit, the weird veterinarian did not give an EFF about these creatures. His former bestie Kendra was like, "Oh come on pls" and he finally relented but was super pissy about it. Love him lately.
I don't know what to tell you guys but I thought the Coach was really funny in this episode. He did not sit down for even a single second on this moving bus. Nope, he mostly just yelled at everybody, including everybody's new favorite character, this guy:
I would watch a show just about these two hanging out. Maybe this guy Jordan, once he got over his motion sickness, could visit Coach at the adult daycare facility where he lives.
So the whole thing in the present-tense timeline was that Scott was straight-up DYING from his wounds and Stiles really wanted to get the Coach to pull over. I liked this bit where they yelled in each other's faces for a long time, and then Stiles resorted to Plan B:
Talking the sick kid into puking!
If Stiles's creepy smile in this scene doesn't haunt your dreams, then you will be one of the lucky few.
Anyway, after the guy puked all over everybody and everything, the gang whisked Scott into a rest stop bathroom where they noticed that he was basically dead and also his wounds were seeping with black ooze, Kanima-style. Except nobody brought up the Kanima connection and instead it was decided that Scott was dying because he was sad about Derek. #feels
At this point Allison decided she needed to stitch up the wound but she couldn't get her shaky hands to thread the needle, so that's when the world's best guardian angel appeared to YELL AT HER.
It should come as no shock that THIS METHOD WORKED. Sometimes we could all use a little bit of Mrs. Argent shouting at us, you know? And to be honest, I really enjoyed that Mrs. Argent's bossy 'tude was a force for good here. Even if she was just a figment of Allison's damaged psyche, she still had a hand in helping save the life of a werewolf. I don't know, I was touched.
So then Scott died.
Haha just kidding, he didn't die! After the commercial break he was fine. Also, look at how good of a job Allison did sewing him up:
Gonna need some Neosporin or something.
Then the best flashback happened:
Way to bury the lede, episode! Isaac and Scott's home life was SO CUTE. In this scene Scott was trying to sneak out so that he could go rumble with THE DEMON WOLF, but he pretended he was just going out for a burrito and Isaac assumed he was invited and looked SO STOKED to go get a burrito with his bestie. Seriously, look at his face:
HEART EYES. Anyone would be powerless to resist this, so Scott obviously had no choice but to let Isaac come with, so next thing you know this was happening:
I mean. Just. It's almost too much at this point. Just kidding it will never be too much.
Nothing to see here.
Anyway, in the present tense, Scott recovered just in time to witness Isaac beating the ever-loving SH*T out of Ethan.
And once again it was clear that Scott is legit the only person Isaac listens to or cares about anymore.
Also in the present tense, it was looking like the creepy vet had successfully saved the life of that Alpha Giant. That is, until THE DEMON WOLF arrived.
HAHAHAHA. WHAT??? The DEMON WOLF straight-up crushed the guy's skull and, I guess, sucked in his powers? Yeah I'm pretty sure the DEMON WOLF crushed the guy's skull and sucked in his powers.
Lady werewolf did NOT take it well:
Meanwhile the werewolf detectives were like, "Oh, I guess the Alpha was alive and then he died so Derek is probably dead." Or whatever. Just leaping to conclusions right and left. Then they ducked behind an El Camino and ran off.
So then the big flashback finally got underway: A ROYAL RUMBLE IN AN ABANDONED MALL!
And then everybody fought in slow motion!
Unfortunately the the good-guy werewolves (sans Peter, who probably didn't want to miss that night's Dance Moms) totally got their asses handed to them very quickly.
I just needed to show you this picture because it answered a question a lot of us had had for a few seasons now: Yes, lady beta werewolves DO have sideburns. Also, how disgusting would it be to have an always-barefoot woman putting her foot on your neck? Does werewolf healing protect you from tetanus also? But yeah, back to the point, all the beta werewolves were captured and THE DEMON WOLF wanted Derek to pick who would be killed: his sister or Scott. In my opinion Derek didn't seem to love having to make that choice.
BUT! Then an important flashback happened!
Allison's father had told her not to get involved in the disagreement between their upstairs neighbors and the gang of sexy dudes she chills with. Mr. Argent had lately been in a live-and-let-die sort of mood, but Allison felt more obligated to help her friends. So she did!
I really and truly loved this moment. Allison broke up the werewolf party with more flash-grenade arrows! I am loving Lady Arrow over here, this scene was so superhero movie it gave me chills. Remember how sorta-irrelevant Allison was during the first season? Now she's so important and cool, I'm frankly shocked.
So then a brief tussle broke out between Scott and the giant Alpha and for a split second HE turned into an Alpha also?
What was the deal with this? Was this something to do with the 'inner Alpha' that people have alluded to? Or was it just foreshadowing that Derek's heart was going to stop? Who knows.
Then Derek and the giant Alpha fell onto some escalators (holding hands?) and died.
Thus concluded the worst night our heroes had experienced within the prior two day period.
I guess Allison had ditched her car at the rest stop because suddenly she and Lydia were on the bus having meaningful convos with the fellas. Another cute moment as Scott properly thanked Allison for saving his werewolf butt the night before.
Dang, Allison is knee-deep in love interests at this point!
Meanwhile Lydia and Stiles momentarily discussed all the Druidic murders that had been going down lately.
In Lydia's opinion the murders were a pre-war ritual of some kind. Meaning two factions were about to go to war or something. Sure why not?
Oh, and because we have hearts and brains and reasonable expectations of serialized television, this should not have come as much of a shock to any of us:
DEREK WAS ALIVE! SORT OF!
Yeah, one of the perks of being in the opening credits of a show is that you probably will not be killed off in Episode 5. But still, hey welcome back, Derek!
All right, a crappy photo recap does not fully get across the inventiveness and originality of this episode. The most obviously weird part about it was how it was structured, timeline-wise, but I think that it was clever and thrilling across the board. Basically we knew this was a midseason episode and only so many shocking things can happen, so the writers were pretty much acknowledging that we all KNEW our heroes would all survive this royal rumble at the abandoned mall and therefore the episode was more about how they processed the aftermath. The nonlinear flashback-within-flashback thing to me was not so much about being flashy, but an actually organic way to show the audience the thought processes of our characters. Why would Allison suddenly show up and interrupt the rumble? Here's a quick flashback to explain that! Why was Isaac so angry at Aidan? Here's a quick flashback to show him getting his ass beat by Werewolf Voltron! I don't know, I just felt like this format spruced up what would have been some pretty unsurprising storytelling and made it feel fresh again. Add to that some brief but stellar character work (Mrs. Argent's scene! Allison and Scott's tussle! Scisaac!) and some legitimately funny Stiles scenes, and this was one of the strongest and best episodes of Teen Wolf I can remember. This is a show that is firing on all cylinders at the moment, you guys. It's not afraid to get full-on weird and personally I think it's a national treasure at this point.
Okay now I am going to go hug my air conditioner BYEEE.
... Exactly which armies will be facing off? Will all of the werewolves be on the same team?
... Did you believe for even a second that Derek was dead be honest.
... Has your opinion of Allison changed over the seasons?
AIRED ON 3/8/2016
Season 5 : Episode 20