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Teen Wolf S04E04: "The Benefactor"

Our teenage years contain so many milestones that may seem trivial to older adults but prove to be so undeniably important in shaping the people we become. Things like entering high school. Or learning to navigate social cliques. Getting our drivers licenses. If we're lucky, falling in love for the first time. Becoming an assassin, things like that. Personally, at 15 I had no real intention of becoming an assassin but a pod of orcas forced my hand. Still, looking back on those years and all those kills I can't help but appreciate the experiences for what they were: Life changing. Not only obviously for the orcas who received their much-deserved, deadly comeuppance, but for me as well. I wouldn't be who I am today without my years as a teen assassin and I wouldn't trade those experiences for the world. Well, I'd maybe trade them to have my parents back. But other than that, yeah. It was all worth it.

Friends and neighbors, "The Benefactor" was the name of this week's episode of Teen Wolf and it's like this episode was OUR benefactor? With all of the good, scary, well-written stuff in this episode it's like "The Benefactor" personally wired good times directly into OUR HEARTS. Yeah, I really liked this lakeside romp. Let's talk about it!

This week we started things off on the roof of the hospital where the police were trying to solve the case of the dead-ass Wendigo. Obviously all the deputies were straight-up stumped about why this hunk had eaten a cop and then gotten himself axe murdered on the roof of a hospital, so Sheriff Stilinski did something that MORE cops on supernatural dramas need to do when confronted with monster crimes:

He called up an ACTUAL monster to help get to the bottom of things. So then Derek emerged from the shadows and told him all about Wendigos and his possible theories about what happened.

But Derek's nostrils are NOT dummies and he knew there had been THREE guys up on that roof tusslin'.

And guess what? He was right:

Aw poor Liam. See, Scott had bitten him and it looked like his werewolf-isms were already starting to show. Like, for one thing he was very angry about being duct taped in a bathtub, which is a classic werewolf trait. But also he had a short temper and super strength.

I mean, I'm not actually sure if Liam was super strong or if Stiles and Scott were just really uncoordinated. Liam was basically a wet bar of soap to them, just slipping and sliding through their grasps. Anyway, he was gone. Nice try, fellas.

Meanwhile at the world's darkest loft, Peter Hale was having a quiet night in:

Haha The Mute was such a jerk! He even straight-up told Peter Hale that he wasn't there to kill him, only Derek. But if that's true, why the military-grade Tomahawk to the chest, b-hole? The Mute don't give a f*ck, that's why.

So the next day the kids were all getting mentally and physically prepared for the full moon and awkward situations ensued!

Ha ha, Stiles was caught doing sado-masochism fetish junk to his girlfriend. Just kidding, he wasn't doing that, but father and son had a major 'it's not right but it's okay' moment so it's pretty clear Stiles' dad would not be surprised if he found out his son liked to get freaky. My favorite part was Malia saying "I don't get it" to all the innuendo. Coyotes have A LOT to learn about weird human sex practices I guess. (Quick, somebody teach her what a bisexual is.)

Later that day in science class Lydia was NOT taking very good notes:

She'd somehow gotten a typed-up version of all that gibberish she'd been scrawling in her notebook. (Can you imagine having to transcribe that junk?) But she was pretty nonchalant about it, because of the time she drew a tree over and over for months. Because Lydia is smart, she immediately recognized that this was a code and she only needed some kind of password to bust that code all open, but that would have to wait until Act 6 or whatever. 

HEY LOOK! It's Lydia's mom!

Yay Lydia's mom! I'm glad she's still substitute teaching except I'm worried about her safety because the survival rate of teachers is not great at this school. I'm pretty sure the Teacher's Lounge is just a wall of flowers and photos like the hallway in Battlestar Galactica. Also I liked that Lydia's mom seems so chill about letting teens go to her lake house every month on the full moon without supervision and probably on school nights. In this town that's actually probably the safest thing to let your kids do, so this is just good parenting. 

Hey look, MORE NEW CHARACTERS! We had already met golden himbo hunk Garrett last week during lacrosse and also a few months ago in Flowers in the Attic and also in OUR DREAMS (p.s. are we all going to jail?). But here is his girlfriend Violet and bestie Mason. Mason seems nice and maybe TOO NICE? Probably just regular nice. Also he was concerned about why Liam showed up to school panting like a literal dog.

Despite a very upbeat henley, Liam was not having a great day so far. First of all his senses were going crazy, but also he was being followed around by a couple of Juniors who were acting like creeps.

If we're being real, Scott came on VERY strong and Liam was not having it. Which I guess makes sense in that Scott had nearly bitten Liam's arm off and personally I get pretty steamed whenever people do that to me. But on the other hand, when I was a freshman in high school I would have done probably anything a handsome upperclassman told me to do. "Go wade into that tar pit." "Throw this carton of chocolate milk at that deer." "Creepy-crawl this mansion." And I'd be like, "Sure! Can I tell people we are friends?" Cool Upperclassman Syndrome is real, guys.

So then the gang decided to lure Liam to Lydia's lake house basement the best way they knew how: via his boner. And that meant it was Kira's time to shine. In slow-mo. Awkwardly.

Haha classic Kira! Girl get off that floor, that linoleum hasn't been mopped in years. (All the janitors died.)

Meanwhile at the Hale Clinic:

I guess that tomahawk had been laced with wolfsbane so Derek had to blowtorch his uncle's wound, obviously. I'm surprised you didn't know that. Didn't you go to werewolf medical school? That's basically werewolf medicine 101.

So later that night the kids all converged at Lydia's lake house and they started to get nervous that maybe it wasn't a good idea tricking Liam too much. Like, they found out that he'd been kicked out of his previous school for anger issues after he did this to a teacher's car:

The main thing that occurred to me when I looked at that photo is how long it must have taken him to ruin the car so much! It looks like it took hours of meticulous craziness to get the car into that condition. I think I respect Liam even more now? That's dedication. I would've just left an empty KFC bucket on the hood and called it a day.

Meanwhile Liam was in the car with Kira and he was getting so mad at the sky.

But that was nothing compared to when he finally arrived at the lake house and encountered THIS scene:

And even though everyone outed themselves as monsters in a very hilarious roll call, Liam did not believe they were being honest about being monsters, even though Malia's eyes were legit glowing and also Liam himself was turning into an actual monster.

So at this point one million freshmen showed up at the house because Liam had put up a MySpace bulletin or whatever about the party. So while the gang dragged Liam out to the boat house, Lydia was suddenly tasked with starting an impromptu daycare business:

Over at the police station Derek brought in The Mute's robo-glove (which he'd left behind, for some reason? Did he take it off to use Purell?) and handed it to dreamy Deputy Parrish and they checked The Mute's hotmail.

The main email that arrived was from someone named The Benefactor who was clearly paying The Mute to murder monsters. So that's when we discovered that The Mute was merely a paid assassin without a mouth rather than an evil mastermind without a mouth. But I love that The Benefactor uses MS-DOS for all his business dealings. That is just a genuinely cool and scary thing for an evil weirdo to do, seriously. Although, if we'd found out that The Benefactor used Windows 95 I'd get so many chills also. Old technology is straight-up freaky sometimes.

Oh, right, the full moon.

I'm really, really glad this season isn't just skipping over Malia's journey into self-actualization, you know? Like yeah, she's uneducated, but this season had implied that she'd become fully in control of her coyote abilities over Christmas break, and I'm just so glad that she's still learning and we get to see the process. For one thing, learning how to control those abilities is a compelling arc for any werewolf. But I'm loving the gender flip here so much. Like, normally werewolf transmogrification is just a big heavy-handed metaphor for a MAN's primal urges and there's almost always a kind of disturbing undercurrent to it, like a constant threat of sexual violence toward whatever woman is trying to tame him. It's a gross and tired trope, but seeing it reversed like this is like a breath of fresh air. Here it's the dude who must be patient and understanding while the woman struggles to control herself. In this case Malia alternated between warning Stiles away and also bragging that she was looking forward to crushing his bones. What a conflict! And it's finally divorced from the latent misogyny these narratives normally traffic in. Like, I know you didn't come here to read an essay about gender politics in teen supernatural dramas, but still. This Malia-Stiles stuff represented a really important addition to the werewolf mythos and of course Teen Wolf went there. We have fun with this show every week, but let's not forget how straight-up groundbreaking it can be. (Also Shelley Hennig remains incredible.)

Anyway, I don't mean to be rude, but what THE F*CK is this supposed to be:

This is NOT a werewolf. Not possible, sorry. I see the yellow eyes, I see the werewolf press-on nails. But this is NOT a werewolf, at least not like any werewolf I've ever seen on TV. Does he even have a gym membership? Not buying it. But whatever, don't worry about it, this keg delivery-man posing as a werewolf got murdered right away:

And he was murdered by that new freshman girl who was dating Garrett! And she has a bolo tie that becomes red-hot and can decapitate people! And also she must have a really weird Instagram account.

Was she a hunter or what? Actually she was just an assassin. AS IS GARRETT:

Yep, The Benefactor sent them a text message to pay them for murdering that dude (when The Benefactor doesn't send messages using MS-DOS I think he uses Virgin Mobile?). So yep, just a couple of 15-year-old teenage assassins, why do you ask?

Meanwhile Lydia went upstairs and discovered that her lake house that she's been to a million times has a weird white room with white carpet and faces in the wall:

Also we learned that this house actually belonged to her grandmother, so I think we can safely assume the grandmother was a banshee also. Like, the room was sound-proofed and also the record on the record player was basically just whispered yammerings, which is the #1 summer jam for all banshees. Also earlier in the scene Lydia spilled wine on the carpet and started crying because her family is poor, which was pretty weird.  Not sure where THAT plotline's going.

Meanwhile at the boat house, things were getting literally steamy.

After Liam growled at everybody too much Kira hit him in the head with an oar and he fell asleep looking like an angel:

Meanwhile Scott and Kira slow danced to whatever and she tried to get him to wolf out via horniness.

And he got them glowing red eyes, which is basically a werewolf boner. Victory: Kira! But then, whoops:

Liam woke up and he was NOT happy about his current situation so he busted out the window and ran into the woods. We've all been there. We will always be there.

This was good:

Stiles DARED Malia to hurt him, so he unlocked her chains and told her to fight her instincts so she did and she got everything under control. Thus is the power of a cute boy. But seriously this scene was very cute and moving and is it weird to anybody else that Shelley Hennig STILL looks good even in monster makeup? Anyway, Malia remains the best.

So then Scott chased Liam out into the woods and they tussled! 

I'm not sure why an Alpha was so easily overtaken by a newborn bb but maybe because Scott was trying to be polite. For a minute there it looked like Liam was about to slap Scott's head clean off! But then at the last second THIS happened:

Where have we seen flash-grenade arrowheads before??

ARGENT!!! He's back! And beardier than ever!

So good. Welcome back, friend. Mr. Argent looked to be in pretty good spirits, considering. (Considering ISAAC IS GONE.)

Back at the high school The Mute tried to set off a bomb and blow off Sheriff Stilinksi's face, but he and Derek turned the tables big time!

But before they could arrest and bring a mouth-less man into a court of law, a certain former CGI villain showed up to tear an assassin UP.

Oh, Peter Hale. 

I would be mad too if somebody stole all my bear bones and threw an axe at me. This felt pretty justified in my opinion.

Meanwhile Argent told Scott to go pep-talk Liam about being a good werewolf (Argent is still the world's chillest werewolf hunter, isn't he?)

UGH I LOVED THIS PART SO MUCH. Liam admitted that the main thing he was concerned about in becoming a werewolf was becoming a monster and getting into trouble and ruining more cars and having to live in the shadows and all that. But Scott was there to be an example that werewolves could actually be superheroes basically. (And hunks. Or keg deliverymen, but Liam will probably just be a regular hunk werewolf.) And that seemed to finally win Liam over. See, werewolf puberty is hard for everyone but I have a feeling Liam will come out the other side of it pretty okay. 

Meanwhile the banshee wallpaper told Lydia how to break the code to her gibberish.txt file. It involved a password and that password was POIGNANT.

And that's when the gibberish.txt file turned into something much more sinister: A LIST OF NAMES!

And not just a list of names. A HIT LIST. 

Few things are as stressful as seeing your own name on a hit list, so Lydia was not thrilled about that. But look at that list! The first four were that Wendigo family, case closed. And Demarco was the keg dude. But what do the numbers mean? Is that how valuable their deaths were? Should Kira be super offended that her life is worth only $6? (It's in regular dollars right?) Also, Lydia said this list was the names of the town's supernaturals, but why wasn't it complete? Where was Peter Hale? Or Kira's mom? Or Kate Argent? Or Meredith the banshee? LOTS TO SPECULATE ABOUT.

"The Benefactor" was another terrific episode in a season I'm very in love with. Scott's growth as a leader continues; Stiles' relationship with Malia is both moving and important; and the monster madness continues unabated. PLUS the return of Argent? What more could we possibly need? (Besides Isaac.)

I liked this episode very much BYEEE


QUESTIONS

... Will Liam make a good werewolf, a bad werewolf, or a tiny werewolf?

... How great is Malia?

... Is The Mute going to heaven, be honest.

... Are you currently an assassin engaged in a supernatural death pool?


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 9/8/2014

Season 4 : Episode 12

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