Whenever people try to tell me that dreams have special meaning I always have to remind them of what a weird and dumb device the human brain is. Like, the brain is a straight-up idiot most of the time we're awake, so do not tell me it's sending me coded metaphors that predict the future when I'm asleep. A dream is just the brain's way of running around in a vacant lot tipping over garbage cans and eating dandelions. Dreams mean nothing, and that's why my eyes glaze over whenever somebody tells me about a dream they had, or worse, when a character on TV experiences one. Dream sequences are, at best, a zero-stakes writing crutch; at worst, they deceive and disrespect the audience. Movies and TV episodes are already extended dream sequences in and of themselves, there's no need to slather on even more fiction.
THAT BEING SAID, the reason why Teen Wolf's dream sequences WORK is that they're not necessarily dream sequences. When we get glimpses into these characters' psychologies there's usually a supernatural reason behind it, and the characters usually wake from them changed. Consider those druid-hastened hallucinations in "Motel California," or the purgatory sequence when Allison, Stiles, and Scott temporarily killed themselves, or Stiles' triple-fakeout mental problems from last season's premiere. Teen Wolf knows that it can only get fanciful when the fantasy has actual risk and effect, and that tradition continued in "Time of Death," certainly one of this season's best episodes. Not only did it traffic heavily in nightmare dream logic, it was understated and scary without ever relenting in its tension or lowering its stakes. So good.
Let's talk about it!
Okay, so this was admittedly exactly the kind of dream sequence fakeout I was just claiming Teen Wolf doesn't do, but what redeemed it was how INCREDIBLY DEVASTATING it was? First it toyed with our emotions to make us think Stiles and Malia hadn't actually broken up after last week's walkout. But then also it gave us this completely charming scene wherein the two tried to figure out how to literally sleep with each other.
But nope! She was not actually there. Stiles had imagined it. Man, have you experienced a break-up recently? Did this scene basically harm your heart? So tough.
Meanwhile at the station Scott's dad was feeling a little bit of remorse about splattering the PSAT proctor's brain matter all over Stiles' face.
Haha this guy is such an expert FBI agent, so perceptive and intelligent. He was starting to get the feeling that the obvious band of monsters hanging around him at all times (and occasionally stabbing him with ghost-kitanas) might actually be monsters or something. Stay tuned for when he finally makes the big discovery!
Meanwhile this was a TRIPLE cold open because the opening titles still hadn't come on yet the kids had busted out their expensive laptops and were discussing a very dangerous, very secret plan:
But even though we didn't know exactly WHAT they were planning, we didn't have to wait long to find out:
Scott died! He flatlined and died! Scott died! But how? Doesn't matter!
Guys, this was tough. I mean I knew he wasn't going to die for real since this show is called Teen Wolf and Scott is the #1 teenage werewolf in Beacon Hills (now that Isaac's gone j/k j/k) but that doesn't mean it's easy to see him DEAD on a slab and his mom scream-sobbing in the hallway. We care about these characters and even a fakeout can cause visceral reactions in our heartbones. Anyway, yeah:
So Mrs. McCall was in on it and is just a very good actress. And also Scott wasn't even truly dead, his heart had merely slowed to like one beat every ten minutes. Which meant they had forty-five minutes or so until he died FOR REAL. And the whole thing was meant to trick the Benefactor into showing up to get his own visual confirmation of the kill. It was a long-shot but not necessarily a terrible idea, despite what Kira's mom said.
As we learned in a flashback the main drawback from this weird fugue state was going to be the terrible dreams that came with it. And if Scott happened to have eaten any cheese beforehand, just imagine how much worse they would be now. Anyway, then Kira zapped him with her hand:
And off he went!
Meanwhile Stiles and Argent hacked the world (emailed the Benefactor) and claimed Scott's bounty:
But like a typical catfish, Argent refused to send a pic, which was weird because couldn't someone just get out their flip phone and snap a pic of Scott at the hospital? But the reason was that they wanted the Benefactor to confirm the kill himself, even though the Benefactor had made it VERY clear he didn't really do stuff like that. Oh well. Let's see how that works out.
Meanwhile Braeden woke up in Derek's bed dressed only in her ummentionables but he was a gentlemen and had slept on the couch. That's when she did what anybody else would do upon waking up from a shooting: Lift up Derek's tank top while he slept.
The main thing to know is they were obviously wound-flirting (flirting while wounded) so much but also Braeden was concerned about Derek losing his werewolf powers so quickly. See, she cares, you guys.
Meanwhile the kids and Argent put their plan into motion, but first Argent had to swing by Best Buy and get some kind of expensive computer wristwatch or whatever, doesn't matter.
And the kids had commandeered a hospital room (good thing nobody in Beacon Hills ever gets injured!) and set up their computers for maximum Person of Interest But With Monsters action.
Meanwhile Scott woke up inside a dream state and his shirt was still off, but it wasn't in the bright white room like we expected.
Also, Liam was there, but so was The Mute, and it turned out this was all going to be a three-part lesson in why it's okay to murder people sometimes. (Scott isn't a big fan of murder in general.)
See? Not a great dream, in my opinion. But at least it wasn't a sex dream, because the Mute is probably really awkward when it comes to that.
Across town a nosy coyote was bustin' into safes!
That's right, Malia found a manila folder cryptically labeled "Malia Tate adoption records" and let me tell you something, there is nothing worse than a manila folder that smells like human blood. Also Peter Hale is a ninja now because he somehow managed to enter one of the heavy vault doors without Malia hearing. Either that or he'd slept there the previous night, probably on a pile of rags in the corner. Also he was STRONG now.
Okay, Peter Hale. It's always a good idea to destroy a load-bearing support column in an underground vault. But also, why are you basically advertising the fact that you're stealing all of Derek's powers? For a secret mastermind your mind is neither very masterful nor secretive.
This is my new favorite pair: Mrs. McCall and Kira's mom just hanging out in a Toyota!
In the same way that we all want Mrs. McCall to become hugging partners with Sheriff Stilinski, I really want these two ladies to become besties, don't you? Just hanging out on weekends, shopping at Chico's, maybe doing pilates sometimes.
So you're like, 'Where's Lydia been'? Guys, relax, she was at the boat house this whole time, just sort of going through her grandma's sh*t and almost hitting her mom with an oar.
People in scary movies and TV shows sure do like to sneak up on other people who are clearly on edge, don't they? Like not only sneak into the room but sort of approach without saying anything. Discussion question: Is everybody a born creep?
Meanwhile Scott's dreams were like a video game in that they kept restarting. So for round 2 he went to the locker room and noticed he had more fangs than before, which Liam suggested might have to do with being an Alpha. (Does this mean he'll also become CGI soon also?? Please say yes.)
But whoops! The Mute returned also.
Ugh, still a bad and unsexy dream. Fortunately there was sexiness going on in a certain loft!
So Braeden decided that since Derek is turning into a pile of weaksauce he needs to learn gunplay. And her idea of gunplay involves basically learning how to shoot before anybody can snatch the gun out of your hand, which is admittedly VERY hard to do. But it also gave her the opportunity to manhandle Derek a little and the next thing we knew he was topless and they were rolling around on his dining room table. Now she was REALLY about to find out whether he still had any of his werewolf powers left.
Meanwhile at the hospital, some of the camera feeds cut out, so Liam and Kira went to the roof to investigate and guess who they found? Berserkers!
Unfortunately the Berserkers are not all that concerned with tiny baby werewolves or girls with super dull samurai swords.
No seriously, come on. It's very badass that Kira has a samurai sword, but is it even sharp at all? There's no way that Berserker shouldn't come away with a bleeding stump, yet here we were, a samurai sword was totally useless against rotten bone and Kira was getting punched in the face HARD. And frankly, Liam was NOT about to let a giant man in a bear skeleton costume beat up his dad's girlfriend.
Anyway, since Kira was knocked out on the ground, she dreamed about the time she and Scott stared at each other in bed and talked about going on a date or whatever.
So again, the world's slowest romance is still pretty cute. Good for them.
But unfortunately the clock was still ticking! At some point they were going to have to wake up Scott or else he was going to die, so Stiles was frantically calling Argent's wristwatch.
But whoops, he'd run into trouble! And that trouble was his sister.
Kate immediately denied being the Benefactor, but she was definitely interested in claiming Scott's body for some reason. Now, she herself had been trying to find out who the Benefactor was, so wasn't it weird that she was clearly running an errand for the Benefactor, who is almost definitely Peter Hale? I'm not sure I understand anybody's logic here, but that's fine. I think it's supposed to be misdirection. Anyway, if there was a Scott body to be had, Kate WANTED it and I'm sure it was just a coincidence that the Benefactor needed visual confirmation or whatever. I don't know.
Meanwhile, guess whose adoption papers were conveniently bloody and bullet-riddled right where the most important information was?
The question was JUST WHO was Malia's birth mother??
So yeah. Now Peter Hale and Malia were sort of working together, mostly because Malia wanted to know who her real mother was. But all Peter Hale knew was that she had been known as The Desert Wolf, which is just a classy name for Coyote. Peter Hale f*cked a coyote, basically.
Anyway, back at the hospital, a Berserker was flirting with a couple of MILFs!
Leave them alone, you big dummy! They don't want you.
Also Lydia's mom started to get REAL.
Not only was Lydia's grandma's urn filled with mountain ash, the whole house was made of it. I'm not sure how that works considering werewolves had gone to a party there, but yeah. Also Lydia's mom knew who Meredith was, so that was fishy. But again, not as fishy as the fact that Lydia's grandmother was probably not dead at all. Ugh, those crafty banshees.
I liked this moment where Chris and Kate basically agreed that they weren't going to kill each other and they should probably both chill out with trying to fight each other at all.
I actually really like the idea that Kate is just sort of a freelance villain without a particular agenda against our heroes. It really opens the door for her to do heroic stuff again, or make a bigger swing into villainy. But for now it's hard to tell where she falls and I like that about her. Much more interesting than just a regular big bad. Also, she ended up seeing Argent's fancy countdown watch so she knew something was up with Scott. Bingo. He wasn't dead.
Also he was having Part 3 of his bad dream, and this time it WAS slightly sexier in that the Mute was grabbing on Scott trying to help him learn how to murder his son.
And them he murdered Liam. YIIIIKES. Scary stuff. So the whole point of this dream sequence is to maybe explain how an Alpha may come to murder his own pack, as the pack of Alphas from Season 3A had done. I guess you just get naturally blood thirsty the more you murder. I mean it's a total stretch to think that Scott would hurt his beautiful bb Liam, but that's why this was so disturbing. Also Tyler Posey is secretly becoming one of the best actors on the show. He's always been the perfect lead for this premise, but lately he's doing next-level nuanced stuff. Good job, Tyler Posey!
So then his death dream was over and Kira zapped him awake and then mouth attacked him. But out in the hallway things weren't so happy:
Oh no, Kira's mom got hurt! Now I REALLY hate those dumb Berserkers. Kira's mom is awesome. Also I think the show has mentioned this before but she doesn't really have powers anymore. Is that because she gave them up so she could start a family, sort of like Superman did in Superman II? Not sure, I'm just sort of thinking out loud at this point.
So then Kate reported back to Peter Hale:
He said something like, "Oh thank gosh" when Scott was discovered to be alive, but it's not clear why. Like, the whole point of the dead pool is to eliminate all monsters right? And isn't the elimination of all monsters something that would increase Peter Hale's power in the town? Anyway, he's still denying that he's the Benefactor, his main reason being that he just wants his bear bones back. Whatever, Peter Hale.
Stiles and Malia eventually got their reunion, but it wasn't super happy. I guess she felt like she had nowhere else to go after her exhausting day in the vault, so she went to Stiles' bedroom and confessed that before she'd turned into a coyote and eaten her family she'd actively wished death upon them during a fight.
Stiles reassured her that she wasn't a bad person and it was all really sweet, but she still seemed pretty troubled about everything. Fair enough! She'd had a pretty rough situation these past few months and years. It's just so painful to see these two kind of broken up like this though. Hopefully that gets fixed soon?
After Derek finished doing sex to Braeden he got out of bed and decided to get good at weapons.
Is Derek going to become a mercenary like Braeden? Maybe! Ask me later.
At this point Scott and Kira were commiserating that their plan to fake-murder Scott didn't end up revealing the Benefactor, but Scott realized that it DID more or less confirm that the whoever made the dead pool was a banshee. And then, as if on cue, Lydia discovered an old scrap of paper that her grandmother had once scribbled on:
Whoops! So that was banshee language! I mean, let's be real, Lydia's grandmother is probably still alive, but I really doubt she's the Benefactor considering Lydia herself is on the dead pool. But this whole situation definitely reeks of banshee.
"Time of Death" was the best. What a good episode. Scary and confusing and thrilling, plus the characters got to do rad and important things. I liked it. Did you like it? And the music was noticeably good! I mean it's usually fine, but more than a few times I was actually GLAD to have that song listing pop up on the bottom of the screen, so that's saying something. Yeah, I liked "Time of Death" a lot. I don't think teens should be playing with death like that, it seems very unsafe, but still. I was entertained.
... Is the Benefactor working with a banshee? If so, who?
... How does Kate's hair look so good if she lives in the sewer?
... Why hasn't Derek noticed that his uncle is getting mysteriously buffer?
... Do you kinda miss Garrett, be honest.
AIRED ON 3/8/2016
Season 5 : Episode 20