Teen Wolf 4×11 Review: A Promise to the Dead
This is going to be the least professional opening to any piece of writing I have written for this web-site but here it goes:
Teen Wolf is officially a hot mess. Literally the hottest of messes.
First of all, I cannot stand this season’s habit of cold openings featuring unknown and unnecessary characters in an attempt to draw us in. Newsflash, Teen Wolf writers: we don’t care about these characters at all. We watch this show about the characters we do care about, the ones you’ve been torturing with sloppy writing and a basic incomprehension of how time works.
“A Promise to the Dead” opened with yet another teenager bound and gagged with duct tape (yet another disturbing recurring trend) about to be killed by some nameless baddie. Who he is or what he’s doing doesn’t matter. Deaton shows up just in time to rescue the teenager and take the baddie to Eichen House, which is apparently the Arkham Asylum of the Beacon Hills universe. All manner of supernatural bad guys are locked in there including a poor man’s Dr. Lecter (complete with glass cage and smarmy British accent) who literally has a third eye and can tell Deaton how to help Derek return to his werewolf status. At least someone seems to be worried about the ever-weakening Derek Hale, though Deaton implied that he only did so because of a promise he made to a woman he loved. Was it Talia? Because that would be awkward for everyone involved. Anyway, Deaton’s storyline pretty much ends here because he slips into a coma only to conveniently come back out of it at the end due to Lydia and like the personification of deus ex machina that he is, explain to the others just where they can find the missing Scott. Thanks, Deaton!
The rest of the episode had a distinctly whiplash feel to it as it jumped from scene to scene with little regard to continuity (ok, how long were Peter and Chris standing off against each other because it took place at the same time as Scott and Kira’s date? Also, Parrish was with Chris in the sewers for the entirety of the lacrosse game while Chris was profusely bleeding. It makes no sense that Chris is alive at all. Unless he’s supernatural, too which at this point, I wouldn’t even be shocked anymore). There was very little sense of interconnection between the different narratives and the show is really showing this disconnect between the characters. Scott and Kira seem to exist in an entirely different world than Derek, who exists in an entirely different world than Lydia, who barely exists in the same world as Stiles and so on and so forth. A particularly jarring example of the poor editing and writing was the immediate jump from a tense and violent fight scene between Scott and Kira and Kate’s Berserkers to Liam and Stiles wondering what is taking Scott so long to get to the lacrosse game. Everything from Stiles’ snappy comebacks to Liam and Coach and the lighthearted music indicated that this scene was supposed to be funny. But how can it be when we the audience know that Stiles has just been violently attacked and kidnapped by Kate?
Perhaps it’s in an effort to appear sophisticated but Teen Wolf is also suffering from convoluted villains with unclear goals. While some ambiguity is perfectly fine with your villains, it feels rather like the writers are simply throwing darts at a wall covered in cliches. Peter is working with Kate and Peter wants Scott dead. Kate wants Scott but not dead. Peter wants Kate dead. Chris wants Kate dead… maybe. Peter probably wants Chris dead. He probably even wants Malia dead after she performs whatever errands he gives to her in order to track down her mother, the Desert Wolf. Who’s the Desert Wolf? Is it Kate? Ew.
Also, the deadpool that has been the cornerstone of the last several episodes was barely mentioned here. Has anyone actually been arrested and charged for all those killings? Or has Beacon Hills conveniently moved on like it seems to do every season?
Overall, the episode suffered from too much at once and a lack of focus on what drew us all to this show in the first place: Scott, Stiles, Lydia, and Derek. There’s nothing wrong with adding new characters (Kira is my favorite character on the show now) but the whiplash writing style has prevented us from actually developing any sort of attachment to them. They’re just there, like background scenery. When the show attempts to focus on them, we get bored. I genuinely do not care about Liam’s Berserker visions or his anger issues. Perhaps if we had been given more time to learn about him before he was thrown into the pack, I’d feel differently. But right now I’m dreading another season of looking at this kid’s confused face.
Ok, I should mention some high points: Mama McCall was awesome and sadly underused. Her opening scene with Scott was the only genuine moment in the entire episode. I also loved the funny and brotherly interplay between Scott and Derek. I truly, truly miss Derek being an active part of the pack and interacting with these characters, even though he was usually a creeper while doing so. At least now he appears a bit calmer and more comfortable in his own skin. Seeing him smiling and rolling his eyes at Scott was refreshing. I wish that scene had lasted longer.
More than anything, though, I wish this episode had actually felt like a Teen Wolf episode and not a series of vignettes vaguely strung together.
What were your thoughts on this episode? Are you as confused as I am? Also, who’s ready for another road trip to Mexico next episode? Comment below!
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