Teen Wolf 4×11 Review: A Promise to the Dead

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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 disconnect2 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.

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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!

Author: Kerry


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  1. Professional be damned! This episode of Teen Wolf definitely required a bit of casual ‘what the heck is going on’ and you’ve basically summed it up in one go: What is going on in Beacon Hills, what has been going on in Beacon Hills, and also why, who, and Mexico.

    It’s especially worrying since this is the penultimate episode of a rather sad and wilting and puffed up season. There are too many questions and not nearly enough time to answer and what’s even more disheartening is that it seems as though the writers aren’t even looking to answer these questions. Viewers can only dismiss so much before a show becomes less of a show and more of a lace doily.

    Other things that left a bitter taste in my mouth:
    a) Scott McCall planning a romantic date where Derek lives and Boyd was killed. Cool.
    b) The fact that this was meant to be a Derek and (particularly) Lydia centric season but new characters have been seeing more screen time than either of them.
    c) Stiles and Derek are in the same room for once. Scott and Derek finally get a short scene. Stiles and Lydia get a phone call. I miss the original cast actually working together as a group, not sketchy meetings with a maximum of two people.
    d) Berserkers. Way to make the plot (????) take a new turn with one episode to explain it all. I understand the appeal of leaving a season at a cliff hanger, but this isn’t a cliff hanger, this is a new and vague direction with no guarantee or insurance or hope.
    e) Someone’s going to die and if my JD-senses are tingling, it’s probably Derek or Chris Argent. Heck, people should have died long ago, if only sex and miracles weren’t there to heal them!
    f) I guess the deadpool is gone and forgotten about? Wasn’t that just last episode? Is time irrelevant? What is time?

    So, essentially, i’m not too hopeful for the season finale. May God be with our souls.

    1. Thank you for reading! And allowing me to be unprofessional for once!

      I really can’t believe it’s the penultimate episode. It certainly did not feel like it at all. Was it supposed to be a Derek and Lydia heavy season? Because that is laughable at this point. If Derek does die, which I wouldn’t even be surprised, I would be sad just because we never truly got a chance to really explore this character and it’s getting pretty clear Tyler Hoechlin feels the same way in his interactions with fans at cons. The writers leave the actors out on a lot and that is not cool at this point.

  2. A hot mess is the only way that episode can be described.

    TBH, now that we’ve seen how the Benefactor arc played out, I think the entire season has been a hot mess mixed in with some really nice character moments here and there.

    But here’s the things that I’ve noticed:
    -I’m a little annoyed that Stiles’ aftermath with the Nogitsune wasn’t explored, in fact it seems like it was co-opted by Liam and his Berserker PTSD. In fact, Stiles could’ve been missing from this season and probably wouldn’t have made a difference.
    -A high point in the season though has been Scott’s growth. I’ve really like most of his scenes this season.
    -Lydia’s arc was a bit of a bust. Holland was spectacular in all her scenes, but none of them went anywhere, or were entirely ridiculous.
    -The ‘everybody owing money’ storyline seems like it’s gonna be dropped quicker than it started. We’ve already seen Eichen House dropping the bill for the Stilinski’s. I think everything else will also be deus ex machina’d away.
    -The Parrish/Chris scene was terribly written this episode. It was cheesy and over-melodramatic. Probably what they were going for and 1000s of fangirls will eat it up with a spoon.
    -Still am annoyed with no story for Kira at all this season. She’s a love interest primarily. And she seems to only use her kitsune powers to light lightbulbs. I don’t understand her power.
    -The Malia/Peter relationship was woefully wasted. It had so much promise and has gone absolutely nowhere.
    -Deaton suddenly caring for Derek. Since the show has shown time and time again that Deaton will choose Scott over Derek which was illustrated with that terrible Master Plan in s2, I can’t really believe Deaton suddenly has the promise to uphold.
    -The villain motivations make no sense whatsoever, like every year.
    -Starting to wonder why I care about any of these characters, or why these characters are so worried about maybe having the people around them die. As illustrated by their reactions to Allison, Boyd and Erica’s deaths, they seem to get over them all pretty quick, and barely impacts their lives. Just let everybody die, who cares — seems to be the message the writers of the show are sending.

    And yet, I’ll still keep watching this show. Unless Derek does indeed leave or die, then I’m out. But I’m always interested to see just how crazy this show can get and how little the writers will care about any plot or character continuity or logic.

    I do agree that the editing of this season has been the worst of all of them. Between the quick-cut disjointed scenes, the slow-motion, and the music that doesn’t suit the tone of the scenes, the editors need to be fired. A few scenes/episodes were ruined because of editors style choices.

    1. Ohmigoodness, I am so disgusted that a) Allison was not given a funeral/her death not truly explored and b) Stiles’ PTSD is ignored completely.

      Stiles essentially remembers killing a LOT of people. He’s basically in a sense responsible for Allison’s death and now he’s just funny and snarky and making out with Malia all day. Gross. Stiles was such a great character that they’ve completely let down in, what I suspect, was a frantic attempt to remove any hints of Sterek.

      1. What did Stiles’s Nogitsune ordeal ever have to do with Sterek? How would showing Stiles suffering with PTSD have hinted at Sterek? For what it’s worth I agree about the hot mess of S4 and how they should’ve properly acknowledged the loss of Allison and the impact of the possession on Stiles. But the one time they did address Stiles’s possession was in a non-funny scene with Malia.

        1. I think when the writer mentioned sterek re: stiles’ character development, they were talking about different events entirely not related to PTSD or post-nogitsune. Ex: Stiles used to do research for and assist the pack, but now that aspect of his character seems to have been completely removed, just because the writers seem to want to squash the popular pairing of Stiles/Derek under their foot. (genie is out of the bottle!!!)

          All in all, Teen Wolf needs to focus more on the characters that still have a story to be told, and less on new characters, slow motion fight scenes, and relationships between characters that really are in no shape for romantic development.

          1. Stiles used to do research for and assist the pack, but now that aspect of his character seems to have been completely removed

            I’m really confused by this statement. Stiles has been acting as researcher and assisting the pack all through S4. He’s had his crime board up, he’s been leading the Benefactor investigation, he’s the one who worked with Lydia to find the cypher keys and stop the dead pool, he figured out how the virus was spread, etc. Stiles also assisted the pack in rescuing Derek from Kate, helping Malia fit into human society, helping Liam adjust to his werewolf powers, etc. Stiles main contribution to S4 has been assisting and investigating for the pack.

            And I still fail to understand why Stiles a) being a researcher or b) having PTSD after being possessed, has anything to do with Jeff not pandering to Sterek fans. Stiles being a research or being possessed never had anything to do with Derek in the first place. Few of Stiles’s individual storylines have anything to do with Derek and that’s been true since S1 of the show.

  3. A hot mess? You’re kinder in your review than I would be. At this point, it’s an embarrassment. I’m sorry I recommended this show to friends. It’s always had plot holes, but at least some of the characterization and relationships used to be good. But now those are out the window, too. I have no idea what this show is trying to do, and I doubt the writers do, either.

    I agree that the overload of characters is a big part of the problem. I feel like the writers are trying to shoe-horn in so many subplots with so many characters that they can’t manage any of them. There was never a reason to have so many assassins. One or two would have served the purpose for the dead pool. As for new characters that would be part of the story, it would have been better to limit them to three – Liam (because of the Scott’s-beta development), Kira (partly due to her relationship with Scott and partly because she was anchored into the group last season), and Parrish (who, again, was introduced slowly last season – also I’m choosing him for shallow reasons because I like RK and I like having another character who’s a bit older than the teens). A 12-episode season doesn’t have room for more that that, unless you sacrifice some of the established characters.

    And that’s unfortunately what this show has done. Development of Scott and Liam’s relationship (which again, this is Scott’s first bitten beta, so it should be more impactful) has gotten only the occasional desultory nod. Stiles has been essentially reset to S1, with no real character development or struggle that would be expected given what he went through with the Nogitsune, and his entire arc this season has been to comment on Malia’s progress (and I won’t even start on how much I loathe the writing for Malia). Derek gets hardly any airtime at all in spite of his character dealing with what should be a significant change/loss. Kira has been relegated to generic love-interest. Lydia maybe fared slightly better – at least she’s gotten airtime – but often at the expense of keeping her away from most of the other teens.

    Even the core relationship of the show – Scott and Stiles – has taken a backseat this season.

    At this point, I’m just waiting for next week’s finale so that I can close out this season rather than waiting because I’m interested in it. That makes me sad.

    1. Haha thank you for your kind words! I am also embarrassed that my friends and I are still watching this mess of a show. I can’t stand being so repeatedly disappointed by this show. Stiles is a gross shadow of what he could’ve been and I’m so upset how he’s been handled. But I’m especially upset with Derek. They’ve totally destroyed him and any chance of learning about the Hales in any sort of way. My dream would be a Hales-prequel-spinoff but that dream is dead.

  4. Okay the moment they gave a new character, Liam, a PTDS story and not Derek or even Stiles or anyone we knew from S1 i was like, i lost all hope for this show…i guess seeing a huge animal skeleton covered man is more traumatizing than being sexually abused, family burning alive, etc (Derek)…or being possessed by a Nogitsune (Stiles)

    What the show is doing to Kira is just bad…where is the awesomeness i except from her? and what it has done to Brae is disrespectful…Jeff had a POC female character back from the dead, but for what? cos she’s not a mercenary (the Chris in sewer scene should’ve been her tracking them down)…she’s just there to sleep with Derek and show skin, that’s it…i hope something interesting is revealed about her

    This season has actually made me believe that my own headcanon is the ‘actual’ thing and the one i see every week is just Jeff’s badly written fanfiction….Pokemon anime does a better job with character development when it comes to characters that just pop up for a single episode, than Teen Wolf

    1. I cannot agree with this post enough. I stopped thinking of what happens on the show as being canon long ago– now I look at the show as simply one (seriously messed up and poorly trained) fan’s interpretation of the characters. At this point I can accept almost any head canon except that put forth by Jeff Davis.

    2. Okay the moment they gave a new character, Liam, a PTDS story and not Derek or even Stiles or anyone we knew from S1 i was like, i lost all hope for this show…i guess seeing a huge animal skeleton covered man is more traumatizing than being sexually abused, family burning alive, etc (Derek)…or being possessed by a Nogitsune (Stiles)

      THIS. SO MUCH.

  5. I just want to know why Braeden is still around and why Derek is paying her to find Kate when almost every character has found Kate at this point except Braeden.

    1. At this point I can only assume Braeden is being paid to keep Derek in bed and out of Peter and Kate’s way. Because if she’s a mercenary, she isn’t doing her job very well at all. But if her real job is to keep Derek sex-stupid and unconcerned about anything outside the bedroom, she’s highly committed to it, massive bodily injury or no.

      1. At first, I was SO EXCITED to see a hot badass interracial couple on tv. Tyler Hoechlin and Meagan Tandy are both gorgeous and, I have to admit, I enjoyed seeing m/m racist fangirls flip out over Derek and Braeden together. But as the show has gone on, they’ve become so one-note and BORING. How could people so gorgeous and potentially badass be so boring? UGH.

      2. Having Braeden actually working for Peter to keep Derek out of the way assumes that Jeff actually uses any type of logic when he’s writing rather than just wanting to write in yet another incredibly boring hetero ship between 2 character with zero chemistry.

  6. i guess this review isn’t only just pertaining to this episode but the whole entire season:

    i’m just so confused about everything this show is doing. the writers and whoever else is responsible for coming up with these story ideas and “plot twists” are literally pulling whatever they can out of their asses. they’re trying to outsmart the fans, but by doing so, they’re just confusing everyone and coming up with lame-ass story lines with lame-ass villains with lame-ass purposes. like

    1. The writers are AWFUL. I cannot believe what they are doing and getting away with it. My best friend says they just throw ideas at the wall to see what sticks. I believe it.

  7. Last night episode was a absolute train wreck! The writters were making background character more like main character’s. I was getting sick and tired of Liam and berserk hallucination, at this point I wanna kill the kid off already. This entire season has been all around sloppy half a**done.

  8. You know, I think that if we still got plenty of core character interactions (i.e. Scott, Stiles, Lydia, Derek), I could handle all of the other criticisms we have. But so far it seems like we only get two-second peeks at full-pack interaction. Other than that, it’s been almost exclusively one or two main chars, max, plus some of the new chars.

    I don’t mind the new characters – characters have left/died, so they need to flesh out the numbers and I get that. But where the hell is Lydia 90% of the time? Off on her own, or /maybe/ with Stiles. Derek seems to now be living in his bed with Braeden. Would Scott even recognize Lydia, at this point? Even the Scott & Stiles show seems to have gone off air, because Scott is always either off with some random character or with Kira/Liam, and Stiles is almost always with Malia (or maybe Lydia).

  9. I think TPTB for TW are struggling with a few problems caused by their initial writing and (perhaps?) casting of their titular character.

    1. Season 1 was almost dedicated to making Scott McCall a moronic teenager in love. Personally, I preferred that Scott. He was failing at things which forced others to interact AND that flaw is expected for someone his age. Further, it bothered Derek (see his past), endangered people (mostly Stiles), and amused Peter (yay).

    By season three, the writers seemed to be determined make Scott smarter. It’s like had an epiphany that a “moron in love” cannot be a leader and felt Scott had to be a leader. Despite fans passionately loving/hating Scott’s flaw and being happy with Derek as alpha, writers started making fixes. They shoehorned lines into scenes to make Scott look smarter despite how badly those scenes flowed. For example, Scott doing pull-ups next to a stack of books (my 7 year old has read a few in the stack and I’d read most by age 12) while reading another children’s book (3.1), learning and using “words of the day” (3.1), and having the two snarkiest characters on the show (Peter 3.5 and Stiles 3.1) compliment him on his improvements. Stiles would compliment Scott….. But Peter, no. Just no.

    This season, we have random people praising Scott to prove to Liam how awesome Scott is. (Maybe if Scott was spending less time making out with Kira and more time training/bonding with Liam then he would get the opportunity to see Scott’s greatness himself?)

    2. Scott McCall without the “stupid in love” flaw is a less interesting character than any other on the show. To name a few:

    ** Derek – Is there any character in any story more broodily tragic than Derek from seasons 1-3a? Ok, seasons 3b-4 has Derek OOC with smiles for Scott (why???) while calling the one teen who saved his tail several times a hyperactive spaz.
    ** Peter – Ok, HE may be more tragic than Derek. He’s such an unreliable narrator, it’s hard to say how much he lost in that fire. But between his temporary(?) insanity, sass, Machiavellian nature, he can shark jump at will. Lovely character.
    ** Allison – A woman that kicks arse and isn’t a brain dead bimbo. So they killed her.
    ** Isaac – A grave digging kid who had an older brother who died in the military and an abusive father before he wolfs out.
    ** Stiles – Comic relief (cheap pop but comedy is gold) with hints of guilt over loss of mother.
    ** Etc.

    Poor Scott gets a rather boring story with an awesome mom and one possible tragedy (bad-missing father). Scott’s story would be a tiny bit more interesting if his first/great love’s death actually had an impact on his behavior. He seemed to be more upset at the beginning of season 3 when he simply wasn’t speaking with Allison for a few months than he has been upset by her death.

    3. Dylan O’brien is the best actor on TW. AND he is one of those actors who makes other actors look good. He sells their acting by his great reactions.

    Think on your favorite scenes with any character (Melissa McCall, Peter, Derek), check the scene again and you’ll find that the actor is paired with Stiles in that scene. Even if the chemistry is platonic, it is still there.

    But the JD/writers think that MTV didn’t sign on for the “BFF of a Teen Wolf” show. So when Scott gets romance, his number of scenes with Stiles shrink. Which is bad because (see above) O’brien makes other actors look good and MTV would be happier with a highly watched BFF show than a TW with sinking ratings.

    4. And, of course, Tyler Posey himself has indicated he isn’t happy if people are watching for bizarre, weird, twisted, and wrong reasons. Ratings are bound to sink a show’s top billed actor offends a big chunk of your viewers and TPTB don’t force an apology.

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