Teen Wolf 5×16 Review: Lie Ability
This episode of Teen Wolf contains part two of the heist undertaken in episode 15, in which the gang rushes to develop a plan B for saving Lydia from Eichen House and the clutches of mad Doctor Valek.
Long, overly-convoluted, excruciatingly slow-mo’d story short, plan A going sideways means that Scott’s pack (read: Scott, Stiles, Liam, Mason, Kira, and Malia, plus bonus Parrish, Meredith and Mama Martin) and Theo’s pack (read: Theo, Hayden, Corey, Tracy, and Josh) have to work together to rescue a very trepanned Lydia, after she’s already scream-killed Dr. Valek (911, Karma Police? Someone needs to learn that this is what you get when you mess with us. Yes, I’ll hold). And all it takes is Dr. Alan “Can You Vague That Up For Me” Deaton and a huge dose of mistletoe to fix that right up! Why? Don’t ask questions!
Embedded in a flashback, the sex scene with Liam and Hayden is deeply uncomfortable. Don’t cast actual teenagers and then show them having sex. It’s creepy. At any rate, while babysitting Deucalion, Hayden considers the idea that her feelings for Liam make her a liability to Theo’s pack. Deucalion responds, “Worry less about being a liability and more about your ability to lie.” Lie ability. Ugh. I love puns, and that’s still awful.
But that wasn’t what bothered me most about this week’s installment. It’s the continuation (and, if we’re uncharacteristically lucky, the completion) of a problematic pattern that’s been churning in the Teen Wolf universe ever since season one, but has certainly worsened since then: the consistent and repeated incapacitation of Lydia Martin.
Now, granted, there’s a lot of manipulation and abuse going on in the Teen Wolf universe, and depicting that, in and of itself, isn’t a problem. But to inflict the same helplessness on one character over and over without commentary or major thematic through-line is a problem.
End of season one: Peter assaults Lydia, putting her in a coma that lasts until the beginning of season two, when she goes missing and wakes up scared, alone, and naked in the woods. For the rest of the season, Peter invades her psyche and emotionally tortures her while her friends essentially gaslight her by withholding everything they know about the supernatural, even the things that are specifically relevant to Lydia herself. As season two comes to a close, Lydia’s only opportunity to be proactive is when she saves Jackson’s life by forgiving him for being an abusive piece of garbage toward her. All this in time for him to move to London without so much as a “thanks for the get-out-of-death-free card.”
In season three, Lydia’s powers begin to develop, manifesting themselves as sudden, uncontrollable screaming fits and being pulled to murder scenes against her will. In 3A, she is nearly strangled for knowing too much—something over which she still has no control—and in 3B, she is kidnapped by the nogitsune. Season four sees Lydia desperately trying to get a handle on her powers and use them to her advantage, but mostly just ends up experiencing more deaths, learning about her grandmother’s tragic death (also because of her status as a banshee), and desperately trying to survive having her name on a kill list. And, finally, this season finds Lydia forced into a catatonic state for nearly six straight episodes. In the same “medical institution” where her grandmother died, she and Stiles were restrained and almost murdered, and where Meredith faked her own suicide and enlisted the help of a psychopathic orderly to help her organize a murder spree (Meredith is also still in Eichen House, of course; also catatonic). Doesn’t this town have a sheriff’s department with a passable understanding of medical malpractice law?
The point is this: the invasion, possession, and subjugation of Lydia’s character is both thoughtless and narratively lazy. We can only hope that this episode, with Lydia’s rescue and cure, marks the end of the repetitive cycle.
Author: Kate Colvin
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