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Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Teen Wolf 2x09: Party Guessed.

Previously: Teen Wolf 101: An introduction to the eighth wonder of our world. (Now available in audio as well!)

Why does Teen Wolf hate happiness? At this very moment I'm collecting vials of my own tears to freeze into an ice-sculpture, which will then be mailed to dastardly showrunner Jeff Davis as a sign of protest regarding his unendingly cruel treatment of Lydia. Stiles trying and failing to get a comically huge box through Lydia's door was the one moment of respite in this episode's otherwise horrifying montage of violence, trauma, and mass hallucinations. (Note: Because Dylan O'Brien is a Hayao Miyazaki animation of a baby animal, he makes the action of pushing a box through a door completely hilarious and adorable.)
This episode saw our favourite crew of preposterously good-looking "teenagers" attend Lydia's birthday party, which realistically featured Allison and Lydia wearing the product of several hours of decision-making while Stiles and Scott just turned up in the same shirts they wear to school every day. Like last week, "Party Guessed" was so full of drama that no one took their shirt off, although several people did get thrown into a pool. And Derek has this whole bloodstained vest thing going on that gives the audience a wealth of opportunity to notice that he moves about 100 times as many muscles in his arms as he does on his face, even when he's standing still. Rarely has he looked more like a videogame cut-scene character than when he was hanging out in the Werewolf Den, clad in little more than the Die Hard vest, blood, his ever-present five-o'clock-shadow, and a ton of hair gel.
Derek and the Ducklings.
Is it bad that I laugh and laugh as soon as Derek comes onscreen, and can't stop until he leaves? Same goes for Erica, who after last week's uncharacteristically sensible rave outfit is back on form in a black lace shirt and about 2 lbs of makeup -- perfect for a night spent in Derek's Disused Tunnel-o'-Trauma. I love that Derek is such a malfunctioning person that his super well-thought-out plan to restrain the baby wolves during the full moon is to whip out this medieval torture device rather than, like, build them a cell or something. I mean, what does he do all day? Considering how much he must have work out to maintain his current godlike figure, you'd think that he'd welcome another chance to lift heavy things onto other heavy things. Of course, there's always the possibility that he's just as terrible at DIY as he is at everything else -- a very workable explanation for why all his hangout spots look like sets from a horror movie.
I'm becoming morbidly obsessed with Derek's wolfpack because every time they show up they seem less and less competent and more and more likely to kill someone by accident. Isaac is a dick and very possibly destined for Evil, Erica craves attention but has no idea what to do with it once she has it, and although Boyd is relatively sensible I don't know how long his loyalty will last if the events of this episode mean that Derek is no longer the Alpha. I suspect that next week's ep is going to be another life-ruiner for Derek because his two options are that either he's no longer the Alpha, or that he's no longer a werewolf at all, meaning that either he's just lost his fledgling surrogate family or he's lost his entire identity, or both. Remember when Derek was happy and everything went well for him all the time? No, neither does Derek.
I'm never gonna give up on my fixation with the fact that in any other show, Derek would be a dark tragic angst-prince, but in Teen Wolf it's more-or-less openly acknowledged that he's absolutely terrible at everything. The only thing standing between Derek and abject failure is his ability to flex all 97 of his bicep muscles at once while glowering people into submission with his feral werewolf eyebrows. My immediate reaction to Derek is, and will always be, to cry until my room floods and I have to stand on top of a chair to escape the floodwaters while I shout to the ceiling: "DEREK HALE! HAS! A FACE!"
Briefly wresting the crown from Stiles' beautiful hands, Derek won the Funniest Moment award for this episode with his phonecall to Scott. Did I mention that Derek is terrible at everything? Did I?? He's so desperate that he calls Scott for help! It's not often that I give a performance-based gold star to Tyler Hoechlin, but his slightly high-pitched, "Everything's totally normal here!!" tone of voice in this scene was hilarious.
I'll never hear the phrase "telephoto lense" the same way again.
Matt and Allison
This is one of those moments where I have to applaud Teen Wolf for including something totally basic that nevertheless rarely gets shown in most teen dramas. I'm so used to drawn-out storylines where the characters act like idiots that I assumed that Allison would remain unaware of Matt's creepiness for several more episodes, maybe even to the extent of her breaking up with Scott in order to date Matt. I could see it unfolding in front of us: multiple episodes of Scott failing to communicate to Allison that her new boyfriend is a psycho, as Allison blythely continues to date Matt because girls are idiots. But no! Instead we get this brilliant scene where Allison finds the photos in Matt's camera, accompanied by suitably creepy incidental music that illustrates just how disturbing it'd be to find hundreds of photos of yourself on the camera of some guy you've gone out with once. Matt instantly transforms from "that creepy guy who you don't like very much" to "holy shit, he's a serial killer". For once, we get to see a teen show that not only accurately represents how a girl would feel in this kind of situation, but also how she should feel. It's easy to make comparisons between Twilight and Teen Wolf, but when it comes to treatment of female characters -- particularly in the context of romantic relationships -- Teen Wolf is Twilight's polar opposite. And the scene later on when Allison confronts Matt at the party and he suddenly gets all angry and defensive, even though all she's done is say that she finds his photo collection creepy? Perfect!
Lydia and Peter Hale
Lydia is the most alienated kid in this show. Even Derek isn't as lonely as she is. (Does she even have parents?) The way the audience gets to see Lydia is one of my favourite things about season 2, and it makes smart use of the editing difficulties caused by an ever-growing ensemble cast. In some cases (Boyd; Danny) the fact that there isn't enough screentime for everyone can be frustrating, but with Lydia it helps to illustrate why no one has any time to realise how much trouble she's in. Young-adult supernatural fiction is brilliant when it comes to these kinds of great big clanging metaphors for adolescent angst -- werewolves dealing with strange new urges and bodily functions; vampires lusting after people they never used to notice; human characters being dragged under by mind-control or demonic possession while their friends fail to notice.
I never thought I was going to be a person who loves Peter Hale, but Teen Wolf seems determined to make me accept that every single character is awesome. Peter is evil in a way that must surely be completely different from his personality prior to the Hale House fire. We may never know what he was like when he was still sane, the one lingering personality trait from his old life being the fact that he's cerebral in a way that most other Teen Wolf characters really... aren't. His treatment of Lydia is beyond creepy, but I feel like the writers are purposefully pushing all the ways in which he values both her intelligence, and intelligence in general. In season 1 he tried to recruit Stiles because he recognised that Stiles was "the smart one", and now he's commiserating with Lydia about how her friends never tell her anything. Oh, and on top of that he's always coming out with these random facts like some kind of quiz-generator. I get the impression that one of the reasons why he scorns Derek may be because Derek just isn't book-smart at all.
Spiking the punch.
I'm an idiot and am still not 100% clear what was going on with the spiked punch, so, uh, hit me up in comments if you can explain it to me? It seemed like the purple petals in the punchbowl were meant to be wolfsbane, but Lydia's hallucinated wolfsbane in the past so maybe it wasn't even there? Plus, wouldn't wolfsbane only effect wolves? Or effect werewolves and humans in different ways? Was it Matt or Lydia who did the spiking? Or was it just one of the gatecrashers, drugging everyone with something more mundane? Either way, the spiked punch did provide me with my favourite Scott Is A Potato moment of the episode: his hallucination of Allison making out with a kanima. Everyone else gets to hallucinate an emotionally-scarring image of their greatest fear or worry; Scott McCall freaks out because he thinks his girlfriend might make out with a giant lizard.
(Note: Like Scott, I am a potato, and therefore when we got to the part where Allison "shot herself", I was like, "Oh my god, does Allison have an evil twin? Is that where we're going with this, Teen Wolf??" which probably says a lot more about the calibre of the shows I habitually watch than it says about Teen Wolf itself.)
I can't believe that Lydia and Stiles aren't 110% married yet because they're clearly the only two members of their species in this entire show: adorable little geniuses with giant, tear-filled anime eyes. MFEO! Aside from this, my main commentary re: Stiles in this episode is the same as my commentary re: Stiles in any episode, ie, HOW DOES HE MANAGE TO BE THE COMIC RELIEF AND THE MOST EMOTIONALLY ENGAGING CHARACTER AT THE SAME TIME? Like, if Stiles and Derek ever had a baby, their genes would average out to create the normalest kid ever because Stiles has 200% emotions on his face and Derek has zero.

Victoria Argent
I'm already desperately hoping that she'll return from the dead as a werewolf next week, because this episode made me love her. You know, in a "Victoria Argent is a terrifying velociraptor" kind of way, not in the sense that I want to get pedicures with her while we discuss our favourite homicide techniques. As soon as she was bitten last week I immediately knew that this was going to be one of the best plot-twists of the season, and this episode didn't disappoint. Up until now Victoria had been a fairly one-dimensional figure, a terrifying foil for Scott's dual roles as a werewolf and the boyfriend of a teenage girl, but now I've seen the tender relationship between her and her husband I'm suddenly being sucked in like the sucker I am. At first glance she's this evil cyborg Desperate Housewife but at the end of "Raving" we got this incredibly tender scene with Chris cradling her suddenly fragile-seeming body, bookended this week by the unexpectedly personal tragedy of her death.
The Victoria/Chris death scene reminded me of something we were told in season 1 but hasn't really come up since then: that the Argents are matriarchal. Or at least that the women are the planners and thinkers while the men are the muscle, which implies to me that Allison's hunter training is going to step up in the near future. We didn't really see as much of this leadership with Victoria as we did with Kate, but between Victoria and Chris it was still pretty clear that Victoria was the strong one. Oh, and can I just say that Gerard Argent was on top form in this episode? Literally referring to himself as a "cold-hearted patriarch" because he's 100% self-aware that he's a terrifying homicidal warlord and just. Does. Not Care. And calling Victoria a coccoon that's just waiting to hatch! Does Gerard Argent have emotions? Signs point to no.
Teen Wolf realism moment of the week: Lydia's blurred eye-makeup in the opening scenes. No way would Lydia go to bed without taking her makeup off! Runners-up for Teen Wolf realism are Derek's still-mysterious subway train (is there even a subway in Beacon Hills?) and Peter Hale's glowingly white teeth when he first drags himself up out of the ground.
Favourite detail: Stiles calling all his new friends he met at the gay bar. CAN WE TALK SOME MORE ABOUT HOW STILES IS THE ONLY FUNCTIONAL PERSON ON THIS SHOW, PLEASE? He networks! He makes friends! He actually thinks about other peoples' feelings and understands how relationships work!


  1. I really, REALLY hope Victoria comes back, yes, even though I am terrified of her. I'm actually disappointed so far in the matriarchal Argent angle; I think the Tigh-patriarch mastermind is completely undercutting that stated "fact" of the family, and with the prominence given to the action undertaken by the men of the clan I find that so far I haven't had enough "show" (as opposed to "tell") that the women run stuff to really believe it. So when you add Victoria's death to that, ugh, it's kind of an issue.

    This said, I couldn't believe how packed that episode was! wow. Very impressive.

  2. I have never heard someone call a tank top a vest before! this linguistic development is fascinating to me.

  3. Maybe it was a type of wolfsbane? a few times they've made mention of such a thing so maybe this strain has hallucinogenic properties? O.o ? although why Scott didn't double over and start dying/being sick because of it if it really was wolfsbane i dunno.

  4. Stiles calling in the drag queens was the best thing.

  5. This was my thought! Swiftly followed by "never mind, call it a parquet floor for all I care, just let's have some more gifs of it please."

  6. BEST. I just love that he had their numbers in his phone. Like, how long were they actually at the bar before the lizard attack? NOT LONG. Has he gone back? Has he made friends? Seriously, questioning-or-bi Stiles is canon.

  7. thank you for this awesome review !
    my fave moment of this episode was when Erica casually talked about her period in a room full of male teens. it was like Harry Potter saying you-know-who name all over again XD
    oh and BTW we see Lydia's parents in the episode (can't remember the number) with the parents-teachers reunion. and I think they are those parents that are so socials that they don't see anything about their daughter.
    the scene with Victoria Argent was heartbreaking. and I hated this character. but now I think she was hardening her heart because she knew that her daughter would have to take the head of the Argents.
    when Stiles said that he knew people for the party I was like OMG HE TALKS ABOUT THE GAY BAR !!! and Danny making out and kissing in the (not really) background at the party ? yuuuuum ^^

  8. Never in my entire life have I ever felt so much joy and fondness over people being dumb as bricks. Teen Wolf has ruined me as a person. Every time Derek is completely incompetent I start seal-clapping and cooing. He just needs some help! He's emotionally stunted! No one ever taught him out to be a person! He was so lonely that he pulled a Bruce Wayne and started adopting emotionally disturbed teenagers and teaching them how to fight crime and failing to teach them how to not murder or how to be actual people with feelings. He's allergic to purple glitter in the face! [Also in answer to your question- "what does Derek do all day?" the answer is obviously "stalk teenagers"- for every reaction shot of Derek just appearing I like to think there are at least two hours of Derek standing completely still making the same vacant / intimidating expression.]

    And stupid Scott with his stupid dumb fears and totally inability to form complete thoughts that aren't about Allison and his total inability to accomplish living without Stiles (and their stupid friendship full of glitter and caring). And Jackson's adorable dumb little lizard face (I cooed when he wrapped his tail around his master and then wanted to stab myself in the face).

    This is only outmatched by my fondness for the actual intelligent people of Beacon Hills.

    UGH. I just agree with you about things and want to crawl into the TV and force people to cuddle and squish their dumb faces together. It's a problem.

  9. Right? and for all that Scott was getting his drinks paid for in that episode, it was Stiles who got adopted by the queens within 30 seconds of entering the bar. Everybody loves Stiles, true story.

  10. I just don't get it, if the Argents are supposed to by matriarchal, why the hell is Gerard making all of the decisions??!??!

    Also, the spiking of the punch...idk. The thing is, the plant aconite (wolfsbane) is actually extremely EVERYONE, not just wolves, so if it was wolfsbane flowers in the punch, the amount would probably have killed some people, or at least made them seriously ill.

  11. Drag queens love Stiles! I mean just look at his cheekbones, I bet the second he walked back into the bar someone was putting makeup on him.

  12. Britishism! 'Tank top' is only really used in the USA

  13. I thought it was some kind of hallucinogen that was not Wolfsbane? There are lots of weird plants that can easily be appropriated for TV! But I do wonder why it made Scott/Stiles/Allison hallucinate their boggarts and everyone else just want to...get down. Apparently.

  14. That wasn't Danny.

  15. Fantastic recap. Thanks for sharing.

  16. "He was so lonely that he pulled a Bruce Wayne and started adopting
    emotionally disturbed teenagers and teaching them how to fight crime and
    failing to teach them how to not murder or how to be actual people with

    This is an absolutely brilliant description. Now I'm imagining Isaac as Dick (the big brother who helps keep the others in line), Erica as Jason (the middle child who's trying too hard to be bad-ass), and Boyd as Tim (the thoughtful youngest child).

  17. Re: the subway train, I have personally decided that the warehouse used to belong to a family-run tram-and-subway-car assembly and repair shop in Beacon Hills that provided quality service to San Fransisco and other cities up and down the west coast, but they were put out of business when a big nation-wide chain set up shop in the next town over. Or, you know, it was Hale's Cable Cars (in business since 1879!) and they closed shop 6 years ago.

  18. I know right? They are such a perfect little bat-family. And Derek is just so ..... traumatized stupid angry scared lonely orphan Bruce. I mean Stiles is probably disappointed that he's never going to be Batman, but he should have thought of that before he decided to be a somewhat emotionally mature human. You can't be Batman AND be in touch with your feelings.

  19. Oh my god Derek. I am with you in the laughing, I seriously...every time he comes onto the screen I just do all the hysterical laughing because every decision he makes is a terrible one! It's actually a good thing that I've realised this, because before I discovered that he was in fact a giant idiot, I found the fact that he was ridiculously hot very distracting. Now though, yes I am away of his incredibly mobile muscles, and general ridiculously hot-ness, but I'm far more entertained by how much he is a complete and utter moron. He makes the worst decisions ever. EVER!

    Part of me was disappointed that Victoria was killed so quickly, I wanted more of that storyline to play out, so I hope she does somehow come back to. I am already pre-emptively angry by how much angst this is going to cause with Allison though. She's clearly going to step up her training with the intention of killing Derek, despite the fact that the only reason her mum got bitten was because she kidnapped and tried to kill Scott, and because nobody on this show knows how to make sensible decisions, or explain their actions properly, it'll probably take them about five episodes to explain that properly, by which time Allison will probably be mini-kate.

    One of my favourite tiny background details which fits in with the whole homophobia doesn't exist in Beacon Hills was at the party scene where Scott was looking for Stiles, and he walks past two guys kissing and it's in the middle of the party and not a hidden thing. Not a thing of focus either, just there.

    Sorry, this was a really long comment, it's just I only got into the show about a week ago, and nobody else I know watches it, and I just really need to rant about how everybody on it is an idiot.

  20. I agree 100% with everything said here. XD Especially the fact that while everyone else was hallucinating actual emotionally significant things (asldjofsj STILES), Scott McCall, potato extraordinaire, apparently has no thoughts in his head other than "Is that lizard a better kisser than I am?!"

    My favourite part was something no one's mentioned, though: Isaac. I really hope he's NOT being set up to be evil, because I was so proud of him! In this episode he managed to: 1. Be the only one who even thinks to ask why DEREK doesn't need to be restrained with medieval torture devices and then 2. Take Derek's frankly awful explanation and somehow manage to come to a really personal realization about what is important to him in his own humanity. And then he doesn't hide in the corner, which would be a totally reasonable reaction; he comes back, like a good pack member, to take care of his friends. Isaac Lahey is my werewolf MVP of this episode.

    (Stiles is always the human MVP. Sorry Lydia and Allison, you guys are close seconds.)

  21. We say 'singlet' in Aus.

  22. I was wondering if killing Victoria is against their (now non-existant?) code??? Like, she hasn't done anything yet! I guess if it was her choice to die, they would listen, but still. Another note of realism: The characters are all talking about how it's spring break, but then it cuts to the scene where Lydia asks Jackson if he's going to the party outside the locker room at school. Why are they there?? Also, thanks for incepting me into loving this show :)

  23. I love that idea! But now you've gone and added more angst to an already overly angsty setting!

  24. Hi!!! I was looking for for some old posts of Teen Wolf that i liked first time I read and remember this one, just to answer your question, Jeff said that Lydia put wolfsbane on the punch, by Peter mind control order. There are also different types of wolfsbane and to Jeff they are like Kryptonite. Every wolfsbane cause different reactions when used.

  25. I'm reading this two years later, and wow has Teen Wolf and its characters evolved, it's such a beautiful thing. This review was on! point! LMAOO I miss season 2 so much, they were all young and new and fetus-like, I can't believe we're nearly onto season 5 soon

    1. And DAMN that gif of Derek in the tank top, you were so right he does look like one of the virtual video game people like something off GTA lmao