Teen Wolf recap: 'A Promise to the Dead'

A frenzied episode delivers plenty of questions for next week's finale, most of them about story lines we've hardly visited since the premiere.
Ep. 11 | Aired Sep 1, 2014

RENAISSANCE WOMAN To the naked eye, Kate Argent might seem like your average hunter-turned-were-jaguar. But she's so much more than that: berserker master; arsonist; closer personal frenemy of Peter Hale... the list goes on and on.

Scott Everett White/MTV

"What the hell is so special about Scott McCall?" –Kate Argent, were-jaguar/terrible aunt

Well… forget everything you learned in the past 10 episodes, it’s Mythology Corner time over on Teen Wolf, and you will sit nicely while your crazy aunt gets her kicks off with the Mayan, Norse, and Greek varieties, and your even crazier uncle tells you his evil schemes in his classic American Werewolf in London accent while jamming metal rods through your liver. Family! I speak of course of Aunt Kate and Uncle Peter, and not of the Benefactor, who even though he is technically Peter, seems to have simply been a life-threatening thorn in our character’s side, distracting them until their black sheep family members were ready to attack.

In a 12-episode season, it seems that the first two and last two episode bookends hold the main storyline of the season, or at least the more favored narrative of the Teen Wolf writers. Why else would they end on the importance of figuring out what Peter and Kate are up to with their skull-faced pals, when it's the Benefactor we had been tracking all season? The small aspects of this episode were great, and at times, fascinating: Derek and Scott bro-ing out, Deaton being mysterious with weird new characters, romantic kitsune-lit dates, Liam working through his PTSD with Mason, etc. But as a whole, "A Promise to the Dead" felt not like filler, just entirely too full, with never enough time to dwell on any one of its promises to the dead.

Tonight’s saving grace is that although the episode seemed a little scattered, it also seemed to be trying to represent that feeling for its characters, I think, intentionally. At least three-quarters of the episode are spent almost entirely in the dark, with Kira occasionally lighting up a light bulb, a power which she seems to have no real control over. It’s a heavy metaphor to be sure, but physically placing these characters in the dark is a reminder of just how little they know about the situation they’re now in, if they even know they’re in a new situation at all. Everyone keeps reminding each other that the Benefactor is done, and while that’s a bit frustrating for an audience looking for closure, it’s a comfort to a group of kids who don’t know that their peril-o-meter ramped up about 60 percent when Kate and Peter reviewed the minutes from their last Sewer Council meeting:

  1. Kill Scott McCall
  2. Create new berserkers (Scott?)
  3. Distract Chris Argent (need to find metal rod)
  4. Send berserkers after McCall pack, if time permits
  5. Mexico???

Kira might be able to reassure Lydia that they’re in the clear now, but Lydia has been around the Beacon Hills block a few more times than Kira; there’s always something else lurking, and Lydia stills feels deaths in her vocal cords. This season has dealt well with the question of what makes a monster a monster, without yet steering us toward an answer, either through its good guys, bad guys, or interesting side characters we’ll never see again. This episode opened on one such wendigo, Patrick, who seemed to be fully embracing the monstrous side of his supernatural disposition, dragging a young woman into his meat human locker and telling her all about how excited he is to eat her up—the more fear in her bones, the better. Luckily Doctor Deaton the True Veterinarian shows up with his freaky druid skills, and takes Patrick back to the wing of Eichen House where they apparently know all about cannibal wendigos, and other glowing-eyed supernaturals we’ve never even met.

Deaton hands Patrick over specifically so that he can talk to a Dr. Valeck, some genius seer who will help him figure out how Kate turned Derek human. You see, Dr. Valeck has a third eye (that he might have actually drilled into his forehead himself), that when glanced at, puts its viewer into a trance where they… see stuff, and sometimes disappear. And while the reveal of Patrick and Valeck could have taken us somewhere interesting in regard to the McCall pack’s mass protection of all supernaturals, no screening process required, it doesn’t. The ultimate question in this penultimate episode isn’t about qualifying monsters, it’s about the question this season has struggled much more to address, the one Kate asks, above: Just what it so special about Scott McCall?

NEXT: Little Liam and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day...


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