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

Even with the question of Scott’s True Alpha status looming, it’s his Littlest Beta, Liam, who is the most realized this week; his story line may not be the most dazzling, but actually becoming a werewolf doesn’t seem all that glamorous, and Liam’s harsh introduction to Beacon Hills' dark underbelly is turning out to be a fresh and welcome take on the transformation process: a teenager suddenly faced with a value pack combo of grandiose power and crippling fear, and no real control over when he experiences which one. The Teen Wolf Plausibility Department doesn’t always nail it, but the Casting Department is pretty stellar. I wasn’t so sure about the Littlest Beta at first, as most of Dylan Sprayberry’s emotions simply read petulant when they literally stuck him in a well. But Liam’s simultaneous frustration and refusal to acknowledge his complete lack of control could only come from a real teenager. Liam is going through PTSD after his fight with the berserkers and can hardly go to sleep/play lacrosse/have a conversation without imagining one attacking him. In a world where Stiles is already "better" post-possession, it’s startling to see a teenager actually, you know, dealing with something in real time.

But, as Brett reminds Liam (and everyone reminds everyone, all the time), Scott is a True Alpha, and he isn’t fearful or out of control like his Beta; though he struggled with control early on, his ability to exert it now, at any cost, just might be his downfall. Last episode, we finally saw Scott briefly give into his Alpha nature and almost punch a (bad) guy to death; but he got a hold of himself just in time to check his email. All season, it’s felt like we’ve been leading up to Scott losing control, or at least doing something to challenge his One True Alpha status. But now, he’s so determined to not lose control, he can’t even turn his eyes on when his girlfriend is getting ripped around by a berserker. (Don’t even ask why Kira can turn on 30 light bulbs, but not send at least a little jolt through a metal chain… you can’t put a pin in teenage kitsunes.) If a True Alpha is defined by his ability to master his Alpha-ness, then when exactly does being a True Alpha benefit the Alpha?

Kate seems to think that Scott has been the key to the downfall of her once great hunter family—many an Argent has met his or her demise within the near vicinity of Scott McCall, after all. But for all his control over the shift, Scott is often given very little agency in his own development. He became a True Alpha because of the strength of his character, yes, but much of the good he’s done has been incidental, and it seems, any of the bad he does in the future may be, as well.

After Kate captures Scott and Kira on their steamy date in Derek’s hormone-riddled loft, she "takes them to church," and not in the way Usher is always talking about on The Voice. No, they’re going back to La Iglesia, the church built on Mayan ruins where the gang originally found Baby Derek in the premiere. It seems that Kate has more than just de-aging tricks up her sleeve, and those two berserkers follow her so closely because she made them… mostly by putting an animal’s skull on their heads. Or, at least, that’s what she’s doing to Scott while she has him wrapped up on wolfsbane. Is it control that keeps him from fighting back? His screams don’t sound like that of a teen submitting to his fate. Surely overcoming wolfsbane isn’t much different than breaking through a mountain ash border. Just turn on those laser eyes, kiddo; the moment some crazy woman starts turning you into a Norse warrior slave is around the time you start tapping into the True Alpha stock. Also, your girlfriend is bleeding a lot.

NEXT: Honestly, how do you even get inside a sewer?

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