‘Teen Wolf’ Season 3 Finale Review: The Death Throes

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Teen Wolf season finale header Teen Wolf Season 3 Finale Review: The Death Throes

[This is a review of the Teen Wolf season 3 finale. It contains SPOILERS.]


As Teen Wolf‘s third season winds down to a close, the nogitsune gets very busy, dividing not only his small army of Oni but also splitting his own attention all over again. This means that some of the good guys face off against Dylan O’Brien’s version of the nogitsune while others are left with the bandaged, Bane-voiced version. Ironically this particular spirit is actually much creepier when it has a human face than it is when it has fangs, though that might be because the bandaged nogitsune still comes across as a little bit too goofy to be scary.

Luckily it’s the Stiles clone that occupies much of the nogitsune’s face time in this episode, starting with a brutal march through Beacon Hills Memorial Hospital and a cover of “Bad Moon Rising” playing as the Oni cut down innocent nurses and doctors in slow-mo. The potentially mortal wounds inflicted on Melissa McCall, Sheriff Stilinski, Dr. Deaton and the mysterious Deputy Parrish do effectively ramp up the stakes for the fight with the nogitsune, but the actual character death of this episode feels more like housekeeping than anything: cleaning out the two remaining dregs of the Alpha pack so that the season 4 cast doesn’t feel too crowded.

Speaking of season 4, the tie between Peter Hale and Malia Tate that was expected to come into play in this finale instead is nowhere to be found, leaving that particular plot thread drifting vaguely in the breeze. Malia does make an appearance at the end of the episode, since despite missing out on eight years of education she’s apparently ready to be dropped into a high school class with the rest of the characters, but the Peter-Malia connection will have to be added to the list of things that will get picked up again next season.

Melissa and Rafael McCall in Teen Wolf season 3 finale Teen Wolf Season 3 Finale Review: The Death Throes

The finale is set up as two players making their final moves in the last stages of a board game, an ambitious approach that is only partially successful. The nogitsune’s three-pronged attack on the “ports” of Beacon Hills – the hospital, the sheriff’s station and the animal clinic – does feel like the very aggressive moves of a dominating player eager to finish off their opponent. On the other hand, the “divine move” that’s built up so much – even giving its name to the title of the episode – essentially amounts to Stiles figuring out that they haven’t actually all been magically teleported to Japan, and the nogitsune subsequently getting chomped on and stabbed because the only way to defeat a nogitsune is, conveniently, a werewolf bite.

In fact, “convenient” is probably the best word to describe everything about this conclusion. The hardest dilemmas that have been set up this season and made for its stronger moments were all solved in such a way that none of the characters have to make any difficult decisions or face up to terrifying truths. Stiles being diagnosed with dementia – which would have been a fascinating and hard-hitting character arc to explore – was resolved easily by the reveal that it was just a nogitsune trick, and Scott’s challenge of being forced to kill his best friend got neatly side-stepped by the nogitsune separating itself from Stiles. A season that could have been shocking and fearless has instead been disappointingly defanged.

The swift despatch of this season’s villain leaves time to set up next season’s villain, which is… Kate Argent again. Except now she’s got a blue face because of that little-known werewolf subclause where sometimes people turn into lizard creatures or coyotes instead of wolves. Does Kate transform into some kind of iridescent tree frog? We’ll have to wait until this summer to find out.

Aiden and Ethan in Teen Wolf The Divine Move Teen Wolf Season 3 Finale Review: The Death Throes

Despite officially being the first half of a season, the way that ‘The Divine Move’ ends makes the entire nogitsune arc feel a lot more like the first half of season 4. It builds up far more for the future than the Jennifer Blake/Alpha pack storyline did, since the major fallout that was supposed to ensue from that storyline’s conclusion was largely abandoned in favor of pursuing Japanese folklore for the remainder of season 3.

For example, the sacrifice made by Scott, Stiles and Allison was supposed to create a darkness around their hearts that they would feel for the rest of their lives, but Scott and Allison shook it off in a single episode like it was nothing more than a bad cold. Stiles, meanwhile, has had an entertainingly dark character arc, but only because of the nogitsune’s influence. The nogitsune itself wasn’t drawn to Beacon Hills as Dr. Deaton warned, but was already in the Nemeton and was simply set free. All of the other beasties who were supposed to come pouring in must have either been politely waiting outside town, or got lost along the way.

What ‘The Divine Move’ lacks is a larger sense of resolution. The second half of the season has failed to pay off much of what was set up in the first half, and it also fails to wrap up the new plot threads that it created. With a finale lacking so much finality, season 4 is going to have a whole lot of paperwork to take care of.


 Teen Wolf returns to MTV on June 23, 2014.

Follow H. Shaw-Williams on Twitter @HSW3K
TAGS: Teen wolf
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  1. I agree on most of the flaws you pointed out here. Still, Teen Wolf is one of the most ambitious supernatural dramas we’re blessed with at the moment, oftentimes on par or superior to established genre players such as Supernatural (which I love as well, just so no one accuses me of bashing it).

    At the end of the day, the resolution didn’t feel THAT convenient to me, since they associated the wolf-bite as a default plan to save Stiles. When he was thrown up by the Nogitsune, they were – understandably – befuddled and have temporarily forgotten by it, which seems rather realistic to me, given the circumstances and all the things they had on their respectives plates.
    Maybe they’re going wih the double bluff, revisiting the dementia diagnosis as accurate and delving a tad deeper into the Stilinski family history. Also, now that he lost Alison for good, the darkness could very well creep back into Scott’s life and incapacitate him once more come the inevitable confrontation with Kate (who should be either a pawn or ally of Peter’s in some capacity).

    Let me ask you, Mr Williams, how you would have handled the threat of the Nogitsune, how you would have dispatched of him – or would you have kept him/it around for awhile, effectively turning everything from hereon into either a dream or an elaborate ruse of his, till he chooses to step back into the game again? I’m seriously curious to know what your individual take is/would have been, since I for one, am pretty satisfied with most of what the writers have decided to put infront of us.

  2. Well I liked it. It felt kinda rushed imo, but I liked it.

  3. Allison is coming back. Momma Argent is coming back. The twin is coming back. Peter is clear proof that nobody stays dead.

  4. So I am not the only one who felt this way? Okay. I thought this season was very convoluted as a whole. They introduced way too many intriguing ideas and had to rush to “almost” wrap the up. However, I will admit that the quality of the show continues to increase. This show will always be my favorite but they need to make the narration more consistent like past seasons.

  5. If it was not for Dylan O’Brien’s amazing acting this whole 2nd half of the season would have been terrible. They had a great idea for this season but they just didn’t ever find a way to truly put it all together. I wish they would have somehow found a way to make Stiles a werewolf at the end of this.

  6. So either turn him or off him? I think, it would kinda ruin Stiles’ character. He needs to remain the grounding element of this show. The groundwork has been laid by elevating him above mere comic relief this season.

  7. I liked Season 3, I think if you wanted the show to just stay in Season 1 and 2 you should try watching Vampire Diaries, they are stuck in the same story line. I think they solved enough of the story lines, we need to come back for Season 4. I am looking forward to see what they do next, and what the new cast members can bring to the series.
    I just wonder, how would you have solve the Stiles problem, kill him off and bring him back from the dead (once again for that you can watch TVD)

    • no1 is saying that they want it to be in the same story line, and tvd is a train wreck that’s to needs to END!!. But yea, what people are saying is the season 1 and 2 was narrated and executed a lot better than this season, don’t get me wrong, the ideas for season 3 were INCREDIBLE, but it wasn’t carried out right and in alot of parts it felt like he tried to do too much in too little time and handle too many story arks, like i said season 3 does have it’s moments, episodes like ‘echo house’ and ‘insatiable’ are some of the episodes that really had you on the edge of your seat and this season really showed us just how great an actor dylan o’ brien is as well linden ashby! But the major flaws being bigger isn’t always better and jeff davis ultimately had to rely on too many conveniences and the both finales really did not live up to what they had us prepped for!. overall if it was executed better and probably done slower, this season would probably have been the best season ever! i am excited for season 4, but at the same time, without jackson was bad enough, and now the show no longer has isaac or alisson so im really not sure how to feel about that, and plus the twins are gone as well :/ so we will have to see

    • chris(the guy above me) you said it best! and @celebrian im not saying that they had to kill him at all, i just wanted it to have more of a risk of him dying, and tvd is worse than any show on tv, i was not saying that it had to be in the same story line as season 1 or 2, i was saying that it the season had to be carried out like how it was done in season 1 and 2. if you look at shows like breaking bad or the wire, what made those shows o legendary is that from day 1 the writers had a story written and carried it out in 5 seasons rather than writing a new script per season. I LOVED the ideas jeff had this season as well, i just think it was executed very wrong

      • i agree!!! @chris, and i hope alisson comes back, she and scott are my favs!

    • i agree with @chris as well, for example, take my favorite episode FURY in season 2, not only was the acting great, it had a great twist and the narration is PERFECT!

  8. People are wondering how Kate is a were-jaguar, if I remember correctly, the form you take sometimes reflects who you are on the inside, like Peter(huge wolf-beast), Malia(were-coyote), and Jackson(Kanima, then were-wolf).

    • P.S. What happened to all the Greenberg jokes? We had like one joke the entire second half of season 3. What’s with that? I know this season is darker, but has anyone heard of Dark Humor.

  9. Am i the only one who thought the season itself looked cheap?like waay cheaper than sloppier than the previous seasons, the graphics were TERRIBLE and it felt like they had to use a green screen for everything, like even some forest scenes they were’nt actually in a forest, i think the show looked alot better in atlanta abd also idk how to describe but i don’t like how it looked, as in the way the shots itself looked, i can’t really explain but if you look at season 1/2 and then 3 you’ll kniw what i’m talkin about

  10. Personally, I thought the whole season was a mess and didn’t mesh well at all with the first two seasons. Between the flat new characters, cardboard romances, disregard for any of the dead/missing pack members, out-of-character moments, and numerous plot holes, I just couldn’t make it through the first half of season 3. Which is really sad since I loved the first two seasons. They were coherent, had a strong core cast, solid formation of a pack without too many characters, consistent mythology, and very scary and effective villains. Mrs. Argent’s quiet normalcy made her scarier than anyone else in the line-up. I was really hoping “Teen Wolf” might at least be a decent successor to “Buffy” in terms of writing and genre similarity, and it seemed like that in the first two seasons, but as of the 3rd season? Nope.

    Plus, the female characters get killed off left and right. And there’s gotta be a good reason why so many actors and actresses have jumped ship. This many abandoning a show is pretty rare; most stick it out for several seasons until something very drastic or personal happens. You can’t just keep killing core characters and expect viewers not to get annoyed or abandon ship.

  11. @annie wow, somebody WHO GETS IT! THANK YOU! you sumed it all up! I agree! With everything you just said, in my eyes, teen wolf ended in season 2, and i also it would have been something like buffy, and it was actyally heading in that direction with the first two seasons being very enjoyable to almost anyone at any age! You also left out that the location sucked, and the special effects were god awfull bad in season 3, unlike the first two seasons, even with all the threats and what not, season had almost 0 tension and suspense. It also completely that these characters are TEENS WITH TEENAGE LIVES, whatever to scott not wanting to be werewolf? Why is it that they act like they are paid pros who HAVE to investigate this and that, almost nothing felt relevant. And the worst part is that i think season 4 might be worse. KIRA joining the lacrosse team? Lydia, malia, and kira are bffs? And three new 15 year olds actors…wow, i honestly give up

    • My friends and I all gave up a few episodes into season 3. I’ve popped in on a couple articles and for a little bit of the season’s last two episodes to see if things had improved over the last year, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. It seems to have gotten even more convoluted, and killing off a ton of core characters weakens or destroys any plotline they can come up with. This isn’t “Game of Thrones” or “Spartacus” or “Walking Dead”; you can’t get away with killing a ton of characters, ignoring or disregarding their deaths, and introducing new ones without annoying casual viewers like my friends and myself. It gets very confusing and irritates many of us. Plus, although I’m not a shipper and never got involved in the fandom at all, I really didn’t like the way Jeff Davis was very obviously baiting his more loyal and invested fans. I could see him doing it from just looking at recaps and articles on the sites, and that made me lose a lot of respect for him, the writers, and the show as a whole. It’s cruel to the fans, so just give them a straight-up answer or stop purposely teasing them to increase your ratings.

      Sorry about the long posts, I’m just sad that what appeared to be a very good show went down the tubes so quickly. As a professional writer/author, the gigantic writing and storytelling mistakes just astonish me. Plus, I saw an article that compared the show to “Buffy” and the writer to Joss Whedon and I was like, “Nope, not even close, he doesn’t have the guts or writing talent that Joss has. Nope.”

      • @Annie i really couldn’t agree more and OMG the part about him baitinghis more loyal fans to get higher ratings is SO TRUE and that really pissed me off, i honestly have nothingmore to add, you basically said it all, at least now i know im definitley not the only one who noticed all this

  12. wat d hell was that i swear i didn’t understand the last episold after the death of alison every thing just became blurry it just felt like it was rapped up together making it difficult for one to understand ok u tell me wat was the essence of killing one one of the twins wen they were trying to prove them self to scot at lest they would have taken their time to explain better before rapping the season up well i don’t care how you do it just bring alison back thank u

  13. I think Malia and Peter’s relationship is going to be very exciting. Is he going to have a soft spot for her or is he going to just use her? IDK, but all i know is I want to watch season 4 really bad. plus i ship stalia and that will also be interesting in season 4.