[This review of Teen Wolf season 4, episode 11 contains SPOILERS.]
When Teen Wolf returned to MTV for its fourth season premiere, it was still riding high off the back of the most-watched season of the show so far. Between the first episode of season 4 and the second, however, there was a drop of over 600,000 viewers and since then the numbers have continued to slide downwards, with last week’s ‘Monstrous’ scoring the lowest ratings of the season so far and the third-lowest ratings for any episode in the history of the series.
It’s honestly difficult to blame viewers for losing interest throughout a season that has been riddled with baffling plot holes, disposable villains and – worst of all – a strict absence of fun. ‘A Promise to the Dead’ has the unfortunate task of trying to keep the season’s momentum going after the primary threat – the Benefactor – has been eliminated, hurriedly pushing Peter Hale and Kate Argent into the foreground as villains while trying to keep the rest of the characters busy.
Since most of the characters are high school students, “keeping busy” means taking math tests, playing lacrosse games, making out on couches, lifting weights, playing video games, making out in bed etc. There are no scenes of characters actually twiddling their thumbs, but that could be in the deleted scenes on the DVD. Dr. Deaton, meanwhile, pays a visit to a guy in Eichen House who has drilled a hole into his head in exchange for ESP and seems to exist solely to gift Deaton with psychic knowledge of Kate Argent’s plans. We learn almost nothing about who he is or what connection he has to the situation, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if he simply disappeared after this episode.
Liam, meanwhile, has taken his encounter with the berserkers a little hard and is suffering from what appears to be a case of severe PTSD. He hallucinates the boney creatures stalking him everywhere from his bedroom to the lacrosse field, but towards the end of the episode one of his old rivals from his previous school knocks him to the ground and tells him to get over it. So that’s that taken care of.
Speaking of things getting taken care of, Melissa convinces Scott to return the deadpool money to Derek. Derek, of course, reacts to it in the same way that he has reacted to everything else that has happened this season, including being turned into a human and being warned of his impending death: with a blank expression and a verbal approximation of “meh.” Did we miss a season where Derek was abducted by aliens and replaced with a pod person? Because that would have been super interesting to watch.
Pod Person Derek is nice enough to give Scott use of his building for the purposes of a romantic date with Kira, at which point ‘A Promise to the Dead’ briefly turns into a Chris Isaak music video before Kate Argent and one of her cronies crash through the window and spoil the fun. Scott’s True Alpha status unfortunately doesn’t prevent him from being as weak as a baby whenever the plot requires it, and so both he and Kira (who doesn’t bother to use her kitsune powers despite electricity being like kryptonite for shapeshifters) get kidnapped and taken back to Mexico.
Outside of the kidnapping plot – which ends with Scott being transformed into one of Kate’s berserkers – ‘A Promise to the Dead’ is a largely a hodgepodge of different things happening. Peter Hale recruits Malia in a quest to kill Kate Argent in return for revealing the identity of Malia’s mother. Stiles’ Eichen House bill gets written off, thereby cancelling out the financial problems that had given season 4 its largest dose of dramatic weight. Lydia has a good screaming session. Derek and Braeden prance around in their underwear with guns. Mason tries to add some extra notes to his one-note character. Rather than setting up next week’s finale, this episode largely seems to be stalling in wait for its arrival.
There’s at least a little progress made on the matter of the Deputy Parrish mystery. While trying to free Chris Argent from a piece of rebar that’s been shoved through his stomach, the effort of motivational speaking causes his eyes to – guess what! – glow a different color. One day the Teen Wolf special effects team will discover a different monster effect, but that day is not today.
Teen Wolf returns next Monday with ‘The Broken Spell′ @10PM on MTV. Watch the promo below.