[This review of Teen Wolf season 4, episode 7 contains SPOILERS.]
There’s no better remedy for a series in need of some tighter direction than to confine most of the characters into one building, lock them all in, throw in a ticking clock along with some mortal peril and turn up the heat. This week’s Teen Wolf episode, ‘Weaponized’, sees Beacon Hills’ latest visiting assassin try out a new approach to killing off Scott, Malia, Kira and the other names on the supernatural hit list – using a virulent strain of canine distemper to attack them from the inside.
The virus has the unfortunate effect of bringing out teeth and fangs in werewolves and werecoyotes and turning Kira into a literal live wire, but luckily the gang is able to find the super secret hidden entrance to the Hale vault (it’s marked by a six-foot high triskele, but the Hales put some shelves in front of it so everything’s cool). It’s here that a number of plot threads related to the Hale family come to a head.
The most significant of these is Malia’s discovery that she’s a member of the aforementioned family and that her human beau Stiles has been concealing this fact from her. The reasoning behind the secrecy is a little shaky (Stiles believes that Malia will become a slave to Peter’s will, despite her never showing any natural inclination towards obedience) but it’s a functional way of creating drama in the middle of one of Teen Wolf‘s more convincing romantic entanglements.
The recovered Hale money is another secret hanging over Scott and Stiles’ heads – or, more specifically, hiding under Scott’s bed. Scott, Stiles and Lydia’s families are all have money troubles that could be easily solved with a split of half a million dollars, meaning that the money acts a much-needed weight to the tension of this season’s arc. ‘Weaponized’ sets up the dilemma of whether to return the money to Derek and his nefarious uncle, or keep it and put it to better use.
The standout performances in this episode come from Holland Roden and Dylan O’Brien, who between them are tasked with supporting the emotional heart of events inside and outside the school. Lydia is still reeling from Meredith’s death and experiencing frustration over the fact that banshee powers are a little harder to master than simply growing claws and fangs (her insights and revelations only ever seem to come when it’s too late).
Stiles, meanwhile, is juggling the $500,000 problem and the Malia problem alongside the imminent threat of three of his best friends dying – and, at one point, the even more imminent threat of getting shot in the head. The latter threat is followed shortly afterwards by the trauma of having brains splattered all over his face when Agent McCall makes a timely appearance to take out this week’s assassin, who is posing as an invigilator for Beacon Hills High School’s PSATs. As if things weren’t stressful enough already.
‘Weaponized’ isn’t a flawless episode. It demonstrates some internal inconsistency related to the series’ werewolf mythos as Scott overhears a conversation happening in another room, but Malia completely misses a conversation happening in loud whispers that’s easily within human earshot, never mind werecoyote earshot. This season has also felt somewhat visually lackluster in comparison to the striking imagery used earlier in the series, and the gratuitous, often arbitrary use of slow motion ends up detracting from the drama rather than amplifying it. As with the Mute and the Orphans, this episode’s assassin also didn’t feel properly fleshed out as a character.
That said, ‘Weaponized’ is easily the best episode of Teen Wolf‘s fourth season so far. Despite being lighter on the comedic relief that has previously been a staple of the show’s appeal, it tells a solid, self-contained story with some great performances from the cast. Hopefully this is the start of an upward swing for season 4.
Teen Wolf returns next Monday with ‘Time of Death′ @10PM on MTV. Watch the promo below.