If last week’s episode of Teen Wolf proved that a ticking clock can be a big aid in adding tension to a story, then this week’s episode proves that a (literal) ticking clock isn’t always an automatic fix. The countdown this time around is the result of Scott’s plan to lure in the Benefactor by pretending to be dead. This is achieved by using Kira’s powers to slow his heart down to a crawl, which is a thing that kitsunes can do, apparently (as with many of Lydia’s banshee powers, this seems to be one of those plot convenient abilities).

Everything goes according to plan, and Scott ends up officially pronounced dead and hiding in a meat locker in the hospital morgue. You would think that at this point it would be OK to simply restart his heart, since if the Benefactor is supposed to be coming for visual confirmation then he probably can’t tell how fast a person’s heart is beating from a distance. For reasons that are never explained, however, Scott’s friends decide to leave him in a near-death state that he can only sustain for 45 minutes, which is where Time of Death’s somewhat artificial countdown comes in.

The Benefactor never actually shows up, but luckily Kate Argent and her Berserkers put in an appearance in order to keep everyone busy. Based on the ending of the episode, it seems that Kate’s presence was at the behest of Peter Hale, who was trying to figure out whether or not Scott was actually dead. No doubt he has some kind of nefarious plan to reclaim his Alpha status, and sees Scott as the easiest way to do so.

Teen Wolf Time of Death screenshot 2 Teen Wolf: Skipping a Beat

Peter is also busy with family affairs in ‘Time of Death’, as Malia shows up at the Hale family vault to try and find more answers about her real parents. She learns that her mother was also a werecoyote who went by the alias Desert Wolf, but Peter continues to conceal the exact nature of his relationship to her – and Malia, for some reason, never asks what it is. The subplot does succeed in setting up an interesting mystery to be solved in the rest of the season, and it’s not the only one.

Back at the lake house, Lydia goes digging in her family history and finds a few skeletons – or, more specifically, a jar full of mountain ash left to her by her grandmother, who supposedly went insane and died in Eichen House. It soon becomes clear that Lydia’s banshee status is more than just a random genetic anomaly, and that supernatural shenanigans run in the family. It’s also strongly implied that Lydia’s grandmother may still be alive, which would add another person to the tally of mysterious characters who need to be tracked down.

Derek and Braeden, who were also left out of the pretend-to-kill-Scott plan, spend this sleepless night getting up close and personal with Braeden’s selection of firearms, since Derek has lost all of his werewolf powers as a result of whatever it was that happened to him in the Aztec tomb (no, this still hasn’t been explained) and is trying to get used to the idea of things like bandages and guns. This little education detour (or #lifelesson, to use one of MTV’s regular and pretty distracting pop-up hashtags and messages) is really little more than foreplay as the two of them inevitably careen towards a bit of horizontal refreshment, but at least they’re keeping busy.

Teen Wolf weaponized screenshot 31 Teen Wolf: Skipping a Beat

While all this is going on in the real world, Scott makes use of his time in limbo by having a series of dreams in which Liam is killed horribly and symbolically. During this time, Scott discovers that becoming a True Alpha has gifted him with a couple of extra fangs, and also that he’s harboring a deep-seated desire to murder Liam with a tomahawk. Possibly. The symbolism in these dream sequences is a little unclear.

This season of Teen Wolf has so far seen the plot development put on a drip feed, so the real test will be how it all pays off in the end. There’s definitely the kernel of an interesting story here, but the individual episodes just haven’t been as compelling as those of past seasons, and the recent ratings drop may be a result of this. Now might be a good time to pick up the pace a little.

Teen Wolf returns next Monday with ‘Perishable′ @10PM on MTV. Watch the promo below.

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