[This is a review of Teen Wolf season 3, episode 15. It contains SPOILERS.]
It's Hell Night in Beacon Hills and no one is safe. There's toilet paper everywhere, Coach Finstock's office has been booby-trapped, and there's an insane murderer on the loose with a plot to finish off what he started. That doesn't mean that the show's collection of teens can't make time for a little romance, though.
"Galvanize" boasts one of Teen Wolf's coolest guest stars to date: Doug Jones, a legend in the sci-fi, fantasy and horror genres who is best known for roles that require very heavy make-up (he played both the Faun and the Pale Man in Pan's Labyrinth). This time Jones gets to use his real face as William Barrow, a man who walked onto a school bus with a shrapnel bomb and killed four students. He also managed to get some shrapnel stuck inside his own body, and medical complications force Beacon Hills Memorial Hospital to take him in for emergency surgery.
Barrow is strapped down and held under heavy guard from both the local police force and the FBI, which means that it takes a full eleven minutes into the episode before he manages to make his escape. Teen Wolf rarely manages to be truly scary but the show does excel at body horror, and Barrow's escape involves a delightfully gruesome scene in which a swarm of flies bursts out of his pulsating tumor.
Sticking with the subject of gross things, Peter is enlisted in Derek's efforts to get in contact with his deceased mother, and since werewolf families can apparently only function when they're being dysfunctional this means recovering Talia Hale's claws, embedding them in Peter's fingers and then stabbing the points into the back of Derek's head. No wimpy Ouija boards for these boys.
Though the Hale storyline doesn't occupy much of the episode's running time, Tyler Hoechlin does an admirable job of selling the "reunion" between Derek and Talia, who appears in her wolf form during a dream sequence. Teen Wolf is becoming pretty crowded with other types of supernatural creatures, so it's gratifying to have these small additions to the show's werewolf mythology in each episode.
Back in Beacon Hills, Teen Wolf continues to maintain a balance between standalone episodes and the ongoing story arc of the newly rejuvenated Nemeton attracting all kinds of bad juju to the town. Of currently dubious juju is Kira, the adorably klutzy new student in school who gets to share two (sort of) romantic meals with Scott before it's revealed that she may not be entirely human.
That's not the only romance in this episode, as sparks fly in all sorts of directions, but the show remains blessedly self-aware of the fickleness of teen romance and doesn't try to sell any of the pairings as great sweeping love stories that will last for all time. There's also a nice bit of self-referential humor as Barrow says, during a speech about classic horror movies, "No one cares about crappy remakes." I see what you did there, Teen Wolf.
Following on from a criticism of last week's episode, it's a little concerning to see that Allison, Scott and Stiles are all back to being totally well-adjusted and carefree (well, as much as they ever were) in 'Galvanize,' given how much the ramifications of their sacrifice were built up during the last half of the season and the recent promotional material. According to Deaton, there was supposed to be a darkness around their hearts that would stay with them for the rest of their lives, but the immediate side effects seem to have been chased away by a couple of verbal pats on the back.
Having said that, showing the characters struggle with this particular trauma every week probably would start to feel a little tired, so if the light-heartedness in 'Galvanize' is only temporary then it could be a good way to break up the potential monotony of suffering and madness every week. Let's keep hoping that this interesting new aspect to their personalities hasn't been totally abandoned.
Overall, 'Galvanize' is a solid episode that balances out its rather dark subject matter with Teen Wolf's customary wit and plenty of entertaining banter between the characters. It also ends on a great cliffhanger, so the next episode can't come soon enough.
Teen Wolf returns next Monday with ‘Illuminated’ @10pm on MTV. Watch the promo below.