[This is a review of Teen Wolf season 3, episode 22. It contains SPOILERS.]
Teen Wolf's ick factor is back with a vengeance! While the second half of the show's third season hasn't shied away from gore - with new stabbings, burnings, shootings and skewerings practically every week - 'De Void' has a special kind of grossness all to itself that should be very gratifying for horror fans.
Much of this stems from the fact that, while the nogitsune occupying Stiles Stilinski's body is technically a fox spirit, its minions are a long way from being cute and furry. The recurring motif of flies returns once again and now the little bugs are crawling into open wounds, burrowing inside ear canals and bursting out of Stiles' stomach in their thousands to sow chaos and strife among the people of Beacon Hills. If it all gets a bit disturbing, just stay calm and remember that they're grown-up maggots. With wings.
What this means in a practical sense is that Dylan O'Brien's fun turn as the villain of the show gets disseminated among the other cast members, so quite a few people get their own turn at behaving a little evil in this episode. Tyler Hoechlin - who looks delighted at finally being given something to do - becomes a revenge-fuelled version of Derek Hale intent on burning Chris Argent alive. Aiden and Ethan find their trusty brotherly bond tested as they each pull in different directions. Isaac recovers from his nasty electric shock only to decide, like Derek, that he's in the mood to set something on fire.
After last week's episode, which felt like a stalling tactic to keep the plot from moving forward too quickly, 'De Void' gets back into the swing of things. The nogitsune continues to be an outstandingly creepy villain for the season, largely because its motivations and schemes remain hidden out of sight, leaving Stiles' friends never quite sure of whether they're outwitting the fox or playing right into its paws.
Scott eventually settles on the solution of digging into Stiles' mind to try and lure out the real version of him, an effect that is produced by the tried-and-true werewolf tradition of stabbing people in the back of the head. Since Derek is otherwise indisposed, Peter Hale is called upon to provide expertise and moral support, bringing with him the still somewhat underdeveloped subplot of his relationship to Malia. You'd be forgiven for forgetting that Peter is Malia's real father with all that's been going on in the show, but if the conclusion of 'De Void' is anything to go by, these family ties will likely become much more significant over the remaining two episodes.
While not quite as uneventful as 'The Fox and the Wolf,' 'De Void' is nonetheless still fairly slow going without too much progress made by the end. It's buoyed up, however, by the presence of one of those dream sequences that the show succeeds at so well. From Lydia reliving the night of Peter's attack in a school corridor drowned in balloons, to the tableau of Stiles and the nogitsune engaged in a game of Go in the stark white warehouse that the characters last visited in 'Lunar Ellipse,' there's a lot of visually striking imagery to be enjoyed.
Though it can be flawed for a lack of momentum (a cutesy cuddling scene between Scott and Kira seemed somewhat incongruous with the episode's tone), 'De Void' is effective at building up interest in the remaining episodes of this season. If the nogitsune was aiming to confuse then it certainly succeeded. The episode concludes with Stiles somehow puking himself up unto the floor by dragging a bloody, phlegm-soaked bandage out of his own throat like a string of handkerchiefs from a clown's sleeve. The real Stiles emerges from the pile of bandages disguised as the nogitsune, while the real nogitsune makes its getaway during the diversion.
This means that there are now two Stileses running around Beacon Hills, unless the entire performance was a trick to make Scott and the gang believe that Stiles is free when really the nogitsune is still inside him. Or perhaps the Stiles who vanished was the real Stiles and the bandage-wrapped Stiles was actually a double bluff. Unless of course the whole thing was a triple bluff and...
Teen Wolf returns next Monday with ‘Insatiable’ on MTV @10pm. Watch the promo below.