[This is a review of Teen Wolf season 3, episode 23. It contains SPOILERS.]
It's hard to top an episode in which a character gives birth to his own doppelgänger - out of his mouth, no less - but Teen Wolf makes a valiant effort this week with 'Insatiable.' After a showdown inside Stiles' head there are now two Stileses running around Beacon Hills - the real Stiles, who is either dying or suffering from a bad case of the flu, and the unleashed nogitsune who uses his newfound freedom to tug on everyone's puppet strings.
Largely what this means is keeping everyone busy during the day so that the nogitsune can have creepy alone time with Lydia, whom he has kidnapped and is holding prisoner in the abandoned Oak Creek internment camp. For some reason the rest of the gang spend most of the episode scratching their heads and lamenting the fact that they have no idea where Lydia and the nogitsune might be instead of, you know, checking out the only two locations to which the trickster spirit has demonstrated strong ties. Come on, Scott, you spent an entire episode listening to a story about the attack on Oak Creek; connect the dots.
Even Stiles, who has been sharing a body with the nogitsune, is at a loss when it comes to tracking down the creature. Luckily another banshee, Eichen House inmate Meredith, can use the ever-more-confusing mix of banshee powers to find Lydia. If only she wasn't being aggressively pursued by a cartoonishly evil orderly.
It's gratifying to see the nogitsune actually pulling some tricks in this episode - particularly in the final battle, when Noshiko discovers that instead of trapping it in a corner she's been playing right into its hands. The creature also apparently has a friend on the outside who keeps the twins and Derek busy with wolfsbane bullets - unless that attack had nothing to do with the nogitsune. Werewolves have a knack for attracting trouble.
There's plenty of chaos, strife and pain in this episode to feed the nogitsune's insatiable appetite, culminating in another battle against the Oni that finally leads to this season's much-hyped major character death. In hindsight this was telegraphed ahead of time in the episode by Allison expressing fears for her father's life and insisting on telling him that she loves him. It's a clever bait-and-switch and Allison's death scene probably had quite a few viewers reaching for a tissue.
One thing that did feel like it was missing was Teen Wolf's usual habit of using a very strong and vivid visual to mark each episode. 'Insatiable' has some interesting set-ups, such as the birds-eye view of the nogitsune facing off against the Oni in a circular room, but more than anything the running time was dedicated to some necessary heavy-lifting: getting all the pieces in place in time for the season finale.
There are a lot of pieces ready to fall into place as season 4 comes to a close: the mystery of who shot the twins, Malia Tate's swift exit of Eichen House and subsequent disappearance from the plot (note that the nogitsune specifically names the coyote as a trickster spirit), Peter Hale's discovery of his daughter and the mysterious sickness that seems to be killing Stiles. It's hard to imagine how all these different elements might fit together, but the threads are getting pulled tighter every week.
The enigmatic Deputy Parrish also gets another small but very pointed scene in this episode, in which he tells Sheriff Stilinski that he felt "drawn" to Beacon Hills (almost like he was unconsciously attracted to the town by a magical tree stump). With only one episode left to go, the chances are good that we'll find out exactly what manner of supernatural being Deputy Parrish is next week. We've got 4/1 odds on him being a chupacabra.
Teen Wolf returns next Monday for the season finale, 'The Divine Move,' @10pM on MTV. Watch the promo below.