Teen Wolf 3.08 “Visionary” TV REVIEW
Writer: Jeff Davis
Director: Russell Mulcahy
THE ONE WHERE We learn about Derek’s past and the origins of the Alphas from two unreliable sources.
VERDICT With season 3 being given a whopping 24 episodes, creator Jeff Davis has plenty of time for format-breaking flashback episodes. This week’s offering is packed full of literary references, ancient history and symbols, proving that the show wants to be less an ordinary teen drama and more a learning curve for the supernatural.
Here, we learn of Derek’s past and the origins of the Alpha pack. As Derek (Tyler Hoechlin) has been an integral part of the show since the beginning, it’s an exciting premise to get to know the wolf. Sadly, the episode is let down by returning to its previous cheesy teen romance ways, which detract from the clever scripting. It’s understandable that they have a certain audience to adhere to, but Davis and Mulcahy’s usual magic seems to diminish whenever there’s a potential snogging scenario involved.
Opening with a young Derek desperately running away from a group of wolf hunters (Argents included), we see a rather gruesome end to a fellow wolf-pal. This kickstarts a look into Derek’s past, told from the perspective of his untrustworthy uncle Peter Hale (Ian Bohen) and Gerard Argent (Michael Hogen). Both men aren’t known for their adherence to the truth, so it’s an inventive idea from Davis. Who should we believe? Should we believe anything either of them say at all?
As Peter explains the story to Stiles (Dylan O’Brien) and Cora Hale (Adelaide Kane), we get Gerard’s side as told to Scott (Tyler Posey) and Allison (Crystal Reed) – not before Scott’s helped him out with his pain, mind. It’s great that Gerard seems to be getting more and more screen time this season, as his villainous ways are brilliantly played by Hogen and make for some deliciously evil moments. With Peter beginning the story, stating that Derek was “a lot like Scott”, this further plants the Alpha seed into our favourite teen wolf. There’s been trouble a’brewing since the start of the show and you can’t help but feel things aren’t going to end well for Scott. That, or he’s almost certainly going to turn into a brooding, chiseled leader that makes schoolteachers weak at the knees.
The plot focuses strongly on the relationship between an annoyingly-tanned, teenaged Derek and his first love – a painfully stereotyped, academic, cello-playing Paige. What follows is a vomit-inducing recreation of hopelessly in love teenagers that harks back to Teen Wolf ’s most embarrassing first season moments. Some viewers will love this side of Teen Wolf but it’s a side that when pushed too far, it’s almost unwatchable. There’s an especially cringe worthy moment where Derek grazes his lips along Paige’s ear; it’s less Ghost and more gouge your eyes out.
Paige’s grisly end is played out perfectly from the perspective of Peter – as the flashback shows viewers a much more sinister side to him than he’s letting on to his listeners (he may be an unreliable narrator, but the camera never lies it seems). He tells Derek to turn Paige into a wolf but of course, things don’t go to plan and Paige is left to die in Derek’s arms. Although the romance was a little too much to handle and the death a little too obvious, it’s an interesting look at Derek’s problems with closeness and commitment.
The bite is given by Ennis (Brian Patrick Wade) in a rather terrifying chase through the high school corridor. It’s great to see him back this week, as he was an interesting character that deserved much more than his quick exit given by Deucalion a few weeks back.
Despite its cheesiness, the episode is saved by a closer look at the origins of werewolves and in particular, Deucalion (Gideon Emery). It’s here that we’re introduced to Derek’s mother and all round-respected wolf – Talia Hale. Her ability to shape-shift made her a leader among the alphas and makes for a particularly brilliant entrance as she transforms from wolf to human. It’s always a treat to witness a strong female character and we can only hope to see more of her in future episodes.
Gerard is this week’s mythological teacher – giving us a glimpse into the connection with the druids. The explanation is perfectly executed with a look at illustrated druid scenes as Gerard says of the wolves’ admiration. This season has been particularly good at connecting scenes through use of character narration, providing the perfect excuse to cut-away to a different perspective.
Finally, we see how Deucalion came to become blind. After Gerard tricks the peace pact into a raucous of bloodthirsty savagery (his own hunters included), he ruthlessly sticks a pair of arrows into Deucalion’s eyes. What a brilliant way to witness the show’s two biggest villains coming together for one, gruesome brawl.
Whilst “Visionary” is a great insight into the histories of some of the show’s most important characters, Teen Wolf seems to have gone back to its puppy-love ways circa season one. Let’s hope Davis shies away from the romance and continues to rev up the action next week.
BEST BIT Ennis chases Paige through the high school corridor. Now, there’s a wolf you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark ally.
GHOST TOWN Derek and Paige’s favourite spot to “make out” is an abandoned distillery. Seriously, how many abandoned buildings can one town have?
LOOKIN’ GOOD The flashbacks see the appearance of Chris and Gerard Argent. My, haven’t they aged well! …or not at all.
PEANUTTY PRODUCT PLACEMENT Peter states that “perfect combinations are rare in an imperfect world” before tucking into a Reese’s peanut-butter cup. Nicely timed, that.
BEST LINE Just before Gerard sticks the arrows into Deucalion’s eyes…
Deucalion: “I had a vision – a vision of peace.”
Gerard: “A little short sighted, don’t you think?”