cupidsbow (cupidsbow) wrote,

Make Like a Tree: A Review of Teen Wolf 311

My review of episode 311 of Teen Wolf:

The Giving Tree Movie Trailer with Tyler Posey from Tyler Posey

My actual review...
I know a lot of people enjoyed this episode and thought it good. I disagree. I thought it was better in comparison to the last few episodes, and had a few stand-out scenes, but is still a pretty weak episode for several reasons.

The Good

  • The acting overall in the episode was much better than the material deserved. Kudos all around to the actors.

  • The much touted kiss between Stiles and Lydia was adorable. Genuinely worth three seasons of waiting. I still like that they're friends this season, and don't want a romance until that's been explored, but this really confirms that the potential for a romance is there, and it could be good.

  • Stiles in general was great this ep -- the panic attack was well done, and was pretty much the only use of slo-mo I've really enjoyed this season.

  • Peter was a total creepy slime, and Ian B. played it to perfection.

  • Danielle was fabulous and I want her as a regular.

  • The Argents' gun collection was creepy and LOLarious at the same time.

  • I liked that Morrell finally got a decent action scene, even though the non-action aspects of the scene were pretty lackluster.

  • Deaton was creepy-awesome. His Emissary cock-blocking (Stiles), and his subtexty parallel cock-blocking (Isaac), in order to keep Scott all to himself was fantastic. It was actually really nicely timed comic relief given the nature of the scene.

  • Scott's dad. Fabulous intro. What a dick. What a great character. Can't wait to see him interact with the Sheriff, especially as the Sheriff is now in the know.

The Bad

  • Seriously, the plot is a cursed tree. A TREE IS THIS SEASON'S ULTIMATE BAD GUY. Just think about that for a minute. It explains so much, right? Like... all the other bad guys are clearly infected by it's evil influence, and that's why they have personalities like chunks of wood. Davis' cunning characterisation is now revealed! But the big questions is, will Derek be forced to set it on fire???? DUN DUN DUN! I can't wait to find out.

  • The pacing of this ep was off. I think it was meant to be the lull before the storm, but instead a lot of it felt like filler and not much happened. I was expecting a big ramp-up of tension and action, which would lead us into the cliffhanger finale on the edge of our seats. But despite what felt like hours of monologuing by all the characters, we still don't even know why the Alpha pack is in town... except for the Call of the Cursed Tree, of course. Everyone was strangely passive too -- it wasn't just Derek. No-one did much of anything related to the plot.

  • I'm a bit disappointed by the scene with Melissa, the Sheriff and Chris. The actors were all fine, and the bit with Chris' weapons was funny, but we got another monologue and I'm so tired of monologues. And this was one of the few times a flashback would actually have been worthwhile, and we didn't get it. I was hoping for conniving, plotting, comparing notes, flirting. I was hoping for a clever twist -- like the werewolf tracker thing actually working, and Scott, Stiles, Lydia and Allison actually being smart and figuring it out and coming up with a clever plan.

  • Isaac. Isaac. Isaac. *sigh* I'm so tired of the Derek-focused hypocrisy in this text. If a member of Isaac's family was miraculously recovered from the dead, do you think a crowbar would pry Isaac off them if they were deathly ill? I think not. Unlike Scott, Isaac has expressed no regret for being a werewolf. This rant was basically Isaac justifying his defection, and pushing any guilt he feels for Boyd's death onto Derek. And the text once again endorses this as reasonable. Lovely.

  • Derek has characterisation at last. He's learned his lesson about putting family first, and stays with Cora and does everything he can to try and help her. And as a result of learning this lesson, he's been accused of doing nothing, Isaac has left his pack, he will no doubt fail to actually save her, and Peter will betray him again. Super lovely, with a vomit-flavoured cherry on top.

  • Because Derek's focus on Cora is taking place in the second last ep of the arc, it does feel like he's doing nothing, even though he's actually got his priorities pretty straight given his history. This could have been touching and lovely, and instead it's just another excuse to shit on Derek. There are legitimate bad choices and actions that Derek could be accused of, and could work though in an interesting arc; this is not one of them.

  • Cora's complete lack of character development is now creepy as shit, especially given the plot seems to be leading to her fridging at Peter's power-hungry claws. It's ridiculous too, as there was plenty of room in this ep for Cora to reveal something about herself -- even a touching near-deathbed confession would have done, if we're going to be swamped by monologues anyway.

  • That's Mystery Girl's backstory? Ugh.

  • I'm now starting to think that Davis is just using the Sterek parallels to Derek/Jennifer as fan service, and has no intention of following through and explaining as part of the plot. I think this, reluctantly, because so much of the rest of the season is a cheat. I don't want gay-baiting from this text as well. :(

The Ugly
I'm not that keen on a teen suicide pact (endorsed by a trusted adult shaman-figure too) being used as a plot point with what seems like a pretty flimsy set up and justification, and positive textual endorsement to cap it off.

What is the point of including this? Seriously, what is the point? Because it seems to be saying that suicide is noble if you have a good reason and you don't really mean it. And I'm not okay with that.

I'm especially not okay with it when actively caring for a family member who is sick is painted as a cop-out by comparison. How exactly is that a cop out?

I mean, tell me I'm wrong, but that's what I'm getting from this episode: Scott, Stiles and Allison are brave and heroic for DOING SOMETHING even if that something is attempting suicide in a plan which seems made more of holes than actual plan, while Derek is a failure for being loyal and easing the pain of a family member who's dying right in front of him.

I just really, really don't understand the values we're being presented with here. I can explain away occasional unethical actions by the hero, even big ones like the S2 finale, as rushed writing, and/or as a thoughtless teen protagonist (I still don't find it excusable, but I can understand it as part of a character journey). But the direction of S3 seems to be confirming and endorsing the skeeviest readings of S1 and S2. Scott really is the kind of person who says, "Oh no, we can't kill a mass murderer," (when it's his peer) and then uses someone else's body to try and kill a mass murderer (when it's someone he doesn't like). Scott really is the kind of person who will abandon his best friend for the empty promises of a villain, and then go along with risking the lives of his best friend and the girl he professes to love more than anything, on a nebulous hope that it will fix a kidnapping of his mother.

How is that heroic? Or ethical? Or showing leadership? Or common sense?

I find it hateful. I don't want to hate these characters, but Davis is making me hate even some of the characters I love, because this is horrid.

There is a trend in contemporary media to present pain-porn as entertainment, by which I mean torturing characters not for reasons of character growth or plot, but so that the audience can revel in the spectacle of their pain. Teen Wolf has previously toed the line in this regard, because the pain has been entwined with character development and plot; but this season that line has well and truly been crossed.

I have no patience for texts which present characters with PTSD solely for the purpose of torturing them some more, with no hope of recovery or any relief. Does anyone get off on this? I find it ugly and not entertaining. I cannot revel in this kind of pain. I have plenty enough pain in my own life thanks; I don't need to see it paralleled in the fictional characters I identify with when there is not even the slightest opportunity for them finding a way to a happier life.

Bad plotting and melodrama can be fixed in fanfic, and even be fun. But to my mind, fridging women and people of colour, turning a race analogy into a racist analogy, glorifying ritual suicide by teens, and endorsing shitty, unethical actions in the hero, while condemning decency in the antagonist just because he's the antagonist are not forgivable.

I don't see any way this can be fixed, unless the Tree of Doom is revealed to have warped everyone's behaviour and/or memories this season, and they all recover and flail in horror at their actions when the curse is broken.
Tags: meta, teen wolf
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