The teens look to the past to figure out what the Dread Doctors are doing in the present, and it's making the future look particularly grim.
“We never should have read that book.”
The line so nice, Scott said it twice… or at least so important, he said it twice. If the timeline of The Dread Doctors book is as jumpy as the scenes in tonight’s episode of Teen Wolf, it’s no wonder the seniors of Beacon Hills High are having a hard time getting through it. “Required Reading” jumped from the future to the present, from the present to the past, from the past to the very past, and way back up to the future again…that had then become the present. I’m filling in for your trusty Teen Wolf recapper, Samantha Highfill, this week, and I’d just like to say: HELP.
This whole season—which started with a huge flash-forward—has played with time and the mind’s ability to distort it, but tonight’s episode takes it to the next level, suggesting that the consequences of the Dread Doctors little jaunt through Beacon Hills aren’t likely to be short-lived. Last week, Malia gave us an idea of just where a Dread Doctor-induced recovered memory can land you (in the middle of oncoming traffic in the arms of a secretly psychopathic werewolf), and tonight we got to the main course: weep-worthy suppressed childhood memories for Lydia, Scott, and especially Stiles.
Episodes of Teen Wolf come in all shapes and sizes, and this one was simultaneously sexy and dark, dark, dark. In between flashbacks to some truly traumatic childhood moments were Liam trying to be charming, Theo being a little too successful in the same attempt, and Lydia and Parrish… doing that morally ambiguous thing that Lydia and Parrish do—but this time, without sleeves!
But before any of that happens (or technically after it happens—ugh!), “Required Reading” begins at the end: Even though the last episode left Kira and Scott sizzling on the ground outside of Eichen House, this week opens with Scott doing grabby fingers on the floor of the hospital for the asthma inhaler we haven’t seen since season 1. A Dread Doctor has him by his throat while he struggles to breathe, but then Malia shows up with her ass-kicking shorts, with Melissa and her ass-kicking nurse skills by her side. Malia holds the Doctor off while Melissa gets Scott in the elevator, stabs him in the leg with something that takes care of his asthma attack, and Malia joins them just in time for the Doctor to miss the elevator doors. Isn’t that just the worst, Doc?
“We should never have read that book.”
Now, cruise back into present day, where the Sheriff’s Department has arrived on the Beacon Hills High sports field to find eight freshly dug, teenager-sized holes. Malia and Stiles explain to the Sheriff how that probably means eight new chimeras, created by the Dread Doctors, and he seconds Kira’s sentiments from last week: “Are we really calling them that?”
We are, Sheriff Stilinski, because it all comes down to That Damn Book. At the high school, Theo tells Scott that he’s worried about everyone reading it (yeah, okay, Theo) considering that Tracey went on a killing spree after she read it and Malia ran into traffic. But Scott reminds him that he book is all they have if they want to stop the Dread Doctors from killing any more teenagers. So, the pack, plus Theo, saddle up at Scott’s house for the lamest book club ever. They don’t even have books! Just the printouts that Kira made for them. But Lydia tells them that reading the book will be worth it, because just from looking at the cover, she’s already had her first almost-recovered memory of the Dread Doctors earlier that day.
You see, Parrish is coming through big time on the “Sexy-Sweating Your Way to Self-Defense” request Lydia made of him last week. And it looks like they’ve already had a few lessons because not only is Lydia somewhat comfortable with blocking his strikes, but they have no problem dramatically stripping off their sweatshirts to get down to the serious stuff (and by serious stuff, I mean sports bras and bicep-baring tank tops). But when Lydia doesn’t get her hands up in time, Parrish wraps her up in his arms from behind; but just when the breathing was starting to get heavy, Lydia has a “muscle memory” flashback to a metal-clad glove grasping her arm in the same spot. That kind of kills the mood.
NEXT: Reading Rainbow’s worst nightmare…
Lydia tells her friends that if the Dread Doctors did something to her on that operating table, she wants to know what it was, so they get to reading. But everyone is tired—Kira can barely read the pages and Malia and Stiles head to the kitchen for coffee. Malia can smell that Stiles’ shoulder is hurt, but he says that the hood of his jeep fell on him rather than tell her about Donovan; she returns the lie by not telling him about the Desert Wolf aspect of her memory recovery last week. Listening in, Theo smirks his patented Theo-smirk from the living room, but doesn’t say anything to refute Malia’s story. And that’s because he has other business attend to, which is to say, creeping up to Kira sleeping in Scott’s room, getting within an inch of her face, and recording her muttering in Japanese on his phone.
The next day in AP Biology, he’s texting buddies with Lydia, texting her to look at the potential chimera sitting in front of her—it’s Sydney and she’s pulling large chunks of her hair out. The bald spot on the side of Sydney’s head where she’s been pulling out her hair from stress gives Lydia a sudden flashback to a repressed memory: Teenage Lydia is walking through Eichen House, watching a little pair of legs in white tights and red shoes walk in front of her. She walks inside a room and sees a bloody electric drill on the ground and her mother leaning over a bathtub, asking an older red-headed woman who has a hole drilled into the side of her head, “Why did you do this?” It is… intense. And it is, apparently, a real memory of Lydia’s grandmother from her childhood that’s been suppressed inside Lydia’s subconscious.
I cherish all Liam and Mason moments because they usually mean a brief interlude from emotional pain, and tonight is no different. While Liam is making non-stop visits to the gay club where Hayden works to try and pay her back the money he owes her, Mason is already proving his worth as a junior pack member. When he finds Kira struggling with the Dread Doctor book, he tells her the legend of why Japanese people say “moshi moshi” twice when they answer the phone: It’s to ward off foxes—kitsunes struggle with language, so saying hello twice is a language trick to confuse them. And since the entire book is one big language trick written by Dr. Valack, it makes sense that it’s especially difficult for her to read.
Okay, back to the tears: When Scott finally caves and tries to turn in his drop form for AP Biology, he suddenly finds himself having an asthma attack that turns into a memory flashback. He sees flashes of a bloody leash on his little hand, an angry dog, and suddenly grown up Scott is following little Scott through the hospital as Melissa runs beside him on a gurney, and the actor playing baby Scott looks so much like baby Tyler Posey from Maid in Manhattan, it makes him saying, “Where’s Roxy?” about 1,000 times more painful.
At the same time, Liam and Hayden are having an angry, sporty flirt-battle on the lacrosse field that feels like old school Teen Wolf, but he’s quickly brought back to reality when another student rushes on the field to see if anyone has an inhaler and he knows his dad Alpha is in trouble. Liam takes off, grabs the inhaler, skids into the room, turns his Beta eyes on Scott, and snaps him right out of it. Love those two.
You know which two I don’t love? Malia and Theo, who have such sizzling chemistry that I keep having to remind myself that he is a psychopath Dread Doctor accomplice who is up to exactly no good. And that no-good includes seducing Malia judging by the way Theo strips off his shirt when he hears her about to enter the gym during his workout. He gets straight to seductive bicep curls, and then the kicker—pecs. But interested as she might seem for a few reps, Malia always stays on mission. In a bad ass display of strength, she holds the machine so that he can’t use it anymore and tells him not to expect any favors just because he hasn’t told her secret about the Desert Wolf. He tells her he doesn’t expect anything, he just wants to be a part of the pack.
NEXT: Cross the blue wire with the yellow wire, and then Eat. All. The. Wires…
Theo also has a few tricks for getting Scott on his side. He plays the recording of Kira’s Japanese sleep-talking for him and tells him he translated it online: “I am the messenger of death.” Uh oh. Scott says he’s not sure if he can trust Kira anymore and, of course, the electricity flickers at the exact same time. But that’s not Kira—that’s something that has chewed a bunch of electrical cords in the basement of the school and made its way to the roof of the hospital, where Stiles and Lydia now are, to chew even more cords.
Lydia has figured out that since the book triggered a memory of her childhood rather than her encounter with the Dread Doctors, it must have been someone else’s memory she was channeling through her banshee powers. She and Stiles head back to the operating room where she first saw the Dread Doctors for more details, but she sends him to inquire why the lights are out once they’re down there because it’s always a good idea to split up, especially in the dark. And as Stiles gets on the elevator, we realize that it’s time for his repressed memory… and I don’t even want to talk about it, it’s so sad.
When the doors of the elevator close, we see a woman in a hospital gown in the reflection behind Stiles. He follows her out of the elevator and you probably realize about two seconds before Stiles does that it’s his mom. He follows her up to the roof, where the Sheriff shows up to lead her off of the edge. She’s yelling about the way someone has been looking at her and the Sheriff tells her she has to remind herself that it’s the disease, the dementia that makes her think that; but she yells back, “You don’t see the way he looks at me—he’s trying to kill me!” Oh no… “Claudia, he’s 10 years old,” the Sheriff tells her. Stiles is crying, I’m crying, you’re crying; Stiles looks down and sees a 10-year-old-sized shadow (I might have shut the TV off forever if we’d had to endure a baby Dylan O’Brien look-alike) just as his mother looks over in his direction and charges at him, screaming.
I choose to hope that this isn’t part of the actual memory because, though he sees his mother for a moment, it turns out that person actually attacking Stiles on the roof is the wire-chomping chimera, and the same person whose Dread Doctor memory Lydia intercepted on the operating table. And while Stiles is being attacked on the roof, and Lydia is hearing voices in beeping heart monitors in the basement, Scott and Malia are going back through the episode’s opening scene on the main floor: “We never should have read that book.”
Everything has come full-circle with just a little more unfinished business: Saving Stiles’ life. And that task falls to Theo, who stops being evil for two minutes (or more likely, has something even more evil on the docket for later) and fights the chimera off of Stiles, and then—he rips his throat out. Not exactly the McCall pack way, and Theo knows it…
Theo: “Stiles. You can’t say anything—please, you can’t say anything.”
Stiles: “Why not?”
Theo: “Because I never said anything about you and Donovan.”
Someone please get Stiles 800 stress balls and a lifetime supply of therapy, like, yesterday.
A few extra thoughts and questions:
– Next week in chimera news: Just when they were starting to smile at each other, Liam holds a glowstick up to Hayden’s eyes and sees that they are not entirely human. We also learn what happened in the sixth grade: Liam accidentally broke Hayden’s nose right before picture day. The worst.
– What exactly could account for a True Alpha suddenly having asthma again?
– Is it just a coincidence that Theo and Malia basically have the same face? I’m not saying they’re brother and sister, I’m just saying… eyebrows.
– If kitsunes have trouble with language, it makes sense that Stiles couldn’t read once he was possessed by the nogitsune in season 3. Nothing like a little throwback consistency from Teen Wolf while one thousand other question marks are currently dancing around in your head.
- The Sheriff wonders what all of the teenagers chosen to be chimeras have in common. Any theories?? I’ve got… uhh… they all have brown hair?