“The Riddler” . . . not exactly one of the Batman franchise’s most impressive villains. For one thing, he seemed totally redundant. I mean, why would Gotham need another “Joker-type” when it already had the Best Joker Ever?
Second, “The Riddler’s” modus operandi was basically asking his adversaries inane questions . . . making him seem much less like a Denizen of Evil, and much more like your Annoying High School Algebra Teacher . . .
But, more than anything, “The Riddler” just looked lame . . . with the scrawny body, the bad ginger haircut, the head-to-toe neon green spandex suit with those stupid question marks all over it. This was a man meant to evoke fear in the hearts of comic book geeks the world over? He looked more like an out-of-shape cage dancer you’d find working at a gay nightclub catering to the over-70 crowd . . .
Teen Wolf too has had problems in the past creating truly terrifying looking baddies. I mean, they always got off to a promising start. Who could forget the mesmeric druid chanting of the Darach . . . the growls of the Alpha pack and the bloody marks they left in their wake . . . or hushed talk of the unstoppable, all powerful Demon Wolf?
But then, when these evil doers finally made their way to center stage, their appearances were . . . well . . . a bit underwhelming, to say the least . . .
In a sense, Season 3B’s Big Baddie is a comment on all the poorly executed villains of Teen Wolf past. He’s a Riddler done right . . .
Sure, just like a certain Batman character, the Nogitsune speaks in puzzle, using his words as weapons. His war against the Scooby Gang is one waged, not on it’s body, but rather against it’s mind, soul and, perhaps most importantly, it’s heart.
But unlike the Baddies before him, the Nogitsune’s appearance is truly terrifying, mainly because it has no appearance at all! By lingering in the darkness, and shrouding itself in shadow, the Nogitsune becomes no one and everyone all at once. He (or she) embodies all of our deepest most secret fears, and tosses them back at us in the form of a mirror showing us our darkest, most despicable, selves . . .
He also has really f*&ked up teeth . . . and f&*ked up teeth are the worst . . .
So, come out of the shadows, Werebangers; and be sure to bring your thinking caps . . . and some dentures, because it’s time to get “Riddled” . . .
[Once again, a special thanks go out to Andre the Most Powerful and Talented Screencapper in all the Land . . . also the first person I would call at 4 a.m., if I ever found myself trapped in a coyote den having schizophrenic conversations with myself . . .]
Wish you were here . . .
Poor Stiles! He’s on a Bad Trip. And I’m not talking about the usual garden-variety bad trip . . . the kind where the pillow smells like feet, the blanket has bed bugs, the pool is being fumigated, the baby in the room next store won’t stop crying, and you are positive the housekeeping staff is stealing your toiletries. I’m talking about the Wrong Turn, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, House of Wax, Evil Dead kind of Bad Trip . . . the kind that usually ends with you rotting away in a forest, missing a few of your most prized body parts . . .
Stiles wakes up in the middle of the night to find himself in a dark, fetid smelling place, with no clue where he is or how he got there. What’s worse, he’s injured and can’t escape. What’s even worse than that? He’s pretty sure he’s not alone . . .
Stiles still has his trusty cell phone though! And in Beacon Hills, even the Depths of Hell, apparently, get pretty decent cell reception. So, Stiles does what any of us would do in a situation like this. He calls . . . The Hottest Girl.
Even under the best of circumstances, Scott is not exactly a brainchild. And he’s hindered here by a sleep-fogged mind, and the almost incoherent,garbled ramblings of a confused and clearly terrified Stiles. But Scott still does his honest best to keep his bestie calm, and find out the information he needs to find his pal quickly, and keep him from harm.
The problem, of course, is that the call keeps getting disconnected! And whenever Scott calls him back, it goes straight to voicemail! Time to switch to Verizon, Scott! (Hmmm, I wonder if I can get product placement money for saying that.)
Scott wakes up the new Robin to his Batman (who also happens to be currently boning his ex), Isaac, so that the two can be useless and ineffective together in finding their pal. (You know what they say, two half-brains is better than one!)
“I think I just pissed my self.”
But Stiles is no dummy. He knows that if he wants to increase his odds of being found, he has get someone with above-average IQ on the case as well. And so we head to Beacon Hills High, where Lydia and Aiden are engaged in some Sexy Naked Painting Times to the tune of Sexy Retro Music from not-so-retro Bose Speakers, without the threat of being found by school security, because, as Lydia rightly notes, “No one in their right mind would take a nightshift job at the High School Where All Extras Die Gory and Painful Deaths.”
“Screw this Banshee Crime Fighting Sh*t. I’m going to art school!”
And then, just when it seems like things are about to get a little X Rated, Stiles, whose possession by the Nogitsune has apparently armed him with Magical Cockblocking Abilities, chimes through the speakers with a Very Important Message:
DON’T HAVE SEX WITH THAT DOOFUS FORMER ALPHA AGAIN, WHEN YOU COULD BE TAKING MY VIRGINITY FROM ME. “HELP FIND ME!”
“Hey Lydia! It’s me . . . Stiles . . . climbing through your speakers . . . snatching up your sex life. The usual.”
Come quick, Lydia/ Daphne! Stiles/Velma and the rest of your Scooby Gang need you!
The Cats in the Cradle
You ever play that game when you were a kid? The one where you and a friend would hold a single string together, and use it to form a series of unrelated images, the chief of which being a baby cradle, and a cat’s eye, which all somehow wove together to tell a very abstract, loosely defined, story?
There’s a bit of childlike innocence in Stiles’ obsession with the red yarn, and his use of it to weave together “unsolved cases” in Beacon Hills. It’s almost as if there’s a part of Stiles that believes that by physically connecting a series of unrelated incidents together with a strand of yarn, he can somehow forge a literal connection between them.
It’s also kind of f*&ked up. Seeing the strands of red yarn, each connecting from a gruesome picture on his bedside wall to his bedpost, one can’t help but be reminded of every episode of Law and Order: SVU she ever saw, where the bad guy inevitably gave away his identity by having similarly lousy taste in room decoration.
But, as Lydia notes when she and the Scooby Gang convene in Stiles’ yarn-warped bedroom, Stiles’ Yarn Art may very well be more than a childish pipedream, or even the workings of a diseased mind. Stiles may be offering his friends up a clue to all the wacked out things that have happened in the town over the past few years. Could the Nogitsune be the cause of all of them? Could the Nemeton?
After rightly lecturing Scott for listening to an addled-brained Stiles’ advice, and not telling the teen’s own father he’s missing, Lydia decides to remain behind, amidst the yarn of Stiles’ psyche, in hopes that she alone might be able to decipher the message her partner in crime has been desperately trying to convey.
If only Stiles was around to see how easy it was to get Lydia to more spend time on his bed . . .
It’s Just Me, Myself, and I
With the flashlight app from his cellphone casting the only light in his world of darkness, and his foot bare and bloodied inside a coyote trap, Stiles’ schizophrenia / multiple personality disorder / existential crisis gets a bit more literal, when a bandaged figure crouched in the corner of Stiles’ prison, scratches the Oni “Self” tattoo onto the wall in white chalk, in between what appears to be two crude drawings of eyes. Then the figure cackles demonically and disappears, as the “self” mark evaporates, and Stiles is left alone with nothing but his smelly bloody feet and those pesky judgy eyes . . .
“Hey buddy, you got a first aid kit in here? I could really use a band-aid?”
“No bandaid. Just the entire roll of toilet paper wrapped around my head.”
But who is Stiles’ true Self anyway? Is he the scared kid lying on the floor in the middle of the night? The crazy kid with all the yarn over his bed? The goofy guy who everyone thought was funny, but no one took seriously? The smart guy who solves all the mysteries for the Scooby Gang? Or the freaky guy with toilet paper wrapped around his head, who draws all his “S’s” backwards?
And just like that, this show just got a whole lot more Meta . . .
It’s kind of refreshing to see that Scott’s douchey dad has become the Town Joke, after he spent the first few episodes trying to make Stiles’ dad look like the crazy one. With his jacket wrapped around him like a cape, due to his broken arm, Papa McCall storms into the Sheriff’s office and tries to give the new deputy hell for not following up on his description of the “Caped Crusader” that massacred his arm last week.
The Deputy smiles smugly as he inclines his head toward the two Wanted Posters behind him, both of which look more like those “Learn to Draw Cartoon” advertisements you find in the back of comic books, than renderings of actual criminal masterminds. One picture looks like a cross between a Cowboy and a Pirate. The other looks like a cross between a Ninja and Darth Vader.
“Hey dipshit,” the Deputy tells Agent McCall, more or less. “Maybe if you pulled your head out of your ass long enough to listen to the police radio, every once in a while, you’d know that nobody gives two craps about the Ninja that clipped your wing, when the Sheriff’s son has gone missing on the coldest night of the year . . . .”
At the hospital, the cops have located Stiles’ jeep, but it’s been abandoned and the batteries are dead. Surprisingly enough, it’s Derek of all people, who makes himself the most useful, by smelling Stiles’ body odor on the rooftop of the hospital, and concluding that he smells “stressed.”
“Smells like Teen Spirit.”
Well thank you, Captain Obvious! I’m glad you are here to tell me he’s stressed. Because the last five times we’ve seen Stiles on screen, he’s seemed downright chipper to me!
In all seriousness though, Derek wins MVP of this episode for being the first member of the Scooby Gang to correctly ascertain that Stiles is struggling for control of his body against the Nogitsune trying to possess it, and make it do Very Bad Things! He proves himself further useful later, by explaining to Kira that her Electric Light Show with Barrow might have been the precise spark the Nogitsune needed to make that possession possible.
Hey Sterek fans? Do you think it’s possible that Secret Sex has the ability to transfer IQ points? Because Derek seems to have gone and become intelligent on us all of the sudden? Who’dda thunk it?
“Was it as good for you as it was for me?”
Back on Stiles’ bed, Lydia decides to play banjo with Stiles’ Crazy Strings, and somehow comes up with the idea that Stiles might be trapped in an insane asylum. Why? Because the Crazy Strings told her so!
Dear sweet Lydia, Stiles might not be the only one who ends up trapped in an insane asylum by the end of this season.
On the bright side, the two of you could share a cell, and spend your days drawing one another crazy pictures! Now, if that’s not True Love, I don’t know what is!
Ooh, how embarrassing! Lydia gets the entire police force to search for Stiles in the basement of the insane asylum and he was never there!
Or was he . . . .?
My What Big Teeth You Have?
Alter Egos can be a real pain in the ass, sometimes. And Stiles’ alter ego is the worst! First of all, Dude doesn’t shut up. Yammering on in Japanese, then English, then Japanese again, spouting off stupid riddles that no one cares about. “When is a door not a door?” “Everyone has it but no one can use it?” “Hey, watch my magic trick, where I make the trap on your foot switch legs!”
What a douchebag!
He’s basically the kid from the Jerry MacGuire movie, only slightly less adorable . . .
Then, he gets all up in Stiles face with his janky teeth and bad breath, and tells him that “we” have to save ourselves, or “we” are going to die.
Now, that’s just rude. There’s no “we” about Stiles Situation. Bad Teeth Guy doesn’t have his leg trapped in a coyote trap? Bad Teeth Guy is warm and cozy in his rotten bandages, so HE’S NOT FREEZING TO DEATH in a thin cotton t-shirt. Bad Teeth Guy can just get up and leave anytime he pleases.
In fact, he’s doing it right now, dragging Stiles across the floor, like it’s no big deal.
“This is really not very sanitary!”
Outside of Hell, Papa McCall has somehow used his vital life experiences of getting drunk and peeing in closets, because he was convinced they were toilets, to find Stiles in a coyote den.
Wait, what? Did I miss a connection here?
“So, basically, what I’m trying to say is that, all this time you thought I was just a bastard and a bad drunk, I was really a super hero whose pee possessed magical powers.”
So, according to Papa McCall, Stiles was sleepwalking and wandered right into the coyote den, where they found the pretty chick from The Secret Circle a few episodes back, and where the cops apparently sprayed some stinky stuff, to keep the animals,
but not the Nogitsune, at bay. And the poor guy’s basically been sleeping this whole time. In fact, he may very well have been sleeping all through Season 3B.
That’s fine. But it doesn’t explain the abandoned jeep, or the stinky sweat smell on the hospital roof . . . or the Crazy Strings, or the “S” on the insane asylum wall, or what it was about Papa McCall’s laundry basket that made it look so much like his toilet . . .
Color me confused . . .
BatMan Strikes Again . . .
Derek wanders into Beacon Hills High, as he is wont to do on occasion, hijacks Kira, and takes her back to the site of her almost-electrocution.
Ahhhh . . . memories! There, they find Stiles’ Magical Metal Bat, which has been magnetized and possibly possessed by evil demons, much like Stiles’ brain .. .
Speaking of Stiles’ brain, back at the hospital, Mama McCall finally breaks the news to Papa Stilinski that his son might be suffering from the same degenerative brain disorder that killed his mother ten years earlier. Papa Stilinski is understandably devastated, but admits he’s been suspecting the same thing for quite awhile. They agree to have some tests done at the hospital.
“I think I liked it better when my son was solely used on this show for comic relief.”
Not cool, Teen Wolf writers. Stiles’ brain is too cute to be fried, scrambled, hard boiled, or sunny side up, maybe. But never fried!
Fix this, Jeff Davis! And fix it fast! Or I’ll personally see to it that all your breakfast bacon is burnt for all eternity!
S.O.S. – Save Our Stiles
As Stiles waits to endure his MRI, he and Scott speak honestly about his possible condition: frontal temporal dementia, which is basically incurable . . . unless, of course, you have a powerful Alpha Werewolf Friend with the power to bite your brain, and make it healthy again. The two lifelong best friends embrace, as their parents look-on sadly, in this quietly devastating scene that is possibly one of the series’ strongest to date . . .
A word about frontal temporal dementia . . . After reading a bit about it, am I the only one who thinks the symptoms don’t seem all that consistent with Stiles’ and his mother’s at all?
For one thing, they both seem much too young, considering the disease tends to afflict most individuals in their 50s and 60s, while Stiles is still a teenager, and his mother passed in her early 30s. For another, sleep paralysis, hallucinations, insomnia, none of these are listed as common symptoms of frontal temporal dementia. In fact, they are more common symptoms of other diseases . . . like, say, a brain tumor . . .
So, now I’m thinking that either Jeff Davis an Co., didn’t do their web MD homework, before choosing their character’s ailments, or BOTH Stiles and his mom never had frontal temporal dementia at all. Rather, they are/were both suffering from something else . . . something everyone has but no one can lose . . . the Shadow of the Nogitsune.
Though, I guess the MRI they show of Stiles’ brain toward the end of the episode would beg to differ with me . . .
What do I know, I’m not a doctor . . . I’m just the recapper.
Speaking of symptoms . . .
Lydia appears to be suffering from a really bad migraine.
Did I say migraine? I meant MRI / brain hijacking sympathy pains for Stiles.
It’s not easy being a banshee . . .
In which the Bad Guys Win . . .
Inside the MRI machine, Stiles faces off with Toilet Paper Head, FINALLY solves that stupid riddle (“It’s a SHADOW, DAMMIT!”), and gets to meet the man behind the Charmin for all his trouble.
And the guy dressed up in the lame Mummy Halloween costume with the funky-looking teeth is . . .
Wait . . . what?
So, Stiles has an evil doppelganger? What is this The Vampire Diaries? All I know is if someone starts talking about “Saving Elena” I’m changing the channel . . .
All kidding aside, Evil Stiles is both super cool, and extremely terrifying. Real Stiles could stand to take a few notes from this guy . . . what with his sexy Bad Guy Walk, and sly self confidence. Lydia would f*&k Evil Stiles in a heart beat . . .
By the way, I’d totally watch the HBO version of this show, in which Stiles and Evil Stiles engage in a threesome with Banshee Lydia . . . Now, that would give her a good reason to scream . . .
Back on the roof of the hospital, Derek and Scott learn that Real Stiles and his stinky stress sweat, ultimately lost the battle with Evil Stiles and the pair ended up electrifying the entire power grid of the hospital, all while Real Stiles was supposedly “dreaming” in the smelly coyote den.
Take that, Papa McCall . . .
Elsewhere in the hospital, Evil Stiles attempts to make his escape, only to be encountered by the two remaining Oni he didn’t kill in last week’s episode, and their fearless leader . . . Kira’s mom?
It’s a pretty cool scene, actually, with Kira’s mom all sophisticated and self-righteous, “I’ll kill you, even if you are hiding inside the most popular character on Teen Wolf!” She threatens coolly.
Evil Stiles shrugs it off, throwing some major shade in the direction of his elder. “Bring it on, Firefly B*tch,” he responds, before casually walking out of a hospital that’s about to be completely electrified. In other words, Nogitsune Stiles is the Honey Badger . . . basically . . .
Outside the hospital, a stray electrified wire almost kills Kira . . .
Somehow, I think the Girl on Fire will make it out just fine . . .
Speaking of girls Scott wants to bone, Allison seems to be on a completely different show from everybody else. She slept through Stiles’ entire ordeal. And now she’s getting telephone messages from Fake Japanese Internment Camps? (By the way, for an honestly brilliant theory about the Nogitsune’s true identity that actually connects to Allison’s bizarro subplot, check THIS out . . .)
Evil Stiles is unamused . . .
Next time on Teen Wolf . . .
Until next time, Werebangers!