Review: Teen Wolf, Season 3 Episode 5, "Frayed"
This Episode's Rating
To celebrate last week’s mid-season finale (or Season 3A, as some fans are calling it), I will be posting some analyses of the episodes. Keep in mind that these will not be in order. If you have not yet watched all 12 episodes of 3A, I will explicitly state which episode I am analyzing and will keep all of the content contained to that particular episode and all episodes prior to it (i.e. if there was something foreshadow-y that I did not notice until the foreshadowed event actually happened, the scene that foreshadowed the event will not be placed on this episode’s analysis), and keep in mind that MTV.com has all of the episodes from all three seasons for free.
THE EPISODE IN QUESTION IS 3.05, “FRAYED”. IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THIS EPISODE PLEASE DO NOT READ.
For one thing, I personally thought this was a pretty good episode. I mean, it was very discombobulated since it began in medias res and continued alternating between flashbacks and the present, but I thought that a lot of the themes built up in this episode were interesting. Hence why this is the first episode I’ve written about.
Allison Argent's Development
I want to talk about Allison first, and how Scott and she relates to the title of this episode. In the sort of ‘climax’ scene of the present time, Allison sews up Scott’s unhealed wound, but has difficulty getting the thread through the needle. Later in the episode (but earlier in the timeline, as this was told via flashback), her father advises her to “thread the needle” or to “find a safe path between two opposing forces”. In context, he was advising her to not get involved in the war going on between the Alphas and Derek’s pack, but as we see her struggle with the needle and thread, she almost can’t do it. She is forever either the pack’s foe or the pack’s friend, but she cannot find a way to extract herself from the situation.
Victoria Argent appears as a part of Allison’s hallucinations and coaches her through threading the needle:
Victoria: How do we treat these situations?
Victoria: Then quit crying and thread the needle.
Despite the fact that Victoria’s methods aren’t exactly calming and ‘motherlike’, she does get Allison to calm down and get the thread through the needle.
I feel that this is so important to Allison’s character: She’s this girl who has been left in the dark by her family for her entire life; it’s not her fault she didn’t know her boyfriend is a werewolf, just as much as it isn’t her fault she never realized her family is a group of hunters trying to kill those like her boyfriend. The moment she is swept into this insanity, it’s by her crazy aunt who would love nothing more than to commit small scale genocide on the werewolves in Beacon Hill and is looking to recruit Allison as her right-hand man. Not only that, but Scott neglects to tell her that he is a werewolf – she finds out by her father trying to kill him. From day one it’s been nothing but push and pull, staying by her friends or staying by her family; she’s the thread knocking desperately around the needle, and she can’t get through.
However, the only thing that keeps her knocking around, figuratively, and keeps her from standing on neutral ground, is her emotional involvement in it. This is perfectly understandably, of course, since she is a seventeen-year-old girl who struggles to keep both her family and her boyfriend, so it would be highly improbable that she would just stay emotionally uninvolved. However, the way this season is going, it seems to hint that her key to finding peace and getting through this without getting hurt is to back away. She has to decide for herself whether she wants to continue dancing around the needle, if she wants to pick a side and stay with it, or if she wants to take herself out of the equation and pass safely to the next stages of her life.
The Title's Meaning
Of course, the titles of all episodes are important in some ways. Some tell the setting or the subject of the episode. In “Frayed,” it’s the theme throughout the episode. The reason why Allison’s string wouldn’t go through the needle, besides her shaking is that it was frayed a bit at the end. Well, look at the pack and company in this episode. Derek, the end of the string that kept it all together, is presumed dead, and even worse, just gone. Everyone is pulled taut. Scott is so emotionally hurt it keeps his typically superhuman healing ability from working at all, even going as far as to exacerbating the initial wound. Boyd wishes to enact revenge so badly that he’s willing to do it on a bus full of his classmates in the middle of nowhere. Isaac is more restrained, but only just so, and doesn’t care how it looks to punch Ethan bloody. Stiles is so done with everything that he’s willing to exploit Jared’s motion sickness to get off the bus, and visibly loses it at Coach Finstock. Even the girls are, as their car aptly symbolizes, just running on fumes.
Nearly every character is displaying extremely harmful behaviors, and they need someone to pull them, the frayed strands of thread, together so that they can finally make it through this and try to figure out the next plan of action.
Predictions for Scott McCall
Personally, I think Scott is going to be the one to hold them through. I mean, he is the heroic protagonist of the series, and he definitely has the Messiah archetype going for him. Plus, the girl in 3x01 alludes to his ascension as a great man, indicating that fate might play a part in this series now.
I believe Scott’s eyes flashing red will definitely be a part of his healing the pack. I’ve seen the theory that Isaac has now joined Scott’s pack thrown around a few times on Tumblr, and I have to side with this theory. Scott has always aligned himself with Derek’s pack, true, but he has said multiple times that he is not a member of Derek’s pack. Ever since Peter’s attempt to guide Scott into killing that bus driver and his friends to join his pack, I’ve always thought the pack had some sort of telepathy or empathetic connection with the Alpha, so Scott never seeming to be connected to Derek probably shows that he isn’t pack. I’ve always thought of them like two allied countries that help each other out against opposing forces: they aren’t the same country, but they often have similar goals.
Assuming that Scott is not a part of Derek’s pack implies that Scott is technically an omega with help from a neighboring pack.
In the episode prior to this one, we see Derek kicking Isaac out of his place. Derek was doing it out of concern for Isaac’s safety, but it’s important to remember 1) Isaac has no clue that it is for his safety and 2) Isaac has just been through a triggering event, the Alpha Twins locking him in a small space somewhat similar to his father’s freezer, and Derek just triggered him again by throwing something at him. Maybe Derek didn’t exactly mean to trigger him, but Isaac doesn’t see that at all, and as the audience, you can really tell that a lot of the trust built into their relationship just flies out of the window.
Regarding my theory, I’m pretty sure Isaac became an omega either at that point or while traveling to Scott’s house.
That would make both Scott and Isaac an omega. We know that Isaac asks Scott if he can stay, which could possibly be interpreted as a request to join the pack. We’ve seen throughout this season and the last season that Isaac views Scott as a leader and trusts him, especially considering Scott is his second emergency contact. Scott, conversely, doesn’t feel the same. He trusts Isaac, but he doesn’t trust him as a leader. He often doesn’t agree with Isaac’s plans of action, but he does trust Isaac to follow through with a plan with him as teammates. This imbalance of power inherently comes from their perception of each other.
If I’m right, Isaac joined Scott’s pack, and through their previous relationship with each other, subconsciously made Scott his alpha.
It’s important to note that every alpha we’ve seen thus far (not counting the ‘lesser alphas’ of the Alpha Pack, as we have never seen them with their pack) has either demanded to be the alpha of the pack (Peter) or is collectively agreed to be the leader of the pack (Derek, Deucalion). Scott doesn’t see himself as an alpha. He might not trust Isaac as a leader, but he still views Isaac as a peer, a classmate, an equal, which does not work in the overall pack mentality and dynamics.
That is why Scott’s eyes do not remain red. Although he has been technically elected alpha by Isaac, he hasn’t accepted his role as alpha. The moment he accepts his role as an alpha, I think he will truly become an alpha and maybe team up with Derek once again to defeat the alpha pack, which would definitely even out the playing field.
Stiles, Lydia, and Mental Instability
I’m very interested in Stiles this season. So far, he’s been a lot of people’s support system. He definitely looks out for Papa Stilinski and Scott as #1 and #2, respectively, but nevertheless he helps Derek and the others out at one point or another. Unfortunately, no one is looking out for him. This is a kid with ADHD, who is still pretty traumatized by his mother’s death, to the point where he used to have panic attacks. This show has been known to treat those with any sort of mental instability like crap. The most prominent example remains Lydia from Season 2 (although this still carries on in Season 3). The only person to offer her an ear to listen was Stiles (although he quickly retracted this offer and never bothered to talk about it to her again) and subconsciously asked for help (which I’m just going to point out that it was Stiles who noticed she was writing SOMEONEHELPME and I think that might have been more empathy than coincidence or a product of his fixation on her), and even so, she is objectified and reduced to her body when she’s blacked out, running through the woods, and by the closing episodes of the season she literally has to ambush her best friend to get her to talk with her, and even Stiles calls her the ‘town nutjob’. So yeah, great job there, Teen Wolf.
Stiles has never been the most mentally stable person on the show, and I think it’s beginning to show with all of the pressure he’s been under, from trying to find Erica and Boyd, to trying to support Scott and Derek’s pack regarding the Alpha Pack, to now finding out the person sacrificing many innocent people is a crazy darach, and now having to watch his friends begin to crumble as well. I predict that, as with Lydia’s case, he will continue to be treated poorly until he just snaps. So far, he’s proven to be pretty vindictive when he wants to be, so I’m interested to see just how far he’s stretched before he snaps.
Jennifer Blake and Derek
Lastly, I’m a bit confused with this sudden interest in the Derek/Jennifer relationship, especially considering the lack of characterization on her part. They just introduced her in the first episode with absolutely no development as a character; in the second episode she doesn’t show; then suddenly in the third episode she is almost killed by Boyd and Cora and the next thing we know it’s a drawn out scene of Derek saving her? I know Derek has a big savior complex where it’s up to him to fix everything, but the set up for this relationship is sketchy in that it relies on hackneyed and heteronormative tropes from the very beginning.
Also, Jennifer seems extremely blasé about the whole supernatural revelation. Scott, Stiles, and Allison all had their own little freak outs at the realization that werewolves exist, and Lydia definitely saw it coming after she was forcibly coerced into bringing a dead guy back to life because he’s manipulating her mind. So yeah, I can totally see Lydia not being surprised whatsoever at the existence of werewolves or kanimas. Jennifer has never had anything like that happen to her on-screen prior to the attack, so I’m very concerned at her lack of responsiveness to that.
To be fair, I can somewhat understand Derek going to her at the end of “Frayed”. Everyone else is going to the lacrosse meet, after all. However, it still doesn’t explain why he didn’t try to seek out Peter and Cora. Peter, I understand, as I probably wouldn’t want to go to him for help either, but why not Cora? Especially considering she too is a werewolf and would probably know more about healing Derek than Ms. Blake.
As a member of the Sterek ship (or wanting to see Stiles and Derek in a romantic relationship) community, I have to say the parallels are a little uncanny: When Derek checks up on her, Jennifer is defensive and puts up a tough front, despite obviously being nervous – versus Derek and Stiles second time meeting each other being “I’m not afraid of you… Alright, maybe I am.” Then, in this episode, Derek comes to Jennifer in her car, close to dying; remember that time when Stiles accidentally hit a dying Derek with his car? Well, like the Sheriff said, “Once is an incident, twice is a coincidence, three times is a pattern,” so I’ll keep on the lookout for a third instance.
My prediction is that Jennifer will mix the Darach and Alpha Pack storylines, since she’s one of the new non-Alpha Pack characters, and a lot of the victims seem linked to Beacon Hills High School, not to mention that the crows seem to have singled out her classroom only when they decided to attack. Teen Wolf seems to be doing a good job characterizing its characters, so it’s odd that Jennifer is given such a bland role. It’s got to be a façade for something much more sinister or benevolent.