The end of the year is coming and that means it’s time to take stock of 2013; by which, I mean take stock of all the television I’ve watched in 2013.
To be honest, I’ve always been a very picky television watcher but this year, I found myself expanding my TV horizons. With all the new television I’ve watched, I wanted to narrow down the year with my list of the top five best episodes of 2013.
Beware, obviously, of spoilers.
Please share with me your favorite episodes of 2013 and let’s start with number 5…
Teen Wolf 3.06 – “Motel California”
I have put up with a lot for you, Teen Wolf: sloppy writing, nonsensical twists, poorly choreographed fight sequences, rampant queer-baiting, an uninteresting love story, and questionable acting. But I stick with you because I’m always so curious at what nonsense you’re going to throw our way next. Also, Sheriff Stilinski and Stiles’ relationship is golden and Derek Hale’s face is ridiculously perfect.
But finally, after two and a half seasons, you’ve finally given us a well-written, interesting, suspenseful, funny, and well-acted episode. “Motel California” is what Teen Wolf should’ve been from the beginning: teenagers having to deal with the creepy supernatural on their own and struggling to make sense of the unexplained mysteries happening around them.
Maybe they just needed to get out of that high school because a great deal of this episode’s strength laid in the fact that it took place in a spooky motel that is infamous for having the highest number of suicides in California.
The show opens with a tantalizing flashback to 1977 featuring the suicide of someone named Alexander Argent. Who is he to Allison and her father and, more juicy, who apparently bit him?
Following this fun little opener we get plenty of humor from Stiles, Danny, and even the usually annoying Coach Finstock (“Jared, I'm warning you; I'm an empathetic vomiter. You throw up, I'm going to throw up right back on you and it will be profoundly disgusting”).
Stuck in traffic, the gang has to spend the night in the titular spooky motel, in a move fondly reminiscent of a Scooby Doo episode and every horror movie featuring teens since the 1980s. I think that is what appealed to me the most about this episode. It was shed the melodrama and confusing narrative of the rest of the seasons and just served up a straight horror episode. It featured a Large Marge-esque motel clerk, the ghostly voices of past suicides, violent and terrifying visions, hallucinating werewolves, and a suspenseful countdown towards death for the teens that echoed Final Destination.
The highlights of the episode included Lydia and Allison (slowly becoming my favorite female friendship on television) working together to solve the mystery of the motel, Stiles and Lydia saving all three possessed werewolves using their wits, courage and sarcastic one-liners, Danny and Derek finally getting some on-screen love (not together, with less interesting characters), and genuinely creepy hauntings by the past suicide victims (the death of the couple with a small baby was particularly evocative).
“Motel California” also had one of the most moving moments between the two pairs of best friends: Stiles and Scott and Lydia and Allison. Scott, hallucinating and under the effects of wolfsbane, attempts to immolate himself with a flare and gasoline. The suicidal speech he gives to Stiles is oddly poignant for a show that is about three-quarters shirtless hot guys:
It all started that night, the night I gotten bitten. Remember the way it was before that? You and me? We were nothing. We weren't popular. We weren't good at lacrosse. We weren't important. We were no one. Maybe I should just be no one again. No one at all.
But that’s nothing compared to Stiles’ tear-filled response as he slowly attempts to move Scott out of danger:
Scott, just listen to me. You're not no one. Scott, you're my best friend, okay, and I need you. Scott, you're my brother. Alright, so if we're gonna do this, then I think you're just gonna have to take me with you then.
Dylan O’Brien (Stiles) is the best actor in the cast, in my opinion. While his sarcasm and physical humor often steals the show, he is clearly just as adept at drama. I genuinely hope he has a solid and long career after this rather than just fading away like so many other young actors.
The episode of course ends with a twist (MOUNTAIN ASH aka Gerard is back) and Daddy Argent knows a lot more about the motel than we do. Derek has his corny love scene with Jennifer set to indie music but we get to see him shirtless and bloody so we accept it. Lydia again solves a mystery by figuring out how the wolfsbane infested the minds of the werewolves at the motel. And we the audience are left wondering just why the hell it has taken Teen Wolf this long to give us such a quality episode.
All Teen Wolf images copyright MTV