“A Novel Approach” gives us some outstanding acting by Dylan O’Brien. He is a shooting star and a huge part of what makes Teen Wolf so great. Jeff Davis had warned that an event in Episode 5 would create a rift between Stiles and Scott, but we didn’t expect it would be muuurder! Teen Wolf lets its supernatural flag fly with a visit to the special basement wing of Eichen House and an explosion of kitsune power. Eichen House reminds us of the bleak future of our pack, particularly when Lydia is eyeballed by the creepy needle-obsessed attendant we last saw in “Creatures of the Night.” In “A Novel Approach,” Teen Wolf takes us by the hand and starts leading us down the path to this unhappy future.
“A Novel Approach” starts right where “Condition Terminal” left off, with Stiles being attacked through Donovan’s powerful hand-eye coordination (we slay ourselves!). During his treatment, the Dread Doctors have provided Donovan not only with wendigo teeth and strength, but with multiple mouths, including the one on the palm of his hand he uses to attack Stiles. The Dread Doctors can never stop at enough with their creations—they always have to add one more enhancement to make it extra freaky.
In the cold open, the normally highly verbal Stiles is on screen for over ten minutes without any dialogue. O’Brien exhibits a wide range of emotions using nothing but acting. Stiles experiences the horrendous pain of a palm-bite, then struggles until he manages to hit wendigo Donovan with his wrench. Clearly he keeps the wrench around for situations like this (and to impress girls), since he only uses duct tape to fix his Jeep. Stiles takes his trusty wrench and runs for his life into Beacon Hills High School—’cause nothing bad ever happens there.
In the spooky library, Stiles hides while Donovan explains his motivation in classic villain style. Apparently their dads were partners back in the day. Donovan’s daddy was shot and ended up in a wheelchair, and Donovan blames Sheriff Stalinksi. Really? That’s it? I mean, it’s tragic and everything, but Donovan needs a better backstory than this, doesn’t he? While Donovan explains his second-generation revenge, Stiles quietly stews, thinking, “No one talks crap about my family!” You know how we knew Stiles was thinking this? Acting.
Eventually Donovan creeps up on Stiles. Stiles tries to climb up some scaffolding to escape, and Donovan warns Stiles he’s going to eat his legs, flashing his wendigo eyes. Stiles unpins a platform and the whole thing collapses, conveniently sending a pole through Donovan’s heart, and propping him up for extra gore. After calling the cops, Stiles hides out in his Jeep, but Beacon Hill’s finest don’t even go near the library. Stiles returns to the library to find the body gone and most of the evidence of the muuurder has disappeared.
He goes home to try to work it out on his fancy display board, but his shame, fear, and frustration overwhelm him. Stiles’ self-loathing is interrupted by a call from Scott, who tells him, “Stiles, someone’s talking the bodies.” The supernaturally-endowed bodies of Tracy and Lucas have disappeared.
Just a Normal Day at Beacon Hills High School
After the previous dark and disturbing scenes, Teen Wolf takes us back to Beacon Hills High School, filled with students, light, and music. It’s always good to remind us that these kids experience the lives of regular kids during the school day, except when crazy wolf-kanima girls show up in history class. Malia has read The Dread Doctors and gives it to Lydia, who finds it somewhat familiar.
Scott tells Kira that he doesn’t believe the Dread Doctors are the ones stealing the bodies. She responds, “Are we really calling them that?” Perhaps she thinks they should be referred to as those-who-must-not-be-named. Scott realizes that the Dread Doctors have no interest in their failed chimeras.
Sure, he says Theo isn’t part of the pack, but Scott sure seems to be acting like he is. He asks Theo about The Dread Doctors book. Don’t give Theo the book, Scott! It turns out that Scott is still on the first chapter of The Dread Doctors. SHUT UP. He’s only on the first chapter of the most important book in Beacon Hills? Have they at least read the entire Bestiary by now? Seems like everyone should just take the day off from school and read The Dread Doctors already. All that biology homework seems to be getting in the way of super-sleuthing. Theo points out the dedication at the back of the book. Good thing, because otherwise Scott wouldn’t be reading the last page anytime soon. The book is dedicated to Dr. Gabriel Valack, Eichen House inmate and psychic. Scott makes plans to go to Eichen House to talk to Valack.
Meanwhile, evil Theo reports back to his pals The Dread Doctors. He tells them that planting the book worked and that Scott and his pack are on their way to Eichen House. If you were still holding out for Theo to be a good guy, abandon all hope.
Supernatural Secrets and Lies
When Lydia asks Stiles why he’s rubbing his shoulder, he tells her nothing. If he were another character, we’d be like, “Tell your friends, dude!” But we already know from thespian O’Brien’s expressive performance that Stiles is mortified by what he has done.
In Scott’s room Kira is looking for her awesome kitsune sword-belt she misplaced during her last sleepover. She’s all sad because Scott said “I love you” reflexively and she doesn’t know if he means it. Even her heart-covered shirt doesn’t seem to give Scott the hint. She asks Scott to look at her with his wolf eyes. Scott sees her huge glowing kitsune spirit, which then points at her missing belt. Whoa! The kitsune spirit can move independently of Kira’s will or knowledge. That’s freaky. Yet when Kira asks him if he saw something, Scott tells her everything’s fine. It turns out that Stiles isn’t the only one lying.
As they wait outside the gates of Eichen House, Scott shares his worries about Kira’s Japanese sleep-talking with Stiles. Stiles seems less worried. Scott points out that she almost killed Lucas after going full-on kitsune. While Stiles needs to feel that muuurder is okay sometimes, Scott has a whole “Remember who the real enemy is” thing going on.
Stiles: “Wasn’t he trying to kill you, though? I mean, that just sounds like self-defense.”
Scott: “It was more than that. I mean, she nearly took off his head.”
Stiles: “Maybe she had no choice. There’s gotta be a point where self-defense is justified. Tracy killed her own father. And Lucas would have killed you.”
Scott: “They’re not the bad guys. They’re the victims. We shouldn’t be killing the people we’re supposed to save.”
Whatever, Scott! Way to shame your best friend. Scott must be taking lessons from his AP Biology teacher. We already know how terrible Stiles feels from all his fancy acting, and now Scott has only made him feel worse just because he muuurdered that awful Donovan.
They finally get into Eichen House, where creepy needle guy greets them. He says, “Please empty your pockets into the container,” meaning, “Do what I say or I’Il stab you with a needle.” Kira even has to leave her sword-belt! What! After losing it in Scott’s bedroom, she really needs to take better care of her supernatural family heirloom.
A friend of Dr. Deaton’s takes them down to the basement where all the scary supernatural creatures are kept. Will this be the future residence of some of our pack members? A heavy coating of mountain ash keeps Scott and Kira outside of the weirdo ward, leaving Lydia and Stiles go in to talk to Dr. Gabriel Valack. It’s unclear why the mountain ash has no effect on Lydia, as you would think a banshee would qualify as a supernatural creature.
Dr. Valack seems to be expecting them. He admits to being the actual author of The Dread Doctors. He tells Lydia he wants a recording of her banshee scream in return for information. Despite Stiles’ reluctance, she agrees.He tells them that the Dread Doctors have visited Beacon Hills before. Dr. Valack wroteThe Dread Doctors to help the people who read it to recognize if the docs have been doing experiments on them. It turns out the Dread Doctors are like the Silence, because they can make you forget you ever saw them. Lydia starts to realize she’s had some close encounters of the creepy kind.
Out in the hallway, Scott tells Lydia about how crazy Stiles was for Lydia. She starts sparking uncontrollably and the lights begin to flicker. By luring Kira to Eichen House by planting the book, the barriers that have kept the Dread Doctors from entering have been taken down. When Scott realizes the Dread Doctors are coming, Scott grabs an electrified Kira and takes her up the stairs. A burned Scott makes it outside with Kira, who finally brings up what he said at the club.
Everyone hides from the dreadded docs except Dr. Valack, who can’t escape his old enemies. They remove his third eye. Gross! Once they have the eye, the Dread Doctors leave. We discover why Dr. Valack wanted Lydia’s scream when he uses it to break the barrier to his cell and escapes.
Cruisin’ with Malia and Theo
Back at school, Theo’s been working on Malia. He takes her out for driving practice. Does anyone like his smug smile? Malia goes on a trance-drive and finds herself at the scene of the childhood accident that left most of her family dead. A memory emerges of her mother, The Desert Wolf, shooting them off the road. It’s looking more and more that Malia’s mom might be bad news—homicidally bad news.
“A Novel Approach” started strong, but so far we’re not crazy about Dr. Gabriel Valack as a character. We can expect to see more of him because he was the doctor who wanted to drill into Lydia’s skull in“Creatures of the Night.” Kira’s out-of-control fox spirit makes her a much more interesting character, though it’s a mystery why Scott lied to her. Perhaps he will befriend the fox spirit separately from Kira. Despite Dr. Valack’s tedious monologue, “A Novel Approach” ended strong with the chilling appearance of the Dread Doctors. Despite having seen them in every episode this season, these guys still exude terror. Fantastic villains, Teen Wolf! You’ve set the bar high for the rest of Season 5.