Teen Wolf isn’t afraid of conflict. When you start with a great cast and bring in truly terrifying adversaries, the story almost tells itself. Almost. In “Relics” Lydia continues the search for Stiles, while Scott tries to protect everyone from the Ghost Riders. Though, ultimately, they both fail, they learn some valuable lessons along the way.
In “Relics” several characters make some poor decisions and come to faulty conclusions. Yet, their foibles make for an interesting episode, as the choices are character-driven. The main characters are struggling through as they deal with the presence of Ghost Riders and questions about who has been erased.
One of the usual choices in “Strangely, Melissa McCall wants to get out into the field. Doesn’t she do enough with all the saving lives, conducting illicit autopsies, and divulging patient records? Though she isn’t much of a hunter, but her medical skills come in handy when Chris Argent “wings” Malia. Later, when she breaks federal law to reveal information from Claudia.Stilinski’s medical record to Lydia, it feels much more like the Melissa McCall we know and love.
Lydia feels so close to making a real connection to Stiles. Yet she’s asking the wrong questions. Lydia figures that since Claudia Stilinski never had children she can’t be Stiles mom. It’s strange that she’s looking for evidence of this nature when it would have all been erased. The hostility from Claudia Stilinski, even if Lydia is messing up her wallpaper, seems unwarranted. Despite this, and the question about how she has survived a terminal diagnosis after all this time, Lydia drops any suspicions she has about Claudia Stilinski. Lydia does want to keep up the search for Stiles, even though Malia wants to focus on fighting the Ghost Riders. At the end of the episode, we find that Stiles has left a relics behind after all– his jeep.
Scott and his gang seemed determined to protect Gwen above all, even though it was her stubbornness that resulted in everyone from the party becoming targets of the Wild Hunt. After getting everyone into the bunker they realize Gwen and three other Lacrosse players aren’t there. Maybe if they had pretended it was a party Gwen would have shown up. Instead of the staying back and protecting all the people who had followed directions and gone to the bunker, Scott, Liam, Mason, and Corey all head back to try to protect the unwilling four at the Lacrosse game. At this point, it seems like Nathan is the only Lacrosse player left in the bunker, so it’s not really a surprise when he escapes. Honestly, it was impressive that they got as many kids to the bunker as they did. Too bad they totally failed everyone. Luckily, none of their own crew gets taken by the Ghost Riders.
The way they ultimately dealt with the Ghost Riders reflects the perspectives of each of the characters. Mason wants to protect the students by hiding them, while Liam wants to draw out the Ghost Riders. Scott decides to take the defensive position of hiding the students, though when it’s over he admits that he was wrong – they should have used both strategies. Scott taking the responsibility for their failure is very consistent with his character, and part of why we love him. He has the quiet confidence to admit when he’s made a mistake and move on.
The leadership qualities that Scott exemplifies is what Liam is struggling to learn. When Coach declares him the team captain because he stayed on the field, the weak response by the team feels fitting since the audience knows he has failed in his task to protect everyone. Gradually the team transitions into genuine appreciation, which moves the viewer in the same direction. By the end of “Relics,” Liam seems to be transitioning into more of a leader, at least among Mason, Corey, and Hayden.
Another character who has been struggling in Season 6 is Malia. Since Stiles’ disappearance, she’s been losing control. Chris Argent provides some sage advice for Malia, telling her that animals lose control, but she can stay human by getting involved. Malia uses her humanity to calm one of the students down and gets the nod of approval from Chris Argent.
“Relics” gives us some fun, smart dialogue, reinforcing the connection to high school and learning. Teen Wolf is at it’s best when it does this. Mrs. Martin challenges Lydia on her lack of objectivity:
Mrs. Martin: “Do you know what a confirmation bias is?”
Lydia: “The tendency to interpret information in a way that confirms an existing preconception.”
Mrs. Martin: “Yes. It’s a biased perspective. You’re looking for proof to support what you already believe is true. Because you want it to be true.”
Mason uses science to track the supernatural by monitoring lightning strikes in order to predict the arrival of the Ghost Riders. Lydia talks about the law of conservation of mass, indicating that if Stiles left something behind they may be able to bring him back. She explains, “The total mass of any isolated system remains constant.” All this science talk creates a thought-provoking dynamic in this supernatural series.
“Relics” has some beautifully filmed scenes and impressive special effects. The opening scene with Chris Argent and Melissa McCall walking through the woods at night is eerie and lovely at the same time. The rain on the Lacrosse field as the riders close in creates a menacing moment with fantastical elements. Some of the great special effects included the green smoke of souls being taken, the autumn leaves arriving with the Ghost Riders, the gunfire from Argent’s automatic, and the alternating yellow and green flames when the Ghost Rider shoots Parrish. The effects through the episode were pretty stunning, creating a movie feel in this little MTV series. Nice work, Teen Wolf.