“Radio Silence” was Teen Wolf’s the most exciting episode of the season so far. You can probably guess why from the title of this review, but let’s look at it in more detail.
We open with Stiles. That alone would be squee-worthy, after not seeing him at all for three episodes, but it‘s not just a brief shot either. He‘s sitting in a train station, and realizes he doesn‘t know how he got there or where he‘s going. The people around him don‘t know either. Before anything more can happen, the Riders come in, bringing in a new person and causing havoc.
Stiles also finds out Peter Hale is there with him. Peter recognizes Stiles, but is as apathetic as the others. That lasts until Stiles reminds him of his stay at Eichen House. Then he remembers, but once he‘s told they were both taken by the Hunt, he becomes apathetic in a different way. He knows everything about the Hunt. He has a very good idea where they are, and that they have no chance of escape. Stiles tries to get out of the train station, but he exits one door only to appear in the next.
Peter notices a guy watching these attempts. They confront him, and he says he was interested because they tried the door, something no one else ever does. He tells them the only way out is the tunnel the Riders came through. An atmosphere of fear surrounds it, so it’s hard to enter. To help him overcome it, Stiles pushes Peter, who pulls him in.
Meanwhile in Beacon Hills, Lydia notices Stiles’s jeep is about to be pulled away by a tow truck and she and Scott pay the truck driver to let it be.
Peter, Stiles and the Unnamed Guy they find themselves on train tracks by a platform. The Riders come in, appearing out of a portal, and the Unnamed Guy says that the only way out is on the back of one of their horses. Peter and Stiles don’t think much of the idea. The guy , however, says he’s been there for months and he’s going crazy. He needs to get out. Peter eggs him on. He tries – and is burnt to a crisp when he touches the barrier. Peter realizes they are trapped.
Stiles and Peter come back to the main station room, where we encounter the old lady Lydia saw in her vision. Stiles notices the intercom and follows the wires to a radio room. There, he tries to communicate with his friends, in spite of Peter ridiculing the attempt.
Scott, Lydia and Malia hear radio statics and discover it comes from the jeep. Nothing intelligible comes through before it stops, and while Lydia is convinced this is a proof of Stiles’ existence, the others are less so. Stiles was tinkering with the radio when Peter heard the Riders coming and pulled him out of the room, just before a Rider went to check it out.
Lydia finds a piece of paper in the jeep with the Stilinskis’ address. When she comes there, they tell her the jeep was stolen “almost eighteen years ago” and that she should maybe stop obsessing about Stiles. She excuses herself to go to the bathroom, and just leans on the wall she’d previous scraped the wallpaper off, and cries.
Stiles is revealed to be sitting on the other side of that wall, where the station is, leaning on it as well. The riders come back, bringing Gwen, who is tearfully welcomed by Phoebe. Peter realizes that they are at a way station and once it fills up, they will be moved to another location. He also notices the names of some towns on the arrivals board, like Harappa or various ghost towns. Places where there are no more people left. The same fate would await Beacon Hills. He decides he has to leave, stating that while a human wouldn’t survive the attempt, he might, and he’d heal. Stiles realizes Peter’s risking his life because of Malia, and asks him to tell his friends about him.
Peter does, indeed, survive, though he’s badly burnt. His howl of pain is heard by Malia and Scott, who come to find him. Malia recognizes him first, and a moment later, so does Scott. Peter took the keys to Stiles’ jeep, and he gives them to Scott now.
He and Lydia enter the jeep, and successfully start it, when they hear the radio again. This time, Stiles talks to them and they to him. He tells them not to come for him and to find Canaan before radio silence engulfs him.
Two of my faves back in one episode? I’d be willing to forgive a lot for this, and in actual fact, there isn’t really anything to forgive. This was good on all fronts. I did miss Corey and Mason, but I do understand they were focused on a different arc here.
It was a little irritating at first that Stiles was the only one to realize something was wrong out of all those people at the station. It’s a little too Mary Sue-ish. But this got better with the sort-lived appearance of the Unnamed Guy. Plus, I suppose that it makes sense that Stiles, who knew what was happening as he was being taken, would be in a better position than the others to realize what was going on. It still took him several days, apparently, so it all works.
Stiles is also being very much his Stilesy self here, a bit of an asshole and someone who just won’t quit. The only thing that seemed unlike him was telling Scott and Lydia to find Canaan. Am I supposed to believe that a nerd like Stiles is doesn’t know what Canaan is? And if he does, why does he give Scott and Lydia a useless advice like that? He wasn’t trying to be an asshole to them. Only to his unexpected companion. When he told Peter “who would ever come back for you?”, it was slap-worthy, but also a) true (as verified experimentally) and b) very much in character.
Which brings me to Peter himself.
Words cannot describe how happy I am that Peter did not appear as one of the primary antagonists of the season. Even if he does some more bad stuff by the end, which I think is likely, at least he got a sort of neutral entry. He was also very Peter-like, especially when he encouraged the Unnamed Guy to try and jump on a Rider to see what happens. That was one of the most perfectly Peter moments Teen Wolf has ever given us.
Peter’s flashback of his incarceration was probably the closest we’re ever going get to acknowledging that maybe leaving someone to constant mental torture without trial is not exactly what good guys do. But hey, I’ll take whatever they’ll give me at this point. Plus, the sight of Peter drawing a spiral on the floor of his cell was just so much in character for him. It would be worth a flash of Eichen just for that.
The spiral also might be an indication that a villainous role for Peter is coming. A spiral means revenge. The last time he was drawing them, Peter went on a killing spree to eliminate all responsible for burning his family to death. And who was it who put him in that cell? On the other hand, the self-sacrificing manner in which he left the train station makes me wonder if this is going to be a redemption story. That idea, to be honest, has me a little worried.
Historically, Teen Wolf hasn’t done very well with morally grey characters (or with redemption stories – cue the failure of Deucalion). The best executed case we probably got was Derek in the first two seasons. And even that, they gave up as a bad job and gave him a personality transplant after that. And their handling of Peter’s backstory vis a vis his current situation hasn’t been all that great either. So if they attempt a redemption story, a lot could go wrong. I like Peter, yes. But I don’t think he’s a good person. I like him because he’s the kind of bastard he is.
His woobification terrifies me. As does his random demonization. Peter Hale is immoral, but he has reasons for the tings he does. As “Visionary” showed, Teen Wolf doesn’t always agree with me there. So I fear what an attempt at redemption might bring.
Stiles’ deduction that Peter is going back to Beacon Hills for Malia, while it will likely prove to be accurate on the show, seems like an oversimplification. Even people who are not good, and who have no qualms with killing when it comes to it, can ave issues with the idea of the town they spent their whole lives and have deep blood-ties to in being wiped out. They can even be willing to risk themselves for it. But that seems to be too much subtlety for Teen Wolf, so I suppose doing it for his daughter is not such a bad option.
Peter, very much in character, was an asshole to Stiles the entire time, but one thing he said was actually kind of lampshading. When he ridicules Stiles’s attempts with the radio, he asks “why would the Riders leave a gadget to contact your friends with laying around?” That’s exactly what happens, of course. I’m curious to see if we get an explanation, or if we simply have to contend with the lampshade.
And last point on the topic of Peter, I’m growing a little irritated with their penchant for burning him. It was another reference to first season, I know. There is also a thematic point to be made when he was burnt against his will back then, and chose to face the fate this time. But it wasn’t exactly kind to decide this was the way for a burnt victim to go in season one, and this time around it’s just exhausting. How many times does that guy have to survive being burnt (almost) to death before anyone at least acknowledges it’s pretty harsh?
On the other hand, this is probably the first time anyone has ever given him pain relief after one of these incidents. That was a very moving moment for me. And again, there is a nice thematic point to it. When you are burn because you go on a killing spree, the most you can hope for is a mercy killing. When you are burnt because you are willing to sacrifice yourself, you can compassion and pain relief.
Lydia’s role, on the other hand, was a little less satisfying than Peter’s. She is another of my faves, and I’d like to see more of the confident genius I’m used to, please. I’d like to see her stay firm in her belief in Stiles in the face of others’ doubt. I’m not saying she isn’t allowed to show emotion. What she’s going through is very traumatic, obviously, and doubting your sanity is never pleasant. But when her being bewildered/doubting herself/crying is almost the only position we see her in, it frustrates me. Part of it is probably that I’m really not into her romance with Stiles, but still. I’m happy that Lydia will – hopefully – no longer spend time being convinced by everyone around her that she is going crazy after this episode. That should improve her role a little.
At least she was cool in dealing with the truck driver, I guess, though ultimately Malia had to sort it out.
Speaking of Malia, I‘m very curious how her dynamic with Peter will develop. Peter said he would get out of Beacon Hills. Most likely, he will try to convince her to come with him. Malia will them have a Dilemma™. Save her own skin, or help her friends? It’s a good storyline for the frequently amoral character,
I also have a small glimmer of hope that maybe at some point someone will address that the supposedly good Talia Hale deleted the memory of his daughter from her brother’s mind. When he was about eighteen or nineteen, too. It’s probably asking too much, though. Perhaps some reminiscence about Peter’s relationship with Malia’s mother, at least? I’d dearly love to hear about that. Well, unless it’s as bad as the reminiscence we got in Visionary, that is.
We could also have Malia trying to take care of Peter, I suppose, since not being an alpha, he will take a very long time to heal (hopefully not six years again). That could be fun.
And to round up the female characters, I’m ecstatic Gwen and Phoebe got to meet. I hope they will have a role to play later, and interact with Stiles. They are obviously more aware of what is going on at the moment than most people at the station. Gwen knew what was happening when she was taken, so she should be in a similar position as Stiles. Hopefully, he will notice the sisters aren’t as numb as the others and they’ll form some sort of plan together.
Like I said, this was the best episode of the sixth season of Teen Wolf so far, and not just because it had Peter and Stiles. For the first time, I don’t have any major beef with it, and I sincerely hope we’ll continue in this way for the remaining five episodes of the first story arc. We are in the middle, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with as we approach the finale.
Now for the usual random observations.
- If I understand the situation correctly, Kira called the ghost riders with her use of electricity when they were breaking Lydia out of Eichen House. That’s an explanation that fits, I guess, but it would be worth more exploration of the relationship between ghost riders and kitsunes. It makes me doubly miss Kira.
- With the train station being a way station, the comments about the people taken by the Hunt being in a superposition are finally beginning to make sense. Well, a little bit of sense. I mean, it’s still obviously not true that any interaction with them determines their state, but it’s better than the way it seemed before.
- And speaking of train station…are the holocaust references intentional? Especially at the beginning of the episode. Everyone gets up as if to get on the train, and Stiles very nervously asks if they know where it’s going, my association was immediate. If Peter is right and this is a way station, the place these people would be taken to later would not be pretty, in all likelihood, and the trains there…I’m probably not really qualified to have much of an opinion on this, but it makes me a little uncomfortable. Especially in relation to Canaan.
- Peter getting to the keys from Stiles’ jeep was very random, and could have been written better.
- And because Steter is one of my ships (yes, a very problematic one, I’m well aware), let me just gush. That scene where the Unnamed Guy tells them there is a way, but he doesn’t know if they’d be able to do it, and they just both smirk and look at each other and then Stiles says with a smug smile: “We’d be able to do it. He would.” Well, that scene was my little shipper’s heaven.
- “What is it with you teenagers, you think you’re so special, you think rules don’t apply to you…” Professor Snape, is that you?