“Riddled” may have been one of the most perfect episodes Teen Wolf has ever brought to the screen. Not necessarily because of mythology or story line but because of the PURE ACTING TALENT of Dylan O’Brien (Stiles) and everyone involved in coming together to find him. If you had any doubts of his ability to carry his own story arc before, he will definitely have laid those to rest. Fans of one of the most beloved bromances on television right now will remember this one for seasons to come. But before I get going on a crazed rant that is sure to lead to tears, let’s jump straight in to the story! If you haven’t seen the episode, major spoilers are to follow and if you have, you might want to grab those tissues again because WOW, what an episode it was! Stiles has obviously been going through some…changes…since the sacrificial ritual he performed alongside Allison and Scott. While being haunted by your dead aunt and troublesome transformations are bad enough, Stiles has been fighting another kind of struggle that takes a toll on even the strongest of people. The internal struggle of life between sanity and downright madness. A neverending game of scrabble with words, writing messages on chalkboards telling to kill people, opening doors to harbor serial killers, hallucinations, and now he’s “sleepwalking” off to who knows where in the middle of the night.
The episode wasted no time in getting to what the promos teased by beginning with Stiles calling Scott in the middle of the night telling him that he had no idea where he was and that he was trapped, unable to move. As if this wasn’t terrifying enough, the only clues he could give Scott were that he seemed to be in some kind of basement in an industrial building and that he had a terrifying feeling that he wasn’t alone. All this while his phone was slowly dying leaving no way to keep in touch. Thankfully, everyone was able to put a hand in in helping eventually find him, but the person who found him was the last you’d ever expect..
The first pair besides Scott and Isaac to realize Stiles was lost were Lydia and Aiden, who were spending a romantic (and nearly nude in Aiden’s case) night at the creepiest place they could possibly choose: Beacon Hills High. Lydia is drawing Aiden when she starts hearing voices through the radio which turns out to be Stiles begging for Scott to find him. She and Aiden then leave for Stiles’ house running into Scott and Isaac who find all the unsolved case strings on Stiles’ wall now hooked around a pair of scissors which have been stabbed into his mattress..Lydia scoffs at Scott for not telling Stiles’ father what is happening and while he initially disagrees, it is Isaac who points out that they need to seeing as Lydia only heard things when someone is close to death. While Scott and Isaac leave for the station to find the sheriff, Lydia and Aiden stay behind to look for clues in the bedroom. They don’t find anything until Aiden just happens to pluck one of the strings and Lydia hears voices coming from it. The voices lead her to a picture on the wall of the same mental institution where Barrow was admitted. She believes this means that this is where Stiles is.
Scott and Isaac deliver the news to an obviously upset Sheriff Stilinski who immediately sends his officers into action. They find Stiles’ jeep abandoned at the hospital and though they do a sweep of the building, Stiles is no longer there. Derek and Scott end up on the roof though and Derek tells Scott that sometimes people give off “chemical signals” in times of distress. When Scott takes a strong whiff of the air, he picks up on stress and anxiety. Derek tells him this is because there was a struggle with Stiles, but not with someone, but himself. In one of the most unexpected moves of the whole episode, Agent McCall follows his gut when he reads the transcript of the phone call between Scott and Stiles. Stiles says that there’s a “bad odor” and that his “eyes keep watering”. Agent McCall connects this to a repellent they sprayed in the woods when they were searching for the “coyote”. Using his own words, that was one hell of a connection to make..Melissa just happens to show up to the sheriff’s office then to see if she can help and they take off together to see if he’s right.
The sheriff, Lydia, Isaac, Scott, and Aiden arrive at the mental institution and check the basement. However, something is obviously not right. The basement is exactly where Stiles has been shown the whole episode but he’s not there either. The backwards “5” symbol is etched into the wall though, which the entire group somehow misses as they leave in utter dismay. The creature repeatedly has been taunting Stiles with riddles which Stiles answers one by one until he’s stumped by the last one: “Everyone has it, but no one can lose it”. The creature also plays mind games with him by seemingly moving the trap from one leg to the other saying that it is trying to “save him”. Couldn’t he find a better way than tormenting the poor guy? Eventually the creature becomes hostile and starts dragging the chain of the trap pulling Stiles across the floor. But the floor begins to change to dirt, and Stiles is woken up screaming to Melissa and Agent McCall attempting to calm him and telling him he’s fine. DEFINITELY not where I saw that one going..
Thankfully Stiles has been rescued and brought to the hospital to be warmed back up and checked out but now one very important question stands in the way: WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON WITH HIM? SERIOUSLY? Melissa begins to bring up what she found out with Stiles’ symptoms matching his mothers and Mr. Stilinski already knows..so they decide to get an MRI done to find out if it could be true. The doctor tells him it’s going to very loud and that he won’t be able to move for about an hour (haha, Stiles? Not move for an hour?) As he goes with Melissa and Stiles’ father to prepare the machine, Stiles and Scott have one of the most emotional and powerful scenes of the whole season. Stiles explains that they’re looking for fronto-temporal dementia, the only form of dementia that can affect teenagers as well as the kind his mother had. He’s terrified and upset to believe that he could be suffering from the same thing, but Scott says if it’s true he’ll do something about it. They hug as they both begin to cry..Sure enough, the scans show signs of cerebral atrophy. In the MRI though, Stiles begins to panic and shuts his eyes to attempt to calm himself but when he opens them back up he’s outside of the machine with normal clothes on and the creature circling him again. It begins questioning him about the riddle again and as he becomes overcome with emotion, Stiles finally figures it out. “Everyone has it, but no one can lose it”. A SHADOW. He turns around to see the creature unraveling the bandages around its face and ends up staring at himself, but with an evil grin. The power flickers in the hospital at that moment and when it comes back on Stiles is gone. Evil Stiles is seen getting dressed in his hospital room and as he leaves, Kira’s mother emerges from the elevator saying that she will defeat him, no matter what form he has chosen to inhabit. She tells him that if the Oni cannot defeat him, she knows someone who will..we end the episode with Kira outside the hospital when a severed power line comes flying down from the roof wreaking havoc on anyone too close.
There was SO much happening in “Riddled” that it felt like we were the ones who are supposed to be losing our minds. Though the main points are stated above, there was much more happening in the background as well. Kira had a lightbulb blow in her room and when her mother came to replace it, her hands started to spark. But it was so brief that you almost missed it. Allison, who never turns off her phone, is awoken to a panicked Isaac and when they check her messages together she finds several missed calls from an unknown number. The number leaves the same voicemail over and over, speaking in Japanese, and Kira’s father tells them that it’s instructions from an enternment camp that doesn’t exist. Lydia is now hypersensitive to all of the sounds around her. Derek finally starts looking for who might be the Nogitsune and at the moment it appears clear that it’s Stiles. Scott and Derek eventually find what Stiles was struggling with on the roof, or rather what he was attempting to stop himself from doing: cutting the power line and therefore most likely killing everyone. Derek and Kira go to figure out how Foxfire (jump started by Kira in her encounter with Barrow) might have caused the Nogitsune to take control of Stiles. Is your head spinning yet? Don’t worry, mine too..so what does all of this mean exactly?
While it seems rather clear that Stiles is in fact the Nogitsune, how can he possibly be brought back from such a dark place when everyone involved seems to be out to destroy him in some way? Mainly Kira’s mother now, who up to this point hasn’t shown any signs of supernatural involvement until her statement at the end of this episode. How long has she been chasing after this dark spirit? Is this the reason they ended up in Beacon Hills? Stiles was found on a lucky whim by Agent McCall, but don’t they have GPS tracking on phones or signal traces for that at this point? Not that it wasn’t fun to watch everyone deduce where he might be one by one, but it seems like they could have saved themselves a bunch of trouble by jumping on the 21st century train. As far Stiles showing signs of cerebral atrophy, is that real or could it be a direct result of the spirit now inhabiting his body? Unfortunately, even if they manage to save him from the dark spirit, he’s still going to have to contend with the dementia which could make him very vulnerable in future seasons. Imagine how chaotic everything is right now and there’s still 6 episodes to go? Sheesh, we might all need a comforting hug from Scott by the end of this. Only kidding! Overall, this was one of the most gut-wrenching and heartbreaking episodes to watch but exactly what Teen Wolf needed to do following last week’s episode. What are your thoughts from the episode? Got any theories of what we might see in the next few episodes? Be sure to let us know by commenting or by tweeting me (@lmfsrush) or us (@ThreeIfBySpace)! Until next week!