When this show remembers it has a new villain to play with, it can be so much fun! Liam returns to mess a little with Josh and Nora’s not-so-happy relationship, threaten Aidan, and generally be fabulous. I’d be okay with the show dumping all its main werewolves and has-been lycanthropes for Liam, even Erin, who is in this episode for a hot second and manages to almost steal Liam’s thunder.
Strangely, this episode is all about Aidan, though he isn’t always aware of that fact. For instance, Liam has been lending a helping paw in hunting down vampires in Boston, not out of hatred (which would be justified because vampires killed his, admittedly bratty, son) but more out of civic duty. On one such furlough, he spies others of his kind trying to take down Aidan and then traces Aidan back to the still suspicious “friends” of his children, Nora and Josh, leaving them with an ultimatum: remove the vampire scum from their midst, or he’s going to kill them instead.
It’s an impossible bargain, which is precisely the point. Liam really isn’t interested in Josh or Nora succeeding. They’re less-than to him, a born wolf, and there’s no way he’s convinced they know nothing about what happened to his children. I think he’s baiting them with the demand for Aidan’s head, giving them an excuse to fail and himself an excuse to kill them. Because it is certain that the way the wolves behave is very different from the way vampires do. The way the wheels click into place behind Liam’s eyes speaks volumes about the pack law that he represents that Josh and Nora, left to figure out their conditions on their own, have never known. Wolves do not lightly turn on their own, not true, pack-raised wolves, so Liam is toying with these strays to get them to snap.
Liam bats at Josh and Nora for the entire episode, prodding at their every excuse for why his children are suddenly no longer in the picture. He has a record of his son paying Josh off, which forces Josh to admit that he had, once upon last season, tried to cure himself of lycanthropy through research that the money went to funding. The Teen Wolves wanted to be wolves forever, and Josh never, so it was win-win, nothing shady, no sir, pleasedon’teatme. No sooner is this latest probe at the fragile web of lies concerning the Teen Wolves rebuffed than Liam launches another. He susses out that Josh is no longer a wolf, and there are very few ways of which Liam knows to accomplish such a thing. Uh oh. Here we must all applaud Xander Berkeley for not only having an excellent name but for how menacing without being overtly threatening he plays Liam. Liam does not elucidate on the apparently multiple(!) ways one can reverse lycanthropy, but he makes it clear that he guess how Josh did it and it was not with test tubes. Oh dear, Josh is a sire-killer, and killing your wolf daddy is Not. Cool. to pack wolves like Liam.
Yet as Liam moves in, intent and dangerous, Nora protests that Josh killed his sire to save her life (and not just cold-blooded, self-serving murder), and Liam pauses, readjusting and reversing himself upon receiving new information. “We have to put our children ahead of all else, including those who made us.” So murdering another wolf is acceptable if you do so to save your wolf offspring. (Meaning Josh and Nora’s relationship is wrong for a hundred reasons plus incest.) Liam cements that this rule is so for us later when he relents on his insistence that Josh kill or be killed because Josh drums up the courage to confront Liam with a gun. Protecting the pack, even when it means threatening your unfriendly neighborhood alpha wolf, exempts you from summary execution.
This is not to say that Liam will hold to this truce if he discovers that Josh and Nora had hands (direct and indirect) in the slaughter of the Teen Wolves, but it’s a fascinating diversion through the wolf underground. For now, he settles for congratulating Josh on growing a pair and does Josh and Nora a solid by returning Erin to their fold. He admonishes Josh, a tad mournfully, to take better care of this crazy family he’s building than Liam did with his own children.
And Aidan is not dead at the end of it, though Nora is now suspect with Josh because she was lobbying a little too hard for Aidan’s head taking the place of her own. When Liam raised the subject of staking Aidan out of existence, he appealed directly to Nora, sensing her unease with both starving-Aidan’s blood crazies and Aidan’s temporary solution of draining a boy in a bubble at the hospital for untainted blood: “His unnatural strength and his predilection for violence makes him a threat to us all.” This is how you know this show thinks Liam is a villain: he is making sense. And how you know Nora is a villain: she won’t politely ignore the fact that Aidan is feeding off an immunocompromised minor. It’s a chuckle and a half that Nora, confessed multiple murderer Nora is criticizing another multiple murderer Aidan for finding a solution that allows him to avoid straight murdering people like he almost did the last time we saw him feeding. Aidan pleads with Nora to understand this, that by feeding a little here and there, he doesn’t get the homicidal blood crazies that would make coming to the flat with a pulse a suicidal impulse. Nora judges “No, I don’t understand.” They say the longer you’re with someone the more you two resemble each other coughcoughJoshcough.
The other set of eyes on Aidan, besides Liam’s, come from the Boy in the Bubble, a kid who has, conveniently, missed the flu (and all the colds, flus, and poxes before it) because he’d have died himself if he caught it. As Aidan is sketchily stealing extra “samples” of Bubble Boy’s blood for “tests,” Bubble Boy is running every vampire-exposing test that Bram Stoker ever devised. Bubble Boy is apparently a classics-only horror movie fan, or he’d have seen (or read on the internet) how vampires in pop culture haven’t exploded into balls of fire in the sun, have reflections, and aren’t averse to the crucifix any more. Aidan laughs off the attempts once Bubble Boy admits to what Aidan damn well knows he’s doing, and they bond.
All this is of the good, as Bubble Boy is the only new friend Aidan’s made who is actually real. Throughout the episode, sabotaging his every human interaction, Aidan has been plagued by hallucinations of two women he killed last season. They mock his attempts to stay clean and deny himself a good old fashioned blood feast. When a nurse, who we see being a tad suspicious about the extra blood tests Bubble Boy has reportedly been having, discovers Aidan’s deception, he breaks her neck and rips into her jugular while the gore-leaders applaud. Aidan wakes with raven’s eyes and a fang boner to find he’d dreamt the whole thing. Except he did so while asleep watching TV with Bubble Boy, and, sunlight-capable or no, there’s no non-vampiric explanation for those fangs. I feel a little bit sorry for Bubble Boy for being lied to, but I hope their friendship survives. (If Josh can almost marry a woman in a relationship based on nothing but lies, surely these two crazy kids can make it work!)
Last and least, in between sessions of stuffing her face (which she’s been doing since coming back from the death), Sally decides to put the moves on her boss. I wouldn’t go jeopardizing this job where a nice guy hired her and agreed to pay her off the books without a good reason as she doesn’t have the right sorts of ID to get a better, W2-having job, but then I’m a rational person and Sally is Sally. For his part, Max is kind of adorably awkward, so while I’m not in favor of his hiring of a hot girl in a dire straits and then hoping it will turn into something romantic, it’s cute to see him and Sally try to be a not-couple in front of her friends, the Resurrection Nurse and Nurse’s until-recently-deceased lover.
Max’s awkward comes to him supernaturally (of course) in the form of his mother, who has chased off every woman he worked up the nerve to slide a “check yes if you like me” note card to. For the first time in a long while, I laughed along as Sally, RN (Ah! I see what I did there) and boyfriend, all of whom can see Mommy Dearest, try not to respond to Mom’s prompts about forgiving how tongue-tied her son is all the time. That, and Mom makes a lot of racist comments about Indians, prompting Sally to make a miraculously human-conversation-appropriate mention of how she is of Indian descent. Eventually, Sally convinces Mom to take a hike so her baby bird can learn to fly on his own. Max, however, despite being in the spiritual clear, is still so traumatized, he cannot make good on the kiss Sally leans in to grant him. That’s fair—if my mother had been spying on my every attempt at intimacy, I’d be a skosh gun shy, too.
Sally and Max must both awkward through their interactions at the funeral home the morning after until Max apologizes and asks if they can’t reset the whole thing by going on a date without her friends along. Sally opts to give Max and his feathery hair a second chance and not to tell him that, even if her friends aren’t there, they won’t be alone. Sally can see ghosts, having recently been one, so even if she never tells Max about his mother, this disruption is going to get her busted sooner or later. But if she came clean, there wouldn’t be the awful story line that follows. Lucky us?
It is agreed between Sally and Max that there will be a second date, by which they mean they will immediately have sex on a couch at the funeral home during, presumably, business hours. Max, post-coitus, suddenly remembers how uncouth and unprofessional that is (again, ignoring the fact that he hired himself a woman who slept with him) and runs out of the room. His reaction, though still awful, is explained somewhat by the reappearance of his mother, who starts shrieking about Sally being the Whore of Babylon for corrupting her virgin son. So, let me get this straight: sex before marriage is for sluts, and women are the ruiners of pure, innocent virgin males. It seems to me that Mrs. Bates here is just the writers doing a self-insert Mary Sue. As if that weren’t enough, Mom possesses Sally so she can walk Sally’s body down to Max and have Sally, last seen crowing happily about nailing her boss at his place of business, tell Max that she thinks he assaulted her. Mom-as-Sally dumps Max and walks off of the job.
When Sally discovers these shenanigans, she enlists the aid of RN to obtain an anti-possession device* and stomps back to the funeral home to exorcise herself a ghost. Mom wails and protests that she was just trying to protect her son and keep him happy. That’s why you crushed his heart and told him, in the body of the first woman he had ever slept with, that he was a rapist? Sally, rightfully, calls bull-pucky but doesn’t exorcise the poor woman straight off. (Hopefully, that comes later.) She sets about repairing the damage, inviting Max to a bar for that second date they never had. Why she would try to set up an intimate moment, where she and Max are both going to feel sore and vulnerable as they muddle through all their feels, in such a public place—why Max would ever agree to go for it—is a supernatural bridge too far. And yet, despite Max saying Sally was unprofessional to seduce him at work, despite Sally saying (as far as Max knows) that he’s an abuser and a jerk, they’re going to make a go at it. I’m beginning to think that every relationship on this show is less screwed up than the one where Aidan talks to people inside of his head. (At least he’s honest with those ladies, and they with him.)
Next week: Bubble Boy asks to be made a vampire. Makes sense, given his condition—damned is better than premature burial, stuck forever in his cage. Sally runs into her brother and tries to force the Soup Wiccan to save him before he ends up dead for it. Threatening those with more power than you is an amateur move, so this is completely expected from Sally.
* Best line of the night, from RN, regarding her enchanted anti-possession necklace: “I never kid about malevolent spirits or jewelry.” Well said, madam.