Warning: This recap of the “Sundowning” episode of Teen Wolf contains spoilers.
The human brain is a hell of a thing. Wait, hold on… The human brain is a hell thing. A hell thing! It’s a thing from hell! First of all, look at it: It’s just some weird pink and gray blob that bosses the rest of your body around but couldn’t do much of anything if it were just set on a kitchen island by itself. Worse, the human brain doesn’t even have the decency to be understandable. How exactly it works is still mostly a mystery even to neurologists. And let’s just say, as far as biological operating systems are concerned, it is worse than Windows Vista. I couldn’t even count on two hands how often the brain makes bad decisions, and that’s because I can barely even count. My brain is borderline broken most of the time, and I’d argue the same goes for a lot of people. I should’ve kept my receipt.
“Sundowning” was a very entertaining episode of Teen Wolf that explored the brain’s fragility in almost every plot line. First, there was Malia’s inability to function intellectually now that Stiles is gone; then there was Stiles’s dementia-addled Grandpa Stiles attempting to remember anything at all; and let’s not forget that Mrs. McCall FINGERED AN ACTUAL BRAIN in this episode, which was nowhere near as sensual as that sounds. Its title refers to the phenomenon of losing your mental faculties upon sundown, but “Sundowning” maintained a strong sense of horror and intrigue throughout its runtime. Let’s talk about it!
We began, as ever, with a ludicrously hot man teaching a high school physics class.
But things got weird immediately. During a presentation on how to magnify a steel rod via electricity (major Dread Doctor s***), Mr. Douglas couldn’t stop breaking out into coughing fits! Things got more unsettling when the scene began to intercut with a sequence of that one disgusting aquarium corpse from last season suddenly busting out of its tube!
As I mentioned earlier, my brain is trash, so I did not fully remember what was up with this creature. I know it was constantly in the Dread Doctors’ lair all season, and I feel like Theo (whom I trust) was sucking black fluid from its body to gain strength? And correct me if I’m wrong, but this thing was originally a werewolf who was also a Nazi? Is that right, or did I dream it? Well, whatever the case, he was all slimy and gross and crawling around the floor of a now very wet lab. But on the bright side, he sloughed off his skin and suddenly looked way better:
Mr. Douglas, you supervillain! I guess we should not have been surprised that HE was the monster in the aquarium. But what was up with him needing to breathe helium? I was honestly disappointed when Liam knocked on the closet door asking if he was OK, and he didn’t respond with a super-high-pitched squeaky voice. Opportunity missed! Anyway, it was a properly effed up cold open, so the episode was off to a great start.
Here’s another shocking twist right off the bat: Beacon Hills High School has a GIRLS’ locker room. Did you know this? I’m still processing this reveal. It looks a lot like the BOYS’ locker room, but nobody’s just casually wearing towels. Anyway, Hayden was hanging out here when one of the other gals began losing her composure over the fact that her sister’s belongings had disappeared. It was clearly a case of another student getting erased! Would the Ghost Riders never stop?
We then caught up with Malia, who was currently sitting in Mrs. Martin’s office retaking a calculus test. Well, she was mostly just breaking pencils and growling like an animal, but that is what most people do when confronted with that sort of gibberish. And despite Mrs. Martin’s warm encouragement, Malia had no choice but to bust outta there!
In coyote form, she ran into the basement and growled at everybody who came near. Which, same.
They finally got her to calm down, but the message was clear: Something was causing Malia to be more and more animalistic, almost as though all her progress as a post-coyote had gone away! Stiles had had that much of an impact on her. (Sad-face emoji)
At this point, Scott and Lydia were still investigating what the word “Stiles” could mean, and that’s when Sheriff Stilinski offered up the tidbit that it had been a family name most recently used by his own father. That’s right: There was a Grandpa Stiles! But just as an aside, WHAT was going on with Fake Claudia Stilinski? The fact that nobody has really reacted to her reappearance is so unsettling to me. Even more unsettling? This lady:
Nobody else could see her except Lydia, and it seriously freaked me out when she suddenly walked into the room behind Sheriff Stilinski and began yammering about the train or whatever. Including the aquarium werewolf and the Ghost Riders, this season already has at least three seemingly unrelated paranormal things going on, and that’s just the way I like it! Still, what a nightmare.
This was NOT a nightmare… Mrs. McCall investigating mysterious noises in her kitchen only to find none other than Mr. Argent making coffee! Who knows where he’s been, and he didn’t mention anything about our poor, dear, sweet Isaac. But he was back in town, and he wanted to learn about that weird murder from the season premiere. You know, the helium thief with the busted cranium. What was up with that? Mr. Argent wanted to find out.
Sheriff Stilinski insisted that the kids should NOT under any circumstances pay his father a visit, but he declined to explain why. This meant that they immediately paid him a visit. I loved when they arrived at the rest home and felt shy about intruding past the front desk, but Malia simply assaulted the head nurse. Rude coyote!
So the main thing about Grandpa Stiles was he had dementia, and at first believed that it was still the 1970s and that Scott was his son. This was getting them nowhere! But when the sun began to go down, he began slipping in and out of lucidity and even seemed to recall who these teenagers were, and without actually mentioning Stiles by name, implied that they were connected to him somehow.
But when Sheriff Stilinski busted in and kicked the teens out, Grandpa Stiles accused him of having a dead wife and a loser son. What on EARTH could he have been talking about? Stay tuned, everybody.
The major set piece of the episode involved Hayden’s and Liam’s attempts to protect the girl whose sister had disappeared. Though Hayden had attempted to clue the girl in on the Ghost Riders, the girl was not having it. Normies just aren’t ready for paranormal TRUTH. So they tricked the girl into attending a party at Scott’s house by throwing a party at Scott’s house! The whole school was there and ready to rave. And wouldn’t you know it? A Ghost Rider showed up! But he suddenly got a lot less invisible once Corey touched him, which resulted in all the teens running at the Ghost Rider then getting their asses handed to them. Fortunately Mason is a real smartie and lined the room with mountain ash, trapping the cowghoul.
But Ghost Riders are persistent, and next thing we knew, it was busting through that barrier with a few whip cracks! Suffice it to say, this was not the best party ever thrown.
Speaking of parties, Mr. Argent and Mrs. McCall were hanging out in the local morgue inspecting the brain matter of that one murdered dude. As it turned out, the victim had had his pineal gland removed (as had a previous murder victim). We were told this was the part of the brain where the SOUL was kept, so, um. Yeah. A monster was sucking the souls out of the brains of people. But the only way they could know for sure was by fingering that brain hole!
Truly disgusting. I loved this part.
Back at the party, it looked like the Ghost Rider was about to drag that one girl away, but then Deputy Parrish showed up and pointed a gun in his face!
My question is, would a bullet stop Parrish? No, it would not. He is a supernatural creature. So why would Parrish assume a bullet would stop a millenniums-old Nordic demigod? Do your research, guy! Anyway, without saying a word, the Ghost Rider and his Ghost Rider friends outside all suddenly disappeared! That was the good news. The bad news was the entire room of people had laid eyes on him, which meant they were now all going to be taken by Ghost Riders at some point. Thanks A LOT, Corey.
Toward the end of the episode, Sheriff Stilinski showed up at Scott’s bedroom and told a story about how he’d once discussed with his wife how their future son would be called Stiles and she’d maybe even told him she was pregnant. Which was weird, because earlier in the episode Fake Claudia had claimed she was totally cool with never having had kids. This was all to say that Sheriff Stilinski had suddenly realized that maybe he’d had a son that had been erased? That might explain the EMPTY BEDROOM in his home.
This seemed to confirm what Scott himself had already begun to suspect. The missing person wasn’t just some random guy, it had very possibly been Scott’s BEST FRIEND. Personally if I ever looked through years of photos and they were only of me standing to one side of the photo, I would come to wonder if I’d ever had a best friend at one point. And Scott now seemed pretty sure he had!
Our final disgusting moment returned us to Mr. Douglas, who sprung out and a bit into the skull of a school janitor and then ate the poor man’s pineal gland! He just sorta popped it into his mouth like it was the last Skittle and then grinned as his eyes lit up red. I don’t know what exactly is up with Mr. Douglas, but he seems like a real creep to me. Personally I hope his story will somehow tie into the return of Theo (whom I trust) and they will, at the very least, enjoy at least one shirtless hug. You know? Fingers crossed.
“Sundowning” was pretty fun in my opinion. Terrifying and disgusting in all the right ways while never forgetting about the loss of Stiles and its effect on the other characters’ lives. I truly love this concept — celebrating a character by removing him from the story — as it’s both heartbreaking and terrifying at the same time. But another great thing about this episode was how thoroughly it pushed the story forward. Teen Wolf has never been one to wheel-spin, but it’s still refreshing to know that only three episodes into the season, so much has happened. Fingers crossed my very subpar brain can remember everything by the end.
What did YOU think of “Sundowning”?
Teen Wolf airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on MTV.