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11 February 2014 @ 12:57 am
"Everyone has it but no one can lose it. What is it?"  
Jesus, I remember when Teen Wolf was a somewhat laughable show about teenagers who angsted more about lacrosse than being turned into a supernatural creature.

Those were happier, simpler times.

Currently, Teen Wolf has decided to play around with Japanese mythology by introducing kitsunes. We have Kira Nakamura (Arden Cho), the new student in town who turns out to have a kitsune possessing her. But good news is that this kitsune is just your average, benign one. It gives her some powers but isn't evil. Unfortunately, there really is an evil, dark kitsune (the nogitsune) that is possessing someone. Even more unfortunately, it's Stiles.

The legend of the kitsune is that they tend to possess down family lines. This seems to be the tie-in for the until now mystery surrounding the death of Stiles' mom. Turns out she had some sort of early dementia caused by her brain being atrophied. But are we to believe that a kitsune was trying to possess her? I almost want to believe this because then it saves Stiles from a very real world death (he just got the same dementia diagnosis in this episode) but it doesn't make much sense to me. Why would a Japanese mythological creature possess a random woman living in California? Was Stiles' mother of Japanese descent? Normally, I'd just say the show is handwaving some things but shockingly, the show is rather sophisticated in its treatment of race thus far. There is no heavy handed appropriation of non-white cultures to benefit the storylines given to white characters. There's usually some sort of logic that connects it all together so I'm challenging Teen Wolf to have this make sense ultimately.

The first half of this episode was like a legitimate horror movie with Stiles trapped in some basement being taunted by the nogitsune. And whoever came up with the nogitsune character design should get some sort of award for creating the most freaky ass thing on TV. I kept wondering why it looked like it had a tapeworm's mouth for a face that was also bandaged rather than a fox but the showrunner has promised it will make sense later. I'm holding you to that, Jeff Davis!

Amidst all the supernatural horror (seriously, the first half was like a slasher film and an episode of Hannibal got married), the biggest real world horror was the reveal that Stiles has the same thing that ultimately killed his mother. Watching the face of his father process this was gut-wrenching. I've said it before that the show's greatest strength is really the character interaction and we again had a heartbreaking one between Scott and Stiles before the latter went in for his MRI. It felt extremely reminiscent of their exchange in "Motel California" with the roles reversed. I've come to adore Scott McCall because of his unwavering love for his friends. Which ever writer decided to not make him all about his lost romance with Allison deserves a gold star because this really freed him up to become a much more developed character. And whoever is in charge of writing the friendship between Scott and Stiles has perfectly captured the kind of love that can exist between two best friends. It's so freaking touching and incredible that I do find myself getting choked up when we see Scott promising Stiles he'd do something should Stiles get diagnosed with the same condition that took his mother.

And then all the horror feelings came flying back once the nogitsune decides to take over Stiles' body again to have some fun.

So, my big questions are 1) IS the nogitsune going down the family lines because if so, how does it make sense that the Stilinski family would be a target? 2) Is Stiles' brain really breaking down or is that what a possessed person's brain just looks like? I do hope it's the latter because that would be an incredibly sad fate for a character whose entire identity centers around the brilliance of his mind.
Justin White on February 26th, 2014 03:53 am (UTC)
Fast and loose
Ever since they mispronounced triskele in the first season I knew they were playing fast and loose with the mythology. Don't get me wrong, they include a LOT of interesting mythology, but they don't always think thinks through or research them all the way through.

So, don't get too hung up on the fact that Stiles' mother might have been a kitsune despite not being Japanese. I think they were going for more the inhereted disorder being synonymous with a dark spirit and that it might not actually be a kitsune, but it's _like_ a kitsune and the only frame of reference the characters had access to was Japanese mythology. (Of course the bandaged face with the fanged mouth guy in Stile's mind certainly evokes oriental origins...)
Justin White on February 26th, 2014 04:28 pm (UTC)
This browser window was left open and when I came back I re-read your post, and I wanted to comment on question #2.

- The answer is BOTH. Its probably the act of invasive possession that causes the dementia. I would imagine its similar to infectious parasitical bacterias. Before scientists understood bacteria - all they could see were symptoms (Which, interestingly enough, they attributed to malicious spirits). However now that we understand parasites, infections, bacteria, virii and all that good stuff, we now know that they are the cause for the symptoms.

So, Stiles' brain breaking down is a symptom of the possession, and the doctors don't understand (or believe) in the nogisune (except maybe Scott's mother) However, just because they don't know the cause doesn't mean that the cause isn't there.

I don't believe that the Nogisune merely tried to possess Stiles' mom. I believe that the symptoms described are part and parcel with possession;
Sleepwalking - any period of time when the Nogisune has control and the host isn't conscious.
Sleep Deprivation - The fact that the body doesn't actaully get any sleep. Either the Self is in control or the Nogisune is.

All the rest of it (Hallucinations, Lack of Concentration) are all part of the sleep deprivation.)