The first ten minutes of last week’s episode were harrowing. No joke. First with Stiles being attacked by a supernaturally enhanced Donovan, fighting tooth and nail for his life, and then, after inadvertently causing Donovan’s death due to self defense, with his control spiraling as he could do little more than breathe through a 911 call and then wait in his jeep for the police to arrive, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. My heart was pounding, my hands were shaking, and I felt like I could feel every once of terror that boy was radiating. Dylan O’Brien deserves all the praise he’s getting for that performance, because he didn’t speak a word during that entire opening and was still able to convey so much: so much fear and anxiety and loss and guilt.
As of yet, no one else knows what happened. Stiles was alone and, though the police responded to his 911 call and checked out the crime scene, someone else (well, Parrish) had already come by to claim the body and Stiles kept himself out of sight. For now, he’s only got himself to deal with, only his own feelings to parse and dissect. But I can’t imagine he’ll be able to keep this secret to himself for long. We’ve been told all through the hiatus and all through this first half of the season that we’re gearing up for a major rift between Stiles and best friend Scott. And though part of it will surely come from Stiles’ obsessive suspicion against newcomer Theo, I have a feeling that Scott’s black and white morality issues are going to play a major part as well.
Scott’s an interesting one when it comes to his moral convictions. He’s got some very rigid ideas about what is right and what is wrong, what he’s willing to do and what’s unacceptable. But these values haven’t always been there from day one. No, throughout the past five seasons we’ve seen them develop into the strict rules Scott lives by.
At this point in the series, Scott operates under two basic principles: killing is never justified and everyone can be saved. But, as I said, this hasn’t always been his viewpoint, especially when it comes to the first point. Now, I’m not saying that these ideas came out of no where. No, Scott certainly had some semblance of a moral center when the series began. It’s just that his convictions weren’t as solidified, weren’t as strict. In Season One, Scott was turned into a werewolf. His life was ruined, he wanted no part in this lifestyle, and Derek offered him a reprieve. There’s a legend, Derek said, a cure for lycanthropy: kill the alpha who bit you. And though Scott might not be stoked that killing the alpha is his only option, he’s certainly not turning from it. The alpha’s been murdering people and Scott doesn’t want to be a werewolf. The alpha needs to be killed and Scott’s going to be the one to do it. In the end, it doesn’t work out quite that way. Allison and Kate provide some complications, not to mention was Derek really going to risk that power transferring over to a kid? So no, Scott didn’t kill Peter, Derek did. But Scott wanted to. Scott was ready to. Scott assisted in his death even if he didn’t strike the final blow.
So if Scott didn’t have these strict moral convictions at the start of the series, had no issues with the part he played and the part he planned to play in Peter’s death, where did they come from? What drove Scott to make these decisions, to come to these conclusions, that killing is never justifies, no matter what? For my part, I think that these rules are intrinsically linked to Scott’s anxieties over his werewolf identity. To his fear of being a monster.
Throughout Seasons One, Two, and Three A, Scott really wanted nothing to do with being a werewolf. In Season One he actively searches for a cure. In Season Two he campaigns against Derek building up his pack, railing against all the evil he sees as an intrinsic part of the werewolf lifestyle, but not acknowledging that it could in any way be bettering the lives of his classmates who accept the bite. Season Three opens with Scott having spent the summer completely isolated from the werewolf world, leaving Derek’s pack and letting Derek and Isaac and even Stiles search for the missing Boyd and Erica without him. This is the season where things start to change a little bit for him. He’s actually drawn into the world of werewolves, learning the history of the packs in the area, and actually becoming a part of Derek’s pack to some degree. And then Derek loses his alphas status and Scott becomes the True Alpha.
A True Alpha, they say, is one who doesn’t have to inherit power or steal it from another Alpha. It’s simply earned. You don’t kill for that power. For me, this is where Scott’s no kill rule became solidified. Being a True Alpha sets Scott apart from other werewolves. It’s something he can cling to to prove that he’s different. That he’s not a monster. That he is more than the other werewolves, better. Someone who doesn’t have to kill. And he takes that seriously. Deucalion murdered dozens of people, and yet Scott simply allows him to walk away, no punishment for his crimes. Season Four see Scott and his supernatural friends all added to a mysterious hitlist, and though they are all being pursued by hired assassins, Scott does his best to keep from killing anyone in return. And now in Season Five, as supernaturally enhanced chimeras are randomly killing people throughout the town, he stops both Malia and Kira from killing.
After the finale of Season 3A, which ended with Stiles, Allison, and Scott sacrificing themselves to the Nemeton, all three began experiencing hallucinations and other symptoms of the darkness. Scott’s manifested itself in his inability to control his shift. He saw his shadow as a reflection of the horrific form Peter took as the Alpha. He couldn’t hold onto his humanity. He was becoming a monster, the monster he’s always feared he was. Season Four, during his death sleep, he has dreams of the Mute and Liam that culminates in him killing Liam, once again becoming the monster he fears.
Here’s the thing. I think it’s good to have this ideal, the want to save everyone and kill no one. Let me make that clear. I’m in no way advocating for Scott to go off on a murderous rampage to rid the world of everyone bad. I hope Scott never has to kill anyone. But it’s gotten to a point where his no kill rule has become so stringent that it’s almost becoming a hazard. More and more, Scott’s proving that his no kill rule has become more important to him than survival, more important than even his friends’ survival. This conversation he has with Malia at the start of Season Four really brings that point to light.
If a hunter is bit, they have to take their own life before they change. The Caleveras, they treat the code like law. They make it their responsibility to enforce it.
Good for her. I wouldn’t do it either.
Would you kill half a dozen people to get out? Because that’s what she did.
Malia doesn’t respond to Scott’s question, but if it were me, I’d be screaming out a resounding yes! Yes, if my life is on the line, I’m doing whatever it takes. But Scott won’t. It’s clear, in this scene, he disapproves of Kate’s murderous escape. And while part of that probably stems from the fact that Kate was a murderer long before this, he’s also challenging Malia, a member of his pack, with her right to kill in self-defense. Later in the season, Rafael kills the Chemist and despite the fact that he had a gun to Stiles’ head and was counting down, Scott is still skeptical when his father defends his actions. And then again, in his death sleep, Scott can’t bring himself to kill the Mute in defense even as the Mute stands over Liam with a tomahawk while Liam’s begging for his life. These are actual, real life instances (okay, and one dream) where people were left with no options in order to survive, and Scott still can’t justify killing.
Stiles hasn’t yet brought himself to tell Scott what he’s done. He did try to bring it up, however, in a conversation about Kira. There has to be a point where self defense is justified, he says, and that if she did kill the chimera, it was because she had no other choice. But Scott won’t hear it. We shouldn’t be killing the people we’re trying to save, he says. But while that’s good in theory, at some point your own survival needs to be your priority. With Donovan, Stiles made it to that point. Scott hasn’t. It’s going to be interesting to see how Scott deals with that when he eventually finds out. I’m sure it will be a factor in the Stiles/Scott schism, but how it manifests will be the question. How will Stiles deal with not living up to Scott’s expectations? Will Scott have to put Stiles in the same category as his father and Kate Argent and Derek? Will Stiles be hurt if Scott can’t understand? I’m looking forward to seeing the fallout.