It’s been…what, about a month? since the mid-season finale aired, and I’m still feeling totally unsettled about it. There’s just this weird, discordant, unresolved feeling that I’ve been left with. I keep thinking each Monday will bring me some kind of resolution, but no. I have to wait for that. I watched the finale when it aired and was just shocked when it ended. That couldn’t be the end. That wasn’t an ending. Every other season finale has very decidedly resolved the story and then set us up for the next one. Not so now. And I know that technically this was just the Season 5A finale, and not the complete season finale, but when they did an extended season in Season Three, each half was its own separate story with very little cross over. I mean, those two halves are so distinct that I have trouble remembering the nogitsune story line was actually Season Three. In my head the nogitsune was Season Four and we’re currently in the middle of Season Six.
I’m beginning to ramble. Okay, suffice it to say, I was not prepared for this lack of a resolution. And am feeling a little unsettled because of it.
So if I have trouble making this discussion of Scott’s fall make sense, well…I’m sorry.
Before we really get into anything, let me go ahead and say this. I am not a fan of the “True Alpha” thing. I think it’s pretty dumb, to be honest. It’s vague and inconsistent and Scott could still barely werewolf at the time he gained this status. I think Stiles summed it up best in Season 3B when Scott needed help controlling his shift. They needed a “real Alpha.” Scott suddenly had the red eyes, but he had done nothing up to that point to prove he had the wherewithal to actually be an Alpha.
Honestly, to me the True Alpha just feels like a cop out. Like they wanted to tell a story of Scott being an Alpha without actually making him do what needs to be done to become one. In my opinion, the show has a bit of a problem with that kind of thing. Like Scott accidentally biting Liam (seriously, who catches someone falling off a roof with their mouth) or Stiles killing Donovan in self defense. I mean really, Donovan’s death was a heartbeat away from being caused by him tripping over his own feet. Theo had to embellish the story to get Scott to react the way he wanted and turn his back on Stiles, that’s how far his death was from being Stiles’ fault. It feels like the show-runners are afraid of making their characters unlikable by letting them decide to act. But I’d find these story lines so much more compelling if there was a semblance of deliberate action. Let Scott be faced with a dying kid and decide to save him with the bite. Let Stiles look Donovan in the eyes and decide to kill him in self defense. And if Scott wants to be an Alpha, if he thinks Derek’s a poor one that needs to be taken out (and let’s not mince words here, Derek wasn’t great at being an Alpha either), let him say so and take it. Give me stories of choice and agency. Don’t give me werewolf Jesus.
This is how I feel, but it’s all really neither here nor there. Scott McCall the True Alpha is the story we’re being given, so it’s the story I’ve got to work with.
However, I’ve got to be honest and say the True Alpha story line has caused me to struggle a lot with Scott’s character over the years. I like Scott. Let me make that clear. I like Scott a lot. But I struggle with the decisions he makes a lot of the times. I struggle with his Alpha status. I struggle with his take on leadership. I just…I don’t think I’ve ever been able to grasp where he’s been coming from when it comes to that. For all that Scott’s the lead character, I feel he’s the character with the least depth, or at least he’s the character whose depth has been the least explored. He’s a character that can, at times, exude a total oblivion to the world around him – he’s young, unfocused, immature, naive, and self centered – and yet also (we’re told, at least) has the ability to be this great leader, and I can’t seem to make those two sides of him connect. And so I’ve struggled.
This season, however, cracks have been forming in Scott’s character. He’s faltered. He’s made mistakes. The veneer of the True Alpha has been not just chipped, but completely wrecked. Scott’s whole persona has fallen apart, and his pack right along with it. And we’re left with a broken and scared seventeen year old kid. And it’s like I’m finally able to see him now.
The thing I’ve struggled with the most when it comes to Scott and his True Alpha status is…when did he become a leader? When did he develop any of those skills? Who taught him how to do that? Because seriously – and I don’t mean this as a censure on the kid, just an observation – but the dopey, clueless ball of sunshine from Season One could barely have led another kid across the street, let alone somehow become a general in an epic battle between good and evil. Between him and Stiles, it was clearly Stiles who was the one who came up with the plans – the one who decided they were going to find a body in the woods or were going to learn to harness Scott’s werewolf nature – and it was Derek corralling the two into action. And Scott followed along behind. So where did this leadership come from? When did he become this person?
The reason I finally feel like I can reconcile Scott’s position is that this season I feel like the show is actually confirming and letting us in on the fact that he’s not. Scott’s not this person. His persona as the True Alpha has always rung false to me, and it’s because that’s what it is. A persona. A character. A false front. Scott didn’t become a leader because he had a natural affinity for it. He doesn’t really have great tactical sense or the ability to rally people. Instead, he’s taken on this role of leader because someone else told him he was one. Not due to his skills, but…what, strength of character? Purity of soul? I can’t remember the exact wording, but it was something ambiguous like that. Someone else (namely, Dr. Deaton and Deucalion) told Scott he was a True Alpha and therefore this great and powerful leader, but no one ever explained to him exactly what that meant. No one pulled him aside and trained him on what it meant to lead. And we saw with Derek in Season Two that red eyes can’t just magic you into something your not.
Now, again, let me say that this is not a censure of Scott’s character. This is not me saying Scott is a loser or anything like that. Some people have a natural affinity for leadership and other people don’t. Neither is better than the other. Scott is not a natural leader, and becoming an Alpha did not magically make him one. This doesn’t mean he can’t become one (I absolutely think he can become one), but so far this kid has just been winging it the best he can. He’s grasping at straws and flying by the seat of his pants, and up until this season things worked out for him. But not this time.
This time things like his secret keeping is catching up to him. Before, it worked out when he kept his plans from his team. It worked out when he kept things from his friends to spare their feelings, like why Allison’s mom died. But this time it doesn’t. He tries to spare Kira’s feelings by not telling her about the manifestation of her foxfire, and she ends up putting herself in danger. She ends up almost killing one of the chimeras in the club and maybe killing one and leaving it on Scott’s kitchen table with her katana in its chest. Things like inflicting his personal moral code on the rest of the pack is catching up to him. Scott has decided they can never kill anyone, ever. But he doesn’t see how the rest of the pack feels about that and it makes them afraid. Malia – who, let’s be for real, has definitely killed before even if it was just to eat as a coyote – was terrified when Scott and the other’s found her with Tracy’s dead body, worried about how Scott would react if he though she was the killer. Stiles knew he absolutely could not tell Scott about what happened with Donovan, and Scott’s reaction (even though it was helped along by Theo) just confirmed Stiles’ initial fear and drove them apart. Scott’s trusting nature brought Theo into their inner circle, no matter how many time Stiles told him something was wrong – Stiles, his best friend, who could have been given some semblance of a benefit of the doubt. And the burden Scott puts on himself and let’s others (like Deaton and Noshiko and even his own mother) put on him…that burden is just becoming too much.
And really, it’s that burden that’s ultimately going to break Scott. The other things are going to tear apart his team, his pack. And they have. But the burden to save everybody – the burden of being the True Alpha, of being the supreme savior…that’s going to break him. It’s already starting to. We can see, in Season Five, Scott spinning out of control when he just can’t save anyone. We see him becoming reckless and desperate: clawing into Corey’s memories, using Hayden as bate for the Dread Doctors. If he keeps going the way he’s going – taking on everyone’s soul, be they good or evil – he’s either going to completely burn out and give up…or someone like Theo, someone he refused to kill because everyone should be saved, is finally going to kill him. Especially if he doesn’t have his pack to back him up anymore.
Scott has failed. He’s failed to save any of the chimeras. He’s failed to keep danger out of his pack. He’s failed to believe in his friends. He’s failed in a fight to the death. And so now…now he can learn. He can get better. He can do better. He can rebuild what he tore apart. But he has to do it. He has to rebuild it. He has to learn from his mistakes, from his failures, and finally learn how to lead. So now…now I’m on board. I still think the idea of the what it means to be a True Alpha is far too under-developed within canon to actually be something compelling. But taking the time to actually show Scott truly failing at this whole Alpha thing, acknowledging that leadership is a skill that needs to be developed, and allowing Scott to actually learn and grow and develop as a person and a leader – that is compelling.