Season 3B of Teen Wolf is an interesting take on mind over body. We see this in the first episodes where Allison, Scott and Stiles are dealing with the effects of their sacrifice to the nemeton. As we discussed at the end of my season 3A retrospective, the sacrifice left a darkness in the three of them that they were going to always feel. We see this now in the nemeton dreams. They are meant to attack their faith in themselves: Scott’s control, Stiles’ sanity, Allison’s faith in her family. However, right in the first episode Deaton talks about closing the door to be able to stop their problems – I guess that forever is only if they don’t close the door now. By episode 3, everyone seems to have recovered from the darkness – something that per season 3a finale they shouldn’t be totally.
Except Stiles. But Stiles is a different story, one that goes back to 1943…
The Trickster Inside the Mischief Maker
When Barrows kidnaps Kira and takes her to the power plant, the last shot we see of Stiles before the blackout is him running through the power plant looking for Kira & Scott. Then there is the big explosion of electricity and in the overshot you can’t see where Stiles is. Derek will be the one to figure it out later with Kira, but we don’t see Stiles again until the next episode where the group is being interviewed by Papa McCall.
The question is, though, is when did the nogitsune get into Stiles? The nogitsune was in Stiles already before the power plant and was just using Barrows as an agent of chaos (like how he uses the twins, Derek and Isaac later). We know this because he has the key to the chemistry lab and writes the message to Barrow about Kira. It’s theorized that the nogitsune didn’t escape from the nemeton until the earthquake that Jennifer caused on the night of the lunar eclipse. I think that because of the attention we get of Stiles’ car accident in the 3A finale that Stiles – already having done his sacrifice and having opened the door – became possessed by the nogitsune while he was unconscious in the car.
The possible first sighting of the nogitsune influencing Stiles is when he is trying to stall Papa McCall from finding Kira and Scott in his office. You see him shift just a bit, his body language change just that much as he brings up the phone call between Melissa and Sheriff and how Stiles listened in on it. If you watch Stiles after McCall enters the room, you see him just stand there completely still a moment, and then slowly walk away. In the next episode, he admits that he’s already having blackouts so could this possibly be one? It’s not like anyone else is watching to be able to talk to him about it.
It only starts to get worse for Stiles from there. The blackouts, sleepwalking, panic attacks, insomnia, hallucinations during the day, irritably, unable to focus, impulsive – al symptoms matching his mother’s dementia. Sheriff has been seeing it in him for the two weeks leading up to day of the testing at the hospital. As he sits on the MRI table, you can see that Stiles has a horrible fear of getting his mother’s disease (frontotemporal dementia) and losing his sense of self – the control of his mind. The nogitsune feeds on that fear to break his spirit because his family, friends, and self are the things he treasures the most. We know from season 5 that Stiles had a firsthand account of what his mother was like in her later stages and how it affected him and his father – someone he is overprotective of already. The nogitsune knows how to play this card to break Stiles’ spirit, and to Stiles, the nogitsune frames is in saying that he is trying to save him in this.
For the first half of the season while Stiles hasn’t given in, you can tell who is in control if you look at the body stance and movements of Stiles. Dylan O’Brien does a great job of changing how he stands, talks, and moves when he is the nogitsune: His voice drops, his movements are smooth and fluid, and the restlessness you usually see in how Stiles’ hands twitch and he can’t stand still disappear. I personally think this is some of his best work, and shows how much he has grown as an actor to pull off two separate personas and makes the nogitsune something to fear.
The nogitsune is powerful before it even takes full control of Stiles. It’s stronger than the first three Oni that come at him – if he wasn’t he would have died before Scott found Stiles in the hospital. However, Stiles is stronger because he is still able to struggle against the nogitsune, shown by the chemosignals that Derek and Scott can smell on the roof. When Stiles fights back after Scott wakes him out of the GO match in his head, the nogitsune splits them as a distraction to grab Lydia. But he’s not done with Stiles, because they are connected and he can still pull energy from Stiles in the split body. It’s killing him slowly, and letting his friends and family watch.
Scott can feel the pain it’s causing when he touches him, and yet Stiles doesn’t say anything before that. He even tells his friends that if killing the nogitsune means he must die, to do it. Stiles knows what the nogitsune did, and he feels guilt about it because in a way, he feels it was him. He doesn’t tell anyone until Malia in season 4 that he remembers it all – not wanting to burden people. But that knowledge takes that piece of his soul away, making him less playful than we are used to. His eyes can’t turn blue since he’s not a wolf, but it’s the same after effect Peter hinted that he and Derek had when their eye color changed.
This experience has made Stiles a bit more reckless in ways, which we see in season 4 when he is helping Malia in the basement of the Martin’s lake house. He remembers being fearless, being powerful, being in control and liking it – and the fact he remembers it is what guides him to find ways to have that again but in the not murdering people way. It also makes him focus on not letting her hurt people and get the control that he probably wished he had back then – even though he tells her that control is overrated. You can also see it when he is staring down the gun a few episodes later, not afraid to be killed to protect his friends (we’ve seen it before in season 2 in the Argent basement but here it’s a lot more real because we know the killer will pull the trigger, where Gerard was only going to hurt him).
The one thing that I really wish they would talk about again the connection of Stiles to Void. Jeff Davis has said that at the end of season 3B it wasn’t the last we would see of Void!Stiles. We see a very, very small hint of it in season 5 while Stiles stares at Donovan after he is impaled, and it’s a fear that Stiles has in thinking he killed Donovan because he wanted to, and not because it was an accident. It takes some time and reflection to know that it was an accident and not an intentional murder, but the fact he didn’t think it right away shows that he knows it’s a reality. The fact Scott believes Theo later about Stiles being someone who would kill shows that he isn’t the only one who worries that the Void can still come back.
In a way, the fear is rational. You have the darkness factor from the sacrifice, but you also must remember that the body Stiles is in now is not the body he was born in. When the nogitsune split them, HE stays in Stiles’ body while Stiles manifests from the ground in a new body created from the nogitsune’s power. The show never goes back to this fact, but there is a lot that could have been played with in that including Stiles not being human at all anymore. I personally want to think that since he’s in a body born of magic, Stiles may be able to learn it if given a teacher to show him the way.
If anyone is going to learn to use the Force, it better be Stiles!
The Hale Legacy
First off – just HOW did Peter and Derek end up in the basement with the Mexican hunters? What did Peter do to get them caught – and if it was because of his “alpha period” why didn’t kill him outright (and no one would have blamed them except maybe Derek). Could it be why they don’t hesitate to torture Peter as a way of persuasion for Derek to talk. Cora couldn’t be there because the writers needed the misdirection of the She-Wolf being her and not Kate – even though Kate we will learn is not a wolf next season. The Hales didn’t know that, nor the audience, so it was what they had to use.
It was also never explained how Talia’s claws survived the fire, or how the Calaveras got them from Deaton (who made the box so he probably had them last). We could figure that Deaton told Derek about them – maybe that was even the reason that Derek and Cora left at the end of season 3A, but you never get any explanation to all of that. It’s a lot of presumptions, but in the end the claws and his talk with his mother gives Derek a new perspective in life that will help him continue to grow into a better werewolf. Too bad he didn’t get this lesson BEFORE the alpha pack – thanks Deaton.
His mother told him that the Hales protected Beacon Hills, and Derek believes Scott is the one to do that. Derek talks about how he’s sharing trade secrets with Scott, like teaching Scott about chemo signals, which will become a thing moving forward. However, when the nogitsune’s fly gets into him, we see that there is still a lot of pain and anger inside of Derek, which he takes out on Chris Argent. Thankfully Chris knew that something was wrong and didn’t kill him, and even Derek was trying to fight against it (something Isaac and the Twins are unable to do).
Meanwhile, you have Peter who is still doing his plan to kill Scott. When Lydia hears Stiles voice on the radio saying “Come Find Me” and she hears the voices on the string leading her to Eichen house, she knows she needs to work on learning her power. Peter offers in his backwards way, and starts by wanting to help her focus her hearing in return for her to find the lost memory in Talia’s claws. He tells her that the scream is what focuses her and drowns out the white noise – though eventually she will be able to do it without the scream in season 4.
The claws are what tell Peter that he is a father to someone, which Lydia knows but pretends not to. Perhaps it’s to warn or protect the child from him? Either way, the look on his face when he knows shows that it is something he wasn’t expecting and almost a longing in his eyes. That’s why he is willing to help again when it comes to teaching Scott about how to use his claws to get into another’s mind – to get the name of his child. His working to help pack is double sided though, because it’s also his effort to gain trust, getting close enough to be able to find that right moment to strike Scott.
But when Lydia starts to bleed while in Stiles’ mind, he goes right to her, trying to call for her and hoping her banshee hearing, or their bond, would be able to refocus her and save her from whatever was happening inside of Stiles’ head. Even Scott, through his connection with Lydia in that moment, can hear Peter screaming her name. We don’t see a lot more of this bond between them as Peter’s story shifts back to building up to his moment in Mexico, and as I’ve mentioned before I hope we see a return of it when Lydia helps find Stiles in the train station of the forgotten where Peter also happens to be.
Not All Shifters are Wolves
Yes, we learned about this from Jackson being the kanima – “sometimes the shape you take reflects the person you are”. We take it up a step this season in introducing non-werewolf based shifters!
Malia makes her first appearance this half of the season in all her naked glory. This isn’t the best season for Malia and it feels like she had a real injustice done in how she is introduced and used as a plot device more than a character for this season. Her first lines of dialogue don’t even come until episode 8 in Eichen House, and that comes after the punches Stiles in the face. Her character also was never used the way they created her history. She had been a coyote for half her life, having turned when she was nine. The impulsiveness and straight to the point-ness of her words and actions is okay, but she should only have the vocabulary of a nine-year-old, if not the mentality of one when she returns to being human – and when she is not acting like a coyote. Yet here she is in Eichen House acting like a 17-year-old, and in season 4 she will be in junior level classes in a normal classroom doing algebra when she wouldn’t have even hit long division before her change.
And then we get the make-out scene that I know has created a lot of flack on the internet when it happened. Did they do it or not? Was Malia able to consent to doing it if they did? So many places this conversation can go, but I always go back to what I’ve heard Dylan say in interviews back then: Stiles wouldn’t do it like that. He would want to know the person before he would go to that point. For me, that scene will be just what we see on screen – kissing, a bit of teenage feel around, and then cuddling when Malia is nice and warm again.
It’s a crappy way to use her character – anyone could have been tied up in that chair and Stiles would have still given into the nogitsune. Then Malia just disappears (by walking out the front door of the nuthouse like she isn’t a patient?!) until the final montage at the end of the season. The only positive thing we get is that they establish that Malia has extended trust out to someone who isn’t her father, and sets up her ability to make friends moving forward, as well as her relationship with Stiles in season4.
Don’t get me wrong, I do like Malia as a character, but I think that her characterization was robbed from to bring in the next female in Stiles’ Revolving Door of Relationships. Season 4 is better for her, thankfully.
Meanwhile, in the reverse we have Kira who came in this season and was very realistic when given a kitsune nature but also being the new girl who is shy, a bit clumsy, and all shades of adorable. Seriously, the best girlfriend post-Allison for Scott McCall. This season she is very relevant, but as the seasons go on from 4 into 5, you can feel that the writers didn’t know what to do with her and how to progress her character growth, and at that point she just becomes a pawn in the game to be taken in and out.
And then there is Kate Argent who – well let’s save that for season 4.
Teen Wolf’s Character Death Toll: Losing Allison
I can’t write a Teen Wolf retrospective without taking a moment to focus on Allison’s death. Personally, I feel it was a fitting end for her character if they were going to write her off the show. The way they had formed the Argents arc for season three, Allison’s return in 3A meant that they had chosen to make their lives in Beacon Hills, so to have Allison leave at the end of 3B wouldn’t have made sense like it did for Jackson when Colton Haynes wanted to leave the show for Arrow. Her death also gave Isaac the way to leave the show like Daniel Sharman wanted so he could find new characters to play, leading him to The Originals.
Boyd and Erica’s deaths were plot driven – they were never main characters in the series, and in creating Derek’s character arc for 3A in which the alpha pack would want Derek to kill his betas, one of them would be pegged to die on screen for this plot. Gage Golightly had rumors of her departing before season 3A started filming, and a quick look at IMDB shows that in 2014 she started a new Amazon series Red Oaks which she is still currently with. No real news about motivations for her departure are online, but I would bet that either the series (or the two movies of hers in 2013) are a part of it. It would lead to why she would be killed in flashbacks that could be filmed in a day to give her character the exit and why Boyd was still in the season. That left Boyd in the position to be killed on air by Derek as Sinqua Walls left to go onto being in Once Upon a Time and Power. Cora Hale would leave and never return as Adelaide Kane would go on to become the Queen of Scotland in Reign. The Carver brothers went 50/50 on death and leaving town since their story arc was completed.
We won’t talk about the absence of Danny in season 4 – I have headcanon that after he graduated he realized he still loved Ethan and wanted to make it work, and hunted him down. They are now living in Boston while Danny is studying physics at MIT and Ethan works at a bar to pay the bills.
Crystal Reed left because she wanted to look at other avenues of film and tv, but she also felt her age different (Crystal being 29 while Allison was 17) was something she wanted to change in the characters she played. It explains why when the role of Marie-Jeanne Valet came up, she was excited to coming back to the show. There is a great interview with EW where she talks about her motivations for the return.
As I said before, I liked the death they gave Allison. She wasn’t going to be the kind of character you can write off leaving town – otherwise that would have happened at the end of season 2. She was a warrior, and she died a warrior’s death rescuing her best friend and fighting alongside her “family”. The other thing is that as season 4 and especially 5 come about, Allison isn’t forgotten and her memories help save Scott’s life. None of the other cast who have left are mentioned nearly as much as she is. If people continue to remember her through season 6, I don’t think Allison will ever truly be gone from the show. Her impact on Scott and Lydia’s lives will resonate long after we stop watching their adventures on MTV.
Looking into the Future
Teen Wolf Season 3B introduced a lot of people, places, and things that have minor significance in season 3B, but will have a heavy impact in seasons 4 and 5. These include:
- Introduction of Jordan Parrish – drawn to Beacon Hills within the weeks after the sacrifice
- Eichen House – not just another mental health facility
- Reishi Mushrooms – the poison and nogitsune fly curing magic mushroom
- Berserkers – Chris telling the legend of them to Derek
- Satomi – the 900 year old werewolf who knew Kira’s mother in 1943 and friends with Talia Hale
- Meredith – Lydia’s not the only banshee in town after all
- Kate Argent – SURPRISE!
All in all, this is my favorite season of Teen Wolf. There was a strong plot, visible character arcs for all the main leads, a very believable threat in the nogitsune, and as the seasons progress the affects from this season keep coming back into the story. Everything that happens is believable within the rules of their world, and probably the best season for consistency to the characters even if they leave a lot of loose ends. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it really hits all my happy places in storytelling, and for me this season is what I think of when I think of Teen Wolf. If you haven’t seen it yet, all seasons of Teen Wolf on DVD are on sale at Amazon!
Hit me up on my Twitter @aliskyrichards and @ThreeIfBySpace, and I’ll see you when I live-tweet the East Coast premiere of Teen Wolf on Tuesday, November 15th. Also subscribe to the Three If By Space site to keep tabs on when the rest of the Teen Wolf retrospective series gets posted, and of course for all the Season 6 news as I hear it!