cupidsbow (cupidsbow) wrote,

Cherry picking blame for the Kanima

ETA:In light of a comment by [personal profile] copracat, I would like to make clear that this is not a post casting definitive moral judgement or blame on the characters I discuss. Other characters bear much more responsibility (and blame) for the actions I talk about, particularly Matt and Gerard. My point is that scape-goating one person at the expense of another is not useful, and in my experience is often serving as an excuse not to have to acknowledge the complexity of a situation. In real-life tragic situations, many people often share part of the responsibility and even elements of culpability for how events play out, and at the same time they can still be people worthy of respect. The show is very good at portraying this tangled web of causality; it's one of the things I like about it very much. To ignore the complexity of cause and effect in the show is to deny characters their agency, and paint them only as villains or only as victims. That's not useful, is my point. /ETA

One of the things that makes my eyes cross is when I see people debating which character is most guilty in Teen Wolf. The most extreme version of this I've seen is when people are arguing about Scott and Derek's actions regarding the Kanima -- it too often devolves into, "Scott is good and Derek is evil" or the opposite, with no concession that both made mistakes (and usually no reference to Jackson either).

Not only is that argument so reductive it's meaningless, but it's missing the whole point of the show, which is that people exist in a spectrum, never entirely good, rarely entirely evil. It's not an accident that the most evil people we see are those usually portrayed as heroes in other texts within this genre (ie. hunters -- that's why Kate looks like an older Buffy; and the parallels with Supernatural are obvious).

So I thought I'd put together a bit of a table, to show how the responsibility for the Kanima maps out between Scott, Derek and Jackson. I've attempted to map it out fairly, not favoring any of the characters, but it's based on memory (I haven't gone and re-watched), so let me know if I've forgotten a step in the causal chain.

The table can be interpreted different ways. It very obviously shows that all three of them have some responsibility for the way the Kanima situation played out (as do some others, like Matt and Gerard, or unwitting accomplices such as Jackson's father and the Sheriff). My personal take on it is that all three bear responsibility in different ways and degrees.

Jackson is culpable, because he asked for the bite (ETA [personal profile] copracat points out this echoes the language of victim-blaming, and I acknowledge that. To clarify, my point is exactly opposite: to show there is no single victim or culprit, and nothing about the Kanima hinges on a single choice. The commas in the sentence are important), refused help, actively stopped people from helping him, and seemed to have some agency in choosing to kill for both Matt and Gerard.

Scott is culpable because he took on responsibility to stop the Kanima and then not only failed, but did a lot of damage while trying to stop him. He did non-consensual things (kidnapping, setting up Derek to bite Gerard). Also his dishonesty about what happened at Jungle (Derek rescuing him from Victoria) made Allison vulnerable to Gerard; Allison becoming a vengeful antagonist did make it harder to stop Gerard and the Kanima, not to mention did major damage to Allison, Stiles, Erica and Boyd.

Derek is also culpable. After biting Jackson, he left him to transform into the Kanima without help or support, tried to kill the Kanima with little proof of identity, and didn't try to find a non-lethal way to stop the Kanima until Scott made it condition of joining Derek's pack.

Shades of grey all over the place!

A table of Kanima culpability (ETA: In hindsight, and again, thank you [personal profile] copracat, I should have called this "A table of Kanima responsibility". I do think some of the actions in here mean the characters share some of the culpability for events related to the Kanima, but some of the actions listed are blameless choices by any reasonable standard. They are steps in the causal chain, and enable following actions/outcomes, but were not ethically problematic in themselves.)
Scott Derek Jackson
Warned Jackson against the bite - Asked for the bite/consented
- Gave Jackson the bite consensually Rejected Derek’s help/pack
- Backed off and didn’t insist on helping, even when things were obviously going wrong Didn’t ask for help (did ask Derek what was wrong – possibly a coded plea for help)
- - Killed people in collaboration with Matt; it’s not clear how much volition Jackson shared in this, but:
Took on responsibility for stopping the Kanima with Stiles and Allison Tested Jackson to see if he was the Kanima (didn’t just start killing) a) He refused to kill an “innocent” life, which suggests he had some choice; this may be based partly on Matt abusing the role of Kanima Master (ie. His victims didn’t all deserve to die)
- Refused to listen to Scott’s advice urging caution or an alternative solution -
Stopped Derek’s betas killing the Kanima Attempted to get his betas to kill the Kanima -
Kidnapped Jackson (non-consensual) - b) He refused an intervention despite major evidence corroborating Stiles and Scott’s story
The plan to stop Jackson backfired, making it harder to stop him - c) Actively worked against non-fatal efforts to stop him (invoked his father’s power)
Scott faked joining Derek’s pack to stop the Kanima, and imposed a lot of rules he didn’t intend to honour Teamed up with Scott to stop the Kanima; from what we see this seemed to be in good faith -
Didn’t tell Allison the truth about Victoria at Jungle, which left Allison vulnerable to Gerard, and led to her switch sides and become Gerard’s (and hence the Kanima’s) accomplice Got Stiles to break the Kanima trap (to rescue Scott) -
Tried and failed to stop Kanima massacre Tried and failed to stop Kanima massacre d) Jackson took part in a massacre of people (police officers) who cannot in any way be tied to Matt’s vengeance (ie. Innocent, like the unborn baby)
Scott gave up on doing anything about Jackson, and focused on double-crossing Gerard and stopping the killings that way; forced Derek to non-consensually bite Gerard, with the intent to kill Gerard - After Matt’s death, Jackson still didn’t ask for help; it’s unclear how willing he was to kill/intimidate for Gerard, but again, it’s “innocent” people, so the implication is he had a choice
Scott didn’t seem to care about Jackson once he’d transformed into a werewolf (despite knowing how dangerous a newly turned werewolf was) Derek (and Peter) attempted to kill Jackson and failed; didn’t seem to make any further offers to include werewolf Jackson in the pack (despite knowing how dangerous a newly turned werewolf was) Jackson transformed into a werewolf, but he didn’t acknowledge any culpability, guilt, regret, or ask for help, or join a pack

This entry was originally posted at
Tags: meta, teen wolf
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.