cupidsbow (cupidsbow) wrote,

Teen Wolf and the Hero's Journey

Remember this trailer way back before 3a?

I thought it was interesting to revisit it in light of what we've seen so far, especially in comparison to the speculation that followed in the wake of this trailer's release.

What I remember of the commentary back then was a sincere hope that this was symbolic of Scott going on a transformational journey, in which he would get to mature and grow, finally let go of being human and accepted being a werewolf. There was also a hope he would manage a full-wolf transformation.

Re-watching this trailer I can see why we hoped for those things. It's not what we've been given in canon though.
Scott did drown in the sacrifice to the Nematon, and he did become a True Alpha. So in a very general sense, what the trailer promised has been delivered.

But Scott is not the character who has gone on the frightening journey after that drowning, in which a double (a shadow) of himself has taken over his life.

Stiles' 3b journey isn't done yet, but by now it's pretty clear that he meets every one of the points -- even the tease of the wolf -- in the trailer. It's blatantly obvious that the trailer was actually about Stiles' story, not Scott's. He drowned for the Nematon, has literally been in a life or death struggle with an entity wearing his face, and has been threatened with (with a side-order of non-con) the Bite.

It's possible Allison's journey also fits into the trailer, with the watery Nematon sacrifice, and way that Kate (Allison's shadow and the person she's afraid of becoming) has been threatening Allison's sense of identity. We only have a smoking gun so far to indicate there's more to Allison's story in 3b, but through parallels and what we've seen, she fits the tease of the trailer pretty well.

We've seen echoes of the journey Scott's trailer suggested in other characters too, as you would expect of a theme like this (themes usually play out in variations from character to character, in order to comment on the main plot).

Jackson arose out of the river after getting the bite, and the implication is that he would have had a similar journey if Haynes had stayed.

Boyd dying in water, and expressing peace with his choice to become a werewolf.

Isaac being electrocuted in water, with the potential for his arc to come to a close too in the final eps of 3b, thereby signifying the end of Derek's pack and flawed Alphaship (with the use of parallelism to hint that Scott's flawed Alphaship is well underway).

We don't know enough about Erica to judge, but given her arc was likely Cora's, I'd say there was meant to be a transformational storyline for her too, probably of her finally letting go of the idea that she could just get rid of what she didn't like about her body (it being weak and out of her control, whether through epilepsy, poison or the wolf), but that it was part of her and something she could accept and be at peace with.

Lydia is likely to get her transformational storyline in s4, but has already had a fair bit of build up about her shadow (death, and by association, Peter).

Derek's journey matches the trailer almost as closely as Stiles' does, but stretched out over more time. His water transformation happened in S2 with the conversation about trust with Stiles in the pool, and then was counterpointed by Boyd's water-drenched death at Derek's unwilling claws. This journey marks a huge change in Derek. Derek only trusted werewolves when S1 began, and distrusted humans (ie. Hunters), and that unthinking bias has been turned on its head. First with Peter in S1, Scott in S2, and then the Alpha Pack in 3a; and with Stiles, of course, as the object lesson. We can see this change in Derek play out in multiple ways. In 3a, Derek said to Jennifer that he'd changed his philosophy and refused to kill; he willingly gave up his Alpha power for the benefit of someone else (and as an aside -- Derek saw power as a way to achieve safety, not because he wanted power for its own sake; but it didn't protect him, it made him an even bigger target and put those around him in more danger. Of course he let it go -- he learned the lesson well). In 3b, Derek had a literal spirit-journey, in which he spoke to his mother's shade in full-wolf form -- the wolf he came from, if you will -- and that conversation changed him again, so that he treated Scott differently in 3b. He still has work to do -- he isn't reconciled to his family's death, as the scene with Chris showed; but he was also the only werewolf to seem to struggle against the influence of the fly when it entered and influenced him. Derek's journey has been long, sustained over all three seasons, and we see definite changes in his behaviour and attitudes as a result. It echoes the symbolism in the trailer, of a person re-making himself. A violent baptism.

Which brings me back to Scott. Because Scott? Is ironically the character who has least in common with the themes of the trailer. Yes, he also sacrificed to the Nematon, but it doesn't seem to have had many consequences in comparison to Allison and Stiles. Unlike other characters, Scott also hasn't had much reoccurring water imagery in his scenes, if I'm recalling correctly -- there were the therapeutic baths and showers in S1 after he was first bitten, but not much at all since then. We've also only seen two potential "shadows" or doubles in his arc in s3, neither of them as strong as Stiles/Nogitsune or Allison/Kate. First, there's his father -- Scott has a lot of father figures, and the idea of being a likeness of your parents is an easy connection to draw. However, I'm not sure what we're meant to make of Scott's triad of father figures -- Agent McCall, Deaton and Peter. How do they further his journey of killing off the past and becoming a new person? All the paths I can think of with that endgame are kind of awful, and I'm not sure how it's meant to make Scott a better person. Alternatively, we see Scott's hallucinated "monster werewolf" shadow, which again, doesn't fulfill the themes of the trailer, as it suggests Scott is no closer to accepting that he's a werewolf -- he still sees it as a monster within him. There's not a lot of the season left for that transformation to take place, and none of the plot arcs seem designed to get him there. Quite the opposite -- in recent episodes we've been told he's a weak alpha, and that he forgot he was a werewolf inside Stiles' head. These aren't the signs of someone reconciling their identity.

There's been a lot of meta discussion about whether Scott is the hero of the show or not, and given the huge discrepancies we have between what we're told to expect via the trailer, and what we are shown in canon, it's easy to see why that debate rages on. There are two quite different narratives at play here, and they are in conflict. So in a sense, neither side of this debate is right, and neither is wrong. Scott is both hero, and something else.

To my mind, there are only two possible explanations. First, Scott is meant to be the hero within a coming of age story, but is consistently poorly written and the arcs he should have are given to other characters, and this has been true since s1. Second, Scott is written exactly as intended, and he is not the hero, and we are being lured into thinking he is so that the morality tale in which Scott is the object lesson is more effective when it pays off -- he is the tragic figure with a flaw which he never learns to overcome, and which becomes his undoing and downfall.

Personally, I think it's the second.

(Originally posted here.)

This entry was originally posted at
Tags: meta, teen wolf, writing

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