So we've fully entered the phase of his life when adults are appealing to Scott to help them. It's not entirely a new development – Peter and Derek have perhaps counted for some time. But last week we had his mother, and now Stiles' father and, in a small but sweetly parallel way, Coach Finstock. Most teenagers are harangued constantly to work on themselves – to get their grades up or get their behavior straightened out or whatever, so that they are ready for adulthood and their eventual responsibility for others. That ended for Scott in his sophomore year; he already feels responsible for everyone around him, and there seems to be a global understanding that it's true. I think so far the only adult in his life who hasn't come to Scott asking him to do something or be better because they need his help is Deaton – and mayyyybe Chris. I think that makes those particularly interesting relationships: Deaton because he seems to be the only one left who sees Scott as a child, and Chris because...everything Chris does interests me, really.
Really? You probably should've tried torturing them, Gerard. I bet their instinct to protect Derek isn't that strong.
All my shipper instincts are delighted by Stiles' Buttercup moment. I do not marry tonight. My Scott will save me. And HEY, LOOK, PETER, someone thinks that Stiles is a useful wedge to use against Scott. I'm still so grudgy about “Code Breaker.”
Speaking of “Code Breaker,” I like that Derek looks like he thinks it was sort of unfair of Scott to recap season one. Like, come on, Scott! Peter is his guest now. It's so gauche to get into all that stuff from weeks ago right here in front of people. God, come onnnnn! Derek has been over that for like half an hour now, why isn't everyone else?
I think they kind of wussed out on the Stiles-beating, though. I don't know if the show thought it would be too traumatic to see him really harmed, or if he's just too pretty for the people in makeup to bear it, but I really think the cut on his lip and the scraped-up place on his cheek is just not selling it. He should've come out looking like someone really beat the shit out of him, not like he fell off his bike. I do honestly think this event is major in Stiles' arc: it happens at a moment when he's considering getting out anyway, and narratively speaking it needs to be very clear that when he makes his choice, he has some sense of just how bad things could get. Not to mention, if it's supposed to motivate Scott, it has to be visually arresting. He should've been returned to Scott barely able to stand, Han Solo-style, instead of just wandering home with a busted lip.
Peter shares my feelings about Dusty Tomes of Lore.
Although at least those can't be animated.
So, wow, that wasn't really about Lydia at all, was it? That was Stiles recognizing – because Stiles more than any of them understands loss already – that Gerard was right, and he's a terrible, insurmountable weakness to Scott. Because Stiles is the breakable one, and his death won't happen to him – it'll happen to his father and Scott. I love that this is an emotional conflict that isn't ever solved, because it can't ever be solved. It just is what it is, and Stiles is a bright and imaginative enough kid that he'll never not be able to picture it and worry about it. It's kind of with him forever now, which is another reason that I feel like this pair of episodes at the end of the season is mainly about Stiles molting into a new form, too.
I can't figure out if all this “Allison is the prize I offer” stuff is supposed to be disingenuous or not, but it seems a lot like writing a check that Gerard can't cash. He's banked heavily on being able to turn Allison against the supernatural, and it's pretty arrogant of him to think he can turn around and convince her to go quietly with Scott after he's done with that. Hell, even in actual canon, she chooses not to stay with Scott, and that's after she finds out that a lot of the threat he represented was manufactured by Gerard – without that, did Gerard really think he could get her to agree to being Scott's bribe? But I guess if anyone is going to wildly overestimate his ability to talk people into doing whatever works best for him, it's-- Peter, probably, but then after him, Gerard.
Okay, I'm not usually too easily swayed by pity for Derek – yeah, it sucks to be Derek, but also he treats pretty much everyone like crap and then wonders why they don't want to stay with him. It makes me suspect that his social and emotional development was pretty much halted at the time of the fire, and that his lost years were spent living under an underpass somewhere. So maybe I have pity, but also, no one should have to be nice to Derek and get nothing but his bullshit in return. Still, though. That's a hell of a way Scott picked to break up with a dude. Way harsh, Tai.
Once again, I truly do not understand how they expect an audience to be moved by the Jackson/Lydia relationship. We've never seen them appear to like each other at all. Lydia pushes him around and tells him he'll be a huge loser in her eyes if he loses. Jackson blows her off repeatedly as a disposable annoyance. Even in the scene that they specifically wrote and filmed to show the key as a symbol of Jackson and Lydia's happier days, he goes out of his way to remind her that he's not that committed to the relationship. They're not good to each other or for each other. I can't take their “special bond” remotely seriously, and only a stupid little girl would believe, as Lydia does, that this is what being in love feels like. This is exactly what people are talking about when they say that it takes life experience and emotional maturity to distinguish endorphin rushes from love.
In that lighting, you literally can't even see the marks on Stiles' face anymore. Such bullshit!
In spite of the fact that they absolutely fucking refuse to make the plotline work visually by keeping the Stiles' goddamn injuries from healing in a single day, I still think they were trying to do something nice with Stiles' character in these two episodes. He starts out be realizing that all of this isn't just a challenging adventure, that it might cost him his father, which is consistently pretty much the one thing that can break Stiles' resolve. He considers the possibility that he's not contributing enough to offset the price he might have to pay, and broaches the idea to Scott that he might distance himself from all of this. He's captured and tortured in an attempt to similarly break down Scott's resolve and make him more pliant for Gerard. He has his little dark night of the soul where he can't imagine that he's suited to be a hero. At this point, shit breaks down a bit – he decides he will go and try to help, but it isn't really his decision per se, but him following Lydia, who is determined to do something. That's not a terribly satisfying resolution, given how lightly sketched-in his relationship with Lydia is, and how tangential she is to the main thrust of the conflict. Stiles really deserved to choose it on his own, on-screen. So anyway, he goes to help and he does sort of more or less help, and that's it, his crisis is over and he's rededicating himself to Scott for the final scene. I see the outlines of what they were trying to do, but they really didn't stick the landing on it, unfortunately.
Still, there was an attempt at making this a watershed moment for Stiles, and I think that he is a different character in third and fourth season than he was in first (when he's fairly brashly confident that they'll be able to shoulder through any obstacle) and in second (when he seems to feel more frustrated by not being able to stay on top of things). He's more resolute, dryer, less flail-y and more jaded. I think it's clear that they were trying to give him a coming-of-age arc, much like the one that Scott had through the end of season one, to catch him up to the kind of adult responsibility that Scott now has.
If they hadn't wasted so much goddamn time this season doing nothing in particular, that could've been fleshed out into something quite powerful.
ANYWAY. We end with Stiles reaffirming that the more things change, the more they stay the same, in re: life's inability to pry him loose from Scott's side. So huzzah, and on to SEASON THREE, WHICH I LOVE. Mad druids! Lydia gets to do things that aren't wandering around befuddled! Danny gets laid! 100% less Jackson and Erica! A life fulfilled, indeed.