how do u feel about knotting
I don’t know why tying shoes is such a big deal. #watchteenwolf
i love you
when someone who is usually really sweet and forgiving gets pushed too far and snaps
yes, it was. Thank you. I do not understand narrative. I like to learn about it and you explain very well. sorry for my English, I do not speak. another question, if you do not mind: ¨This is exactly what I was predicting when I said any Sterek moments in the finale would be used to torture Derek emotionally.¨ . why?
You ask all the tricky questions. :)
The easiest part to answer is the bit about my prediction. Back before the finale, I posted meta called How Sterek is likely to go canon, if it does in 3B.
I was right about the general shape of what was coming — a heartbreaking Sterek scene in which Derek is emotionally tortured in the finale, but not necessarily overtly romantic. That’s exactly what we got.
I was wrong about the specifics — I didn’t foresee Kate, and so thought Stiles might play both the antagonist (Nogitsune Stiles) who hurt Derek, as well as the ally (real Stiles) that offered hope he would be saved. Instead those roles have been split and assigned to Kate and Stiles separately.
But what you’re really asking is why I thought Derek would be tortured, and why it would be emotional torture rather than physical torture, and why Stiles might be part of that.
Okay, so this has to do with the role Derek plays in the show. I have written so much meta about Derek and Scott and the mirrored roles they play that I can’t even short-hand this for you in a meaningful way. I’ve just tried, and it was turning into a novel.
The most succinct way I can put this is that Derek’s chief role within the text is as the victim. He’s the victim of genocide, racism, torture, sexual assault, assault, kidnapping, threats, false accusations of murder, gross victim-blaming for other things he’s not responsible for, manipulation, humiliation, and more.
Derek’s role as a victim is really important for several reasons. Derek’s story offers an important counter-narrative to the usual story we’re told about masculinity; in fact, it’s a powerful commentary on how our toxic patriarchal culture destroys men (even alpha males) as well as women, people of colour, and all the non-male categories of people more commonly recognised as victims. It offers an example of how people refuse to acknowledge men can be victims of acts such as sexual assault, and will blame them instead. Derek’s role as victim is also used to talk about genocide, racism, and othering. No matter what Derek does, he cannot break the pattern of being a victim, and no one with power will acknowledge it or help him. Isaac and Boyd tried, but they were also victims, and their efforts just made things worse. The exception to this rule is Stiles, which I’ll come to in a moment.
The question of why Derek is always the victim puzzled me in the first two seasons, because I didn’t understand what I was seeing. I kept expecting the text to show me the usual masculine gender stereotypes of a simplistic teen show, and it kept not doing so. I went through stages of thinking it was bad writing (there were patches of bad writing, which didn’t help, but this characterisation and theme is consistent throughout the series). I still think there’s an element of pain-porn to it — Derek’s physical suffering is offered to us as a spectacle, with the implied expectation that there’s something very pleasing about seeing the “alpha male” brought low in a patriarchal society. This was the appeal for texts like First Blood (Rambo) as well. But in those texts, Rambo was re-accepted into the mainstream to close off the implied challenge to masculinity, and that is not the story we’re being told about Derek, at least so far. I have some real issues with this type of pain-porn and its ties to the way our culture constructs masculinity, and while I’ve changed my mind about the text being a simplistic offering of the usual teen stereotypes, I’m not yet convinced Davis is going to offer us something genuinely useful and different which would make the pain-porn aspect of Derek’s victim arc forgivable. I also still have problems with sexism and racism in the text, which I’ve talked about in other meta. So even though I do think Davis is attempting something interesting in Teen Wolf, I’m not sure it will pay off in a good way. We’ll see.
In any case, Derek’s chief role in the text is as victim, which is used to question assumptions about gender and race, and it’s offered to us in opposition to the usual roles of victim held by the screaming woman (which is why Lydia’s role as banshee is so important, even though they haven’t entirely escaped the sexist implications they are trying to question).
Now, with this kind of theme, the job of the writer is to find new ways to explore it over the course of the seasons, until the character has completed their arc. Derek has already lost his entire family, been rejected by Scott, hunted, physically assaulted and seduced. So what is there left to explore in terms of him being a victim?
One thing. Give him hope. Give him hope of making a new and real connection. And then threaten it. And then have him react in a new way.
Do that, and you will have taken Derek’s arc as victim as far as it can possibly go.
We already have a baseline for how he’ll react when this happens, as it’s played out in one variation with the pack he created as alpha, which is now lost. He’s no longer alpha so he can’t rebuild that way. So his remaining choices are join another pack, or find a lover/family.
Scott still hasn’t invited him into the McCall pack, and is unlikely to given Scott’s daddy issues, so that’s kind of a dead end.
It could have been done with Cora if he and she had reconnected (or Erica in her place). But Cora and Erica are both no longer players.
The only other established character with that kind of history with Derek is Stiles, who has saved Derek several times, even when no-one else cared.
This is where my prediction comes in. I’d been thinking about Derek’s role as victim when 3A started. And what do you know, the subtext of Derek and Stiles started to really get a work out. Jennifer based her seduction of Derek (it’s strongly implied) on parallels with Stiles and Derek’s relationship (I’ve previously linked to the vid showing this here).
Then in 3B, Stiles started down what was obviously going to be an evil arc, and I joined the dots and thought… uh-oh, this is a set up so that Evil!Stiles ends up emotionally torturing Derek, and he’ll do it by threatening real!Stiles.
That was a reasonable enough prediction based on the evidence to hand. And it ended up being right in theme if not in detail. Derek is now faced with an evil lover (Kate) who will emotionally torture him, and that is being contrasted with Stiles (the “non-evil lover” is implied by the parallel positioning). There’s still a strong likelihood that at some point Derek’s concern for Stiles will be used against him, because it needs to in order to finish playing out his thematic role as victim.
And that’s why I predicted that it was building to something important for Stiles and Derek in the finale, and that “any Sterek moments in the finale would be used to torture Derek emotionally,” but that they wouldn’t necessarily be overtly romantic.
In short, it was based on my reading of theme, foreshadowing, parallel patterns, and the general shape the story was taking.
The questions Derek’s victim arc now raise for me in light of the finale are:
- Will the obvious Sterek implications be taken into overt canon or allowed to stay in “friendship” subtext? (In which case, it’s definitely queerbaiting, given the foreshadowing and parallels being used.)
- Will Derek’s trauma continue to be offered to us as pain-porn, or will he be allowed to complete his arc as victim and start to work towards a genuine recovery? (If so, I will forgive a lot of the more objectifying aspects of his arc, and praise Davis for breaking the usual pattern.)
- How will the ongoing theme of racism and othering be furthered by this stage of Derek’s victim arc? (I’m hoping for something which sheds further light on the Argent genocide, the role of the nematon, and the Hales as guardians.)
- Will the foreshadowing of the rise of the dead Hales come to pass, if Derek passes through his role of victim and out the other side? (I hope so; I want more Talia!)
- How will Derek’s S4 arc inform and reflect the mirror arc that Scott will be taking? (Scott’s arc is that he’s turning into his father — and for the first time I’m genuinely excited to see where Scott’s arc goes. That will be a fresh approach to the coming of age story in this kind of TV, and I am hungry for it.)
- And most importantly of all, will Stiles kick Kate Argent’s ass in an epic smackdown in which they are both wily, ruthless and awesome????? (Oh, please, please, please.)
Hi, I read you post Derek Hale: Love, PTSD, and Maladaptive Daydreaming.¨This is why he has been searching so desperately for real!Stiles all season, and it's narratively why Derek couldn't be allowed to find him.¨Why not?
I’m not sure how much you know about story construction? I don’t want to come off as teaching you stuff you already know. But given you’ve asked the question, I’m assuming you don’t know much about narrative theory, and you haven’t read any books like Robert McKee’s Story (it’s great, so if you’re interested in learning more, I recommend it).
Basically, different genres are constructed in slightly different ways to create certain effects within the audience (laughter, tears, love, suspense, etc). Audiences expect you to fulfill the contract of the genre you’ve signalled you’re working in. If you don’t, you either need to signal you’re going to break with convention, and/or expect to end up with a very unhappy audience.
For example, the finale of How I Met Your Mother (which I haven’t seen, but I’m judging by the discussions that have been posted) broke the contract with the viewers, both by not having a suitably sit-com ending expected in that genre, and by undoing the work of several strong narrative arcs people had invested in over the seasons.
So back to Derek’s arc in Teen Wolf. It’s easiest to think of this backwards. As a writer, say you want to reach a climax in Derek’s arc where there’s a really big reveal about Derek’s story. It’s so big, you want to actually end the whole season with this revelation. It’s got to really pack a wallop, so it will be both external (Derek’s biggest enemy — Kate Argent — has a completely surprising supernatural and violent return) and internal (in contrast, and the contrast with Kate is really important, Stiles has a significance for Derek that hasn’t previously been revealed, but now we discover Stiles is his anchor).
Narratively speaking, that’s enormous. The war between the hunters and werewolves, as symbolised by the relationship between Derek and Kate, is the spine of the whole series. And so far, there has never been any indication that Derek has an effective counter to the psychological warfare that Kate has waged on him, and now — BAM — we’ve been shown Derek has been secretly building one inside his head where no-one knows about it. Dream!Stiles is his secret weapon.
Dream!Stiles as his secret weapon may prove useless, or Derek may be betrayed by real Stiles. We don’t know any of that yet — they are the kind of questions left hanging to hook us for the next season.
But in order to get us to want to ask those kinds of questions, and to build up to that internal/external shocking climax of Kate versus Stiles, the narrative arc of 3B had to be shaped in a certain way. There’s more than one way this could be done, but given Stiles was on an evil arc, that limited the choices Davis had to play with.
So to finally get to your question, if we think about what needs to happen, or cannot be allowed to happen, in order to get the story to that climax of Derek’s arc, and the season’s arc (or as I like to call it, Stiles vs Kate), there are a few obvious things.
First, you have to lay some groundwork, so it’s not completely surprising to the audience that Derek sees Stiles as the anti-Kate. This is that contract I was talking about before. In this case, we’ve had two arcs in season 3 leading to this. We had Jennifer in 3A using her mojo to get Derek to trust her, and she based it on parallels with Stiles. Her seduction of Derek is almost a scene-for-scene recap of Stiles and Derek’s growing trust from seasons 1 and 2 (there’s a great video which shows them side by side, along with some meta I wrote, here). Then in 3B, we had Derek searching for Stiles and worrying about Stiles, and unwilling to believe Stiles could hurt people, and trying to save him. We also have Stiles’ chess board with Derek as the King, which is something Derek latches onto straight away, to the extent that in a later episode he tries to reconstruct and play the game Stiles had set up. This is a consistent picture of Derek being obsessed with Stiles in a way we’ve only really seen him obsessed with pack before (his relentless search for Boyd and Erica for instance) — it’s not painted as romantic or really made a fuss over, but it’s there as a really strong and constant theme. Over the course of 3A and 3B, then, we have a picture forming, which gives us the foreshadowing we need to be able to go, “Oh my god, Stiles is Derek’s anchor!” when we see the dream sequence in the climax, without it being completely unbelievable.
Second, and this is where your question comes in, there are things that cannot happen before the climax, or it will lose its bang. For one thing, Evil!Stiles cannot be allowed to torture Derek in any significant way, because that would undercut the theme of Stiles representing Derek’s internal safety. Stiles has to contrast with Kate for the climax to really work, and Evil!Stiles isn’t a contrast, he’s more of the same. So Evil!Stiles and Derek just can’t be in the same space for any length of time; our strongest memories should be of the good moments between Stiles and Derek, not of Derek being tortured by someone wearing Stiles’ face.
In addition to that, when you want to build tension in a story, a common way to do so is to delay gratification, in this case by keeping Stiles and Derek apart. Even people who have no idea about shipping tend to like scenes with Stiles and Derek, because they are usually comic relief. As a writer, when you know you have something people like and look forward to, you can use that to create tension. If you delay and delay and delay them meeting, and tease by having Derek searching for Stiles, and Derek as King of Stiles’ chess board, and so on, you are constantly reminding people of the delightful possibility of a Stiles and Derek scene, but then not giving it to them. When you finally do have the scene, right at the end when people have given up on it, again, you get more bang out of it. The positioning of it as the climax also gives it extra significance, as does the mirroring of the opening scene of 3A — Stiles’ dream, in which Lydia wasn’t an effective anchor for him. In the climax we have an inversion of that — Stiles is the anchor not the dreamer, and it works for Derek.
That’s what I meant when I said that narratively Derek couldn’t be allowed to find Stiles. The whole of 3B was building up to the contrast of Stiles and Kate in the climax, and what they each represent for Derek. With Stiles on an evil arc in 3B, Davis made the choice to keep them apart so that the climax’s themes weren’t undercut. And ironically, that actually makes some form of Sterek more likely to be a major plot point in season 4, than if they had had the usual kinds of scenes together in 3B. Basically, we’ve just been given the set up for a season in which Derek, Kate and Stiles form a… I hate to say it… a triangle. Ugh.
But anyway, narratively speaking, the climax is a set up for Stiles vs Kate in a battle for Derek.
THis is such a good post that explains some of the point I’ve been talking about in a much clearer way. Bravo!
I do have a question: What do you think it will mean for next season that Lydia was tortured by someone wearing Stiles’ face? Lydia doesn’t use Stiles as an anchor, so there isn’t that, but I do suspect there will be repercussions.
Also, it was interesting to me that in every interview Hoechlin did about Derek’s development in season 3B, he always said that Derek would be finding a new anchor. Interesting, no?
The thing with Lydia is more going to hit Stiles in this sense, isn’t it? Lydia was Stiles' anchor for the nemeton. It was saving Lydia that brought him out of the first “wake up!” stage, where he couldn't read, couldn't put the pieces together that he needed to. So Lydia maybe, more than just saving his friends, was his anchor there. And that's going to be damaged.
I don’t think it will be damaged so much in a Lydia-blames-Stiles sense (She doesn’t.) so much as in the sense that there are things they both remember that aren’t going to just go away. How does Stiles deal with causing that kind of pain to his friends, and how does he deal with the way the Nogitsune tormented Lydia? Look what Stiles has done before when he was used as a threat against his friends by Gerard: he hid from everyone, in his room, and refused to put them at risk. His reaction to finding out he harbored an evil fox spirit was to lock himself up in a psych ward away from people. He immediately figured out maybe he was a little too hasty, but his initial response was still to withdraw to remove the problem.
They had been growing closer as friends throughout season three, but between Lydia seeing Stiles’ face on the Nogitsune and Stiles’ having been present and aware for that, that forward development will stall out. Stiles will likely pull back and possibly have to - like Scott and Allison and Derek had to already - find a new anchor because of the damage the nogitsune caused. The repeated theme there from the beginning of 3b should circle back around and hit all of them just to finish the thread.
I really like this take on it. And yes, I agree, Stiles should be seriously affected by the Nogitsune arc, and the thread of who/what will be his anchor should get resolved as he deals with the fallout.
Nous protégeons ceux qui ne peuvent pas se protéger eux-mêmes
· What’s your name and username?
· How old are you?
· Pronounce the following words:
Aunt, Roof, Route, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Pajamas, Caught, Naturally, Aluminium, GIF, Tumblr, Crackerjack, Doorknob, Envelope, GPOY.
· Is it cold where you are?
· What is your favorite color?
· Do you have freckles?
· When is your birthday?
· What was the last thing you drank?
· Would you rather:
Have a million dollars or a million friends? Eat a taco or a quesadilla? Be a shark or an elephant?
· Do you speak a second language? Say something in it.
· Where do you live? Where do you wish you lived?
· Read the following words:
Abrasion, Charm, Cinnamon, Demeanor, Elixir, Epiphany, Fermented, Heterodox, Iniquity, Labyrinth, Leisure, Mannequin, Mermaid, Pandemonium, Phoenix, Quidditch, Quintessential, Spice, Talisman, Unicorn, Warfare, Whiskey, Winter, Zest.
· Which do you say?:
Chips or crisps? Jam or jelly? Rubbish or trash? Elevator or lift? Soda or pop? Pants or trousers? Taxi or cab? Mobile or cell phone?
· Do you have a phobia? If so, do you know its scientific name?
· Read the following tongue twister:
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
· What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
· What’s the bug, that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
· What do you say to address a group of people?
· What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
· Be a wizard or a vampire?
· What color are your eyes?
· What do you call gym shoes?
· What do you call your grandparents?
· What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
· What is the thing you change the TV channel with?
· Do you think you have an accent?
· Do you know anyone on Tumblr in real life?
· End audio post by saying any THREE words you want.
Are you a big High School Musical fan?
When there’s too much shit you need to get done at once
subtle head shaking as he makes the decision to misbehave while peter and scott watch in amusement and horror