Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday Muse - Dylan O'Brien as Stiles Stilinski on Teen Wolf

Yes, another character out of Teen Wolf features in a Monday Muse post, following Tyler Hoechlin as Derek Hale. This likely won't be the last Teen Wolf character who gets the Monday Muse spotlight, as I'm really loving this show at the moment.
I'll admit in the past that some of my Monday Muse posts have been more about a pretty face and well-honed body, but since Dylan O'Brien is a little young for me, today's post is entirely for the sake of character. No, seriously. 
So let's talk about character! Stiles is the human best friend of teen werewolf, Scott. It was actually kind of Stiles' fault that Scott got bitten, because Stiles dragged his best friend out into the woods in the middle of the night looking for a dead body. You know, because teenagers regularly go looking for dead bodies on a school night. 
Anyhoo, Stiles is the one who initially works out what's happening to Scott, does all the research, and generally helps his best friend learn how to cope with his new reality. 
In this sense, Stiles started out as the classic goofy sidekick. He could be a bit of a spaz and got the typical sarcastic one-liners, often adding comic relief to otherwise intensely emotional scenes. Unexpectedly, he and older werewolf, Derek, play off each other really well, but I won't go into the whole thing about the Sterek shippers again.
The reason I decided on Stiles for my Monday Muse today, is because I think Stiles got to do something very few goofy sidekicks ever get to achieve. Stiles grew beyond the usual bounds of the sidekick to become a pivotal character in his own right.
While most of these archetypal shows -- in some respects spoored from generation-changing Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- feature a single 'special' protagonist with a team behind them, I actually think Teen Wolf has successfully changed up the dynamics of this convention. 
During season 2, after Derek had unsuccessfully been trying to convince Scott to join his pack, Derek made the observation that Scott didn't need to join the pack, because he already had one (in Stiles, Allison - a hunter, and Lydia - a banshee). In large part, I think this came out of the brother-like relationship that Stiles and Scott have. So Scott's team was established, with Stiles acting as the anchor. 
Xander in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Stiles' character is a bit like Zander in Buffy, and while Zander had his own story arcs, love interests and problems to navigate, I think as a viewer you always got the sense that if Zander wasn't there (or indeed, any of the "Scoobies" in Giles, Willow, and various other characters that came and went over the seasons) Buffy would adapt and continue on, because when it came down to it, she was the chosen one, and was kind of held apart from her friends in that regard. 
While the same could be said of Scott and his pack (which was proven in the death of Allison, Scott adapted and moved on) I get more of a sense that if Scott were to lose all of his pack, especially Stiles, then the results would be very dark and dire; he would become a completely different person. 
This dynamic is fascinating, and I think partly what makes the show so successful. Saying that Stiles is important to Scott and the show isn't just empty platitudes. 
I think the audience really got to appreciate Stiles, and realize his potential in the second half of season 3, or season 3b, I think is what they were calling it. Stiles was possessed by a dark, malevolent trickster spirit called a Nogitsune, and Dylan O'Brien got to flex his acting muscles. I love it when good characters go bad (some prime examples being Angel/Angelus on Buffy, and Stephan/Silas on the Vampire Diaries) and evil Stiles was no disappointment. He had that creepy evil look down. Being in his early twenties, I think we're going to see some great things from this actor, and when Teen Wolf does eventually finish (I mean, I'm hoping they'll get at least another five or six series out of it first) it will be interesting to see what Dylan O'Brien goes on to do. 
But back to Stiles. While he's had a minor love interest in Lydia -- established from the first episode that he had an unrequited crush on her, and yes they did share a kiss -- the true chemistry wasn't there, and it was more believable that they'd end up being friends as opposed to anything else. 
However, late in season 3, and so far in season 4, Stiles has gotten a more solid love interest in Malia, a teenage girl who was trapped in her were-coyote shape after her first full moon change, where she accidentally caused the death of her mother and sister. It also turned out Malia is Peter's (Derek's uncle, the bad-guy werewolf from season one, who has kind-of-but-not-really become a good guy) daughter, which Malia found out in the last episode, leaving her with the realization that Stiles had been keeping the secret from her. For the time being, I'm actually far more interested in the Stiles/Malia relationship than I am with Scott's new love interest, Kira. 
With Malia finding out that Stiles had been keeping a life changing truth from her, the last episode ended with her walking away from him, despite the fact that during the course of the episode, he'd left her sick and possibly dying, not knowing if he could save her, Scott and Kira in time. Some of the upcoming episode previews show Stiles and Lydia teaming up again, presumably because the two of them are really the brains behind the operation. This will no doubt create some interesting extra tension in the Stiles/Malia relationship.
So as we head into the second half of season 4, I can say without a doubt that I'll be glued to my seat to take in these new character developments as they happen.

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