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Derek vs. Boyd: The Coming Battle

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So. Boyd. Here's the thing.

He's my favorite werewolf, from the younger generation. I like Boyd, but I also think he poses the greatest danger to Derek, as the Alpha, because Boyd's the only one in his pack with a brain. A really good brain. He's dangerous to Derek in precisely the same way Derek was dangerous to Peter - because Derek was the only one capable of taking over, the only one with the intelligence and the focus and the strategic ability to pull it off. Of course, Derek had another key ingredient - a pack more loyal to him than to Peter - composed of Scott and, even better, Stiles. Boyd doesn't have that. Yet. But he has something else.

He has a coldness and a heat - a logic and an ambition - to rival Peter Hale's.

In short? Boyd could be the next Peter Hale.

He could be the only real threat to Derek's authority over his pack.

While Derek's busy fortifying his pack against what he believes to be the superlative threat of the Argents (he's not incorrect) and trying to get Scott to be his goddamn Beta, already (here's a hint, Derek: convince Stiles, and Scott will naturally follow along), he's blind to the fact that his own pack is falling apart from the inside. That he may, very soon, be facing the worst sort of mutiny.

Let's recap, shall we? Both Isaac and Erica are, in essence, abandoned children with self-esteem issues. They need Derek, in ways that aren't remotely healthy or normal, in order to maintain their identities and in order to have anything resembling a family. They're willing to remake themselves in his image, no matter the cost to them, personally.

That's - that's pretty messed up. See, they didn't choose the bite because it was a gift - they chose it because they had nothing else. It wasn't an awesome superpower on top of a more-or-less normal life (like in Scott's case) or a better-than-normal life (like in Jackson's case). It was the only escape out of a frankly shitty life, in which they both regularly thought of dying, instead. I mean, come on, it's pretty obvious that both Isaac and Erica had suicidal moments. Isaac was terrified out of his mind after years of systematic, psychopathic abuse at the hands of his father, and Erica had been almost completely destroyed by years of bullying.

When they chose Derek, they chose family. Belonging. The ability to defend themselves.

They didn't choose a 'gift'. A gift is fucking optional. Survival is not.

Because of that, they've allowed Derek to twist them mentally into shapes that don't suit their real natures. Isaac's become a Dru-like nutcase willing to shed blood, when he'd shown no such inclinations before being turned. Derek is deliberately encouraging Isaac's destructive instincts in order to use him as a weapon against the Argents, without a thought as to the effect it's having on Isaac's human side, the side that only wanted to be loved, that only wanted gentleness.

Scott's violent instincts were curbed by his love for Allison and by Stiles's devoted, consistent tutelage. Isaac? Has no such tutelage. The only thing Isaac's being taught is how to lose control, not how to get it back. And that? Spells disaster. One day, Isaac's going to go batshit in ways that can't be contained. Derek's developing an A-bomb without thinking about the relevant safety measures. He has no way to stop the countdown, once it's started. Stupid Derek.

Now, let's discuss Erica. Erica's being over-sexualized by Derek, deliberately encouraged to indulge her feral instincts in a sexual sense, despite being too young and inexperienced to be ready for it. What Derek's doing with her is… frankly despicable, actually, given all the issues she already has about body image and popularity. What he's doing with Erica can be classified as a sort of sexual abuse; he plans to pimp her out, for god's sake, before she's even had the chance to develop and maintain a normal, non-pimped relationship with someone else. He's fucking her up for life.

Maybe Derek will redeem himself. Maybe he'll realize what he's doing before it's too late; maybe he won't push Isaac and Erica off the edge (on which they're already teetering, thanks to him).

Or maybe he won't. Maybe he'll let his own hubris ruin his second pack, the pack he's trying so hard to build after losing his first pack to a horrendous tragedy.

What will happen to Derek if he does that? How will he ever stop hating himself? He'll never recover from that. Never.

Part of the reason Derek's acting like such a dick is because of that first tragedy. He can't trust his human side, his compassionate side, because that was the side of him that had fallen in love with Kate, and that had indirectly destroyed the Hales. He won't let that happen again. He only wants to be the wolf, now; he wants to dedicate himself to what he sees as the pack's wellbeing, without taking into account that a pack is also a family, in which there are not only young wolves to nurture, but young human beings - boys and girls that need to be hugged as well as reprimanded, that need to encouraged to believe in themselves rather than in the violence they can wreak upon others.

That's why Derek says he doesn't trust Stiles, no matter how many times Stiles selflessly saves his life - because Derek can't trust again, can't love again, after what Kate did to him. He's using power to supplant that love, to create and maintain a pack, but it isn't enough. He thinks it is, but it isn't - and he'll realize that, once his new-made pack falls apart around him, destroying itself without any love to hold it together. (Unless he gay-marries Stiles. Stiles will love it back together. Quick, Derek! If you like it, put a ring on it!)

Ahem. Uh. Back to Boyd.

Boyd is different. He's not like Erica or Isaac. For all that he claimed to be socially isolated, he wasn't, really. Or, well, he was, but not in a terminal or unrecoverable way. His pre-bite interaction with Stiles (about the car keys) showed no awkwardness in social interaction, nor any particular lack in confidence. Boyd is quite self-sufficient. He's quiet and observant and coolly clever, getting what he wants out of any situation, manipulating or bargaining when he needs to. Unlike Erica and Isaac, Boyd isn't confused by a plethora of insecurities. He isn't broken; he doesn't need fixing.

Boyd knows what he wants, when he chooses the bite. And what he wants? Is power.

That, right there, is what Derek should be wary of. (Or not. Heck, maybe Boyd will be a better Alpha.)

The only thing holding Boyd back, at the moment, is his need to learn how to be a better werewolf, to gain more control of his powers - and that's exactly what he's doing, by carefully observing Derek and Scott. That's what Boyd meant when he said he wanted to be like Scott. He didn't want to be stupid like Scott (even if Scott's also adorable); what he wanted was to be in control of the wolf. He didn't want to be a mindless drone like Isaac and Erica; he didn't want to be a beast with a collar on it, only called to heel by a superior Alpha.

Boyd is clever enough to have realized one very important thing - that among werewolves, it is not brute force that enables one to rise up the ranks, but control. Self-control. Only after controlling oneself, after all, can one even begin to control others. The more powerful one's will, the greater one's ability to bend the will of others. Isaac and Erica are both under at least a little mind-control, because Derek can control them, as their Alpha.

Derek can't do that with Scott. Why not? Because Scott isn't a base animal, anymore. Scott is a man augmented by the wolf, not a wolf consuming the man. Scott's capable of having emotional priorities that go beyond killing and rampaging. He has a loyalty to Allison that surpasses his need to do those things. (And he has Stiles, of course, teaching him how to be in control. Boyd, arguably, has enough intelligence of his own to not need a Stiles to do his researching and thinking for him.)

But that isn't the only reason Derek can't control Scott. Yes, Scott has grown stronger in will and in personhood and in skill, but that's not all. Derek can't control Scott because Derek himself is giving in to the wolf more often than he's controlling it. He isn't being enough of a man to control or moderate himself.

Peter Hale was so coldly controlled that he could force Scott's mind to obey his. Derek doesn't have that coldness, that essential ability (and, frankly, natural tendency) to place more trust in logic than in instinct.

But Boyd? Boyd may very well have that coldness. At every turn, Boyd has exhibited a remarkable ability to manipulate his environment and to withdraw into the shadows, from where he can watch other people act - before deciding how to act, himself. While Erica and Isaac were training with Derek and were being reduced to ever-more childish tactics (like Erica's unwanted kiss), Boyd was hanging back and smirking at them all. While Erica and Isaac where launching themselves at Scott like pet dogs let off the leash, Boyd sat back and watched, taking account of each werewolf's strength, intelligence and overall ability. He was inputting values into an internal table of facts and figures, of impersonal evaluations and performance reviews.

So it isn't surprising that Boyd is my favorite among the young werewolves, given my fondness for Peter Hale. I honestly think that an Alpha capable of premeditation is better than an Alpha driven by instinct. Only an Alpha that acknowledges his or her human side - and uses it - is capable of holding onto the position of Alpha.

Peter only lost to Derek because, at that point, Derek was still more in touch with his human side. At that point, Derek had managed to secure the loyalty and friendship of Stiles (and Scott, but let's face it, Stiles was his real ace). That's an ace Derek still has, not that he's allowing himself to play it, or trust in it, the way it deserves. Because Derek is too busy being the ALPHA WOLF in all-caps. He's so busy being the biggest, baddest wolf in town that he's neglecting to listen to his human side, the side that would tell him how to form a true bond with his pups without exploiting them, that would tell him how to make of Stiles an ally par excellence, and that would tell him how to include Scott instead of excluding him.

If Derek had been listening to his human side, instead of running way from it because of the vulnerability he believes it exposes him to (thanks to his horrific experience with Kate), he'd have done the following things:

a) He'd have sworn to protect Scott and Scott's relationship with Allison. Scott? Would immediately have pledged loyalty to Derek, without question, if Derek had only promised to help keep Allison safe, as if she were also a member of the pack. Scott would do anything for Allison. Canon has repeatedly established that. Also, by following this route, Derek could obtain inside intelligence about the Hunters' activities, and would be closer to securing Allison's loyalty, as well, by caring for and protecting Scott. I mean, seriously - having an Argent in your pocket? Probably the best tactical advantage against all those other Argents. If not in killing them, then at least in forcing them to consider a truce. And given that Derek can smell lies, he'll be able to tell, very easily, if Allison ever lies to him. So there's nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Why not make use of her? It's silly not to.

b) He'd have taken Isaac under his wing and would've been the parent Isaac needed, instead of following up on the brutality of Isaac's father with yet more brutality of his own. By being a more supportive Alpha, Derek would've made Isaac a stronger werewolf, one more in control of his instincts and more watchful of his behavior, instead of a rabid wolf happy to go out there and kill innocent girls. No matter what Derek thinks, a soldier that can think for himself is way better than a damaged, broken, trigger-happy nutcase that can ruin an entire operation without a moment's notice. A functional Isaac would be far more useful in a war against the Argents than a… well, than what Isaac currently is.

c) He'd have taken Erica under his wing, too, and would've encouraged her to be confident without always relying on her sexuality to do it. Not only is abusing an underage girl by pimping her out reprehensible, but it's also useless; by using her this way, Derek's blocking her ability to develop other skills and ways of dealing with people. If a siren is all Erica really is, she can't be, say, a scout or a researcher or a soldier. For all that he's teaching her to fight, the last tactic she resorted to during their little 'sparring session' was seduction. That alone reveals that she still perceives herself to be, primarily, a seductress - not a fighter. She can't ever win battles with that sort of approach. One day, she's going to run into someone who isn't the least bit interested in her boobs, and then? Not even her werewolf powers can save her. That's why Allison defeated her so easily in the most recent episode; Allison wasn't attracted to Erica, and Erica, without that attraction to give her leverage, couldn't outthink or outfight her way out of a tricky situation. Derek isn't being a very capable Batman, here. He's totally failing Erica as Beacon Hills' version of Stephanie Brown. Erica could be kickass, if only he let her.

d) He'd be paying more attention to Boyd, not just as a potential threat, but as a major advantage. A second-in-command, maybe, capable of thinking strategically and leading Isaac and Erica should Derek ever be temporarily unavailable or down for the count. Derek would also have realized how crucial it was to ensure Boyd's loyalty by not lying to him - it was clear during that talk with Scott, outside Lydia's house, that Derek hadn't told Boyd about the possibility of the bite killing him. Why hadn't he told Boyd? Simple. It was because Boyd wasn't as desperate as Isaac and Erica were for the bite; he wouldn't be ready to risk death because, to him, his life wasn't so bad that even death would be better. By lying to Boyd about the bite, Derek has betrayed Boyd's trust and sown a seed of resentment that will have Boyd easily choosing to usurp him in the future, should the opportunity arise. What reason has Derek given Boyd, to be loyal to him? None.

And that's how it is. If Derek had been listening to his human side, he'd have been aware of all the dangers his own pack's human emotions cause, and he'd be able to mitigate them. Hell, he'd be able to turn them around, and make something positive out of them, instead. Something that'd make his pack stronger.

But Derek's so preoccupied with being the ultimate werewolf that he's almost forgotten the 'were' part; he's listening to his wolf, but not to his inner man. He's failing to exploit several tactical opportunities as an Alpha, because he's failing to control, encourage or nurture his pack's human sides, as well.

If Derek doesn't shape up, Boyd will slowly gather enough knowledge and power to overtake him, and given Derek's mistreatment of Isaac and Erica, Boyd may eventually win them over, too. And even if he doesn't take the pack for himself, Boyd may very well take it for Scott. To Scott. Scott promises to be a more reasonable Alpha, at the very least. One that'll give Boyd - and Erica and Isaac - the respect they deserve. If Derek doesn't watch out, Boyd may very well become the Cassius to Scott's Brutus. Derek, as Caesar, wouldn't survive that.

As we've seen before, once you win an Alpha's pack away from him, that's it for the Alpha. The Alpha will lose.

It happened to Peter Hale, and it can happen to Derek Hale.

Easy as that.

The kindest end, for Derek, would be to end up alive, but as the Alpha of a much smaller pack (a newly-turned or still-human Stiles, perhaps, and a now-loyal Scott), with Boyd having taken off with Erica and Isaac for pastures new. At any rate, Derek will be inevitably humbled.

Or worse.

So you'd better get it together, Derek. You'd better lose this ridiculous Alpha high you're on long enough to see the many potholes you've already dug for yourself, and that you'll fall into, unless you learn how to be more of a man.

Stiles can offer you one way out of this. As can a deeper bond with Scott. As can an alliance with Chris Argent. (Which, I believe, is unavoidable and will likely take place at the resolution of this season. I can't see any other resolution for this season.)

Either way, Derek, you ought to remember that you're a man as well as a wolf, or you'll lose your pack, to your pack, just the way Peter did. And you don't want that.

At this juncture, you remind me of Castiel, because that's another one of my favorite characters that got carried away by hubris, that forgot the importance of love, of family. Don't go down that path. Please. It'll kill me. (And, well, possibly you.)