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Ultimate Derek/Stiles Essay of Doom

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Stiles and Derek - The Essay Your Mother Warned you About

I like to call this the Ultimate Derek and Stiles Essay of Doom, but mostly it's a tracing of their relationship through canon. More often than not, the biggest concern when it comes to a potential romantic development on the show proper, or the predominance of this pairing within the fandom, seems to be the notion that they had relatively few scenes together. This essay is meant to do two things: put all of those scenes together in one place and with supplemental evidence from scenes where Derek or Stiles talk about each other to other people, construct a solid interpretation of their relationship that explains why I have always considered them a romantic possibility within the show.

Before we start down the rabbit hole, I want to make one thing clear. The strength of a romantic pairing, the engagement it causes within the audience, does not equal the stage of development on the show. When Scott and Allison first got together, no one required them to have known each other for very long or, in fact, have had many scenes together. The same is true, unfortunately, for pretty much every straight couple you can throw into the mix. There is never a question of whether or not Allison and Scott even could be attracted to each other, or that Jackson wants in Allison's pants through most of season 1, or that Lydia finds new!Scott attractive. There isn't much required to sell the possibility of Erica/Boyd to people, or actually more than a single line for people to start wanting Erica and Stiles to hook up. The burden of proof, as it were, is always on the queer pairings. They are the ones that have to sell just their potential to a partly hostile audience. They are the ones who have to justify their existence – and frankly, I hate that we have to do this. I hate that I have to explain this over and over again.

But part of this essay is exploring their changing relationship and how much it has, in fact, already developed and what that means for the future.

1x01 - Wolf Moon

This episode sets up the relationship and character dynamics that are going to be important throughout the season. We meet Stiles and Scott, who have by far the most interaction with each other, and we meet Derek Hale.

Wolf Moon 01

Derek: What are you doing here? Huh? This is private property.

Stiles: Uh, sorry, man, we didn't know.

Scott: Yeah, we were just looking for something, but... Uh, forget it. Uhm. All right, come on, I gotta get to work.

Stiles: Dude, that was Derek Hale. You remember, right? He's only like a few years older than us.

Scott: Remember what?

Stiles: His family. They all burned to death in a fire, like, ten years ago.

Thanks to the beauty of exposition dump, Stiles starts out their relationship with a base level of interest and fascination. He recognized Derek after a period of six years and his body language in this scene is a gold mine. He looks surprised at first, but then he ducks his head, rubs his hair, he's certainly emotionally affected. This is especially noticeable because Scott next to him is pretty much stoic, if slightly confused. Scott doesn't care, but Stiles does.

This scene can easily establish all by itself that Stiles is uncommonly interested in Derek Hale. His expressions are somewhere between guilty/scared (for trespassing) and aroused/fascinated (because Derek is a) a mystery that Stiles remembers from years ago and never forgot and b) he wants to lick him).

Derek is more of a mystery. It's somewhat implied that he's been listening to them as they made their way through the woods or else he wouldn't have given back the inhaler. So Derek knows that Stiles is theorizing about werewolves and about Laura's murder. Derek is also focused mostly on Scott, because Scott is a new complication in the clusterfuck of Derek's life. By all rights, he should forget about Stiles the moment he's out of sight.

Wolf Moon 02

Scott: Oh, is this about the body? Did they find out who did it?

Stiles: No, they're still questioning people, even Derek Hale.

Scott: Oh, the guy in the woods that we saw the other day.

Stiles: Yeah! Yes. But that's not it, okay?

I know, a small excerpt of a scene that isn't really about Derek and Stiles at all. And yet, it solidifies two interesting ideas.

First, at this point Stiles is completely keyed up with the research, the possibility of Scott being a werewolf. He's even put the murder to the back of his mind. Scott's dangerous situation is the highest priority. So when Scott brings up the murder, Stiles waves him aside. They're still questioning people, and his dismissive attitude is particularly strong when it comes to Derek. Even Derek Hale, he says, like the thought that Derek could be the murderer is kind of ridiculous.

And he almost high-fives Scott for remembering Derek. Even when he's busy with life and death stuff, he gets momentarily excited about Scott remembering Derek. I'm going to theorize that at this point, Stiles is basically dealing with three things: the murder, the mystery of Derek Hale, and Scott's transformation.

Wolf Moon 03

Scott: No! Listen, you gotta find Allison.

Stiles: She's fine, all right? I saw her get a ride from the party. She's--she's totally fine, all right?

Scott: No, I think I know who it is.

Stiles: You just let me in. We can try--

Scott: It's Derek. Derek Hale is the werewolf. He's the one that bit me. He's the one that killed the girl in the woods.

Stiles: Scott...Derek's the one who drove Allison from the party.

This exchange is doubly interesting, because it highlights both Stiles' instinctual trust in Derek and their first pivotal relationship change. Before Scott connects Derek and werewolves, Stiles is absolutely convinced that Allison is safe with Derek. It hasn't seriously occurred to him until this moment that Derek could be dangerous in any way or possibly responsible for the murders. How is that possible?

My theory currently is that Stiles was aware of Derek before the fire, the way people are aware of certain important figures both in their immediate social spheres and the world at large. And Scott not knowing about Derek at least implies that it wasn't because Derek was popular enough at school for his name and identity to filter down to the middle school kids. So I'm thinking either little Stiles was crushing on Derek in the way ten-year-olds have or he was at one point really into solving the mystery of the fire and knows Derek only incidentally and after the fact. Either way, he spent enough time back then thinking about Derek that he can immediately recognize him and has developed enough of a feeling for what kind of person Derek is that he does not jump to the somewhat obvious conclusion until and unless Scott makes the jump for him.

But once Scott presents the idea that Derek is the wolf who bit him and thus the killer, there's a visible shift in Stiles' brain. You can actually see how Stiles' picture of the situation rearranges itself. Against his own instinct (and we've all discovered how solid Stiles' instincts are about people) Stiles now believes that Derek is a dangerous supernatural creature who has killed at least one person and put his best friend in danger of doing the same.

And thus, any burgeoning affection goes poof.

1x02 Second Chance at First Line

In this episode Stiles and Derek properly interact for the first time and stare at each others' mouths a lot. This is a theme.

image Second Chance at First Line 01

This one comes without dialogue, because it's a set of two scenes that affects Stiles' perception of Derek (and possibly Derek's perception of Stiles) without the two of them interacting with each other.

The first is Stiles hands-on experience of Scott completely losing control after lacrosse practice. It's the first time he really gets a taste of a wolf out of control and attacking someone they love. Why is this important? Because there is a difference between murder and attacking someone without having control of yourself, and it sharpens Stiles' understanding of the stakes they're playing with, but also of the culpability of a wolf when it comes to violence.

Meanwhile, the second scene is Derek's intimidation attempt later that night that Stiles very likely watched go down thianks to the magic of AOL Messenger. He saw Derek, human and in control Derek, attack his friend and threaten his life. It solidifies their theory that Derek is a bad guy, not just a bad wolf.

This is also the second time Derek noticed Stiles, and this time he really noticed him.

image Second Chance at First Line 02

Scott: Curfew because of the body.

Stiles: Unbelievable. My dad's out looking for a rabid animal, while the jerk-off who actually killed the girl is just hangin' out, doing whatever he wants.

Scott: Well, you can't exactly tell your dad the truth about Derek.

Stiles: I can do something.

Scott: Like what?

Stiles: Find the other half of the body.

Scott: Are you kidding?

What's interesting about this scene is how fidgety, furstrated and angry Stiles appears. He's acting almost like he's personally offended by Derek's audacity to be a killer. It's like Stiles is disappointed in Derek for not fitting into the box he put him in before they ever even met.

Stiles does this a lot - get angry and frustrated with people for failing his perception of them, for breaking out of their boxes. It happens with Scott several times, both when Scott is off frolicking in the woods with Allison and then later when he kisses Lydia. It also happens when Jackson turns out to be the kanima or when Matt is a killer instead of just a creepy stalker. It even happens with Lydia in the s2 finale. Stiles gets angry and confrontational and a little mean when people surprise him in ways that don't fit with his image of them.

Also, and this is a bit of funny side-speculation, I find it amusing that Stiles would use jerk-off as his insult of choice re: Derek. Not bastard or asshole or jerk, but an insult that is basically a sex act. I mean, everyone is free to interpret that as they would, but it can be seen as Stiles subconsciously sexualizing Derek even when he consciously just wants him to go away and be in jail already.

I also find it interesting because Stiles has just felt it up close and personal that wolves can lose control, so his clinging to the concept of Derek as an actual murderer rather than maybe someone losing their shit for reasons unknown seems unnecessarily harsh. Stiles wants Derek to disappear with a fervor that seems just slightly irrational.

image Second Chance at First Line 03

Scott: Derek! Derek! Stay away from her! She doesn't know anything!

Derek: Yeah? What if she does? You think your little buddy Stiles can just google werewolves, and now you got all the answers, is that it? You don't get it yet, Scott, but I'm looking out for you. Think about what could happen. You're out on the field. The aggression takes over. And you shift in front of everyone. Your mom, all your friends. And when they see you... everything falls apart.

You might say, "but this is about Allison!" and of course it is. But the thing is that Derek brings up Stiles out of the blue, completely unprompted. He may not have paid him much attention back in the woods when they first met, but here, now, Derek has understood that Stiles and Scott are a package deal and that Stiles is the one in charge of Scott's werewolf business.

image Second Chance at First Line 04

Stiles: Okay, just so you know, I'm not afraid of you. Okay, maybe I am. Doesn't matter. I just wanna know something. The girl you killed... she was a werewolf. She was a different kind, wasn't she? I mean, she could turn herself into an actual wolf, and I know Scott can't do that. Is that why you killed her?

Derek: Why are you so worried about me when it's your friend who's the problem? When he shifts on the field, what do you think they're gonna do. Just keep cheering him on? I can't stop him from playing, but you can. And, trust me... you want to.

This is largely credited as the first Sterek scene and with good reason. There is a lot going on here beyond the actual lines. Stiles starts out nervous, curious, afraid - he's fueled by bravado and his unquenchable thirst for knowing shit other people are trying to hide. He goes in essentially wanting closure, wanting to know the why of the girl's death and what made her special, why she was a real wolf in the end.

However, when Derek speaks, it's all about trying to stop Scott from playing that game. It's Derek trying to reach out and save people who utterly fucked him over literally right then and Stiles seems to understand this. When Derek speaks, his nervousness makes way for confusion, because once again Derek is not what Stiles expected.

Their relationship changes right there on the screen. I think it might be the first time Stiles takes Derek off the pedestal and looks at him like a person, someone who wants things and makes mistakes and sure, he probably still killed a girl, but maybe it's not as easy as the black and white scenario in Stiles' head.

Everything about Derek is heartbreaking in this scene. He's just lost his sister and some idiots dug up the grave, got him arrested, and still he's trying what he can to stop them from making stupid mistakes. He takes Stiles' accusations of killing Laura without so much as a flinch but his body language is tense, like he's screaming on the inside.

But still, he's giving Stiles a last push to save Scott. Why? Because he probably thinks Stiles can actually accomplish this. Because he's now seeing Stiles as someone who can get shit done.

And then there's the non-verbal communication. The way they look at each other, the way Derek's eyes drop to Stiles' mouth when he leans forward to say these uncharacteristic words ("trust me", almost like he believes them). It's especially powerful because the person trying to be forceful and dominant in a conversation, while speaking, is usually the one maintaining, even forcing eye contact, because it is a very powerful tool. Dropping your eyes like that is a sign of something, and why not subconscious attraction?

image Second Chance at First Line 05

Stiles: The, uh, medical examiner looked at the other half of the body we found.

Scott: And...

Stiles: Well, I'll keep it simple. Medical examiner determines killer of girl to be animal, not human. Derek's human, not animal. Derek not killer. Derek let out of jail.

Scott: Are you kidding?

Stiles: No, and here's a bigger kick in the ass. My dad I.D.'d the dead girl. Both halves. Her name was Laura Hale.

Scott: Hale?

Stiles: Derek's sister.

I'm including this moment because this knowledge changes everything. The way Stiles presents the information that Laura is Derek's sister implies that he understands how much more complicated this situation suddenly is. He's still afraid of Derek, but now it's shifted into a much more reasonable "he's going to kick our asses" rather than "he's going to murder us in the night".

1x03 - Pack Mentality

Bowling, werewolf ovens, and revelations. Stiles still spends most of his time thinking about Derek.

image Pack Mentality 01

Stiles: Hey, come on, it's gonna be fine, all right? Personally, I think you're handling this pretty freakin' amazingly. You know, it's not like there's a lycanthropy for beginners class you can take.

Scott: Yeah, not a class, but maybe a teacher.

Stiles: Who, Derek? You forgetting the part where we got him tossed in jail?

Scott: Yeah, I know, but chasing her, dragging her to the back of the bus, it felt so real.

Following from the Laura reveal, neither Scott nor Stiles currently seem to believe that Derek is the killer. When Scott brings up maybe asking Derek for help, however, Stiles reacts with almost violent rejection. He hits Scott over the head and asks in an agitated voice whether Scott maybe forgot that they got Derek tossed in jail.

This is the first instance of Stiles having something of a competitive reaction when Scott brings up being trained by Derek. The show sets them up as parallel mentors to Scott, and Stiles seems to be clinging to his importance as the person who knows shit about werewolves because of his research skill and science-y approach. (In contrast, Derek's methods are all about instinct and tradition.)

image Pack Mentality 02

Scott: Then it wasn't a dream. Something happened last night, and I can't remember what.

Stiles: What makes you so sure that Derek even has all the answers?

Scott: Because during the full moon he wasn't changed. He was in total control while I was running around in the middle of the night attacking some totally innocent guy.

The continuation of Stiles' jealous fit over Scott asking Derek for help with the wolf stuff.

image Pack Mentality 03

Scott: No. I saw glowing eyes in the bus, but they weren't mine. It was Derek.

Stiles: What about the driver?

Scott: I think I was actually trying to protect him.

Stiles: Wait, why would Derek help you remember that he attacked the driver?

Scott: That's what I don't get.

Stiles: It's got to be a pack thing.

Scott: What do you mean?

Stiles: Like an initiation. You do the kill together.

Scott: Because ripping someone's throat out is a real bonding experience?

And here you have it, the way Stiles thinks about people as if they are puzzles, laid out for our consumption. By this point, Derek has already twisted and turned and shifted into several different things inside Stiles' head and now Stiles is back to "Derek Hale, the mystery I really want to solve".

He's basically just throwing out ideas now, making up stories that fit the handful of facts they have.

By the end of the episode and with the reveal of the alpha's existence, it's clear that Derek is not a killer - to us, and if Scott is a good friend and tells him everything, also to Stiles. Stiles has been thinking about Derek so much, trying to puzzle him out if only to protect his best friend, that he has a solid representation of Derek in his head. And it may not be accurate, but neither is his picture of Lydia, and there are some really smart observations in there.

Stiles watches people, but on the basis of these three episodes alone, Stiles is more than ready to get closer and actually test his theories, see if the picture he's made holds up to the real person.

Derek doesn't know what's about to hit him, and I don't just mean the bullet.

1x04 - Magic Bullet

The episode that made a thousand shippers and is a treasure trove for all those people that like to see Derek suffer. Derek is brought low and he and Stiles bond over mutual threats.

image Magic Bullet 01

Stiles: If Derek isn't the Alpha, if he's not the one who bit you, then who did?

Scott: I don't know.

Stiles: Did the Alpha kill the bus driver?

Scott: I don't know.

Stiles: Does Allison's dad know about the Alpha?

Scott: I don't know! Jeez.

Stiles: Dude, you need to study more. That was a joke. Scott, it's one test. You're gonna make it up. Do you want help studying?

Scott: No. I'm studying with Allison after school today.

Stiles: That's my boy.

Scott: We're just studying.

Stiles: Uh, no, you're not.

Scott: No, I'm not?

Stiles: Not if I'm forced to live vicariously through you. If you go to her house today and squander that colossal opportunity, I swear to God I'll have you de-balled.

Scott: Okay. Just... Stop with the questions, man.

Stiles: Done. No more questions. No more talk about the Alpha or Derek. Especially Derek... who still scares me.

In this scene we learn a couple of really important details. First, yes, Scott has been sharing information with Stiles, but not all and not easily and most likely with a bit of bias. Scott doesn't like Derek - and with good reason! - and that dislike filters the information he lets Stiles have.

But at this point in time, it's pretty obvious to Stiles that Derek is not THE killer. He may be A killer, but there is nothing except Derek's allergy to sharing information to go on. Stiles is curious and frustrated and only distracted by Scott's impending sexual adventures, because he himself has no prospects in that regard.

Then he mumbles that Derek still scares him and that's a loaded truth. Because I think Derek scares Stiles for a whole lot of reasons, and not all of them are violence-related. Derek is a mystery and he's hot and the way Stiles mentions him at the end of this scene, after talking about his own sexual frustration, well, it's suggestive at the very least. In his personal "shit I have to deal with" stakes, Derek is way above and beyond the scary monster that bit Scott and is most likely killing people.

image Magic Bullet 02

Stiles: You've gotta be kidding me. This guy's everywhere--

Scott: What the hell? What are you doing here?

Derek: I was shot.

Stiles: He's not looking so good, dude.

Scott: Why aren't you healing?

Derek: I can't. It was--it was a different kind of bullet.

Stiles: A silver bullet?

Derek: No, you idiot.

Scott: Wait, wait. That's what she meant when she said you had 48 hours.

Derek: What? Who--who said 48 hours?

Scott: The one who shot you. What are you doing? Stop that!

Derek: I'm trying to tell you, I can't!

Scott: Derek, get up! Help me to put him in your car.

Derek: I need you to find out what kind of bullet they used.

Scott: How the hell am I supposed to do that?

Derek: 'Cause she's an Argent. She's with them.

Scott: Why should I help you?

Derek: Because you need me.

Scott: Fine. I'll try. Hey get him out of here.

Stiles: I hate you for this so much.

Barely conscious, Derek plants himself in front if Stiles' jeep and hopes for the best. He doesn't even need to get run over because at this point, he's too weak to stay upright, he's breathing heavily and keeps losing control of the transformation. Why Stiles' jeep, you ask? Maybe because Derek knows Stiles is the one who gets stuff done, maybe because that bright blue baby is like a beacon. Scott comes running from where he's maybe a hundred feet away, if that.

In the beginning of the conversation, it's still mediated through Scott, up until Stiles' curiosity picks up on werewolf-adjacent trivia and blurts out the question. But when Stiles throws in that silver bullet tangent, something really strange happens. For a moment, Derek is back in control. He's annoyed and even a little snotty when he calls Stiles an idiot, but he's no longer losing his shit.

And then Scott mentions that Derek was shot by a "she" and you can see the moment Derek realizes Kate has come back to haunt him. That's why his eyes are flashing and he's starting to hyperventilate.

They put him in the jeep and Stiles' frustrated "I hate you for this so much" is full of feeling. Feeling what? It doesn't sound like fear and it's a little too vehement for apathy or dislike. Stiles doesn't want to deal with Derek, and the reasons for that are more complicated than "I was going to play Halo and instead I have to play werewolf chauffeur".

image Magic Bullet 03

Stiles: Hey, try not to bleed out on my seats, okay? We're almost there.

Derek: Almost where?

Stiles: Your house.

Derek: What? No, you can't take me there.

Stiles: I can't take you to your own house?

Derek: Not when I can't protect myself.

Stiles: All right. What happens if Scott doesn't find your little magic bullet? Hmm? Are you dying?

Derek: Not yet. I have a last resort.

Stiles: What do you mean? What last resort? Oh, my God. What is that? Oh, is that contagious? You know what, you should probably just get out.

Derek: Start the car. Now.

Stiles: I don't think you should be barking orders with the way you look, okay? In fact, I think if I wanted to, I could probably drag your little werewolf ass out into the middle of the road and leave you for dead.

Derek: Start the car, or I'm gonna rip your throat out... With my teeth.

Stiles in this scene starts out frustrated and pretty damn jerk-tastic. He shows signs of being in the same kind of mood he later gets when Scott kissed Lydia while moon-mad. When he realizes that Derek is messing up his plan of getting rid of him as fast as possible, Stiles actually stops the car to better argue how much he is not okay with that.

Thing is, Derek affects Stiles, emotionally. We can speculate on the particular kind of emotions, but the notion that Derek takes up a lot of Stiles' perception is solid. Whatever he feels about Derek, he feels a lot of it.

This is the first scene they get to properly interact and their back and forth is surprisingly equal in nature. They give as good as they get, and neither of them seems particularly inclined to back down. And when Stiles does give in, in the end, it does not appear to have anything to do with fear.

Derek is surprisingly in control for someone who was near to wolfing out before and I think it's the mixture of annoyance and incredulity he feels about Stiles that keeps him anchored. It's certainly a version of anger - a fond, mostly harmless version.

The threats traded in this scene are also surprisingly equal - Derek threatens to kill Stiles, sure, but only after Stiles threatens to leave him for dead.

Also, please note that in the following scene, Scott's phone says 3:51 p.m. Because it gives us a little hint as to how ridiculously long Stiles and Derek will be hanging out in the jeep.

image Magic Bullet 04

Stiles: What am I supposed to do with him?

Scott: Take him somewhere, anywhere.

Stiles: And, by the way, he's starting to smell.

Scott: Like--like what?

Stiles: Like death.

Scott: Okay, take him to the animal clinic.

Stiles: What about your boss?

Scott: He's gone by now. There's a spare key in the box behind the dumpster.

Stiles: You're not gonna believe where he's telling me to take you.

Derek: Did you find it?

Scott: How am I supposed to find one bullet? They have a million. This house is like... the fricken Walmart of guns.

Derek: Look, if you don't find it, then I'm dead, all right?

Scott: I'm starting to think that wouldn't be such a bad thing.

Derek: Then think about this. The Alpha called you out against your will. He's gonna do it again. Next time you either kill with him or you get killed. So if you wanna stay alive, then you need me. Find the bullet.

They are still sitting under that tree where Stiles parked the jeep hours earlier. The Argents have had time to come home, unpack, make dinner and eat dinner. And for all this time, Stiles and Derek have been sitting together in the jeep, waiting for news from Scott, with no distraction but each other.

Entire movies happen in less time than that.

And this scene also shows us the following: Stiles is unafraid to complain to Scott about Derek's smell, most likely because he's been complaining to Derek about it to his face earlier. Stiles and Derek also share a moment of "ugh can you even believe that Scott?!" when Stiles hands the phone over. Through all this Derek doesn't protest about the "smells like death" quip, doesn't grab the phone out of Stiles' hand or is in any way aggressive toward Stiles.

Also, if it hasn't come up in the hours they've been waiting, Stiles probably realizes now that they truly do need Derek for more than his pretty face.

image Magic Bullet 05

Stiles: Does Northern blue monkshood mean anything to you?

Derek: It's a rare form of wolfsbane. He has to bring me the bullet.

Stiles: Why?

Derek: 'Cause I'm gonna die without it.

Derek here is nothing like any Derek we have ever seen before. When he's told Scott he's going to die earlier, it was angry, for emphasis. But this time Derek is open - it's not an angry bark, but it's also not a pleading for his life. Derek here speaks about his death like he thinks Stiles is going to care.

And from the look in Stiles' eyes, I think he does.

image Magic Bullet 06

Stiles: Okay. You know, that really doesn't look like anything some echinacea and a good night of sleep couldn't take care of.

Derek: When the infection reaches my heart, it'll kill me.

Stiles: "Positivity" just isn't in your vocabulary, is it?

Derek: If he doesn't get here with the bullet in time... Last resort.

Stiles: Which is?

Derek: You're gonna cut off my arm.

The thing Stiles' voice does at the beginning of this scene is indescribable. It's thready and a little higher than normal, like he's worried or panicking or something else highly emotional. He's trying to reassure either Derek or himself that it's not as bad as it looks, and he's doing a terrible job of it.

On the other hand, Derek has acclimated to Stiles' ways so much that he doesn't bristle sarcasm at all, he just keeps talking, sharing the facts, something Derek has been patently reluctant to do before.

And the way he looks when he tells Stiles to cut of his arm - if there were a picture of trust in the dictionary, it would be Derek's face in that moment.

image Magic Bullet 07



Stiles: Oh, my God. What if you bleed to death?

Derek: It'll heal if it works.

Stiles: Ugh. Look... I don't know if I can do this.

Derek: Why not?

Stiles: Well, because of the cutting through the flesh, the sawing of the bone, and especially the blood!

Derek: You faint at the sight of blood?

Stiles: No, but I might at the sight of a chopped-off arm!

Derek: All right, fine. How about this? Either you cut off my arm, or I'm gonna cut off your head.

Stiles: Okay, you know what, I'm so not buying your threats any-- Oh, my God. Okay. All right, bought, sold. Totally. I'll do it. I'll do it. What? What are you doing? Holy God, what the hell is that?

Derek: It's my body... Trying to heal itself.

Stiles: Well, it's not doing a very good job of it.

Derek: Now. You gotta do it now.

Stiles: Look, honestly, I don't think I can.

Derek: Just do it!

Stiles: Oh, my God. Okay, okay. Oh, my God. All right, here we go!

Scott: Stiles!

Stiles: Scott?

Scott: What the hell are you doing?

Stiles: Oh, you just prevented a lifetime of nightmares.

Derek: Did you get it?

Stiles: What are you gonna do with it?

Derek: I'm gonna... I'm gonna...

Scott: No. No, no, no, no.

Stiles: Derek. Derek, come on, wake up. Scott, what the hell are we gonna do?

Scott: I don't know! I can't reach it.

Stiles: He's not waking up!

Scott: Come on.

Stiles: I think he's dying. I think he's dead!

Scott: Just hold on! Come on. Oh! I got it! I got it!

Stiles: Please don't kill me for this. Ugh! Ow! God!

Derek: Give me...

Scott: Up!

Stiles: Ow! God...

Stiles: That...Was...Awesome! Yes!

Scott: Are you okay?

Derek: Well, except for the agonizing pain.

Stiles: I'm guessing the ability to use sarcasm is a good sign of health.

Scott: Okay, we saved your life, which means you're gonna leave us alone, you got that? And if you don't, I'm gonna go back to Allison's dad, and I'm gonna tell him everything--

Derek: You're gonna trust them? You think they can help you?

Scott: Well, why not? They're a lot freaking nicer than you are.

Derek: I can show you exactly how nice they are.

Scott: What do you mean?

This scene, I am honestly not sure how to describe it.

In the beginning, Stiles and Derek banter around the fact that Stiles really doesn't want to cut anyone's arm off - Derek only starts on the threats when it becomes clear that Stiles is balking at this. Derek considers Stiles to be someone who does what is necessary, a pragmatist, and maybe someone who won't let him die if he can help it.

And Stiles has already guessed that the threats are empty and says as much. If Derek weren't dying. But he is, so he grabs Stiles and that works for all of ten seconds, until he vomits werewolf oil and Stiles is getting ready to use that bonesaw like a boss. A freaked out, nauseated boss.

When Scott comes in, there is relief in all corners, and not just because Stiles is a bit squeamish.

One small but interesting moment is Derek holding the bullet and Stiles asking him what he wants to do. Derek actually tries to answer before he passes out, because this is apparently now a thing he does - he tells Stiles stuff when he clearly hated to share even pertinent info like "I didn't bite you, Scott" until much too late.

When Derek passes out and the bullet rolls away, Scott goes after the bullet. Stiles goes for cradling Derek's face and panicking about the fact that he's not waking up. And then cradling his face some more.

After Scott has his awesome werewolf moment retrieving the bullet, Stiles punches Derek in the face to wake him up and it works. Derek's reaching for the bullet and then for Stiles, in that order. Then he does the whole magic healing thing and Stiles watches Derek writhing half naked on the floor, licking his lips.

The relief and excitement from Stiles when this whole thing works are explosive.

Meanwhile, Scott is wresting back his mediator role, talking for himself and Stiles without checking in with the dude who went from "omg I hate you so much for this" just hours earlier to panicking over Derek's unconscious body and feeling massive relief when all works out.

1x05 - The Tell

Scott goes frolicking in the woods with Allison, Stiles investigates the alpha and Derek gets tortured by Kate. It's your usual day in Teen Wolf land. Everyone ends the episode feeling pretty shitty.

image The Tell 01

In the parent-teacher conference montage, we can see Stiles investigating the fire. It's his natural curiosity coming out, but I doubt Stiles can read about Derek losing his home and 8 people he probably loved without being a little bit affected. He also learns that it was likely arson, which gives strength to the things Derek has told Scott, re: the Argents setting the fire.

1x06 - Heart Monitor

Stiles is angry at Scott and chucks balls at him. Derek is running out of time and is a terrible detective. The words "sour wolf" are uttered.

image Heart Monitor 01

Scott: Yeah, but that was--I mean...Would you just stop? Please? What happened the other night, Stiles' dad getting hurt, that was my fault. I should have been there to do something. I need you to teach me how to control this.


Derek: Do you want to live? Do you want to protect your friends? Yes or no?

This conversation is not about Stiles, which is why it is noticeable that Stiles is still in it. When Scott refers to the Sheriff as Stiles' dad that is hardly remarkable, but it does mean that Scott considers Stiles a shared reference point between him and Derek. It also means that Scott subconsciously considers this pertinent information for Derek - he didn't just refer to the attack, he deliberately mentioned Stiles' dad, because he thinks it will be something Derek understands or cares about.

Consequently, the entire following exchange has very little to do with Scott's friends. Or, you know, the one friend Derek actually knows about and the only one that really counts. When Derek brings up Scott protecting his friends it comes as a bit of an aside. It is something that Derek thinks should be a priority. And it so happens to be mostly about Stiles.

image Heart Monitor 02

Scott: Still not talking to me? Okay, can you at least tell me if your dad's okay? It's just a bruise, right? Some soft tissue damage? Nothin' that big... You know I feel really bad about it, right? Okay. What if I told you that I'm trying to figure this whole thing out, and... That I went to Derek for help?

Stiles: If I was talking to you, I'd say that you're an idiot for trusting him. But obviously I'm not talking to you.

Stiles: What did he say?

Stiles: Wh--he wants you to tap into your animal side and get angry?

Scott: Yeah.

Stiles: All right, well, correct me if I'm wrong, but every time you do that, you try to kill someone, and that someone's usually me.

Scott: I know. That's what he means when he says he doesn't know if he can teach me. I have to be able to control it.

Stiles: Well, how's he gonna teach you to do that?

Scott: I don't know. I don't think he does either.

Stiles: Okay. When are you seeing him again?

Scott: He told me not to talk about it. Just act normal and get through the day.

Stiles: When?

Scott: He's picking me up at the animal clinic after work.

Stiles: After work. All right, well, that gives me to the end of the school day then.

Scott: To do what?

Stiles: To teach you myself.

Stiles' distrust of Derek here seems like a step back, at first, considering the last thing we've seen Stiles learn about Derek were the circumstances of the Hale house fire, and the last time they interacted on screen was at the animal clinic, where Stiles was visibly distressed over the possibility of Derek dying.

In the meantime, however, Stiles' dad got hurt - not even due to supernatural shenanigans, but supernatural adjacent. Stiles is angry with Scott, but he's also angry at all the supernatural crap that's been turning their lives upside down since that night in the woods. Stiles has learned a lot about Derek by now and I think part of that humanization makes it difficult to feel trust, because trust is built from affection and predictability. And Stiles can't figure out what the hell is going on with Derek.

Plus, as the conversation goes on, we see competitive mentor Stiles coming out again. As much as Stiles currently dislikes the supernatural, he's still damn curious and he's still the one who'll figure this out for Scott, because the alternative is unacceptable.

image Heart Monitor 03

Scott: Does that mean you don't hate me now?

Stiles: No. But your crap has infiltrated my life, so now I have to do something about it. Plus I'm definitely a better Yoda than Derek.

Scott: Okay, yeah, you teach me.

Stiles: Yeah, I'll be your Yoda.

Scott: Yeah, you be my Yoda.

Stiles: Your Yoda I will be. I said it backwards.

Scott: Yeah, I--I know.

Stiles: All right, you know what? I definitely still hate you. Uh-huh. Oh, yeah.

This is the moment where Stiles acknowledges on screen how he sees his and Derek's roles in Scott's life and I think because Stiles actually considers the two of them in direct competition, he's developing a rivalry in his head that is completely absent on Derek's part. Stiles wants to be the better Yoda, when Derek would probably be viewing himself as Han Solo - stumbling into helping this kid he doesn't even like at first (and sort of falling for their sibling ;)

You know, if Derek wasn't nearing complete breakdown and had time for Star Wars metaphors.

image Heart Monitor 04

Stiles: You know, this whole "women make you weak" thing is a little too spartan warrior for me. It's probably just part of the learning process.

Scott: Yeah, but you've seen Derek. I mean, the guy's totally alone. What if I can, like, never be around her again?

Stiles: Well, if you're not dead, that could be a good thing.

Scott: Rather be dead.

Stiles: All right, you're not gonna end up like Derek, all right? We'll figure it out.

I have trouble parsing this scene without yelling. Because it's an example of the worst traits Scott and Stiles are occasionally saddled with - Scott's unproportional focus on Allison, Stiles' callousness when it comes to anyone not in his circle. They have a very nice discussion about Derek's tragic existence and no one seems to give a fuck, except as a cautionary tale.

Out of context, I'd say, wow, you two are enormous dicks. With the context of the next scene Derek gets, I want to punch someone in the teeth, because it's the one where he begs his comatose uncle for help.

Of course, Derek hasn't been forthcoming with the facts to foster affection and understanding, so I don't entirely blame the boys. They don't know that Derek isn't alone because of general werewolf destiny and his sterling personality, but rather the manipulation of people much stronger and more experienced than him.

And Stiles still picks away that the puzzle that is Derek, he's just realized that a) he doesn't necessarily want any of Derek's bad karma to rub off on him and his family and b) there is no one stupid enough to want to trade lives with Derek, not for anything. I think it might be this confluence of information that builds to Stiles not wanting the bite.

image Heart Monitor 05

Stiles: Well, personally I'm a fan of ignoring a problem until eventually it just goes away.

Scott: Just make sure we can get inside. He's here. Where's my boss?

Derek: He's in the back.

Stiles: Oh, well, he looks comfortable.

The faces Stiles makes here are so far beyond expressive, you really have to watch this scene to get it all. When Scott alerts Stiles to Derek's presence, he looks like his least favorite cousin has just done something stupid at a family feast. It's that familiar annoyed look people get with things that are both unavoidable and constant. It's not a particularly friendly look by any means, but it is one that speaks of familiarity and something like resignation.

The same can be said for the sarcastic comment on Deaton's general state of health, tied up in Derek's back seat. Stiles is not amused, and he's going to tell Derek exactly how he feels about that-

And the look he gives him over the hood of the Camaro, that little shake of the head, that's all about disappointment. It's "I expected better of you" and "really, Derek, really?" in one unspoken moment. But it speaks volumes about how comfortable Stiles already is with calling Derek on his shit.

image Heart Monitor 06

Derek: I'm gonna kill both of you. What the hell was that? What are you trying to do, attract the entire state to the school?

Scott: Sorry. I didn't know it would be that loud.

Stiles: Yeah, it was loud. And it was AWESOME.

Derek: Shut up.

Stiles: Don't be such a sour wolf.

Scott: What'd you do with him?

Derek: What? I didn't do anything.

First of all, a side observation that amuses me for no particular reason, but when Derek waits for Stiles and Scott to enact their brilliant alpha-baiting plan (what, it totally works!) he's leaning against the jeep rather than the Camaro. Jeep's got it going on yeah.

When they come out of the school after that roar (that's not a howl, Scott), Derek's freaked out and angry, and when he's talking about killing them, it's no longer even a threat. Stiles only looks upset for a moment because Derek is clearly not appreciative of the awesomeness. He's so comfortable with Derek's limits that he calls him sour wolf to his face and no longer fears any retribution. And Derek's "shut up" is reflexive rather than angry - he's snapping at Stiles without teeth.

And then Derek gets stabbed in the back by Peter, of course he does. Here these three idiots were, possibly having a bonding moment, and Peter's gotta ruin it. Bad dog!

When Scott and Stiles run for the door of the school and its questionable safety, Stiles looks back at Derek and the alpha, seeing the extent of the damage and the extent of the alpha's strength.

1x07 - Night School

Fair warning, I have a hate-hate relationship with this episode. What I see may not be what actually happens because my brain refuses to properly analyse what is by far my least favorite episode of Teen Wolf to date.

So, Derek spends this episode as Schrödinger's wolf, Stiles is freaked out enough to let Scott come up with all the plans, Scott is freaked out enough to blow it all to hell and everything is fucking blue the entire time. Lydia is a badass though.

image Night School 01

Stiles: Deaton, the alpha? Your boss.

Scott: No.

Stiles: Yes, murdering psycho werewolf.

Scott: That can't be.

Stiles: Oh come on. He disappears, and that thing shows up ten seconds later to toss Derek 20 feet through the air? That's not convenient timing?

Scott: It's not him.

Stiles: He killed Derek.

Scott: No, Derek's not dead. He can't be dead.

Stiles: Blood spurted out of his mouth, okay? That doesn't exactly qualify as a minor injury. He's dead, and we're next.

Scott: Okay, just... What do we do?

Stiles: We get to my jeep, we get out of here, you seriously think about quitting your job, good?

As I said in the intro, both Stiles and Scott are panicking at each other in this scene. It brings out Stiles' pessimist streak and strangely, Scott's optimist. Earlier in the season, Scott was ready to believe Derek was the murderer and the one who bit him based on far less evidence, but not now, not even when logically it makes the most sense.

Stiles is being entirely pragmatic, maybe too much so. Does he insist on Derek being dead because he feels he has to convince Scott or because some part of him doesn't believe it either? Later he'll note how hard it is to stop a werewolf (referencing Derek's run-in with a wolfsbane bullet) so he's doing this to make it easier for him and Scott to abandon Derek for their own survival. It's not that he doesn't care, at the very least Derek dying now would waste all the hours he had to sit beside Derek in his car, but it certainly implies he doesn't want to care.

image Night School 02

Stiles: Yeah, and Derek had to be shot with a wolfsbane-laced bullet to even slow him down, you remember that?

Scott: Then we...we have to... We have to find a way out and just run for it.

Stiles: There's nothing near the school for at least a mile.

Scott: What about Derek's car?

Stiles: That could work. We go outside, we get the keys off his body, and then we take his car.

Scott: And him.

Stiles: Fine. Whatever.

Stiles' weird hot and cold reaction to Derek's alleged death is giving me whiplash here. Despite how I feel about Night School, you have to watch this scene and the face Stiles makes when he mentions Derek's body. It's a good helping of fear and disgust, but where's the boy who was gleeful at finding Laura's body or thinking that Derek writhing in pain was awesome, the kid who gets excited when there's a dead body? Sure, he's a little squeamish with the living, but he's never shown any kind of reaction like this toward the already deceased. The fact that Stiles is having trouble with the thought of Derek dead, so much so that he has a seemingly involuntary reaction to it in the middle of a sentence, is making me think it isn't about the dead body so much as it is about Derek.

Scott wants to take Derek, which is interesting in itself. Because it either means Scott truly believes Derek is still alive at this point, or he wants to take his body. Stiles is so not buying either of those things, for his own continued mental health.

image Night School 03

Scott: It's Derek. It's Derek Hale.

Jackson: Derek killed the janitor?

Allison: Are you sure?

Scott: I saw him.

Stiles' reaction to Scott accusing Derek is one of slightly offended disbelief. Stiles cannot believe that Scott would do this after insisting that Derek was still alive all this time and it's funny, because it turns out that they were both harboring the opposite feelings underneath. Stiles' face says "excuse YOU? What are you doing, Scott?" and it isn't because this frame job is one of the dumbest things Scott has ever done. Because if Derek is really truly dead, the lie would blow up as soon as they all got out of the school safely - the police would find the mauled body and wonder who the fuck killed him if he was supposed to be the killer.

But if Derek was still alive, this is just a terrible thing to do to an ally. And that's what they are by now. Reluctant maybe, but obviously on the same side. Stiles may not trust Derek completely and with good reason, but he knows enough to make an educated guess. And Scott is fucking it all up for no particular reason and Stiles is too freaked out to do anything other than follow his lead.

image Night School 04

Stiles: All right, why don't we ease back on the throttle here, yeah?

Stiles: Okay, first off, throwing Derek under the bus, nicely done.

Scott: I didn't know what to say. I had to say something. And if he's dead then it doesn't matter, right? Except if he's not. Oh, god, I totally just bit her head off.

Stiles: And she'll totally get over it. Bigger issues at hand here, like how do we get out alive?

This conversation follows the last snippet and makes one thing clear - Stiles wasn't thinking about the tactical implications of Scott's lie, but rather the personal ones. His offense was for Derek being betrayed, not for Scott making his life harder with a bad choice. It comes out in a sarcastic dig that Scott immediately defends himself from.

Stiles is still in survival mode and survival mode Stiles is not a nice guy. He'll defend his people first, to the detriment of everyone else - meaning he'll punch Jackson in the face rather than call his dad, and he'll aggressively assert Derek's death to make sure Scott doesn't try any stupid heroics.

image Night School 05

Sheriff: You sure it was Derek Hale?

Scott: Yes.

Stiles: I saw him too.

Stiles has done this all night, following Scott's lead, comitting himself to whatever Scott has thought up. In fact, Stiles does this a lot, especially when it comes to Derek. He's taken Scott's lead in believing Derek was the murderer and he's taking Scott's lead in disliking Derek even though the dislike is somewhat irrational on Scott's part. Stiles will back up his bro until the end. Or until either something werewolfy is just too fascinating or Scott is too busy to stand between them long enough to prevent Stiles' natural curiosity from getting close enough to build something.