Deconstructing the Mythology of Season 3b
“The more consciousness gains in clarity, the more monarchic becomes its content…the king constantly needs the renewal that begins with a descent into his own darkness – his shadow – which the dissolution of the persona sets in motion.”
To get straight to the point I believe that Stiles (and the others) are possessed by their Shadow self a concept popularized in Jungian Psychology. The Shadow as an archetype is often described as the darker side of the psyche and refers to all that lies outside the ‘light’ of conciousness. (The persona incidentally, if you didn’t already know, is the face or ‘mask’ which a person presents to the world).
The Shadow which may be (1) the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious, or (2) an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not recognize in itself.
I believe that Teen Wolf has taken this idea and made the Shadow a literal manifestation as perhaps a sort of evil double or dark doppelgänger. This is the darkness around their heart. The Shadow exists as part of the unconscious mind and is composed of repressed ideas, weaknesses, desires, instincts and shortcomings. It is essentially every flaw our characters try to ignore about themselves – their darkness come to life.
This idea of the unconcious/subconscious mind or the Id, Ego and Super-ego has actually been present in Teen Wolf since the beginning of Season 3 – and maybe even before. The new promo actually partners very well with this Scott Mccall promo from 3A where he’s drowning himself. [You can read my analysis of this here. I’ve already written about this concept in relation to Isaac and you can find that post here].
Now for some evidence to support this because I am nothing if not thorough!!!!
Check out the screencap from this 3B teaser. A flickering double of Allison appears briefly behind her but it’s holding her Chinese ring daggers. Which is as creepy-as-fuck and definitely gives off evil vibes.
Want more examples here have this:
Wow Scott’s shadow literally has claws!
Also from the brand new 3b trailer:
Also remember these quote from 3×02 ‘Chaos Rising’?
Deaton: You will be half transformed – it will let us access your subconscious mind.
Isaac: They’re here, they’re here. No, they’re here, they seen me, they’ve found me. They’re here.
Isaac: No I can’t see them it’s to dark. I can’t see.
Except it wasn’t dark in the memory of the bank and the Alpha Pack which Isaac was trying to recall. What can’t you see in the dark? Shadows of course.
This is topped off with the fact that in the most recent promo for 3B as Stiles approaches, down a flooded corridor, a mirror in a White Room he is told repeatedly that “this isn’t you”. But when Stiles gazes in the mirror at his reflection he says “this is you”.
What if we should take this extremely literally and it is only the reflection in the mirror that is the ‘real’ Stiles. Like he is trapped in the mirror unable to get out and the Stiles walking around is actually a Shadow, evil twin, dark double, doppelgänger or whatnot.
Two things that support this:
(1) You see the Stiles that is walking towards the door flicker in and out like the doppelgänger that appeared behind Allison.
(2) When Stiles says “this is you” the mouth of the reflection doesn’t move at all indicating that Stiles and his so called mirror image are perhaps more separate than you might think.
Also remember this Season 3 teaser?
The mirror is dark and the person casts no reflection. Well a doppelgänger is said to cast no reflection.
There are quite a few different definitions and ‘types’ of a doppelgänger but the one I found most interesting in my research was the Japanese Ikiryo which I wonder maybe fulfils the criteria of one of the Japanese spirits teased in this interview [page 1 /page 2].
The Ikiryo is a manifestation of the soul of a living person separate from their body rather than the ghost of a dead person. They are also said to be able to possess another living person without the originator even being aware of it. Maybe even possess the originator?
Anyway the promo is very symbolic and I want to discuss a few things.
Firstly the mirror. What is the significance of the mirror?
Mirrors have been a reoccurring theme (see here for fuller post on mirrors) for a while.
In short mirrors are surrounded by a lot of superstitions, mythology and lore. They are linked to souls – the representation, stealing, trapping and regeneration of them. Also they are sometimes considered the portal to other dimensions ;)
However I think it is important to remember that a mirror image rather than being an exact copy is in fact inverted and an opposite backwards image. Like light and dark or good and evil – interesting right :P
Here are some examples of the uses of mirrors or mirroring in Teen Wolf. Quite a lot of them involve Lydia…perhaps her powers as a Banshee are connected to them somehow?
(1) The mind reverses into mirror writing. Is this a clue? They lose their minds in the mirror (mirror world)?
(2) The beginning of this teaser is backwards like mirror writing. When reversed Stiles is saying (“Wake up, Stiles. It’s just a dream.”)
(5) Lydia punched and broke a mirror in 2×04 ‘Abomination’. Why did she do it? What did she see in it?
(6) In 2×05 ‘Venomous’ Lydia wrote SOMEONEHELPME on the chalkboard in mirror writing.
(7) When the hands reach towards each other in the title credits for Season 3 you can hear glass shattering. I promise you I am not mad its a very subtle sound effect in the background. Just before it when Allison draws her bow you can hear a wooosh sound effect for that which is much clearer but just to give you an idea for what you should be listening for. It’s quiet but it is there!!!
(8) All the examples of actual mirrors. Click here for a list.
It is probably also important to note that water is also a mirrored surface. In Celtic Mythology and also Japanese Mythology (among others including Norse and Mayan i.e. South American) water is a portal to other worlds or more specifically the underworld.
Also in mythology the underworld is sometimes literally a Mirror World of our reality. Equally I found the following pretty interesting.
“The underworld of Japanese mythology was Yomi, land of night or gloom. It was empty until the creator goddess Izanami died after giving birth to the god of fire. The maggots that appeared in her dead body grew into a host of demons who populated Yomi and tormented the souls of the wicked. Yomi was said to be a dark region of barren plains and lonely tunnels.”
It is very evocative of Scott’s teaser for 3b where his(?) body is writing with flies and maggots.
If it is true that it is their unconscious minds that have given literal form to all the darkness within them this could be symbolic of that. The evil that grows from within.
Anyway I digress, water is after all also very symbolic of the subconscious.
BAM. Just as a reminder when you are drowned you do not sink because your lungs fill with water so I have always thought that this was very evocative of Scott sinking into his subconscious. Water as a symbol for the unconscious mind is also quite popular in Jungian Psychology. Water represents all that lies below the surface.
Okay so it is possible that we have seen water being used as a portal when Peter used the water rising in the shower to reach out to Lydia in 2×01 ‘Omega’ – most believe this was a hallucination on Lydia’s part, but what if Peter really did grab her from the other side?
Peter often communicated with Lydia in her sleep (i.e. her unconscious mind). Dreams incidentally were believed by the ancients to be a way for the dead to communicate with the living. And in Season 3 whenever Lydia found a body she didn’t remember getting there which would happen if it was her subconscious driving her. Traditionally there is a separation between it and the conscious mind.
Also as a reminder one of the biggest questions of Season 2 was why it began with Jackson in the lake. It might have something to do with water being a portal? This can still be explored even though Colton Haynes has left the show.
Plus of note is the fact that water definitely runs under the Hale House possible connects to the lake as we’ve seen the ripples in the basement on more than one occasion notably 1×11 ‘Formality’. Perhaps this is also significant?
In the promo the dark corridor is flooded with water and they focus on Stiles’ legs running through it. Was this for a reason? I think so.
Anyway taking all of this into account I think this image is rife with symbolism:
It is a door (even if it is a reflection) under the water. Also the petal has been identified as cherry blossom. This nice little post explains it’s meaning and even uses the word ephemeral!!! Essentially though cherry blossom is connected with mortality and a metaphor for life/death and the concept of mono no aware. It also gives the whole thing a distinctly Japanese flavour.
So death opens the door to the unconscious mind? Lets out all the darkness there like Pandora’s box. (
Normally people stay dead but they were brought back by their anchors so perhaps it forged a connection between the concious and the unconscious world?
This is supported by the newly release trailer for 3b where Deaton says “you’ve opened a door in your minds” but he doesn’t tell us where this door leads. A door to the unconscious? Or something else? He adds “it will draw them here” as the trailer focuses on Allison’s doppelgänger appearing behind her. So I personally assume that that is what Deaton is referring too and he means literally. It brought ‘them’ here.
Isaac: No I can’t see them. (3×02 ‘Chaos Rising’)
I also assume that it is the Nemeton that will do the drawing because it is the Axis Mundi and therefore the connection between the unconscious and the conscious. Many stories in mythology are essentially (symbolically) about the journey into the unconscious (the underworld) before the person returns to the conscious world with a new understanding – enlightened. For example the story of Perseus in Greek Mythology.
Now to talk specifically about the ‘door’.
In the teasers for 3b we’ve had multiple references to a door but all in sign language.
As to why these words are signed my best guess is that it has something to do with sign-languages symbolic nature likened to Mythology itself and Totemism. Mythology is in a way a language of signs and symbols. For example the Egyptians represented the moon as a cat but they didn’t think that the moon was a cat. Only noted that at night a cats eyes shine like the moon so adopted the cat as a symbolic representation. (It’s that or the person trying to send the warning is deaf).
I don’t speak ASL myself and have no way of confirming if these translations are correct but the general consensus seems to be the following.
- “When the door closes, don’t open it.”
- “When is a door not a door?” (When it is a portal ;) Or when it is a jar which the door in the promo is).
- “When the door is open not closed.”
- “Don’t open the door!”
Whatever the correct translation are lets just agree that they involve a door, yes?
Speaking of doors remember this gif?
“Something is coming something bad.” The fact of the matter is that the Alpha Pack were already in Beacon Hills at the start of Season 3 so it is quite possible that this line is referring to something else entirely. All the mad stuff that is happening now perhaps?
There is a light behind the door but you can clearly see the shadow of a person standing just behind it! Creepy. Doors are often thought of as mystical because they are thresholds between two places. An inane piece of trivia In many cases it was thought unlucky to tread on the threshold itself, and people were always careful to step over it. This is why brides, in a transitional stage of life, are carried across it. :D
However what is more interesting to me is the fact that it appears to be the Hale House front door.
I have a few questions about the Hale House (that I will try and answer myself weeee).
To get straight to the point I have wondered if the house was built out of the chopped down Nemeton?
We know that the Hale family has a history with the place. A dark history.
Also Lydia, who appears to be the character most connected with the ‘mirror’ world and death saw the Hale House as it was before it was burnt down in 2×07 ‘Restraint’. I’d like to say this was a hallucination but we can’t actually be sure of that.
She sees the truth in the mirror of the wardrobe (maybe just the wardrobe was built from the Nemeton) like she’s looking out through the mirror to the ‘real’ world. Like she is inside the mirror. Lydia as a Banshee is the guider of souls so it kind of makes sense that she would be able to pass between worlds in some ways?
The house was whole but it was no perfect. It was not filled with things, it was empty and bare and filled with leaves. If the house was built from the Nemeton (and that is a big if) perhaps it exist now in limbo between worlds because the Nemeton is magical. I have this gut feeling that the corridor that Stiles is walking down in the promo is supposed to be the Hale House. I guess it could be anywhere but yeah.
Peter was dead yet his mind, his conciousness, was somewhere because he was able to communicate with Lydia in a yet to be fully explained way. He had to exist somewhere, right?
Which leads me to talking about The White Room.
What is The White Room you ask?
Well I think it is like a kind of space between the two worlds; outside of time. It is the threshold between two worlds. Maybe a place or dream world where peoples unconscious minds can connected in the collective unconscious. The collective unconscious is also a part of Jungian Psychology.
The reason why I believe this is because in 3×12 ‘Lunar Ellipse‘ Allison, Scott and Stiles were all in The White Room together. Their minds were connected they were sharing the experience. Incidentally they also go to there by being drowned in water as a sacrifice to the Nemeton.
Now the two other times we have seen the White Room.
Is possibly when Derek was unconscious in 2×10 ‘Fury’.
And in the teaser for 3b where Stiles and Scott were there together.
Now the axis mundi is connected to knowledge of the past, present and future. Anyone or anything suspended on the axis between worlds becomes a repository of potential knowledge.
In 3×12 ‘Lunar Ellipse’ the Nemeton showed Scott, Allison and Stiles ‘memories’ of the past.
Deaton said “they’re just memories they can’t hurt you!” in 3×02 ‘Chaos Rising’ ?
Somehow I just don’t believe him, do you? (Or well I think it is probably wrong and it will turn out memories can hurt them. They will dream and then wake up with injuries they got in the dream and stuff like that – scary stuff).
I am particularly intrigued by this from the teaser:
It seems like the Nemeton is invading a dream or memory of Stiles’ and things get freaky. You can see what I think is the lacrosse pitch fading out to the woods and the Nemeton. All of which really freaks Stiles out he insists that it’s just a dream and is telling himself to wake up. This all leads me to believe that it is just a little bit more than just a dream.
In addition there is this image lifted from the TV-guide interview. Where it appears that Derek has come face to face with the Nemeton too and in his loft. He doesn’t even appear to be asleep. I wonder if the wolf is his mother or Laura?
(source for the edit)
Now even though Derek wasn’t involved in the experience with Stiles, Allison and Scott he does have his own ties to the Nemeton. Having accidentally sacrificed Paige at it’s roots and thus accidentally giving it more power.
More evidence for everything I don’t even know at this point just roll with it:
During the teasers the nursery rhyme Row Row Row Your Boat is played which I find very interesting when you look at its meaning.
Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.
It is a metaphor for the idea that human beings travel along a certain stream [time] and suggests boundaries in the path of choices and in free will.
Allison: I don’t believe in fate. (2×12 ‘Master Plan’)
Allison: I don’t believe in fate.
Lydia: Well maybe you should start.
Some people have questioned the song’s implied necessity to row one’s boat down stream. This may in fact be a commentary on the paradoxical nature of time’s arrow with respect to man’s free will in a universe of materialistic causality.
You might be thinking yeah okay but what has this got to do with Teen Wolf? Well surprisingly quite a lot.
In 3×05 ‘Frayed’ Lydia is seen reading a book called Thermodynamics: Asymmetry of Time.
Stiles and Scott were also revising words for their pSATs and one of them was this:
Anachronism: something that exists outside of it’s normal time (as defined by Scott McCall).
The White Room??
I don’t want to get to bogged down in science stuff but essentially the theory according to the laws of thermodynamics is that time can only go in one direction.
Except in 3×06 ‘Motel California’ we had Lydia hearing the past suicides.
Lydia: did you hear that? Didn’t you hear that?
And in 3×12 ‘Lunar Ellipse’ we had her feeling the future.
Lydia: I feel like I am standing in a graveyard.
Also when our trio returned from their trip down memory lane with the Nemeton they were told that 16 hours had passed when it had only felt like a few minutes to them. Yeah there is definitely something fishy going on with the flow of time there.
So I think in Teen Wolf the rules of physics might not apply to Lydia and maybe also in general. Past, present and future can all blend into one. Echo’s and memories of the past can become real or interact with our characters. Futures can be avoided.
The final line, “life is but a dream”, is perhaps the most meaningful but the hardest to understand. In a spiritual sense it encompasses the idea that once you awake from ‘reality’ you see everything within the context of the bigger picture.
However in the context of Teen Wolf what does it mean? The nursery rhyme seems quite poignant when the words “wake up” keep being repeated over and over again across the teasers and promos.
Yet we know from this sneak peak NNYC clip that when Stiles had a ‘dream’ he wasn’t asleep.
Stiles: I must have dozed off.
Scott: Dude, you weren’t asleep.
He was writing (again) over and over again on a page the words ‘wake up’.
How can he be both awake and asleep at the same time? I don’t have an easy answer for this but I would like to say that usually reality and dreams are clearly distinct and easily divided into the real and not-real category. If Stiles was in fact not asleep does that mean what he experiences was more ‘real’ than the typical dream?
Does it put both on equal footing so you begin to question which is reality? In this case I would argue that perhaps both are but Stiles isn’t to know that and I think it would be particularly interesting if he reached the point where he is insisting that the ‘real’ world is a dream not knowing what is real and what is not real. Incredibly scary right? He won’t know what reality to wake up from. And lends to his panic in the teaser where he is shouting “wake up”.
Finally to conclude in 3×12 ‘Lunar Ellipse’ when Scott, Allison and Stiles were in the white room with the stump of the Nemeton? Scott saw the stump and touched his tattoo but what is the connection? What is the significance?
In 3×01 ‘Tattoo’ Scott said about his tattoo ” I don’t know just something I trace with my fingers.”
Well I think I’ve finally figured out what it is (third times the charm right). It is a mandala and the axis mundi i.e. the nemeton is often associated with mandalas  (or so says wikipedia but it makes sense).
Which interestingly enough was reintroduced into modern Western thought by one Carl Jung! Ahhhaa we come a complete circle ;) In his exploration of the unconscious he observed the motif of the circle spontaneously appearing and he adopted the word mandala to describe it.
“I sketched every morning in a notebook a small circular drawing,…which seemed to correspond to my inner situation at the time….Only gradually did I discover what the mandala really is:…the Self, the wholeness of the personality, which if all goes well is harmonious.”
Jung recognized that the urge to make mandalas emerges during moments of intense personal growth. Their appearance indicates a profound re-balancing process is underway in the psyche. The result of the process is a more complex and better integrated personality.
“The process is that of the ascending spiral, which grows upward while simultaneously returning again and again to the same point. Creating mandalas helps stabilize, integrate, and re-order inner life.”
Now to quickly refer back to where I started this really long post with the Shadow self. The desired outcome in the end is the assimilation of the Shadow back into ones personality to produce a stronger, wider consciousness but to do this you have to acknowledge it, understand it and accept it. This is the quest.
So has Scott got the key to solving whatever it is that is happening in Beacon Hills at the moment? A way to protect themselves from their darker side? To assimilate the Shadow self as it were?
I hope so.