Hi. Quick question for you: Do you know if it was ever canonically stated that Laura could do the full shift? I know Stiles speculated she could in S1, but I don't remember it actually being confirmed at any point. I mean, alright, the burried half of her body was in the shape of a wolf, but I thought that was due to the wolfsbane spiral. Though I guess the spiral was for the revenge thing, right? So the wolfsbane must've been the important ingredient there, maybe? And what would that mean
considering Derek being covered in wolfsbane at the beginning of S4 in Mexico? Is that the reason he was younger again/changed shape? Uh, sorry, this kind of turned more into a load of questions instead of a quick one :)
I don’t think it was ever outright stated by someone who would be in the know (just Derek or Peter, really) that Laura could full shift. But I never really felt like it needed to be said since, like you pointed out, we were shown Laura’s corpse in wolf form. The wolfsbane spiral was heavily implied to be what triggered the shift, since she changed back to human form once Stiles removed it, but I always felt like this was something that would only happen to someone who could shift when they were alive. The full shift was such a significant achievement, and I can’t imagine that if, say, Derek died during season two and was buried this way, that he’d shift as well.
…As I say this now, though, I’m realizing that this is pretty much all just wild speculation on my part. Maybe Derek would shift in that case. I don’t particularly think so, it doesn’t feel right to me personally, but I also don’t particularly get why a spiral of wolfsbane would force anyone to shift, whether they could before or not. The full shift was always tied to the ideas of strength and control, while wolfsbane obviously had the opposite effect –– weakening, wounding, and making them unstable. So what would be the connection there?
(Honestly, I feel like this is just an early case of Jeff not having a total handle on his own mythology –– doing things because they were visually interesting or for shock value, instead of because they make sense. This was harder to see early on, when there was less contradictory information out there, but it’s always been a trend in this show.)
Ignoring the parenthesized bit for the sake of meta, though, Derek being buried with wolfsbane by Kate is an interesting parallel. I don’t think it was in any way Kate’s intention to trigger Derek’s evolution, and I think it makes sense that wolfsbane would be used as part of a ritual to de-age him –– making him physically and metaphorically weaker, younger and more susceptible to Kate. But either way, we now have two cases of werewolves being exposed to wolfsbane and being triggered to full shift either immediately or shortly after. And considering we have no in canon explanation for either shift (Derek’s “evolution” is honestly just… they didn’t even attempt to explain it) that connection feels even more significant.
It’s also really interesting to remember that while the full shift is tied to strength and control (remember Talia was highly respected by other Alphas partly because of her ability to full shift) the beta shift is often connected to the opposite. New weres are in constant danger of wolfing out when they’re upset/angry/scared/aroused/injured… in any heightened emotional state there’s a threat of flashing eyes, claws creeping out, or even a complete beta shift. So what does this mean? Why does losing control shift you halfway, while achieving some higher zen state is necessary to full shift?
…And for the sake of thoroughness (and because I’m sure someone will point it out) I feel like I have to mention the other character shown to full shift. Though I’m hesitant to because her backstory seems to contradict what else we’ve been shown. We have Talia, who was one of the most highly regarded Alphas, period, because she’d mastered the hugely difficult full shift; we have Derek, who needed to go through some complex and ill-defined “evolution” which included weeks of losing touch with his wolf and literally dying to achieve the full shift; and we have Peter’s daughter who, in a state of panic and emotional turmoil, achieved the full shift at nine years old.
So then, if we decide not to ignore that as a general plotting glitch, we have an example of someone being so emotionally weakened that they slipped right past the beta shift into a full shift, which suggests that the full shift isn’t achieved by exceptional control after all. And if the full shift isn’t triggered by control, and can be triggered by extreme lack of control, then that could explain why wolfsbane would be used to trigger the full shift –– at least initially (in Derek’s case) or when the person couldn’t trigger it by emotion/intent anymore (Laura’s corpse reacting to the weakening effects of wolfsbane).
Ok, stay with me guys. i know this is shaky as hell but we’re kind of in the home stretch here. Because then the reason Talia would have been celebrated wouldn’t be because she could shift into a wolf, but because she could shift back. Because she was able to embrace the wildness and the lack of control that came with being fully wolf and then take that control back again. Most weres are probably terrified of even attempting the full shift, struggle and cling to some bit of humanity as self-preservation even in their most desperate moments or most earnest attempts, making the full shift impossible. And there have probably been horror-story examples of weres who found their way into wolf form but then never managed to change back. (Such as Peter’s daughter.) But Talia was either connected enough to her wolf or just trusted in herself enough to be able to let go entirely, and that was what made her be able to slip between wolf and human forms like so few others could.
And Derek, dying in the sand outside that church, his healing and strength gone –– Derek who spent all of seasons one and two in a desperate and self-preserving bid for control, who has always needed to stand on the front lines, to be involved, to offer himself up to protect others and do what needs to be done –– finally realized that he’d done all he could do and handed the mission, handed his control, away to Stiles willingly when he told him to go. He accepted that he had no options left and that whatever was going to happen would happen, and that was what allowed him to finally full shift.
And then he was able to pull himself back.
Ok, that was a roller-coaster of meta right there. I honestly wasn’t sure where I was going with that most of the time, but that’s a really interesting theory and I’d love to know what you all think about it.