Stiles, Kira, & Gendered Possessions in Teen Wolf

IMG_8000765424997An evil or possessed Stiles has long been a favorite topic of speculation in the Teen Wolf fandom. It has been explored in countless works of fan art and fan fiction, along with cleverly edited .gif sets.

The conclusion of the latest episode of Teen Wolf, however, told us that we no longer have to imagine such an idea. Stiles is in trouble and he may very well be the next main (if not reluctant) villain of the series.

By revealing to the audience and Stiles simultaneously that he was the one who wrote Kira’s name on the blackboard for the serial killing Barrow, Teen Wolf took us in a refreshingly new direction and hinted at the darkness to come. It’s obvious now that the darkness that surrounded our Golden Trio’s hearts has become something deeper for Stiles. While Scott seems to be controlling himself just fine and enjoying a healthy relationship with Kira and Allison has no problem with her confidence or skills, Stiles is clearly still under the Nemeton’s power.

IMG_7996702609426He had no recollection of writing Kira’s name on the board and setting her up for dead. His surprise was as genuine as ours. Therefore, he can’t be actively and knowingly evil. Possession seems to be the answer, though his hallucinations and inability to tell waking life from dreams in previous episodes could allude to a form of mental disorder.

A great deal of the heart of Teen Wolf lies in the fact that Stiles is human. He refused the bite from Peter in the first season and his only skills were his intellect and quick wits. His humanity is even more apparent than Allison’s due to her deep connection to the supernatural with her family and her almost superhuman archery capabilities. Stiles has nothing like this. He isn’t adept at fighting, he isn’t particularly physically strong and he merely relies on his own observations of the world to survive. There have been countless times where Stiles’ research and quick thinking have saved the group and when the Nemeton invaded their subconscious, it was his ability to read and rely on his senses that was attacked.

So, what does this mean for Teen Wolf? Is there a darker Big Bad out there that we haven’t met yet? Will there be a traumatic and heartbreaking confrontation between Stiles and his best friend, our hero, Scott? With the knowledge that apparently one of our main characters will die this season, fans are speculating that Stiles will be our victim and if he is now our villain, it does make sense.

Yet, Stiles is not the only character dealing with a newfound and scary self-awareness. In “Illuminated,” it is hinted that Kira is a kitsune, or a fox (at least, her aura was that of one). In Japanese mythology, the fox is a major player: intelligent, shape-shifters, tricksters, messengers, and more. In an interesting unintentional nod to Teen Wolf, the Dictionary of Symbolism claims, “the vulpine spirits that can transform themselves into humans – ‘werefoxes,’ we may say – were called koki-teno. They possessed the ability to dazzle humans, mislead and corrupt them” (Biedermann 144).

IMG_8003911201976Like Stiles, Kira apparently is being transformed into something she does not want to be. She is horrified and confused by her apparent supernatural connection, though it did help her escape from Barrow in “Galvanize”. Barrow, as he claimed, killed children with glowing eyes and while the audience’s first instinct is to think he is referring to werewolves, it became obvious that light is a major part of Kira’s supernatural abilities. From the way she absorbs electricity and then releases blinding sparks to destroy Barrow, it’s clear that Barrow could have been referring to something else beyond werewolves.

In fact, we should’ve seen this coming as Kira, in Japanese, means “glitter” or even sparkle. Kira literally glitters and exudes light.

This brings us back to Stiles. If he, under hypnosis or possession or something else, attempted to get her killed, are we looking at a stark duality in this season of Teen Wolf? Is Kira the light and Stiles the darkness? And does this mean that Scott is stuck between the two of them and will he have to make some heartbreaking decision eventually? Only time will tell.

While the two characters aren’t stark contrasts, they are somewhat similar in the sense that they are both well-read, interested in research, and a little on the awkward side. They are also now dealing with unexpected supernatural powers. From a gendered perspective, it’s interesting to note that while the source of Kira’s powers are unknown (her lineage perhaps? Her parents are heavily featured for a new character), Stiles’ seem to be related to possession, which is a distinctly gendered horror motif.

Many feminist critics have argued that possession is typically a female burden. Think of the famous possession films (The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, The Possession, Poltergeist), and you’ll notice that more often than not, it’s a woman who is being possessed. According to critic Carol J. Clover, women are usually possessed because women are viewed as “enterable” (80) or essentially, vulnerable to penetration. Possessed people are effectively portals for evil and women have often been viewed as simply vessels. Indeed, the title of Clover’s essay on this, “Opening Up” harkens back to Deaton’s insistence that Stiles and others must close the door in order to survive the darkness. Stiles, it seems, is still ajar.

So what does this mean? Is there some gendered ambiguity with Stiles? I don’t think it’s as overt as this but I do think it’s important to recognize the gendered way in which Stiles is becoming a villain. By being possessed, his evilness is gendered feminine and we therefore have another example of woman = bad in our pop culture.

Yet, we do have to see what will happen with Kira and whether or not her apparent lightness is indeed good or bad. Is she being possessed as well? Or is she simply something else altogether and if so, is she a victim or a powerful woman with agency?

What are your thoughts and theories on how Teen Wolf will continue this season?

What does Stiles apparent possession mean to this show’s universe?

What do you consider Kira to be?


Biedermann, Hans. Dictionary of Symbolism. New York: Facts on File, 1992. Print.

Clover, Carol J. Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1992. Print.

Author: Kerry

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6 thoughts on “Stiles, Kira, & Gendered Possessions in Teen Wolf

  1. Stiles being possessed is connected to gendered ambiguity….interesting….i guess even the Nematon is having trouble determining what to do with Stiles….what is a Stiles?! 😉

    Whenever i think Stiles+Nematon…i think of Derek and how he’s linked to the Nematon too…my shipper heart ^^

    As we are watching TW i kind of doubt almost everything i see…maybe it wasn’t Stiles who was helping Barrow…maybe he’s being made to think that….i’m just not comfortable with the kitsune definition of master manipulators, etc….the biggest manipulation must’ve started the moment 3B started or maybe sooner than that….Kira doesn’t look like a character that will stay till S4, that’s why i think something will be up with regards to her or her family.

    If Kitsune’s are supposed to live hundreds of years maybe there’s a thing of ‘rebirth’ or ‘finding a new human form’ (a little change in the myth with that one)…like Kira’s family is in charge of taking care of kitsune’s when they come back/change forms, and Kira has just started to ‘remember’ who or what she is and maybe it’s not a good thing

    1. Interesting thoughts re: Kira. I also am reluctant to view her as being possessed but something much more powerful – though I also fear that she is not going to live to see Season 4 which absolutely breaks my heart. I really really love her. I also am just not that familiar with the kitsune or Japanese mythology in general so it’s so interesting to learn more things about the fox and realize how deep and profound it is. I’m really excited to see what Kira is capable of and I really hope Jeff Davis doesn’t let us know – though I’m not holding my breath to that.

      I also didn’t know what to make of Derek’s connection to the Nemeton and it’s relation to Stiles’ possession. If we knew more about his interaction with his mom and what exactly had Peter so nervous then maybe I’d be able to understand it a bit better but right now, it rather seems like a red herring.

  2. I’m going to choose to view Kira as a powerful woman with agency and not a possession. I could be proven wrong. Maybe it’s wishful thinking. I feel like the kitsune is something she just is and not something that’s happened to her. Teen Wolf has been pretty good about presenting strong women with Allison and Lydia (though on occasion they dip into the “damsel in distress” trope, but often not to the severity to really upset me). I’m hoping they keep up this track record with Kira.

    As for Stiles, I think it’s interesting to analyze his possession in the framework of gender. It’s especially interesting given that this episode also hinted at him being bisexual. I feel like it gets a little problematic conflating sexuality and gender, though. Oftentimes people will view a submissive person as “feminine,” which, as a feminist, obviously doesn’t jive with me very well. As a bisexual person it is also upsetting to assume that someone in a same sex relationship must also take on the opposite genders traits for whatever reason. As problematic as I find these two things, it is worth noting that fandom tends to write Stiles in traditionally more feminine roles. I’m generally not a fan of these traditional gender roles, but they do exist. He’s written as Derek, the alpha’s (at the time) mate. He’s written as the “pack mom.” He’s written as sort of the caretaker and motherly figure to the pups. I haven’t read any possession fic (it’s been at least a year since I dipped into Teen Wolf fanfiction), but when framing possession as a female trait that certainly fits in line with the roles fandom has already assigned to him.

    Thanks for the write up and analysis. It’s definitely an interesting thing to think about.

    -Admin Angel

    1. I’m also reluctant to consider Stiles as having an ambiguous gender because I too have issues with people intersecting gender with sexuality. But you’re absolutely right in terms of how Stiles is viewed in fandom: he usually is the most feminine man and exudes these traditionally feminine traits (especially when he is paired with the ultra-masculine Derek). I honestly hadn’t thought of that while writing this piece because I was so focused on the idea of him being possessed but you actually gave my article more credence! So thanks for that! 😀

      Possession is discussed a great deal by feminists and there’s some amazing essays and articles on the trope. For some feminists, possession is basically a “nicer” and more acceptable version of rape. Take, for example, the sexual nature of Regan’s possession in The Exorcist (at the height of her puberty too) or the possessed pregnancy of Rosemary and her loss of control of her body (or her vessel) in Rosemary’s Baby. While I definitely do NOT think that Teen Wolf is employing the possession as rape motif, it is taking away Stiles’ agency. After all, he is still “open” as Deaton said and therefore vulnerable to someone else’s power and corruption. What will happen to Stiles as the series progresses? Will he be gendered feminine more (become the sexually ambiguous pack mom) or killed? I really have no idea where Jeff Davis is going with Teen Wolf so these are all speculations.

      I too want to view Kira as strong and as a woman with agency. It would be interesting also that a female character who exhibits some of Stiles’ traits would be rendered powerful while Stiles, as a man, becomes more vulnerable. Who knows what will happen?

  3. Simple solution, either Stiles isn’t actually a dark kitsune, he is very connected to the nematon and the nematon is using him or kira is a kitsune that can help Stiles by killing the posseser but not the possesed which is why it wants her dead.

  4. I honestly believe that the nemeton is using Stiles to get closer to Kira, so it could kill her. But I also conclude that Kira will help the spirit come out of stiles and destroy it but with the help of Scott and others .. or maybe I’m wrong

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