“Teen Wolf’s” Stiles’ (Dylan O’Brien) and Scott’s (Tyler Posey) friendship is the building block of the entire show — but Donovan’s (Ashton Moio) death in Season 5 episode 5 may be the thing that tears apart one of TV’s strongest BROTPs.
Stiles kills Donovan in clear self-defense, but that doesn’t change the fact that another person’s blood is literally on his hands and creates a huge turning point for this season. Stiles’ guilt is immediately evident by the fact he can’t bring himself to drive his jeep out of the school parking lot after he calls the police to find the body.
O’Brien is at the top of his acting game as Stiles is silent through the entire encounter: from Donovan chasing him into the library to discovering the body has been moved before the authorities arrive and until Scott finally calls to say that someone is taking the bodies, confirming Stiles’ own suspicions. It’s several minutes of verbal silence on Stiles’ end, allowing himself and the audience to let events sink in and realize this changes everything.
Stiles doesn’t purposefully kill Donovan, but he knows that if the chimera hadn’t been subdued he would have been the one to die. Still, the founding tenant of the McCall pack is no killing, no matter the circumstances. The moment Scott became the True Alpha, not killing became an integral part of who he is as a leader and a hero. To negotiate on that principle is to negotiate who he is at his core, and that’s not something he’s able to do.
That’s something that Stiles understands better than anyone. Though Stiles can validly rationalize Donovan’s death as self-defense, he sees Scott look at Kira (Arden Cho) differently for almost killing Lucas (Eddie Ramos) in a kitsune rage and knows that a schism is forming between him and his best friend that won’t be easily overcome.
“We can’t kill the people we’re trying to help,” Scott says and Stiles makes the decision right there not to tell him about Donovan. Inevitably Scott will find out what happened, and when he does it will be the heartbreaking fallout that Jeff Davis has been teasing all season.
Why is it heartbreaking? Because Scott and Stiles have been there for each other at their darkest moments, always the ones to pull each other back from the edge when they need it most. “Motel California” remains one of the show’s most landmark episodes thanks to Stiles’ empowered speech stopping Scott’s insecurities from killing them all.
In return, it was Scott that swore “I’ll do something,” when Stiles was diagnosed with a mysterious brain disorder in Season 3. It was Scott that never gave up on him when the disorder turned out to be a nogitsune taking over his best friend’s body. Scott was able to overlook the havoc Stiles caused because he knew it wasn’t really his friend.
In this case, Stiles isn’t possessed. Donovan died at his hand while he was of sane mind and body, which will be a lot harder for Scott to understand — even if Donovan would have been happy to kill Stiles without the Dread Doctors’ power infusion. If Scott can’t find a way to appreciate the moral grey area of the supernatural world they live in, then he risks alienating the most important person in his pack. More than any romantic relationship or Alpha powers, Scott and Stiles are the glue that hold their group together.
If they split, it will reverberate throughout the entire pack and ultimately become the most fatal threat that could happen to any of them. Donovan’s death is more likely to catalyze Lydia’s (Holland Roden) horrifying vision of their deaths from the season premiere than anything the Dread Doctors are planning if it manages to tear Scott and Stiles apart.
As it’s been proven over and over on “Teen Wolf,” a lone wolf doesn’t survive for long on his own.