Bear with me here people because i wanna talk about Stiles because ugh he killed me so much in this episode
We start with a Papa Stiles scene, and even though they’re talking about murders - pictures and all - we get the feeling that this is the norm for them, that maybe Stiles’ interest in policework was a way for them to connect after his mother died. They’re talking about the Kanima deaths but there’s no werewolves, nothing supernatural or frightening in the scene; it’s safe and calm and normal, the way we must assume Stiles’ life was before Scott was bitten.
Then we move into a typical Scott-and-Stiles-doing-shit scene - again, there’s the sense that this is the way life has always been for Stiles, except now instead of going to the movies or playing video games he and Scott run around trying not to get killed and trying keep their friends from being killed and pretending that their lives aren’t constantly in danger - and though he’s seen Scott on the full moon and he knows how much it sucks to be a werewolf, there is a part of Stiles that is angry that he’s been roped into this whole mess and is always the weakest one, the one who has to hang behind, who doesn’t have the strength or agility or awesome hunting archery skills. It must be unbelivably frustrating for Stiles to be in danger and have to call Scott or ask for help because he can’t defend himself (this is why he gets so angry when Scott doesn’t pick up his phone in 1x05 and 2x04) or, often, his father, who he’s being forced to constantly lie to. This theme continues in the next scene with Isaac in the locker room - another scene in which someone’s ~werewolf skills get the job done.
And then we have the Supervet scene (and if you rewatch the episode just WATCH DYLAN O’BRIEN’S FACE IN THIS SCENE BECAUSE UGH I CAN’T HANDLE YOUU). The vet tells Stiles that only he can effectively put the mountain ash in place and Stiles is just genuinely confused - he’s like “um dude r u srs i think you mean the werewolf next 2 me” because why would anyone need boring human Stiles? They never really have before, ~pack plans~ usually revolve around the strength of the wolves, with Stiles in the background or collecting information. And of course considering the shitstorm they’re in, Stiles isn’t happy about this (“CAN WE FIND SOMETHING WITH LESS PRESSURE FOR ME??”), but he’s going to try his best because that’s what Stiles does, he gives what little he can to help because he doesn’t want anyone to get hurt, his friends or otherwise.
And then ughhhhh we get the second Papa Stiles scene. In which Stiles, who is worried about the pressure of his task, is reminded just how much werewolves and their mess has truly fucked his life up, and fucked the lives of his friends and family. And it’s really not his fault, it’s not his fault that Scott got bitten and that they have to bend the rules to make sure Jackson or anyone else doesn’t get killed, but he takes all that guilt on anyway because he just loves his dad, man, and it breaks his heart that he’s messed up his dad’s life, too.
So then we phase into a sombre Stiles (not even any sarcasm ughhh fml), whose just there to get the job done. And then, basically by the force of his own willpower, Stiles gets shit done. He completes that mountain ash circle man, he put a ring on that motherfucker good and proper. And look at how happy he is - that he finally got to help and didn’t have to sit on the sidelines or be protected or act impulsively, they had a plan, it included Stiles, and it worked. This is the first time since the series began that Stiles has some power, some agency, some actual choice over what’s happening and how it happens.
And then we get Stiles in full team mode, working with Erica and Isaac (oh wait sorry, leading Erica and Isaac) and trying to figure out who controls the kanima while making sure that Jackson is okay - and he doesn’t even LIKE Jackson. When the kanima starts going loco, he tells Erica and Isaac to run, and they follow him because he’s making sense and because, basically, he’s been with Scott since day one and knows how to handle these situations better than they do. And there’s not a clash between any of them because they understand and accept Stiles in a leadership role.
Finally, we have the last Stiles scene in the episode. In which Derek tells him to break the mountain ash circle so he can save Scott. In which Stiles has to destroy the work he’s done, the reason that he was needed, because Scott is in trouble and he can’t help him. And he’s reminded again that he’s just the human, the one who does the research and has the sarcastic responses, and that when there’s real danger the only help he can provide is staying out of the way.
That face, guys. Look at that face.