Since we first became acquainted with Malia Tate in Teen Wolf Season 3B, she has progressed significantly as a character. From a confused, feral Werecoyote to a self-assured, powerful human being who can shift to her supernatural side with grace, her growth is admirable and deserves to be discussed.
Malia’s introduction to the series revealed she had spent the better part of her life living as a Werecoyote in the woods of Beacon Hills after a car wreck that killed her adoptive mother and sister, which she blamed herself for. When Sheriff Stilinski rehashed an old case, Scott tracked down Malia’s whereabouts and reverted her back to her human body, after which she was reunited with her adoptive father.
Malia had tremendous difficulty readjusting to life as a human and often lashed out at others. She was confused and scared – and desperately wanted to revert back to her Werecoyote form. While I appreciate her brute strength and independence, it’s not easy to go through life alone. Malia found it challenging to connect with others – even her adoptive father, who was understandably confused about how she was still alive and where she had been in the years of her absence. She struggled at forming a bond with others until she met Stiles Stilinski.
In the beginning of Teen Wolf Season 4, Malia only showed a soft spot for Stiles and found everyone else to be expendable. With Stiles taking her under his wing and Scott McCall leading by example, Malia began to care for the entire pack. Malia, who once insisted she would never leave Stiles behind, soon began to apply that to everyone in the McCall pack. She also started to master control over her abilities and proved to have both inner and outer strength. By the end of the season, Malia was fighting alongside her friends to save her cousin Derek Hale and no longer only looked out for herself. She had grown from that understandably confused and angry girl to a more confident and compassionate individual.
Come Season 5, Malia proved to be a vital member of the pack – one willing to protect those she cares about by any means necessary. Through Scott, Malia learned that killing isn’t always the answer and people – or supernatural beings – deserve to be saved. When she had the choice whether or not to kill Tracy Stewart, she chose the latter and attempted to save her – even when the Dread Doctors stepped in. Being intuitive, Malia deducted that Stiles unintentionally caused Donovan’s death and gave him the forgiveness he wouldn’t give himself. She continued to strengthen her friendship with both Kira Yukimura and Lydia Martin, while showing a fondness for Scott. Malia even partnered up with Braeden to track down the Desert Wolf. She exhibited exceptional growth in properly articulating her feelings and understanding of human emotions.
Which leads to the most recent Teen Wolf episode, “Amplification.” It’s fair to say Malia is more than prepared to risk her life for those she loves. She used her inside man at Eichen House to distract the orderly so that she and Kira could get inside and insisted Kira was capable of controlling her abilities. Malia also had my favorite line in the episode: “We’re here to save Lydia. We’re here to save our friend.”
Malia has always been one of the most empowering and fascinating characters to watch, mostly due to Shelley Hennig’s fabulous portrayal. As we continue to see Malia come into her own, we are reminded that change is possible and growth is inevitable. Malia may be willing to bet ten bucks on Scott and Stiles, but I’m willing to bet a whole lot more on her.