|“||You want the truth, Lydia? It's not the scream that gives you power. All the scream does is drown out the noise, allowing you to hear what you really need to.||”|
In Teen Wolf, Banshees are special human women who have the supernatural power to sense and predict when someone is about to die. As a result, they are considered harbingers of death and are often referred to as the "Wailing Women" due to the fact that they unconsciously scream to announce when someone has died, usually those killed by supernatural forces.
These women predict death through premonitions, which can be auditory, visual, or both, depending on the power level of the Banshee in question. When a Banshee has a premonition, the sounds and sights they perceive indicate various factors that will either lead to or directly cause the death of someone in their vicinity, which are usually people harmed by the supernatural or someone the Banshee knows. However, these premonitions are not always literal and can require a certain amount of interpretation. Additionally, since the future is always in flux, a death that a Banshee has predicted may not come to pass if the events or cause of the death can be averted using the knowledge gained from the Banshee's premonition. This can be a very useful power for Banshees who are members of a pack, such as Lydia Martin.
Known Banshees in the series include Lydia Martin, Lorraine Martin, and Meredith Walker, though it has been implied that there have been other Banshees in Beacon Hills as well, such as the one Sheriff Stilinski met several years prior to the start of the series who predicted the death of his wife, Claudia Stilinski.
However, Lydia has been referred to as an exceptionally powerful Banshee, and as such, she is the one whose powers have been explored the most in the series. Her Banshee nature was triggered after she was bitten by Peter Hale in the Season 1 episode Formality, which activated her supernatural powers; it has been implied that these powers would not have manifested until after she turned eighteen, if at all, had she not been bitten. Once Lydia recovered from the attack, she began going into fugue states during which she would walk or drive to the location of a recently-deceased body, such as the Darach sacrifices and Deadpool murders victims she found in Season 3 and Season 4, respectively. This can also extend to the locations of a person who is about to die as well, as she was unconsciously drawn to Derek Hale's loft during the Deadpool so she could wail for his impending death, though it ultimately did not permanently come to pass.
In Season 3, Lydia was finally identified as a Banshee by Jennifer Blake, who seemed very shocked by this discovery. Because Lydia now knows what she is, she has had an easier time learning to understand and interpret the premonitions she receives, especially after she met fellow Banshee Meredith Walker, who has helped her learn to use some powers she did not know she had, such as the ability to use her voice as a weapon. As she has learned more about her powers, she has become more powerful as well, with her premonitions evolving from being purely auditory to both auditory and visual. She has also gained a slight degree of control over her fugue states, where she can remain at least somewhat consciously aware of what she's doing rather than just going into a full trance, finding a body, and having no idea why or how she got there.
Banshee Physiology Edit
Banshees are human in appearance, and, unlike most supernatural creatures, they do not possess the power to shapeshift. They also do not have superhuman physical attributes such as super strength or accelerated healing, which gives them the same form of mortality as a regular human as well. Chris Argent has implied that this is because Banshees are not actually supernatural creatures who are controlled by the moon or other mystical forces; instead, they are humans with access to the supernatural, allowing the mystical forces to flow through them and utilize them in the form of their supernatural powers rather than being ruled by those forces, like werewolves and Hellhounds.
While Banshees have been said to have highly enhanced senses of hearing, this trait is not like the enhanced hearing of supernatural shapeshifters such as werewolves or werecoyotes, whose sense of hearing are tied to their physical enhancements and allows them to simply hear from farther distances and at lower volumes like their canine counterparts. Banshees, on the other hand, do not seem to have the ability to hear physical sounds in this way; rather, their ears appear to be tuned to supernatural frequencies, allowing their powers to convert those frequencies into auditory premonitions to help them predict deaths.
Banshees are immune to most supernatural phenomena, possibly as a result of not being truly supernatural but still utilizing its forces. For example, Banshees can handle Mountain Ash like any other human, Druid, or Chimera, and it cannot be used to trap them or block them entry from an area as it would shapeshifters. Additionally, Banshees are immune to the bite of an Alpha werewolf and will not be transformed into a werewolf if they are bitten, though they can have a negative reaction to the bite that is similar to a powerful allergic reaction caused by their body rejecting the mystical effects of the bite; Lydia experienced these side effects after she was bitten by Peter Hale and required hospitalization as a result. They will also not be paralyzed if they are exposed to the venom of a Kanima.
The Banshee trait is known to be inherited by a female in their bloodline; in the case of Lydia Martin, she is believed to have gained her Banshee nature from her paternal grandmother Lorraine Martin. It has been implied that their supernatural powers will be activated upon reaching adulthood in most Banshees, though extremely traumatic events can trigger these nascent abilities at an earlier age. For example, Lydia being viciously attacked by an Alpha werewolf triggered her Banshee heritage and caused her to activate her powers at age sixteen, and Meredith Walker also seemed to have gained her powers while she was still in high school, suggesting that she, too, experienced a traumatic event that triggered her abilities earlier than normal, though this has yet to be explicitly confirmed.
Powers and Abilities Edit
- Death Sense: As harbingers of death, Banshees can sense when someone has died or is about to die. This is usually accompanied by a trance-like state that draws the Banshee to the location of someone who has recently died or who is near-death, though, with experience and training, the Banshee can learn to remain somewhat conscious during this event. For example, almost immediately after her powers were activated, Lydia Martin walked naked from the hospital to the Hale House ruins where Peter Hale had been killed and buried, during her first Banshee fugue state, and was in the woods for nearly two whole days walking around in a trance with little memory of what she was doing. However, in later months, Lydia has been able to consciously direct the people she is with toward a body without going into a full trance.
- Premonitions: The ears of a Banshee are naturally tuned to levels of the universe that only they can hear, which gives them the ability to receive auditory premonitions about the person whose death they're sensing. This allows them to discern how a person will die, and/or what caused or will cause the death in the first place. For example, Lydia was able to foresee Scott McCall's impending death after she had an auditory premonition involving wolves growling and fighting each other. As the Banshee's powers grow, their premonitions can evolve from being purely auditory to also being visual as well, which makes it easier for them to correctly interpret their premonitions in order to figure out what their Banshee instincts are telling them. However, these premonitions are not always literal and can often be up for interpretation, especially since Banshees rarely are given all the details of a death. For example, Lydia's her premonition of the Desert Wolf killing Malia Tate showed Malia hiding in her former coyote den in the Beacon Hills Preserve as the Desert Wolf approached her, while in reality, the the battle between the werecoyotes actually happened at Fort Jewett Army Base.
- Sound Divination: Since a Banshee's sense of hearing is heightened to levels of the universe beyond anyone else's comprehension, they can use sound vibrations to divine for more information regarding those whose deaths they are foretelling. For example, Lydia was able to figure out that Stiles Stilinski was dreaming about Eichen House by plucking strings of yarn tied to his clue board and listening to the vibrations, and got a general (albeit vague) sense of Derek's condition by dropping a handful of bullet casings found in his loft onto a metal tabletop and listening to the clanging it made, causing her to hear his screams upon his capture. Additionally, the blank record in her grandmother's sound-proofed study allowed her to divine that the first code word for the Deadpool list was "Allison." Meredith Walker was also shown to use this power when she plucked piano strings in the high school music room in order to divine more information about Lydia's whereabouts.
- Harbinger Connection: All Banshees possess an almost psychic or telepathic connection, which they can use to communicate with one another, regardless of how far away they are. However, this is an advanced Banshee power that needs to be consciously activated to use it, and it helps if the Banshees already have a relationship, such as being friends or allies. The harbinger connection has been frequently used by Meredith Walker and Lydia Martin to communicate with each other; for example, Meredith used it to locate Lydia when she was captured by the Nogitsune, and the two Banshees used it to hang out in each other's minds while they were both admitted to Eichen House, allowing Meredith to teach Lydia how to use her voice as a weapon so she could escape from the facility. Additionally, at least some Banshees seem to have a similar connection with Hellhounds, who are also harbingers of death and share some of the powers that Banshees have, like premonitions and being drawn to recently-deceased bodies. This has been demonstrated by Lydia and a Hellhound named Jordan Parrish, who share both a supernatural and a romantic connection that allows them to locate each other in emergency situations, along with being able to communicate important messages to each other regarding an impending death through visions. However, this connection between Banshees and Hellhounds is still being explored, and the limits of its use are still unknown.
- Banshee Wail: A Banshee's most important and valuable power is their Banshee wail, which can be used to produce various effects.
- Death Announcement: The most common use of this power is when a Banshee has either received a premonition that indicates that someone has died or will die shortly, or when they have just come out of a fugue state to find that they have located a recently-deceased body; when this occurs, the Banshee will scream at the top of her voice as both a sort of lament for the dead and as an alert to others that a death has occurred.
- Premonition Enhancement: A Banshee's scream can also be used to clear out ambient noises from their auditory channels so that they can focus only on the auditory premonition they are receiving; for example, when Lydia was trying to figure out where William Barrow took Kira Yukimura, she felt so overwhelmed by all the noise that she screamed, and afterward, all of the other noises had been drowned out, leaving only the buzzing of electricity in the premonition she was receiving. This premonition allowed her to realize that Barrow had taken Kira to an electric substation.
- Concussive Scream: The most powerful use of a Banshee's wail is as an offensive weapon, though this, too, is an advanced Banshee power that takes experience and training to use. When a Banshee's wail is given both focus and direction, it can produce so much power and force that it can shatter bulletproof glass, overload electronics, shatter skulls and eardrums, and even create concussive blasts strong enough to throw grown men across a room. Meredith used this ability to throw Lydia down a hallway to demonstrate the strength of the power and how important it was for Lydia to learn how to use it herself. After being trained by Meredith, Lydia used this ability during her first attempt to break out of Eichen House, causing light bulbs to explode from inside Eichen House all the way to Fort Jewett, before using this power several more times during her attempted escape to defend herself against the guards, forcefully throwing them backward against walls to knock them out. This power can be focused further by the Banshee channeling their scream through their hands to push people and other objects backward. Additionally, while her abilities were amplified by trephination, Lydia's scream was powerful enough to fatally shatter Gabriel Valack's skull, though it is unknown if she retains her scream at this powerful of a level now that the effects of the trephination have been reversed.
- Supernatural Immunity: Since Banshees are humans who access the supernatural rather than fully supernatural creatures who are ruled by mystical forces, Banshees are immune to the effects of many supernatural phenomenon. A bite from an Alpha Werewolf will neither kill them nor turn them, provided the wounds from the bite aren't fatal; this was demonstrated when Peter Hale bit Lydia in Season 1, which did nothing but activate her latent Banshee abilities. Likewise, Kanima venom will not paralyze Banshees or otherwise have an effect on them whatsoever, as evidenced when Lydia unknowingly ate a piece of rock candy covered in Jackson Whittemore's venom and suffered no negative consequences from the exposure. Also, Banshees can wield rowan wood and mountain ash like any normal human and are unaffected by barriers made of it, which would weaken and trap any other truly supernatural creature.
- Telepathy: It appears that at least some Banshees possess some form of telepathy, as Meredith Walker has demonstrated its use on two occasions. The first was when she was hospitalized several years prior to the start of the series and was put in the same room as Peter Hale, who was still comatose after being gravely burned in the Hale House Fire. Since werewolves remain conscious even when in comas due to their enhanced healing abilities, he was unable to do anything but think about how angry he was about the fire, and his thoughts somehow found the same "wavelength" as Meredith's, allowing her to hear every single thought running through his head as though he was talking right into her ear. She demonstrated telepathy again right after Scott McCall had ceased performing the Alpha memory-manipulation ritual on her, as she had requested he do so in order for Scott to see how much pain Lydia was in through their shared harbinger connection. After Scott removed the claws from her neck and broke their connection, Meredith telepathically whispered, "Save her," to him in his mind, suggesting that she can telepathically communicate with others who are not Banshees. It is unknown if this is a Banshee power, or if Meredith gained it through other means, but it is still worth noting just in case.
Banshees are still physically human, and as a result, they share the same weakness of mortality, making them vulnerable to injury, illness, and death just as any other human. Because they possess enhanced senses of hearing, they can also be harmed by extremely loud or high-pitched noises; this was evidenced when Meredith was seriously injured after listening to the "Banshee record" with headphones at Lorraine Martin's lake house, and when Meredith's Banshee-wailed so loudly that she caused Lydia's ear to bleed, despite the fact that she was with the regular human Stiles Stilinski, who was not injured by the scream.
Known Banshees Edit
Lydia was just an average teenage girl who reigned as Queen Bee of Beacon Hills High School until she was viciously attacked and bitten by Peter Hale in Season 1's penultimate episode Formality. After this attack, she was hospitalized due to the severity of her wounds and puzzled all of her healthcare providers when her body began to violently fight against the effects of the bite. However, once she fought through the process, her Banshee nature, inherited from her paternal grandmother, was activated, and she began experiencing the effects of her new powers almost immediately. She had a visual premonition of Peter's burned arm reaching through the bathtub drain before fleeing the hospital, still naked from her shower, and entered a fugue state that drew her to the Hale House ruins where Peter was buried under the floorboards of the house.
She struggled to figure out what was happening to her throughout Season 2 and most of Season 3, when she officially joined the McCall Pack and helped them protect the town. She became even more frustrated by not knowing what she was when she began actively wailing for the dead, continued to be unconsciously drawn to the recently killed victims of Jennifer Blake, and had various premonitions she couldn't understand. However, when Jennifer, who was revealed to be the Darach who was violently sacrificing various humans to give herself more power, attempted to kill Lydia for knowing too much about her plans, Lydia wailed, both out of fear and as an alarm that she was about to die, causing Jennifer, who was shocked by this development, to reveal what Lydia truly was-- a Banshee, also known as the Wailing Woman. She was ultimately saved from being killed by Sheriff Stilinski and Scott McCall, and continued to try to learn more about her supernatural identity and how to control her powers.
In Season 4, since she was able to predict the deaths of Beacon Hills citizens, particularly if they were caused by the supernatural, she was put on the Deadpool hit-list for $20 million, the second-highest value aside from her Alpha, Scott, who was valued at $25 million. This was presumably due to the fact that she could predict when the people on the Deadpool would be killed and was protected by a powerful and unique pack. Her abilities allowed her to both unlock all three parts of the hit-list, but also figure out that the Benefactor was her friend and fellow Banshee, Meredith Walker, who was acting on orders she received from Peter Hale while they were hospitalized years earlier.
In Season 5, Lydia's powers continued to develop and evolve, giving her a connection with a Hellhound, Jordan Parrish, and making her a target of Theo Raeken, who sought to add her to his new pack, and Gabriel Valack, who sought to use her abilities to finally defeat the Dread Doctors once and for all. She was able to survive the trephination procedure on her that amplified her abilities to unstable limits, and was taught by Meredith to use her Banshee scream as an offensive weapons, making her even more powerful. It was this power that also allowed the McCall Pack to defeat the Beast of Gevaudan and save her friend Mason Hewitt from being consumed by it.
Meredith was introduced in the series in Season 3B when Stiles Stilinski checked himself into Eichen House, where she was a fellow patient. He overheard her talking on the phone, where she was referencing the supernatural, but did not realize that she was also a Banshee until later in the season. When she sensed that her fellow Banshee, Lydia Martin, had been captured by the Nogitsune, Meredith broke out of Eichen House to help the McCall Pack find her.
Meredith's connection to Lydia continued throughout Season 4, when she broke out of Eichen House again upon sensing that Lydia needed her help to crack the second portion of the Deadpool hit-list code. However, when she was too anxious to help them figure out the third part of the list, it became clear that she was associated with the Benefactor in some way. Despite this, the McCall Pack didn't realize that Meredith was the Benefactor until after Jordan Parrish was forced to kill the orderly, Brunski, to keep him from killing Stiles and Lydia. She later revealed that she got the idea from Peter Hale while they were hospitalized together and she telepathically overheard his plans to start a Deadpool in order to raze the supernatural community of Beacon Hills and start over by creating shapeshifters himself. Meredith later admitted that too many innocent people had died because of supernaturals like herself, and that it was when she heard Lydia Banshee-wail for Allison Argent's death that she decided it was the right time to start the Deadpool.
She made up for her past mistakes in Season 5, when she not only helped Lydia learn how to use her scream as an offensive weapon in order to break out of Eichen House and save her friends, but also allowed Scott McCall to perform the Alpha memory-manipulation ritual on her so that she could show him how badly Lydia was suffering through their Banshee connection and also give him instructions on how to save her life. She remains in a near-catatonic state to this day, only able to actively communicate with others using her Banshee abilities.
Lorraine was the paternal grandmother of Lydia Martin and the person from whom she inherited her Banshee heritage. She gained her Banshee abilities later in life, which first manifested as auditory premonitions of an impending thunderstorm that got so loud she was forced to wail in order to drown out the noise. However, since it was a clear and sunny day, she ignored the premonition, which she ultimately felt was a mistake when she returned home to find that her wife, Maddy, had drowned while boating on the lake at the Martin Lake House.
Realizing that she had predicted Maddy's death, Lorraine became determined to figure out what she was and how her powers worked, turning her focus to pseudoscientific theories and scientists, seeking out help from psychics and mediums, and searching for other people with similar powers. It was during this search that she found Meredith Walker at Eichen House and decided to bring her to the lake house, where she had recently converted the study into a sound-proofed room with a special record player that produced vibrations that a Banshee could use to divine information. It was during this visit that Meredith was seriously injured as a result of listening to the record with headphones at a loud volume, causing her hospitalization where she would meet Peter Hale and learn about the Deadpool.
Lorraine was also a computer programmer and wrote a special code that was ultimately hijacked by Meredith and an Eichen House orderly, Brunski, to create the Deadpool hit-list. Shortly before Lorraine's death in the early 2000s, she had a Banshee premonition that manifested as her unconsciously writing a computer code on a scrap of paper that contained the names of a dozen people who had been killed by Brunski, an "Angel of Death" who was killing those of his patients who he believed needed their suffering to be relieved through death. Included on the list was Lorraine herself, who was ultimately killed by Brunski after he realized she had figured out what he had been doing. She also seemed to have predicted that her granddaughter, Lydia, would become a Banshee and would get into trouble with the Deadpool, and left her a jar of Mountain Ash inside the lake house's boat house, which was made of rowan wood and thus could serve as a protected hide-out from supernatural threats.