I have always had this theory that Derek was always meant to be a Beta. Before the fire he was trained to be a second-in-command and he’d be under Laura. It’s been my reasoning for him being so bad at being an alpha, but stepping up so well to help Scott and be a second-in-command beta, who teaches Scott so many things. I’ve always imagined that Packs have a democratic layout where the Alpha has a lot to deal with so there’s beta’s who do some of the footwork, research, etc, in order to keep everything running smoothly. It also explains why Derek is so well educated beyond a standard 25 year old, why he knows so much about a variety of supernatural beings. I’ve always just enjoyed the thought that he was meant to be a knowledgable beta who would help his alpha.
So with that said, I feel like his evolution has a lot to do with embracing his true path in life. Not to compare him to Scott and Scott becoming a True Alpha, but maybe Derek finally coming into being the black wolf is him coming into his true place as a werewolf and in a pack. He was trying to save his alpha. His only worry, as he was laying on the floor dying, was for everyone to get into the cave and save Scott. That is a huge change compared to Season One Derek, who killed Peter instead of letting Scott do it (which wasn’t really discussed again in depth, but I got the impression one of the reasons was the fear of a 15 year old boy being his alpha).
I really enjoyed his transformation. i was very excited about it. I do wish they’d have elaborated more on the why and how, but maybe we’ll get lucky and that’s something they’ll discuss in a nice little Scerek scene in the beginning of Season five. Until then though, I like to think Derek’s evolution was him accepting his place as a werewolf.
Note: gifs are not mine.
Because I love Derek Hale, I like the theory that the terrible things he did in Seasons 1 and 2 came from him trying to force himself into a role that he was unsuited for, and falling back on violence and masculine posturing to cover how lost he felt.