|“||Like the wolf, its power is greatest at the moon's peak. Like the wolf, the Kanima is a social creature, but where the wolf seeks a pack, the Kanima seeks a master.||”|
In a legend about the Kanima found in the Bestiary belonging to the Argent family of Hunters, the creature is known as a weapon of vengeance; the legend in question detailed a South American priest who took control of a Kanima, and used it to rid his village of murderers. The more the priest and master influenced the Kanima, the symbiotic bond between them grew until the priest's will caused the Kanima to kill anyone he wanted, regardless of whether or not they were deserving of such a fate.
The Kanima is essentially a Werewolf whose transformation has "gone wrong" as a result of the shapeshifter's personal demons in their past, which caused them to mutate and take a more reptilian form. Unlike a Werewolf, who is supernaturally predisposed to seek out a pack (as it both makes them more powerful individually and provides them with a support system of fellow shapeshifters that is closer than family), the Kanima is an inherently subservient creature who seeks out a master to control its actions.
Jackson Whittemore is the only known person in the series to be a true Kanima, although, judging by photos of Eichen House patients who had trephination performed on them by Gabriel Valack, there has been at least one other Kanima in Beacon Hills in recent history. Jackson ultimately became this creature after he was given the Bite by then-Alpha Werewolf Derek Hale, when when his inner emotional issues (stemming from the abandonment he felt as a result of his biological parents' death before his birth and his subsequent adoption by the Whittemore family) forced his transformation to become corrupted.
Instead of a transformation like most Werewolves, in which they begin displaying supernatural powers such as accelerated healing and enhanced physical attributes such as superhuman senses, strength, agility/reflexes, and speed, etc, one at a time before transforming for the first time at the peak of the full moon, a Kanima's transformation is much slower and more subtle, to the point where they might not even realize they are supernatural at first; this was evidenced after Jackson received the Bite and believed that he was somehow immune to it because he blacked out during the full moon and didn't start consciously displaying his powers until weeks later. This further lends support to the theory that a transformation into a Kanima is in a way corrupted, and has led to this well-known idiom in the supernatural community-- "The shape you take reflects the person that you are."
According to Peter Hale, the Kanima has a Beta and Alpha form, though Jackson only demonstrated a Beta form. Gerard Argent attempted to transition Jackson into an Alpha form, which would have made him even more powerful after a brief incubation period, during which time the Kanima would wrap itself in a cocoon of its own venom. However, the process was interrupted before Jackson could complete his transition.
Should a Kanima discover the cause of its existence, such as solving an identity crisis and remembering who they are, the Werewolf gene will correct itself and cause them to become a true Werewolf rather than the mutation that they were, however, as seen in Jackson's case, a Werewolf who was once a Kanima will retain some abilities and characteristics such as Kanima venom and their reptilian eyes, which can be summoned in lieu of their Werewolf eyes with extra concentration. They will also be able to summon a tail and overall will possess a heightened tolerance to certain wolfsbane species.
The Kanima is about the size of an average human. It has dark green reptilian scales; while the Beta form has a long, smooth, normal tail, the tail on an Alpha Kanima has a round end that is covered in spikes, which may or may not also be coated by Kanima venom. The Alpha form also includes wings on the Kanima's back. Both forms of the Kanima have very large and sharp claws, almost like talons, that discharge some type of paralytic venom that is capable of rendering its victim totally immobile from the neck down within seconds. The length of time it takes to become fully paralyzed, as well as the length of time the person remains paralyzed, varies based on several different factors, such as how much venom they were exposed to and how they were exposed, as well as whether or not the victim has a supernatural healing ability. Like most reptiles, the Kanima can climb walls. Kanimas also have long, thin, double-rowed fangs that are similar in appearance to those of a Wendigo.
Kanimas are described as social creatures, and they desire a master, someone to control them. Once this connection is made with their master, the Kanima will usually do whatever its told. If the bond is strong enough between the Kanima and its master then the master will only need to consciously will their intentions, and the Kanima will carry it out. For example, Matt Daehler began to take pictures of people he wanted Jackson to kill, and Jackson would do as he was told without question. This connection ultimately grew to the point where Matt only had to think of who he wanted to kill or gesture toward them before Jackson would end their lives, indicating a telepathic connection develops between them over time.
However, after Matt had forced Jackson to kill several people from the 2006 Beacon Hills High School swim team who he blamed for his near-fatal drowning as a child, Matt then sent Jackson to kill a married couple from the team; though Jackson did successfully kill the man, he was unable to kill the woman after he realized that she was pregnant, forcing Matt to kill her himself. It is believed that this is because Kanimas are meant to only kill those who have committed murder, and killing a pregnant woman meant killing an innocent person along with the guilty, though it is also possible that Jackson's past history (having been born via C-section after the death of his biological mother) prevented him from being able to go through with it as well. Because Matt had broken the metaphysical rules of the Kanima, he began to turn into a Kanima as punishment, though he was killed before the transformation was complete.
Kanimas also appear to take on some personality traits of their master. For example, while Jackson was being controlled by Matt, he acquired Matt's fear of water that he gained after nearly drowning to death as a child (the event that drove him to use the Kanima to kill in the first place). As a result, Jackson, while in Kanima form, was too afraid to jump in a swimming pool where Derek Hale and Stiles Stilinski were hiding, protecting them from attack, even despite the fact that Jackson was the captain of the swim team as a human and was obviously not afraid of water himself. After Gerard Argent killed Matt and took control of Jackson as a Kanima, Jackson lost the fear of water he acquired from him, and, according to Gerard, he was no longer afraid of anything because Gerard himself was not afraid of anything.
Additionally, Kanimas appear to be afraid of their own appearance, possibly due to their unresolved identity issues. This was proven when Scott McCall tried to use a shard of broken mirror as a weapon against Jackson while he was in Kanima form-- when Jackson saw his reflection in the mirror, he became frightened and ran away, leaving his potential prey behind.
- "Like the wolf, its power is greatest at the moon’s peak."
- "The Kanima is a mutation of the werewolf gene that cannot fully transform until it resolves that in its past which manifests it."
- "Like the wolf, the Kanima is a social creature, but where the wolf seeks a pack, the Kanima seeks a master."
- "The Kanima, a weapon of vengeance, is used to carry out the bidding of its master. The Kanima was once used by a South American priest who took it upon himself to rid his village of all murderers. The bond between master and servant grew stronger until the will of the master became that of the Kanima's and whomever the priest deemed unworthy, the Kanima served his vengeance."
Powers and Abilities
- Super Strength: Kanimas possess a tremendous amount of strength. This was demonstrated in almost every encounter with it, as Jackson was shown to be capable of tearing through bones, ripping off car doors, and breaking through corrugated steel walls. The Kanima is superior in strength to most, if not all, werewolves.
- Super Speed: Kanimas are capable of running faster than any human, and they also seem to be faster than werewolves; this was suggested when Derek Hale was chasing Jackson but couldn't catch up until after the Kanima had already stopped. They also appear to run faster when loping, better known as running on all fours.
- Super Agility/Reflexes Kanimas possess supernaturally enhanced agility and reflexes. The Kanima has been known to climb vertical surfaces with ease, such as walls or buildings, and can perform a multitude of gymnastic and acrobatic feats to aid in their combat skills. They're also capable of leaping very large distances as well as very tall heights.
- Super Durability: Kanimas are supernaturally durable. They are much more durable to blunt force trauma than humans, allowing them to be thrown through walls and from tall heights with only minor injuries. They appear to far more durable than werewolves as well, as Chris Argent emptied an entire clip into Jackson and it didn't even slow him down, and Allison Argent even shot him in the skull with a crossbow bolt, and he simply hissed and pulled it out without even being slightly or temporarily incapacitated. The Kanima-Chimera Tracy Stewart's skin was shown to be impenetrable to conventional human weapons; only substances like a shapeshifter's claws or Kira Yukimura's magically-empowered katana could wound it, as evidenced when Alan Deaton's scalpel snapped upon contact with her skin without leaving a scratch on her.
- Super Senses: Kanimas have extremely sensitive senses of sight, hearing, and smell. They can see in the dark and across large distances, track scents for up to several miles and can hear whispered conversations from far away with ease. This ability allows them to do things that no human would be possible of doing.
- Accelerated Healing: Though Kanimas are extremely durable creatures who are hard to wound in general, they are capable of rapidly healing even the most extreme injuries such as being shot multiple times, getting stabbed and clawed or even getting its throat slashed by an Alpha, in the case that they manage to be wounded. This extraordinarily enhanced healing factor allows them to heal from almost anything within moments, making them even more invulnerable than their werecreature peers due to the fact that Kanimas seem to be able to heal from being stabbed in the brain, something that no other supernatural creature has been shown to survive as of yet. Because their healing factor is so extreme, just like werewolves, its assumed that Kanimas can't become intoxicated through alcohol or drugs, and they likely have greatly extended youth and lifespan.
- Shapeshifting: Kanimas possess the ability to shape shift their body into a lizard, and they're also capable of only partially shifting certain features on their body such as their eyes to make them glow or shifting their hand to become reptilian and grow claws. The Kanima typically fully transforms due to the fact that they're more powerful in that form; when that happens, its full body becomes snake-like with smooth, shiny green scales. When in their full Kanima form, the Kanima's claws are more like talons that secrete venom.
- Paralytic Venom: The Kanima's claws and the tip of their tail contains an unknown form of venom that can paralyze its victims in seconds or minutes, depending on the amount of exposure and the healing ability of the victim. Skin contact is required for the venom to take effect. Seeing as the Kanima is like a snake, it should be noted that the Kanima in it's shifted form cannot be paralyzed by its own venom; however, in human form, it can be paralyzed, which led to the difficulty in learning the Kanima's true identity. If Kanima venom is injected into a human's body through intravenous means, it will cause their diaphragm to be paralyzed and prevent them from breathing, killing them much like the lethal injections used on death row in the United States. However, this side effect does not seem to happen to supernatural creatures with accelerated healing abilities, as Deucalion, an Augmented Alpha Werewolf, was injected with a syringe full of the part-Kanima Chimera Tracy's venom, and he was simply paralyzed for several hours.
- Wall Clinging: The Kanima, like some reptiles, has the power to climb up vertical surfaces with its hands and feet, even to the point of hanging upside down from the ceiling.
- Mountain Ash: Kanimas cannot pass the the nearly-impenetrable barrier created by the mountain ash. If done correctly, they would have no way out. This weakness also extends to the Kanima's master, regardless of whether or not they're truly supernatural on their own. However, this weakness does not extend to part-Kanima Chimeras due to not being truly supernatural creatures.
- The Master: The Kanima suffers from the same weaknesses as its master. Matt Daehler couldn't swim and was afraid of water, which extended to the Kanima while he was being controlled by him.
- Ketamine: Though it only works for a very brief time at very, very large doses, Kanimas can be temporarily incapacitated through injections of the animal tranquilizer ketamine. This was demonstrated when Isaac Lahey injected an entire vial of it into Jackson's neck at the rave, though it only kept him neutralized for several minutes before he transformed into his Kanima form and escaped.
List of Kanimas
Former Full Kanima, currently Kanima- Werewolf hybrid
Jackson's biological parents were killed in a car accident on June 14, 1995, while his mother was still pregnant, but he miraculously survived due to an emergency cesarean section performed on her at the hospital. As a result, he never knew his biological parents, and he was subsequently adopted by David Whittemore and his wife. This is believed to be the origin of his emotional and identity issues, which is what ultimately caused his body to reject the Alpha bite and transform into a Kanima.
Jackson, who was obsessed with being the best in every way, and who was so jealous of Scott McCall's recently-demonstrated superhuman abilities that he was determined to become a werewolf as well. After going through multiple different ploys to obtain the bite, he finally confronted Derek Hale after he had killed his uncle Peter and stolen his Alpha powers and insisted that Derek turn him. Despite Derek's dislike of Jackson, he ultimately relented and gave him the bite; he hoped that the bite would kill Jackson instead of turning him in order to rid him of the problems Jackson caused, but also knew that if he successfully became a werewolf, it would help him start building a pack for himself.
However, on the night of Jackson's first full moon after being bitten, he set up a video camera to capture his transformation before going to bed, and awoke to find that the video showed him sleeping through the night without a hint of lycanthropy. At first, Jackson thought he was immune, but after he began slowly demonstrating superhuman abilities such as enhanced hearing and super-strength, he believed that the bite had somehow just taken longer to change him than it did the others. Unbeknownst to him, the video of his first full moon had been manipulated by Matt Daehler, who lent him the camera and erased the footage of him transforming into a Kanima to keep him in the dark about what he was doing.
It was eventually revealed that Jackson was indeed the Kanima, and Matt was his master who was sending him out to kill the members of the 2006 BHHS swim team, who he blamed for his near-fatal drowning. However, after Matt began to transform into a Kanima himself after breaking the rules of the reptilian creature, he was killed by Gerard Argent, who then immediately took control of Jackson to use his Kanima nature for his own ends. Jackson was forced to kill at least a dozen people during his time as a Kanima, but with help from his friends, his former girlfriend Lydia Martin, Derek and Peter Hale, Jackson's original Alpha bite was reactivated, turning him into the Beta werewolf that he was originally meant to be. However, as expected, his eyes were a cold blue rather than the usual bright gold, indicating that he had taken many innocent human lives. Its later revealed that Jackson remains part Kanima and still has some of his old abilities.
Tracy, who had become a genetic chimera after receiving an allogeneic skin graft at some point prior to her introduction in the series, became one of the Dread Doctors experiments and was subsequently transformed into a Chimera, a pseudo-supernatural hybrid of several supernatural species. In Tracy's case, this meant being part-Werewolf and part-Kanima. However, Tracy was not initially aware of her transformation, since between the Doctors manipulating her memories and the fact that she had suffered from night terrors for some time, she just believed that her transformation was merely a dream. These night terrors became even worse after she read The Dread Doctors novel by Gabriel Valack, which caused the memories of her experimentation that were suppressed by the Doctors' powers to resurface in the form of flashback-hallucinations and caused her to viciously attack and kill several people, including her father and her psychiatrist.
She ultimately lost her tail in a battle with Kira Yukimura when the Thunder Kitsune sliced her tail off with her magical katana after she had gravely injured Lydia Martin. After finally being brought back to full consciousness by Malia Tate, the Dread Doctors arrived, and, seeing that she was excreting modified mercury from her facial orifices, declared her a failure and killed her with an overdose of the mercury substance that gave her her powers.
Though her body was stolen by the Hellhound Jordan Parrish and brought to the Nemeton, she was resurrected several weeks later by a fellow Chimera, Theo Raeken, who used the Dread Doctors' green serum to bring her and several other deceased Chimeras back to life. Afterward, Tracy began to relish in her newly-stabilized powers, using her venomous claws against anyone seen as a threat and taking pleasure in carrying out orders from her self-proclaimed Alpha. Unfortunately for her, Theo ultimately decided it was in his best interest to kill her and absorb her powers, believing he could use them to steal the powers of the Beast of Gevaudan, leading to her second and final death. Because Tracy was part-Kanima, she had all of the standard abilities of the average Kanima, which included heightened strength, speed, agility, wall climbing, and venomous claws.
Though Tracy was not as powerful as a real Kanima (due to the fact that Chimeras are technically not supernatural and are typically described as "cheap knockoffs" of real shapeshifters), she was still capable of doing serious damage. In fact, her skin was been shown as being essentially impenetrable, as evidenced when Alan Deaton tried to cut her arm with a scalpel to determine the strength of her healing ability, only to find that her skin had actually snapped the surgical steel blade without breaking her skin whatsoever.
- The Kanima is a mutation of the original Werewolf gene.
- The Kanima's Alpha form was mentioned but never shown on screen.