Episode two of Canada’s newest genre show, Bitten, dispenses with the delays and excuses, dropping its female protagonist right into the heart of the conflict and introducing copious amounts of backstory.
Let’s bitch it out…
Confession: I read the first two ‘Elena’ novels in Kelly Armstrong’s Women Of The Otherworld series a few years ago when I was one vacation. I found them to be fun, fast-paced and filled with a bit more sexytime than I was expecting. Needless to say I was interested to see how the first book would fare as an adaptation (ie: where would the episode breaks come?), as well as how the wolf stuff would work on a weekly TV budget (wolf vision = not bad; wolf transformation = not bad; wolves themselves = pretty awful).
Having missed last week’s episode due to travel, let’s discuss episode two, ‘Prodigal.’ This go around we learn a great deal more about pack politics and history, which is helpful because in the pilot it was never clear just what Elena (Laura Vandervoort) was running from. If I had one complaint about the first episode (aside from the terrible wolf CGI), it was that we spent a lot of time with Elena fretting about returning to Stonehaven without understanding the context. Initially it seems like the writers plan to tease out information about the events that drove Elena to escape to Toronto.
Unfortunately ‘Prodigal’ jettisons its slow deliberate pacing in favour of a series of exposition dumps. While the majority of the information is relevant and appreciated, the Jose Carter flashback feels ill-timed and poorly executed. It feels much too early to drop such a key piece of information and Vandervoort isn’t given enough time to play up the guilt and suffering she feels as a result of the murder. In all honesty, I just don’t find her acting ability adequate for the heavier emotional moments.
Thankfully the episode shifts the focus off Elena in order to expand on her relationship with the men of Stonehaven. In fact the majority of ‘Prodigal’ spends time (re)establishing her relationship with the family. We see Elena and Peter (Joel Keller) reminisce over the archives in the basement; witness the strange flirty brother/sister banter she has with Nick (Steve Lund) – both in bed and in their sparring match; and the tension-filled fatherly figure dynamic Jeremy (Greg Bryk) holds over her.
Of course, for fans of Kelly Armstrong’s novels, the most important interactions involve Elena and Clay (Greyson Holt). As the romantic backbone of the narrative, Vandervoort and Holt are doing well, though I must confess I think she has more heat with Lund. We learn that Clay never tracked her down following her departure because of Jeremy’s orders, which also explains why she both respects and rebuffs Jeremy’s authority over her and the other pack members. The best thing that the series has done is create a relatively compelling mythology about how the werewolf community works so if the writers continue to play this up and build on the mystery of the mutt, Bitten has the potential to be a compelling slice of genre.
- The butt shots are a little gratuitous – obviously folks need to get naked to change into wolves, but the camera doesn’t have to linger on the nekkid bits.
- With that said, Greyson Holt has gotten significantly beefier for this role. I used to watch him on Durham County a few years ago and he didn’t look like that! It is refreshing that the series has an equal opportunity approach to nudity for both sexes
- At this point there are a series of unanswered mysteries lingering. The most interesting (though not especially pressing) question is who bit Elena and why is she the only female to survive? If you prefer to go with a more obvious mystery, we can debate how the mutt is connected to Stonehaven and why he’s dropping the bodies of dead children and single gals on their doorstep?
Your turn: how are you feeling about the series two episodes in? Do you think Vandervoort is handling the emotional beats? Are the rules and histories of the werewolf world suitably defined for you? And why is the mutt seeking revenge on Stonehaven? Speculate away below
A gentle reminder that we adhere to a SPOILER FREE zone here, so please refrain from addressing any future plot points from the novels.
Bitten airs Saturdays at 9pm EST on SPACE