Bitten eliminates its antagonist before opening up a larger conflict. Plus: a dinnertime inquisition.
Let’s bitch it out…
When I read Bitten, the club attack scene stood out as one of the more memorable passages because it introduced a fictitious creature into a very real world environment. ‘Trespass’ doesn’t play things out in the same way as the novel, but the scene still works because the foundation of the conflict remains the same. Elena’s (Laura Vandervoort) attempt to diffuse the situation with the mutt leads to carnage when he transforms, escapes and mauls several people to death. The way that she and Clay (Greyson Holt) handle themselves isn’t overly impressive – they let the mutt escape and it is conveniently shot and run over by a truck – but as an action scene, the attack itself is well executed.
I’m less certain about a lot of the other scenes in ‘Trespass’, however. The club attack is easily the highlight of the episode (despite its antiquated and laughably out of fashion depictions of club/rave culture). That means that everything else feels less memorable, which is problematic since the attack occurs mid-way through the episode. There’s a noticeable lack of energy in the second half of the episode as everyone says their goodbyes. After watching a wolf attack a club full of people, it’s hard to feel enthused about another round of inquisition-style questions when Elena returns home to Philip (Paul Greene). Even the sex scene, clearly designed to inject some heat into the proceedings, feels more gratuitous than necessary (the flesh quota must be fulfilled!)
Part of my problem continues to be Elena. In the novel we were privy to her thoughts and feelings, so her dilemma felt more relatable. In the series Elena simply seems petulant – she’s not waffling between Philip and Clayton so much as she’s whining about putting in time until she can return to Toronto. After three episodes, her desire for a human existence is already starting to feel stale (it may be realistic to yearn for normalcy, but for audiences tuning into a supernatural series that’s not particularly entertaining to watch). It’s here that the adaptation process is really beginning to show its limitations. The artistic license decision to move Peter’s (Joel Keller) death to the end of the episode makes sense creatively because it ends ‘Trespass’ on a cliffhanger, but narratively it makes no sense to allow Elena and Logan (Michael Xavier) to return home long enough to call them right back. Instead it feels like this is done simply to allocate screen time to Elena’s relationship with Philip, which isn’t a compelling argument for its inclusion.
Moving forward it’ll be interesting to see how the series incorporates the plot points of the novel. Right now Bitten is awkwardly trying to stay true to Armstrong’s source material, but that diligence is impacting its success as a standalone TV series.
- As far as interactions go, the relationship between Elena and Jeremy (Greg Bryk) is my favourite. The two actors have an easygoing chemistry and even though Bryk doesn’t appear much older than Vandervoort, he has an air of maturity and experience to him. I hope we see more of these two interacting.
- I couldn’t help but laugh when Clay angrily rips off his shirt to go for a run. It’s just so silly. I get the feeling that Holt has inherited a “no win” role as Clay is asked to be all things: super hot, super emotional, super angry. So far the writing is letting the role down more than the acting.
- I’m on the fence about Clay’s suffocation of the bitten drug addict in the club. The rules of the world haven’t been well established enough for us to appreciate Clay’s belief that he’s performing a mercy killing, but Elena’s meek protests aren’t very persuasive. Again, I wish that Vandervoort was delivering a more aggressive performance – she seems content to coast through the role without showing much emotion.
- The scenes in Nick’s (Steve Lund) new bar feel awkwardly shoe horned in. Clearly we’re meant to take note of the sudden appearance of Marsten (Pascal Langdale), a non-mutt wolf from outside of the pack. At this point is it a safe assumption to assume that he’s tied into the actions of deceased mutt?
- Finally, I can honestly say that I don’t know – or care – about what is going on with Philip. I commend the writers for trying to give him something other to do than explain Elena to his mother, but that random meeting about vodka at the docks? Why would the writers think that we care?! Who is tuning in to this show for this storyline? Answer: no one.
Your turn: do you think Elena’s conflict is playing out convincingly on the show? Is the writing failing Greyson Holt? How do you feel about Peter’s death? Do you care about Philip’s new business venture? Sound off below
Bitten airs Saturdays at 9pm EST on SPACE and Mondays at 8pm EST on Syfy