Bitten Episode Review 1×09 – “Vengeance”

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Bitten-Review

An Epic Battle For Pack Supremacy Draws An Old Enemy Out of The Shadows In Newest Episode of SyFy’s “Bitten”

It was, to be sure, an absolutely massive turn of events this week for the warriors on either side of what has been dubbed “The Mutt Uprising”, in the latest – and might I say, utterly ripping – installment of “Bitten”. Fresh from the unsteadying discovery that the notoriously vicious and formidable Jimmy Koenig has been hired by Santos to kill off both Jeremy and his family, the Danvers pack has to put aside their collective raw emotional divisions and distractions in order to see off what would appear to be the biggest threat to their family to date. After a number of ill fated mutts made the attempt and failed, Jeremy now finds himself finally faced with the biggest challenge to his pack leadership to date in the form of this former, cruel pack attack dog. Clay and Elena, meanwhile – both still charged with pent up emotion after last week’s events – are closer than they have ever been to coming to grips, for better or worse, with the residual anger and emotion surrounding Clay’s having been the one to turn Elena. Nick finds himself learning more about the man he now knows he is capable of being, as well as the man he was raised to be; and Logan comes to the end of this chapter of his nervous wait, as he awaits the birth of his unborn – and supernaturally cursed – child with the unwitting woman of his dreams.

Everybody this week, it seemed, was in on the action, and would find themselves caught in the ever growing spiderweb of this plot. So with that in mind, let’s check it out shall we? Because my GOODNESS, Wolf Pack. What a week it was.

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Bad Blood

Of all the villains we’ve seen to date on “Bitten”, former pack enforcer and cruel rebel without a cause Jimmy Koenig is by far the most viciously eloquent and nerve testing: a genuinely chilling character made all the more chilling by his capacity to control – and therefore direct – his murderous urges. Indeed, even though Santos is the head of the Mutt Uprising, you cannot help but think that being brought into the middle of this supernatural turf war was not a case of Koenig’s “big dog in the yard” having had his arm twisted. This was a choice: the choice of a man who not only knows how to fight, but actually relishes and revels in every brutality that comes with a fight. Mackenzie Gray’s cold, calculating rockabilly portrayal of a chain smoking killing machine was seriously unnerving from start to finish, too, and in this, even if it was just him freezing our blood over in fear this week, he would still be a formidable screen presence to try and take in.

But Will Pascoe did something very smart with this script. In simultaneously making us follow Koenig’s battle with Jeremy, and serial killer LeBlanc’s hunt of Elena, we got to understand a heap more about the nature of the pack politics ruling the mutts, and about what true power looks like on their side of the fence at the moment, as opposed to just seeing whether or not Jeremy would stand up to another adversary and win. On one hand, Koenig is the first real challenger to Jeremy’s alpha status that makes you think the Danver’s alpha could be beaten. He is defined by his cold blooded killer instinct in an environment defined by warm blooded rage, which makes him by far the most off beat and unpredictable of the villains we’ve seen so far. LeBlanc, on the other hand, is Koenig without the control, without the finesse: obsessed with the power of the kill, but unable to control his bloodlust long enough to wield it reliably, in a way that would make him the same level of weapon in Santos’s anti Danvers arsenal. But with Nick ultimately taking Koenig out of the picture in the end, and LeBlanc left somehow still standing (despite his impetuous hunt of Elena, which could have really thrown a much bigger spanner in the mutt works, not to mention his biting of the desperate Amber to turn her) it will be interesting now to see how they develop LeBlanc’s character from here. Will he end up being the biggest bad of all? I mean, he seems just as likely to rip of Santo’s head in impatience as he is to rip Clay’s off for thwarting his attack on Elena, don’t you think?

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Like Fathers, Like Sons

Okay first off, whoever hired the guy that played young Antonio Sorrentino, A++ to you. That was some dead-ringer casting right there, and his mannerisms and performance were just spot on: I believed every bit of that scene, as we discovered more of the background surrounding Nick’s birth into the were-world. Now, in Koenig’s making Tonio kill, based on a lie, two guys who turned out to be harmless mutt strangers…well, it was good in teaching us more about the person of Jimmy, to be sure. But for me, I was actually more intrigued by the fact that Antonio had a) had to hide his family’s existence from the pack, presumably for protection, but also that b) when seemingly threatened badly enough, he made an attempt to return to the pack fold, knowing that it might cost his life. It’s almost as though in a lot of ways, for a wolf, the pack is simultaneously the safest and most dangerous family one could ever find themselves being part of.

Because knowing what we do now about Logan’s current and eerily similar predicament, it does beg the question. If it was pack law to kill any human to whom their secret would be revealed, then surely Logan would want to keep the secret from Rachel, but how can he when he knows that eventually this child is going to reveal his true nature to the world? Indeed, whose life is the most at risk here? It’s actually a bit hard to tell in some ways. I mean, with Nick being the example of how fine, strong and dependable a child like that can grow up to be, would they take the risk? Would they bring Rachel into the fold? How are they going to deal with this brave new world of Catch 22’s? It all just makes for even more of a twisting, unpredictable plot now with this element to consider; I mean, I don’t know about you but I am absolutely at a loss to guess how it’s all going to come together in the end.

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Old Flames and New Fires

The utter fire of Elena and Clay’s reignited love story was so beautifully and tenuously wrought with love, relief and crushing honesty, and yet at the same time also fraught with the tension borne entirely of that moment where, in a world not so far away, Philip pointed at Clay in that innocuous photo on Logan’s mantelpiece and asked “Who’s he?” I mean, it was like he just knew. And after ages of Elena to-ing and fro-ing between the lies she’s used to so neatly frame her conflicting lives all these months, it really felt like this week it became abundantly clear just how raw that eventual confrontation is going to be. It’s hard in a lot of ways, because Philip is just such a nice guy. A good guy: one we as viewers can’t help but take a shine to, and therefore invest in. A guy with a great job, a nice family, a heart totally in love for a girl who may ultimately prove to be the fatal mistake he never knew he’d made. I mean you literally cannot help but like him, but at the same time, you can’t help but feel too that he stands the biggest chance of anyone to end up being the saddest victim of all in this whole mess.

On the other hand, the look on Clay’s face as he realises that Elena has another man and another life, elsewhere, is just as heartbreaking. In some ways – at least for my part – it felt even more so. I mean, it’s the morning after he’s just made love to the love of his life – for the first time after months of anger, anguish and separation. Who’s the traitor now, Elena? After so long punishing him for his mistakes, Clay would – understandably – feel sorely used and pretty broken by her betrayal. For me, even though we’ve known clearly that she’s been almost trying to have her cake and eat it too with these two devoted men for a while now, this is the first week that for my part I actually thought “You know what, Elena? Maybe right now, you don’t deserve either of them.” How that will all play out though, now that that both sides have finally had a glimpse of the competition (PRETTIEST. COMPETITION. EVER.), is anybody’s guess.

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The Blind Side

Nick putting the pieces together and realising that Jeremy had perhaps set it up so the younger Sorrentino could be the one to take down Koenig. Logan receiving the mysterious baby rattle with a note that would indicate not only that he is being watched, but that his watchers are far closer to home than he could ever have feared. And, of course, Elena’s extraordinary moment of will power where she somehow manages – for the first time arguably in werewolf history – to reverse the change while the middle of one. Indeed of every episode to date, this is the one where it felt like we as the audience were delivered with the most “Wait…what?!” moments: moments that left us scratching our heads, wide eyed in shock and/or brimming to the overflow with anticipation and questions for the next episode. Just as great television should leave us.

Elena’s change is of particular interest. I mean to me, that kind of power and control over one’s werewolf nature has very alpha sounding tendencies. But how can that be? It makes no sense! And yet it was incredible, and really hinted well at the fact there may be far more extraordinary things in store for this fierce, loving and formidably spirited woman than even we’ve imagined might be in store for her. This coupled with that hideously dark and brutal scene where – after all her begging finally earned her a bite, courtesy of LeBlanc – Amber attempts to survive her first change. For me that scene was one of the hardest to watch by far: I was so torn by how sorry I felt for her, as the bones and fur grotesquely bowed her body in every unnatural direction possible, and yet by how much I could not help but think she should have been smarter. Should have been more careful what she wished for. Should have thought a little longer and harder about just why Cain might have been so very reluctant to turn her into what he was. Did she survive? Well…call me crazy but a simple hand falling limply from the air seems a tad too ambiguous of an end for a character to meet when they still have so much revenge to live for.

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Final Verdict

Screenwriter Will Pascoe and director John Fawcett are to be tremendously commended for the episode they delivered us in “Vengeance”. It was well crafted, beautifully built and really gave the actors a chance to shine in ways that perhaps they hadn’t done to the same extent before. The directing in particular really stood out for me, predominantly because of just how massive the improvement was in the fight scenes: a scene type that had previously let the show down to date on a few occasions. The visual storytelling was punchy and cohesive, and that – coupled with Pascoe’s tight, engaging and dynamic script – made for a pretty riveting episode of television, even if there were a couple of little areas that forced me to suspend a little more disbelief than I should have had to (Random blonde hobo chick running out of nowhere into the middle of LeBlanc’s Elena Hunt – I mean, that was a bit of a stretch too far lads). But all in all, I loved this episode. I loved its dynamics, the insights it provided me, and – most importantly – all the wonderful plot potential it has stirred up in my fan’s heart and mind. I love the fact that here we are, a scant few episodes from the end of this show’s debut season, and we are in a position of not being able to trust ourselves hardly at all in the quest to guess what show creator Daegan Fryklind and her merry pack of wolves could possibly have in store for us come season’s end. My recommendation after this week? Strap yourselves in, people. I think we’re in for one deliciously turbulent ride to the finish line.

Final Thoughts & Questions…
  • Do you think Tom Waits knows a Werewolf Villain stole his stage wardrobe? Because seriously, Jimmy Koenig. You are the evilest rockabilly in the history of ever.
  • Is Amber really dead? After everything, could she really have gone out with such a whimper?
  • Logan was relieved to find out they were having a boy…or was he? It was actually really hard to tell what on earth he was thinking at that point.
  • Rachel talking to Logan about wanting decorate the baby’s nursery in cute cuddly dinosaurs, not “flesh tearing monsters with pointed teeth.” GURRRRRRRL.
  • The fact that Jeremy Danvers turns up to every fight in a tailored vest is basically the BUSINESS. Because ain’t nothing says ‘let’s rumble’ like a waistcoat.
  • Jeremy – if indeed he did set that up, to have Nick kill Koenig – really proved once and for all what a master of war he is. But I’m with Nick here: how did he know that was going to happen?
  • This week’s Clay-Danvers-naked-under-a-strategically-draped-blanket-in-front-of-the-fire-place scene: proudly brought to you by the letter V.
  • Is Santos losing it a bit? He seemed really scatty and fearful by the end of this episode – does he have it in him to keep it all together? Or is there a bigger bad above him? I mean, in this unstable frame of mind, I can’t see him being calculating or clever enough to send Logan that rattle and note – can you?
  • Also, thank you Will Pascoe for confirming and subsequently fueling my fear and belief that only the most evil evil people wear velcro tab shoes.
Bitten airs Saturdays on the Space Channel at 9|8c Mondays on SyFy at 8/7c