Bitten Episode Review 1×10 – “Descent”

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Bitten-Review

Opposite Worlds Collide and Long-Standing Loyalties are Questioned in Newest Episode of SyFy’s “Bitten”

Keeping up its unrelenting pace of recent weeks, this latest episode of Bitten gave us the biggest glimpse yet into what is becoming an increasingly more mysterious and menacing plot of lycanthropic politics and survival. “Descent” saw us once again take the trip north with Elena, back to Toronto and the loving and not-quite-as-oblivious-as-he-used-to-be Philip. Only this time she has a guard in tow: Jeremy has sent Clay back with Elena, both for her protection and to find out what’s going on with Logan.

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Speaking of which, the soon to be supernatural baby daddy is highly strung out and concerned now that he knows he’s having a boy. Not just in light of the menacing baby gift they received last week, but also, because he knows it’s time: Jeremy has to be informed about what’s happening with Rachel and his unborn child, and Logan is less than thrilled at the prospect given the answers he’s expecting. Jeremy and Nick meanwhile take delivery of an ally who – although he is beat up, bruised and terrified upon arrival at Stonehaven – mysteriously has managed to safely escape the clutches of the mutts under some rather dubious circumstances. Indeed, the well laid plans of both the Danvers and their vicious enemies seem both to be unraveling at an alarming rate, and nothing is turning out as anyone seems to have planned.

With that in mind, let’s do a little unravelling ourselves shall we? Because good golly Miss Molly are there some wicked plot knots to tease apart this week.

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Secrets, Lies and Lycans

We knew it was going to happen eventually, but my goodness it was ten thousand kinds of awkward when Philip finally met Elena’s ‘cousin’ Clay: the man he knows cannot possibly be the mere relation Elena initially claims he is. Indeed, it’s easy to kind of forget that for all the screen time each of these men have had – be it with Elena or otherwise – they’ve never been face to face, acknowledging for all intents and purposes that they are opposing contenders for her love, and her future. The tension is thick enough to cut with a knife for the entire episode, and it made for a seriously good watch.

I’ll be honest in that I’ve been pretty much Team Clay All The Way (calling bumper sticker rights now on that one, just FYI) but Philip really surprised me in this episode on a number of levels. He challenged those of us who’d become so one eyed about Elena being with Clay that we’d mostly til now just seen him as ‘in the road’. I’ll put my hand up and say I was kind of just waiting for this moment to come – for the dark, brooding and brokenhearted great love of her past, to come face to face with the bright, beautiful, oblivious love of her present – knowing that yes it would be painful for the lovely Mr. McAdams, but at the same time would finally clear the way – rocky though it’s been – for Elena to go home, rejoin her family, her true love, and fight side by side with them all for their ultimate survival. Where she belongs.

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But Philip’s brutal and impassioned physical defense of Elena when he realises who Victor Olsen is (if not what he now is) at Elena’s photography exhibition – not to mention his heartbreaking confrontation with Elena when he asks if she truly is done with her former lover – really signified just how deep he is in his love of Elena, and how truly he believes that whatever her life is outside of their Toronto world, she belongs with him, here and now, in his world. In any case, it was the first moment all season where I suddenly found myself viewing Philip as a true contender for Elena, and I kind of wanted to cheer him in that. And lets face it. He knows Clay can’t possibly be Elena’s cousin, and yet STILL Philip puts a fresh set of sheets on the couch for him. Let’s be real. If that was us in that position we’d have short sheeted the asshat up to his arm pits and filled the couch with itching powder. Philip McAdams: gentleman’s gentleman. (And black belt user of hair products).

That said, Clay – complete with bed hair, a smirk and a sassy dig at turkeys (my kinda man) – made them both proper bacon and pancakes for breakfast the next morning. And bacon beats every thing. Like introduce it into a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors and tell me that all your opponents didn’t lay down and start grovelling at your feet. Even Clay Danvers knows it’s basically the Cate Blanchett of foods.

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The Devil You Know…And Devil You Don’t

Victor Olsen’s pale, sinister smile has demonstrated from the outset just how deep into evil depths Santos and the Mutts are willing to dive in order to destroy Elena and therefore the pack. She is, after all an extraordinary ace in Jeremy’s fighting deck: she’s a survivor (as the only woman to have been bitten and lived to tell the tale), a game changer (as the only werewolf of any kind who has demonstrated a power strong enough to halt a change, mid change) and a fighter who will do absolutely anything for her pack & family. Of all the adversaries Elena has faced to date, no-one has put her off balance so fast or so comprehensively – not even Santos – as Olsen, and understandable though that may be, it will be riveting to see how their story will finally come full circle, especially now that he has were-powers at his sadistic disposal.

Santos meanwhile is crazier than a bag of cats 9 times out of  the 10 he’s on screen, so it had been confusing to date to think that he might still be mentally, emotionally and tactically in control enough to send something as twisted as the baby rattle Logan to rattle his nerves. Indeed, when he’s not sauntering around and bragging his swag, Santos seems to perpetually be wearing that expression that says “Holy crap I wish I’d thought this through more.” “I wish I’d done this differently.” For example, despite making the mutt pack bigger, Santos in his haste for total domination and victory has also made a pack with so many points of liability, because of their collective lack of impulse control. I mean look at Olsen, look at Leblanc. Basically Santos – along with this rag tag bunch of serial killer baby mutts – are one big loose cannon on so many levels, and they’d better just watch out; I have a feeling that their mysterious super leader wouldn’t hesitate to kill them just as he would, the Danvers.

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But you have to think now – especially with the drop into the mix of the mysterious name of James Williams, who would appear to be in league with the Mutts somehow – that all along, there was a bigger bad, and one far bigger than Santos. If “Descent” indicated anything, it’s that there is absolutely a king pin in all this and he is very much there, dancing his mutt puppets with expert skill around the Danvers. Indeed, it would seem that this enemy is someone who has a vested interest in this particular pack being destroyed. A big bad with the tactical cruelty to involve Philip and Victor Olsen in order to get to Elena. One thing’s for sure: that is going to be one seriously juicy plot reveal.
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Family Matters
This was an episode that tipped a lot of expectations on their heads: for the characters as well as the fans. In the case of the characters, it was a shocking thing for them to learn that – despite his father having been slaughtered – Jimmy Stillwell not only managed to survive being held prisoner by the mutts, but also managed to escape their clutches and get to the safety of Stonehaven. Jimmy’s all too convenient tale of miraculous escape made for an interesting and dynamic interplay between Jeremy – and a darker, angrier more suspicious Jeremy at that: a far cry from the softly spoken, benevolent pack leader we met only a scant nine episodes ago – and Nick. Nick’s character growth of course has been exponential over the last few weeks, but this was the episode where it really feels like he’s truly become the man he needed to be in order to not only step into, but to fill, his late father’s formidable shoes as pack fixer.
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Instead of encountering him via bloody interrogation over a questionable ally,  it was in Nick’s attitude towards Logan when Logan came to Stonehaven to formally tell Jeremy about the baby where we most clearly saw the new Nick. Prior to this ep, I really felt here like he’d be the most understanding of anyone when it came to what would happen when Rachel had the baby. After all, while their law states that once born, the boy should be taken completely from his human mother and raised by the pack, as part of the pack; isn’t Nick the perfect example of the exception to that rule? After all, didn’t Tonio run away with his son to raise him away from the pack? And look at Nick now – he turned out okay, didn’t he? Indeed it was shocking to hear him say to Logan that he “was the reason that laws like this exist.” And more than that, that Elena of all people would suggest that the safest place for the baby is as part of the pack. Far out. Talk about changing it up. I don’t feel like we now have any characters who’s actions we can perfectly predict (unless you count Olsen – I think he’s made his intentions pretty clear, don’t you? CREEPY WITH A CAPITAL CREEP).
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It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over

In finally giving in to the passionate madness and fire of her feelings for Clay last week, it was probably the most honest Elena has been in that department for a long time, at least with herself. But going back to Toronto in this episode was always going to push that issue even further: she was finally going to need to be honest with the men whose hearts are likewise at stake in this beautiful but torturous affair.

But for all Philip’s love and affection and…well, truth, it’s Clay who Elena knows in her bones is truly her safe place. Yes he bit her, yes he turned her, but love that formidable doesn’t just go away, even after it’s been through some seriously painful refining fires in the past. Even though she spent this episode trying to get back into Philip’s graces for the most part, when it really counted – when a gutted, disillusioned Philip came out and point blank asked her if she was done, here and now, with Clay – she was conspicuously tongue tied and unable to absolutely say no. But by the same token, she’s also taken a few shattering swings at Clay’s heart too: swings that have no doubt left scars, even though he loves her. That scene where she makes him switch his wedding/engagement ring from his left hand to his right was brutal. Actually extra brutal considering that he both looked totally wounded and called her darlin’ (BLESS) in the space of one conversation. In any case I’m actually kind of fascinated now in a way I don’t think I was before, in the sense that you have to ask yourself the question: that regardless of what man she ends up with, if either, would she even actually deserve either of them? For me, sadly, I don’t know at this point that she does.

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Final Verdict

In some ways, this is always the hardest part of a review to write, especially when a show is basically just getting it right, week in week out. You don’t want to seem disingenuous when you say a few weeks in a row that each and every episode is a solid one, that contributes equally to the success of a show, because we know that no show is totally perfect. In this, Bitten is no different: it’s had its weak moments. But in truth, with “Descent” there really is no other comment you can make here: Bitten is successfully hitting it’s mark each week, and demonstrating consistency on a lot of levels, the least of which is not the strong, formidable pace of the plot as it’s developed and the quality of the writing, which seems to improve more each week as the writers and directors better get to know the characters at their disposal.

Julia Cohen’s script demonstrated a great understanding of the nuances that really make these characters so engaging, and you could tell this clearly by the ensuing quality of the acting in some of the key characters. Steve Lund and Paul Greene seemed to revel creatively in the respective growth of their characters, with both of those guys in particular delivering two of the more dynamic performances out of the cast this week. Honorable mention in this department also has to go to Greg Bryk who week to week is beautifully putting layer upon dark layer on to Jeremy, and making him weekly more and more compelling to watch, as was, Patrick Garrow whose insidious portrayal of Olsen was as compelling as it was disturbing. James Dunnison had a solid episode in his directing. Given that this episode was not as physically action packed as last weeks, he still showed a good eye for detail and framing, which is particularly important when an episode is so character and story driven.

Either way, we are now but a scant few episodes away from what is shaping up to be an absolutely cracking season finale. No-one feels predictable, no-one feels totally safe, and the air is very much alive with the promise that anything could happen. With that in mind, til then Wolfpack. We have much to look forward to.

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Final Thoughts and Questions…

(Sorry, there are a lot this week.)

  • Victor Olsen has totally stripped bunny feet of all cuteness they have ever had. Jerk.
  • Clay changing the wedding ring + that wounded expression + ‘darlin’ = WHY U BE SO DUMB, ELENA?!
  • Skinny Tie Santos knows he’s not a vampire right? Like get the memo. This is not Vanity Fair and YOU ARE NOT ROBERT PATTINSON. 
  • Philip making Clay’s bed on the couch while Elena watches is ten thousand kinds of uncomfortable. Like literally more uncomfortable than Ellen’s entire pizza segment at this year’s Oscars, put together.
  • Two hot guys arguing over a hot girl’s amazing photographic art? Yes well MEANWHILE IN REALITY…
  • Clay and tofu are even worse enemies than Clay and Philip. Or Clay and clothes.
  • James Williams, who ARE you? Are you who I think you are? Who do you guys think he is?
  • Clay Danvers and pancakes. YES. #dancakes
  • The Great Clay/Philip Breakfast Food War: Spawning Epic Hot Men/Food Mashup Hashtags Since 2014.
  • Seriously though. #phurkey vs #claycon #BRINGIT
  • Your final story may have checked out, yes, but Joey Stillwell, you are more suspicious than the week old chinese take out in my fridge right now.
  • Diane McAdams is about as subtle as a glitter cannon at Mardi Gras. And gurl, stop planning what your babies will look like. You are not Elena Michaels and Clay Danvers is not going to quid your pro quo. Like ever. #realtalk
  • How awesome was it to see Nick really step up into Antonio’s role as pack fixer? Steve Lund is killing it at the moment.
  • Jeremy has really changed over the last few episodes. Something has happened to him since Antonio died. It was like when he died, the kind, hopeful Jeremy seemed to die with him. He’s darker, harder. And more unpredictable.
  • “Of course she didn’t love you. She testified against you.” OMG Pour cold water on burn, Victor.
  • Can we all just stop and talk about how beautiful Toronto is at night? FLAWLESS.
  • Malcolm’s been dead for only months?! Far out, the way they talked about him I thought Jeremy had topped him years ago. Hmmm….
  • LOL at Clay saying he tries to stick to pants. *snort giggles* It’s the pants that have a hard time sticking to you. (Not that I’m complaining. Ever. Seriously honey like you can stay as non stick as a frypan far as I’m concerned in that department.)
  • Okay, GO PHILLIP. Laying the smack down on that pervert was the business. And subsequently the first time I viewed you as a bad ass this entire series. I liked you tonight. I swear the second you threw that punch I fist pumped your actions like a champ before I knew it was even happening.
  • Logan grew up with his human mother but unlike Nick, Logan did not know what he was from the start.
  • Taking out Elena being the end game of the Big Bad makes total sense. Her character is so strong, so engaging and always holds her own. I love a leading lady who leads. So refreshing.