Bitten Episode Review 1×12 – “Caged”
Michael Luckett and Laura Vandervoort in particular had great turns in their respective roles as Santos and Elena, this week. It was great, too, to finally embrace all those wonderful feels that the writers have been encouraging us to have about characters like Logan and Rachel. And if you didn't already love Philip and Clay, this episode gave you a heap of reasons to start.
This week's episode just didn't pack the same punch as those last couple before it, unfortunately. With any luck though that means they're just saving that KO for next week, because we know they have the capacity to deliver it.
Tables Are Turned and Trust is Shattered in Newest Episode of SyFy’s “Bitten”
Barreling forward in the wake of the chaotic revelations of last week’s episode, this week’s Bitten – entitled “Caged” – was a twisting, tempestuous and ultimately telling experience to be sure, as Santos changed the game by capturing Clay to use as bait for his enemies. With Philip still laying badly injured up in their apartment, Elena rushes immediately out into the street to hunt for Clay, only to be met by Jeremy and Nick, who’ve rushed to Toronto to consolidate the pack by bringing them together in one place. Only problem is, the pack is now the most torn apart it’s been to date, and it could literally not have happened at a worse time.
But while Jeremy, Nick and Elena then rush back home to recalibrate, a still badly injured Logan has the still-oblivious Rachel race them both to Stonehaven as well, for sanctuary and protection from their Mutt attackers. All the while, the two great loves of Elena’s life are in fights for theirs: Clay as he sits bound and imprisoned by the power hungry (and some would say more than a bit delusional) Santos; and Philip, as he recovers from both Olsen’s stab wound in hospital and the shock of discovering his beloved is giant, supernatural creature, with some serious enemies snapping at her heels.
Indeed, my dear Wolfpack: this episode leaves us with much to discuss.
Daniel Santos’ Lonely Hearts Club Band
Michael Luckett appeared to have an absolute ball this week as we watched his Santos mentally unravel like a cheap ball of string. Indeed, Santos’s Elena feels are making him badly and awkwardly reckless in his pursuit of power, causing him to take his eye off the ball more and more. And you can only surmise that if James Williams is every bit the Big Bad we are being led to believe, then you’d have to wonder whether or not Williams would destroy the ever-more liable Daniel, every bit as happily as the Danvers pack.
But while we may have suspected/known Daniel’s true motives for a while, it was refreshing to see Karl Marsten – the snarky, utterly amoral and delightfully crisp English werewolf, who, it must be said, continues to werk that paisley and slick side part like a PRO – finally speak up and acknowledge the obvious. That this wasn’t just about Santos wanting the power of the pack: he wants Elena, and badly. Why? Because she is the embodiment of pretty much everything he desires. And if Santos is being honest, Marsten notes, he’s torturing Clay because it’s Clay that always seems to get the things that Santos wants: power, family, status, and The Girl. Marsten, meanwhile, seems like the kind of guy who would be available to the highest bidder, so long as his perfectly coiffed English bacon was saved from any damage, and knowing that Santos’s endgame is Elena could be serious leverage.
From an acting standpoint, I really enjoyed Pascal Langdale’s performance as Karl this week, probably more than I ever have before. He played Marsten with just the right balance of moral ambiguity, sympathy and apathy, all the while seasoned with the desperation that comes from wanting to save his own skin above anyone else’s.
All things considered, you really have to hand it to Philip, who I think proved once and for all this week that his heart is true and that – despite his new fear of her because of what she is – he remains loyal to a certain extent to his love for Elena. And I say that even though somewhere in the recesses of my reviewer’s heart, a mean little voice still whispers Don’t forget: there’s still one ep to go.
The whole way through that scene in the hospital with his sister, when she confronts him after the detective visits because she knows he didn’t reveal everything he knew about his attackers, I couldn’t help but think that Philip McAdams could just turn out to be a lot more formidable a player in this game than we think he is. He is neither weak spirited nor stupid, and he has demonstrated that he is still able to keep his head enough to be smart with the information he learns at any given time, even if it terrifies him. For example, the way he just so coolly kept it together in the way he lied to his sister and the detective about the true nature of the battle that happened in his apartment – including his neglecting to mention the fact that Clay had been with him in the fight, let alone that convicted criminal Olsen was there – for me, showed a level of wisdom and cautiousness that would have gone out the window in a lesser man’s character in the same situation. So. Armed with this new knowledge, what will this mean for how his story ultimately unfolds? Who knows. But one thing’s for sure: he will be an intensely fascinating one to look out for as we move forward.
…And Role Reversals
The cruel, tormented dynamic of Olsen and Elena’s relationship has made for some chilling TV over the course of this season, so to see Elena finally turn the tables on him, was a true indicator of just how far Elena has come in herself. Or perhaps, just how far she’s been driven to come.
Even though she later tells Jeremy that she never wanted to kill again – and you can understand why, even though the man she killed was a predator of the very worst kind – it does feel like Elena has turned the page in the story of herself, and is now far stronger for having closed out that circle of fear, mistrust and powerlessness inside the part of herself that Victor still had dominance in. Will it be her proudest moment? No. But you’d have to think that there must have been part of her that relished the chance to take down a foe far more insidious than simply a power hungry Mutt.
That said, the fact that she simply nicked his wrists and let the bastard bleed out in her bathtub, felt like it was a bit of a fizzled ending for a story arc that could have played out much more fiercely, in a way that empowered Elena a lot more effectively as a character.
Parenthood vs The Pack
This show has examined a lot of themes to be sure, but it seems that more and more, one is sticking out above all the others: parents (namely fathers) and their children. On all sides of this war, that type of relationship seems to have permeated almost every story line in one way or another: from Jeremy’s respective relationships with Clay and Elena, to Nick’s relationship to Tonio as the son stepping into his father’s shoes, to Philip’s relationship with his usually-impossible-to-please mother, and even so far as Santos is his eager-to-please-and-inherit-the-empire attitude towards James Williams, in the absence of his own powerful father.
So with Logan as a father to be, it makes it a very interesting state of affairs to realise that to be the father he wants to be, he has to go against Jeremy: his own father, basically, and someone whom you’d think as a dad Logan would try to emulate in a lot of ways. And that exchange Logan and Jeremy have in particular in the infirmary, when Jeremy tells Logan that the moment he looks in his son’s eyes, he’ll realise there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for him gave us some important insight, not only into Jeremy’s mind but also into Logan’s heart.
Why? Because I think Jeremy has grossly underestimated the fact that Logan not only loves Rachel: he loves her AS MUCH as the baby. Their emotional weight is equal in his heart and mind, whereas I wonder – because Jeremy hasn’t had that wife presence in his life (that we know of) – whether Jeremy would even be able to truly comprehend that element of this situation, in a way that would cause him to rethink his original law-abiding course of action.
For The Greater Good…But Not Necessarily The Right
And speaking of Jeremy brings us, of course, to THE big revelation of the episode: about his true part in Elena’s becoming a werewolf. When we had seen it on screen as part of a flashback all those episodes ago – that moment where Elena thought she glimpsed something odd in the forest before heading inside to meet what she then thought was her prospective father in law – it had all seemed so innocent, so innocuous. But little did she know that in the moment where Jeremy in wolf form had seen her looking towards where he was changing in the forest, he had decided there and then that her life was over. He was planning to kill her pretty much as soon as Clay bought her through the door.
In hindsight, it seems obvious that that’s what Jeremy would have had to do, especially given all the law and history talks we’ve sat through now about how any human that finds out about the werewolves must be killed off for silencing purposes. It’s clear to us now that he would have seen Clay, seen her, and mentally signed Elena’s death warrant on the spot, regardless of how much this beautiful girl meant to his son. In which case, was it that much of a revelation? I don’t know that it was. More like a…meh-velation.
To Elena though, this doesn’t appear to be a conclusion she ever reached. I ummed and ahhed about that for a while, actually, because really? Am I meant to believe that she would not have later put two and two together and realised what Jeremy would have done to her? She’s too smart not to see that right? Hmm. Well in any case, I don’t think the look of pain and dismay actually had anywhere near as much to do with how betrayed she felt at the thought that he was going to kill her, and everything to do with the fact that Jeremy had let Clay bear the brunt of her anger and blame the entire time. And even though his stance as pack leader was understandable, his actions as Clay’s father were still…well they were still hurtful, and still questionable. I felt myself thinking back to that exact conversation too that he’d had with Logan about the moment you look into your child’s eyes, and how you realise there’s nothing you wouldn’t do for them. Isn’t Clay as much his child as Elena is?
Beasts of Burden
Elena finally climbing into bed and wrapping her arms around a bruised and battered Clay, after Jeremy reveals that the only reason his adopted son bit Elena was actually to save her life from him, was a really lovely moment. It was soft, and frayed by regret but still full of all the grace she had withheld from Clay for so long, because of treachery she’d falsely accused him of all this time.
When we’ve seen them in the midst of their raw passion, it’s extraordinarily absorbing, because that fire and pent up anguish – the kind that comes from being separated from someone you love, even if you’re the one doing the separating – will never cease to intoxicate an audience when it’s happening in front of them, to characters they have invested in. For want of a better term, most of the love scenes to date made us lust as much after their lust as their love. But this week? This week had nothing to do with their passion, and everything to do with the loyalty born out of what they feel for each other. From the exact moment he’d bitten her, Elena blamed Clay for acting out of selfishness, when in actual fact he did it to save her and give her a chance at living, albeit as a wolf. That moment where Jeremy tells Elena that Clay willingly took on all the blame for her situation, doing so in order to protect her relationship with Jeremy over his own emotional and physical well-being…well it was heart rending, predominantly in light of Clay’s capacity for pure, utter selflessness where Elena is concerned.
Okay. Tough stuff, first. Bitten has been the most massive breath of supernatural air, but what gives it that sharp edge is its visceral, unpredictable and brave approach towards seeing the story through to it’s best end, every week, whatever the cost. And sadly, I think, because some of that zest was missing in this episode, I wasn’t as overwhelmed by ‘Caged’ as I should have been. As I wanted to be. When Elena turned up to free Clay, I wanted her to tear shreds from the place. I wanted a show down – something – that said “So what?” in answer to those who think shows should save their best for last all the time. Instead all we kind of got was a tranquilizer dart in the ass for Santos and a stray piece of laundry in the forest to distract LeBlanc, while Elena tucked Clay in a range rover and saved the day again. In short, Unlike the ripping installments of the last two weeks, this episode lacked the pace and tenacity that made those prior episodes really pop, and didn’t give me any real moment where I found myself jolting out of my seat in shock.
The acting in this episode was solid enough for the most part, especially from Michael Luckett and Laura Vandervoort, and in this they were aided there by the good creative foundation provided in Will Pascoe’s script. I particularly loved Karl Marsten’s general dialogue, which I thought was sharp and really added to the appear of that character. Kelly Makin likewise had a good week in the director’s chair, but it wasn’t the most in your face of all the visual experiences this show has given us as viewers.
So what did they do right? Well for one, it set up well the foundations for what is shaping up to be an absolutely smashing last episode for the season. It’s put a lot of characters in unpredictable situations – guys like Philip, who is now armed with the knowledge that Elena is a werewolf, but is totally conflicted about what to do with it – and in doing so, has made those characters unpredictable. This was such a smart thing to do, because it gives us as the audience less and less means to predict exactly what the writers and creators are up to. And if those guys have proved anything it’s that come game time, they know how to deliver one hell of a sucker punch, which means we have no reason to doubt that there is yet awesomeness in store for us. Because I have a strong feeling that the brute strength of this supernatural storm is about to come thundering home with a finale to knock your socks off.
Final Thoughts & Questions…
- Daniel Santos Skinny Pants Watch: Day #745,623
- Okay so, is taking a jumper cable and clapping it to the trouser treasure (AHEM) of your dream girl’s ex, really the best way to show her that you’d be the better boyfriend? Discuss.
- Karl Marsten’s tan is about as realistic as Heidi Montag’s boobs. COME ON I’M JUST SAYING WHAT YOU WERE ALL THINKING.
- This is the first time we’ve really seen Elena go toe to toe with Jeremy in challenging his authority, and it’s quite gripping in the sense that you know from their past history, just how much is at stake here, and not only in their relationship. After all, if Elena directly disobeys the Alpha, she disobeys pack law, making her for all intents and purposes, a mutt.
- Elena is in a cage, Logan almost died, Clay is imprisoned and Jeremy is wearing a cardigan. WHAT IS HAPPENIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNG.
- I mean a cardigan. HE MAY AS WELL GO DO BATTLE IN HIS BOXER SHORTS
- OMG Santos, you punch like a drunk Real Housewife stuck in a clothes rack at Barneys.
- Daniel thinks that once it’s all over, he’s going to BREED with Elena? *snorts* Get over yourself asshat. Your puppies would be about as supernaturally intimidating as a litter of grumpy Chihuahuas covered in fairy dust.
- And yes. I just added the word ‘asshat’ to my computer’s dictionary. BECAUSE I TOO AM DEADLY SERIOUS.
- I would like to consciously uncouple Philip McAdams from that hospital gown. #realtalk
- ‘Every dog has his day”? “Roll over and play dead”? “HE HAS THE WERE-WITHALL”? Okay guys, are you getting paid by the pun or what.
- Is it just me or does LeBlanc dress like an IT support guy participating in a golf tournament?
- Oh and in other news, Mr LeBlanc, a lovely lady named Edna Higginbottom from the local nursing home called and has asked if you could please give her reading glasses back now.
- Elena Michaels laying the smack down on Santos was the dead set best. Lady friend you are a BOSS.