Bitten Review Episode 1×11 – “Settling”
So many great things to enjoy about this episode: from the technical and creative excellence of the directing, editing and script, to some very strong acting performances, particularly from Paul Greene (Philip), Michael Xavier (Logan) and Laura Vandervoort (Elena).
Seriously? Is the whole redneck murders the ONLY reason we can give the Sheriff to visit the Danvers mansion? Really? Give it a rest.
Holed up in Toronto with Elena in Philip’s apartment, Clay is initially reduced to bystander as Elena does everything she can – bar tell Philip everything about herself – to salvage their now tattered relationship. Philip is a smart man, and it doesn’t escape him that Clay is now and has always been far more to Elena than she had led him to believe; Philip knows that they were lovers and now finds himself demanding the truth not just from Elena but from her former flame as well. Aside from that drama, Logan also finds himself at a deadly crossroads regarding what to do about Rachel and his unborn baby boy, to whom there are threats from both side. Meanwhile, Santos and his mongrel of Mutts are closing ranks around these three members of the Danvers pack isolated together in Toronto: a long way from Stonehaven, where Jeremy and Nick are being detained by the good sheriff who is still investigating the original murder cases involving the bodies found on their farm.
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It was an episode that unabashedly left us totally stunned, and yet at the same time, also left us full to the brim now with huge questions we had not yet had to ask. With all that in mind, let’s dive in and get a little more up close take a look at this episode shall we?
Santos & His Claws Are Coming To Town
It was so good to get a better insight into why Santos is targeting Philip in regards to Elena. I mean, at first it seemed obvious – indeed it had been more than spelled out to us – that Santos’s ultimate motivation was the destruction of Jeremy’s pack and the subsequent power vacuum he would exploit so it all became his. In which case, what the HECK with his interaction with the mysterious apparent Mutt mastermind, James Williams, when Santos nervously gets Williams to confirm that they would destroy the pack all bar Elena. At which point Williams tells Santos he’ll “get his prize.” Um, WHAT? Does Elena Michaels have ANOTHER boy in love with her?!
“After I’m done breaking this ones head open. I’m going to take my time with you Santos.” ~ Clay
Aside from how well scripted Santos was this week – probably the best he has been to date, I think – Michael Luckett remains as slick, nuts and nasty as he ever did in the role of the puppet Mutt leader. He’s a good foil for the earthy, emotional ruggedness of a character like Clay and they are a surprisingly equal if varied match in that sense. In any case, it was great to see those two guys finally duke it out on screen this week with some excellently choreographed and edited fight scenes, and both Luckett and Greyston Holt were fantastic in their tussle.
Fight or Flight
Logan has grown exponentially as a character in these last few episodes, but it was this one where we were really made to sit up and pay attention: both to the man that he is and the father he intends to be to his unborn son. Given that we already know the danger he faces from the pack if he doesn’t steal the child from Rachel, keep him away from her, and raise the baby as part of the pack, it’s understandable that he would already be skittish about what to do. After all, our families are meant to be our safe places aren’t they? Our soft place to land when we fall off the edge of our worldly problems. But Logan – despite being loved by his pack family, I think – knows that there is every chance he will be afforded no such luxury: especially if his chat with Nick in last week’s episode was anything to go by.
“I’m going to be a father. This is my family. It’s the goddam definition.” ~ Logan
But the real reveal came, I think, in the form of his response to the Mutt attack by Karl Marsten and LeBlanc on him and Rachel. As she hid – shivering, confused and terrified – in their upstairs bathroom, while Logan took to the business of taking out the Mutts stalking his family in their own home, it really felt like Logan for the first time demonstrated a real depth to his character. And I guess for me at least, it had been a while since I’d seen that strength of character; the last time being when he gave that pep talk to Elena about being honest with Philip, and with herself about her feelings for Clay. I really loved how that conversation in particular was referenced in this episode, too. It was refreshing especially in a day and TV age where so many shows almost seem to rely on you forgetting those little details a few episodes down the track.
Michael Xavier though here I think really needs to be commended, because he – much like Paul Greene as Philip – absolutely made me sit up and pay attention to his character this week. Xavier’s skittish, on-edge performance was a step up for him, and I like that he’s made this character really start to matter more to us as viewers than he may have mattered before.
Love is A Battlefield
It had already presented itself as the most tortured and awkward of all confrontations to be had between any of the characters, but this week’s episode brought the revelations and consequences of the Clay/Elena/Philip love triangle to a whole new level of angst. That opening scene of Elena laying crazed, exhausted and bleary eyed by the phone – still dressed from the ill-fated photography exhibition the night before – on Philip’s pillow as she desperately awaited the sound of his voice so she’d know he was okay…it was heart rending, but it was hard not to be on Philip’s side here.
I mean on one hand, you have Clay. I genuinely believe him – now more than ever – when he says he loves Elena enough just to want to her see her be happy and life a life where she’s not always looking over her shoulder. I mean, that’s the definition of true love isn’t it? Would it shatter him if Elena chose Philip? Of course it would. But then if we’e being honest, Elena has kinda been shattering his heart for a while now, so it felt a little disingenuous for her to say to Clay that she didn’t need his advice on how to break someone’s heart. No indeed, lady friend. Sadly, I think you’re a black belt in that area now, even if you never meant to become one.
“Everyone thinks they can handle it. Until they can’t.” ~ Clay
And then of course, there’s Philip. Last week he proved that he wasn’t just a pushover, yes, but it was in “Settled” that I think his true colors were finally nailed to the mast, and they were the colors more formidable than I gave him credit for. Because it’s that age old lesson about how you never quite see someone at their truest until you’ve seen them under pressure, and when presented with all the facts he’d been given (or discerned for himself) – that Elena’s lover remained in her life, that she’d lied to him (even if it was to protect him) and that her past was far more dark than he’d ever imagined – we saw Philip: not just some nice boyfriend ultimately destined for cannon fodder because he fell in love with the wrong girl, at the wrong time, but a man who genuinely could be a soul mate for Elena. Seriously. Talk about a supernatural Sophie’s Choice.
A Brutally Brilliant Blindside
There are moments in all great shows that, above all others, will leave you more than speechless. They’ll leave you totally and utterly gobsmacked, and “Settled” – a beautifully ironic title given the fact that this explosive episode was practically nuclear in its resulting fallout – gave us one of those moments. Its been heavily noted that any human that is exposed to the truth about the existence of werewolves would need to be killed off to keep them silent. It’s a large and obvious element of Logan’s fears concerning Rachel, especially because he knows that eventually the truth is going to come out to her about her fiancee and her baby’s true natures. He knows that just knowing what they are is a deadly thing, and it would be a killing that his own family would be forced to carry out.
“In a better world. I would have married you.” ~ Elena
So when – to save Philip’s life – Elena turns into her wolf form and attacks a still human Victor, sending him fleeing out the door (sans a couple of fingers), you were in absolutely no doubt what was at stake. Philip – like Rachel – knowing what Elena is practically tantamount to a death sentence. So that was a moment of utter shock – of suddenly having to say to yourself THEY WENT THERE. It was spot on and, I think, was the defining moment of an episode where Laura Vandervoort absolutely shone more than she ever has before in her role as Elena, which is saying something because week in week out, she is a heroine that I love to watch. Her speech to him – that in another life she would have married him, and lived with him and loved him – was brutal enough, but to know now that him being aware of her true form could be more deadly than any knife? Gah. It was heart rending.
But then it didn’t stop there. It’s not enough for Elena to now have to walk away from Philip – if indeed she does…if indeed he lets her – while he still sits there bleeding on the floor. She then has to go into the hall and realise that Clay – her other great love – has been kidnapped and by their worst enemy. The emotional tearing of this scene was dead set brutal in the watching, and brilliantly set up for what should be an amazing final couple of episodes in this season.
This episode meant business from the very first frame, and it was superb from start to finish. Indeed, if you’ve stayed with Bitten from the beginning – even through the little rough patches that any show goes through in it’s debut season as it finds its feet – then I guarantee this will have been the episode you were waiting for. The one that absolutely justified your faith in sticking around to see it through. It took no prisoners and was totally fearless in its declaration that no-one is safe: especially not when the integrity of a great story is at stake.This stance is only strengthened, too, by the fact that there are literally no filler characters here this week either: no-one that exists purely to plug a gap or tie up a loose end just to make it all neat. Paul Greene absolutely nailed it as Philip, and indeed I’d actually go so far as to say that his tortured portrayal this was his best to date in this show.
James Dunnison’s directing meanwhile – made all the more impressive because he directed both this episode and the previous one, simultaneously – was absolutely spot on. It was well blocked and his visceral, pacey visuals left me absolutely reeling, as did Wil Zmak’s cracking script. Indeed it’s kind of impossible not to value Zmak’s constant creative awareness in this episode: not just of the details of the moments on screen but also of the broader story arc as he writes. D. Gillian Truster also deserves a mention here for her beautifully savvy editing, particularly in the fight scenes which I think were by far the best of the season to date.
All in all, Wolfpack, I’d say you could do worse than to batten down your Bitten hatches for the remaining episodes of this season, because seriously. I’m thinking it’s gonna be a wild one.
Final Thoughts and Questions…
- Nice work on almost solving those redneck murders Stonehaven PD! In other news it’s almost FIVE HUNDRED EPISODES LATER OMG.
- “Black and caffeinated is all I need.” More like strong, silent and wolfinated is all you need, Sheriff Morgan, COZ GURL I SAW YOU CHECKING HIM OUT. Dat vest. #ladymagnet
- Is the Sheriff purposely not solving the case so she keeps having a reason to go over to Jeremy’s house and make sexy eyes at him? Discuss.
- Speaking of which, I am officially nominating for President of the “Get Jeremy Danvers Laid” Club. Dude’s been stabbed, punched and beaten up with a metal pole. MAN NEEDS SOME LOVIN’, PEOPLE.
- No really. Let’s be real: that vest ain’t gonna to unbutton itself. #teamjerriff
- Surprise Jamaican Holiday! I like how you deal with impending conflict Logan. Like I usually just drink red, sit in my owl pajamas and cry a lot, but your way is good too.
- Santos must stink. He’s been wearing that suit since Philip’s sister’s wedding. Like seriously, dude: change your pants.
- That said his Chase Crawford wedding hair remains totally flawless. #EasyBreezyBeautifulCoverMutt
- “No choice is perfect Nick. Every decision we make has unintended consequences.” – Jeremy Danvers, perfectly summing up an entire episode. AGAIN.
- Nick is becoming very hard line since the death of his father, which makes it interesting then when Jeremy tells Nick that it was Antonio was the one who caused Jeremy to see the value in occasionally relaxing the pack rules.
- It was his mother’s name that Tonio whispered to Nick right before he died. WOAH.
- I THINK I KNOW WHO YOU ARE, JAMES WILLIAMS.