Bitten / Screen

The Bad, the Bad, and the Bad: Bitten ‘Grief’ Review

Bitten is officially bad.  Or at least, it’s officially not good.  Last week’s episode could have been considered a fluke, a one-time misstep.  Then the show could make a course-correction in the followup.  Instead, in tonight’s “Grief”, the show buckled down on its worst traits.

Its first offense is the bad acting. Most of this episode attempted to coast along on the notion of Elena being made bloodthirsty and vengeful by Pete’s death, but the problem is Laura Vandevoort’s performance doesn’t have the layers needed to sell this apparent shift.  An upset Elena is pretty much the same as a content Elena who is identical to an annoyed Elena who is the same as an intimidating Elena who doesn’t shift all from “It’s Monday” Elena.  So while the idea of Elena being emotional and overcome after Pete’s murder could make sense, it doesn’t with the lack of evolution in Elena’s behavior.  If all that was required of Vandervoort was to just be, she’d do just fine, but anytime the script called for her to do something more than that, she fell flat. Certainly the acting of all the stars has been an issue since the pilot, and against my best wishes, it shows no signs of improving.

Neither does the writing which is also intent on remaining awful no matter what.  The same things keep being rehashed, including Elena’s conflicted feelings about being back at Stonehaven.  One one hand, its nice that the show is keeping that in its focus, but on another hand every episode doesn’t need a scene of Elena arguing with someone about not wanting to be there.  All this episode needed was Elena’s brief conversation with Logan deciding that she couldn’t leave until things were sorted with Pete’s killer.  Otherwise, “Grief” wasted a lot of time telling us things we already knew about where Elena stood.

Bitten has had this issue before, loading up its episodes with unimportant information and not making any strides in other story points. “Grief” was a mad-dash to make up for it with Pete’s death asserting that the pack has a big problem with mutts deciding to revolt against their authority.  Unfortunately this meant a lot of meaningless names were thrown at the audience and expected to stick.  Zachary Cane and Daniel Santos are total ciphers so when the episode threw them in and tried to make their appearances a big deal, it failed.  Now would have been a good time for some flashbacks to establish why Cane and Santos are such big deals instead of plopping them down in the middle of the narrative and expecting them to elicit some kind of effect other than indifference.

The only somewhat successful maneuver is with Karl Marsten and only because we met him last episode and have some understanding of his relationship with the pack, making his role in all this sort of surprising.  But not really because there’s no reason to care about him either, especially as one of the villains . The mutts wanting to rise up against the pack is an interesting idea, as is the concept of serial killers being turned into a wolves and set upon the Danvers, but Bitten is too clumsy with its execution for it to have a strong effect.

In the same vein, Daniel Santos turning up at Logan’s office was another mishandled element.  It lacked any suspense since we know nothing about Santos (Michael Luckett) thus far. This introduction was where we learned about him. He was formerly pack and Clay killed his brother for reasons that weren’t explained.  Now he wants to go back because he knows about the mutts teaming up in their bid to get out from underneath the Danvers and thinks he can be effective.

Storytelling aside, Bitten isn’t exactly setting itself apart in the effects department either. It’s definitely constrained by its cable budget, and its more than understandable that some concessions will need to be made with its usage of its CGI wolves.  But “Grief” featured the truly eye-popping horribleness of Clay and Elena (as wolves) making literal googly eyes at each other and engaging in some playful wolfing around that was probably not supposed to leave me staring at my screen in absolute disbelief.  

This poor work led into another unfortunate Clay and Elena scene. It would be a lot easier to at least tolerate Clayton if the show made any attempts at giving him a character other than a brooding mass who likes to talk with his fists, and it would be easier to follow along with the Clay/Elena relationship if the show attempted to give it any depth. Though Clay and Elena are constantly put together to do things (tonight they followed the scent of Pete’s killer), and even though Bitten says the end results of their interactions are always pushing them forward, there’s no exploration when they’re actually onscreen.  Rather, the show keeps them in the same cycle of being irritated and mildly attracted to one another and pretends that suffices for development.

Basically there’s nothing Bitten could do at this point to make the show any worse.  Just kidding, there’s always something, but it’s becoming clear that this is what the remainder of the season is going to look like, and it’s not a pretty picture.

Tidbits

  • If you need a quick summation of what is so terrible about this show look no further than the scene of the random women in the diner who thought Clay was cute and went into a too-long spiel about the possibility of him and Elena being a couple.   It might have been okay if one of them hadn’t said, in total seriousness, “Look at their body language.”
  • Considering Elena and Clay were lying naked in the woods and feeling each other up sleepily, that scene should have been way hotter than it was.
  • “I’m coming for my scrapbook, bitch.”  I don’t think this could have been less intimidating.

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