Bitten / Screen

The Two Lives of Elena Michaels: Bitten ‘Committed’ Review

Sometimes there’s this thing that happens when you start hate watching a show: It gets better.  Your own low standards have tricked your brain into accepting a show as being good because it’s at least hitting the very low bar it’s set for itself. I’m sure this is going to happen with Bitten eventually, but I don’t think it happened with “Committed” which doesn’t mean it was a bad episode. Interestingly enough it was one of the better ones of late, and it’s unfortunate that Bitten isn’t the kind of show that’s going to give equal credence and attention to the mundane existence of the humans in Toronto except for occasional glimpses like this week’s episode, since it was all the better for it.  

For a show that’s often playing with the idea of normalcy of a human life versus a werewolf one, those ideas haven’t been given the attention that was required until this week. With Elena back in Toronto with Phillip and the Pack going on without her, the episode was split into two locations and two mostly unrelated stories.  “Committed” worked better than previous episodes in balancing and emphasizing Elena and her two lives: her normal one with Phillip and her werewolf one back in Stonehaven.  It wasn’t all good as the Stonehaven plots plodded along like they have in previous episodes while surprisingly there were more interesting things happening at a wedding of Phillip’s minor character of a sister.

Even though Phillip and Elena have about the same amount of chemistry as Elena and Clay, Phillip and Elena at least make more sense. There’s nothing spectacularly boring about Phillip, but that’s only because he’s being measured on the same scale as Clay, who is even more boring since we’ve yet to have been given anything else to measure his likability or worth on other than Greyston Holk’s ability to brood and pretend to punch people.  When Phillip’s sharing some time with Elena, his character works better (and this is helped by only one reference to his stupid vodka campaign). In a lot of ways it’s clear that the show prefers Clay to Phillip, but their attempts at adding more definition to Phillip’s character than existed in book form are overtaking their attempts with Clay’s character which are comparatively nonexistent. Though Phillip’s niceness and decency could be a guarantee of being snooze-inducing, Phillip has enough of that and the promise that he’ll eventually transition into finally being curious about Elena’s life, that his character is coasting along better than Clay’s.  And I don’t cringe as much watching Phillip and Elena interact with one another, so there’s that. 

So of course it wasn’t terrible when Phillip asked Elena to move in with him, and she accepted. There’s something about their mostly well-adjusted relationship (even with Elena’s many lies and omissions) that’s nice to see when juxtaposed with the complicated nature of Elena’s time in Stonehaven that so far the show hasn’t gone out of its way to present as being something that Elena’s ever enjoyed. Certainly the show’s caught the Pack at a rough time being under attack, but there have been very few moments where it appears as though Elena actually likes being there under any circumstances.  The people of the Pack she certainly loves, but the show’s given very little evidence to support the fact that Elena enjoys it in other capacity, enough to want to stick around out of anything other than obligation and love for Jeremy and the others which doesn’t seem to outweigh her affection for Phillip. Elena’s moments with Phillip in Toronto were more lighthearted and genuine, making it hard to argue with any of Elena’s assertions that she wants out of the Pack.

In the vein of Elena’s two lives getting unnervingly close to one another, Daniel Santos turned up at Becky’s wedding and attempted to get Elena on his side by pointing out Clay’s role in antagonizing the rebelling mutts, her own issues with the Pack, and her being an inevitable target where she currently stands. It’s an unnecessary convoluted addition to the storyline, with Daniel apparently forming a third faction for the Pack to deal with and claiming to be against the aggression of the mutts (but then leaving Elena with the eyes of a murdered Pack associate to give to Jeremy), but the idea of Elena stepping outside the battle completely is an interesting one.Obviously this was never going to happen (and Elena ended up returning to the Pack in the end), but it was a compelling thought, more compelling than much of the stuff the show has thrown at us thus far. Elena’s disdain for the bloody lifestyle of a Pack wolf exists right alongside her positive feelings for the people in the Pack, and Bitten could do a lot with Elena choosing if those personal connections outweigh her hatred of being a wolf which goes back to her choosing where she wants to be. But the show appears adamant to continue on with less successful stories.

Most of the Stonehaven saga of “Committed” fell under this category as Jeremy was challenged as Alpha by some dude named Boggs who the Pack has history with. On one hand, it’s nice that the show keeps drawing on history that the Pack has, but it continues to do so to the point where it only amounts to a sea of names for viewers to try to add some meaning to.  Samuel Boggs, Henry Boggs, Dennis Stillwell, Joey Stillwell….who cares who these people are? Who cares that Dennis’ eyes were taken out of his head? No one. Bitten‘s fallen into the habit of bringing up names and faces that mean nothing and trying to attach meaningful events to them, and this strategy doesn’t work.

The only interesting part of the mutt’s rebellion is that it’s stemmed mainly from Clay’s ultra-violence and heavy handed discipline. This mainly works because of the show’s (previously mentioned) bad characterization of Clay whose most consistent character trait is his violent streak so the mutt’s wanting some payback for it actually makes sense. Less well done was Clay’s sudden morality springing up to beg Elena to come back because “he’s done things – necessary things” but now wants to be better. Clay’s never apologized for what he has to do to help the Pack, but now he’s suddenly having a change of heart? It felt like a cheap and random way for the show to wheedle out of the only consistency they’ve displayed with the character and make him less of the unlikable person they’ve crafted thus far who Clay was more than happy to be when we first met him in the pilot.

Tidbits

  • The opening credits are officially better than the show itself.
  • Clay’s point about Elena’s distance from the pack meaning that she would basically be a mutt and therefore unable to settle down and have a home like she wants, was so valid that I’m surprised it never got brought up sooner. Especially by Elena. Bitten‘s mythology stipulates that it’s only the Packs who get to group up and have homes, but this is still only the first time we’ve heard that if Elena gets the distance she’s been craving, she’ll still be sacrificing a normal life.
  • To cover up seeing Daniel, Elena told Phillip about her past with  Victor Olson in what must have been the show’s attempt at some continuity after bringing Olson up last week but mostly fell flat. It would have been more interesting if she had seen him since so far Elena’s attracted the attention of two of the mutts (Olson and the other one whose scrapbook she took) and neither has shown up to make good on their threats.
  • In a miniature C-plot, Logan and Rachel found out they’re pregnant which could be promising since a Bitten that realizes and wants to work with the idea of the two opposing lifestyles is a Bitten that’s more enjoyable.
  • I finished the book, and by the time I finished it, I was no longer confused about why the show is so bad.

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