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Bitten 1.02 "Prodigal" Review: Homecoming

     The second episode of Bitten, “Prodigal,” was written by Daegan Fryklind and directed by Brad Turner. The title made me think of ‘prodigal son’ – the son that breaks away from his family but must return and admit his mistake, which is clearly how the pack views Elena (Laura Vandervoort). However, the actual definition for prodigal is “wastefully extravagant,” and I had to wonder if that couldn’t also apply to the mutt they are chasing.

    The episode begins to fill in a little more information on exactly what makes these werewolves different. While I appreciate that they are slowly teasing out the backstory, especially what happened between Clay (Greyston Holt) and Elena, I found it a bit annoying at just how slowly they are teasing out the reasons for the animosity between Clay and Elena.

    The episode examines the theme of what’s in your nature. There is a great scene between Pete (Joel Keller) and Elena. Elena has been traumatized by killing Jose Carter (Patrick Sevenson) and is determined to avoid killing ever again. She associates killing with being a part of the pack – an inherent part of that nature. Pete tells her that isn’t the case – that she won’t have to kill. He cautions her as Logan (Michael Xavier) did last episode, that pushing the wolf down and trying to act as if she is no different than a human is more dangerous. She can’t make her nature different simply by denying it.

    The other obvious connection is that their nature is that they are wolves. Each has a distinct place in the hierarchy of the pack. Elena is their tracker, Clay and Nick (Steve Lund) are the enforcers, the ones tasked with being the “resident psychopaths” or killers. Both Clay and Nick defer to Elena in the Mutt’s lair. She clearly has a more sensitive nose, making her the best tracker. She senses that this Mutt is actually newly turned.

    There’s also the terrific scene at breakfast which subtly demonstrates that Jeremy (Greg Bryk) is the alpha. The table is laden with food and surrounded by hungry werewolves, yet they all wait for Jeremy to take the first bite and indicate that they are allowed to eat. Bryk is does a wonderful job conveying Jeremy’s quiet power. He is clearly a caring, loving leader, but he is just as clearly in control. Each of them reports to him when they arrive as well.

    Toni (Paulino Nunes) is Jeremy’s right hand and closest confidante. They discuss wanting to bring Elena back into the pack, but because she remembers that it is her home not by force of any kind. We learn Jeremy didn’t have a good relationship with his own father. Elena tells Jeremy that “Good fathers are hard to come by.” Clearly, Elena loves Jeremy as a father figure and cares about him. We know that she grew up without a real family or a father figure.

    I’m curious about why Elena took so long to turn the second time while tracking with Nick and Clay. We know that she is afraid of turning into a killer and losing her humanity, but is it something more? Is it that she is simply reluctant to embrace this aspect of her nature? She is the only woman to ever survive the change, and I have to wonder if that means that the change is significantly different for her. Is it more painful? Or is it that the more often you turn, the easier it gets, so that it is more painful or difficult for her because she is out of practice.

    The voice-over as Elena reads the scrolls is simply dreadful. I’m not sure who made the choice to use silly accents and make it very affected but it was the wrong choice. Rather than giving it an historical edge, it simply made it silly. I would have much preferred Vandervoort to have simply done the voice-over.

    The voice-over does provide us with valuable background on the werewolves, and Elena re-familiarizing herself with the records room is a reasonably un-clunky way to get that exposition out of the way. As with all things, it’s the victor who writes history though, so of course, the pack is described as the “noble” pack versus the lone wolf or mutt. If the Mutts are to be policed and punished, what does that make Elena when she is alone in Toronto? She does have Logan there and she did come when called, as did Logan and Pete who also have lives outside of the pack.

    Elena also reads the “rules” – that the number one rule is maintaining the secrecy of their kind. They are forbidden from changing in front of humans or killing them, but if they do change in front of a human, then they can kill the human. Elena would seem to be justified in killing Carter to retain the secrecy, putting aside that he was a mercenary psycho who cut off someone’s arm! Of course, if the Mutt they’re hunting is newly turned, he wouldn’t know what the rules are. I’m curious to see how they handle a new werewolf. What are the responsibilities of the one who turned them? Jeremy is concerned with finding out who bit him. Can any pack take them in? For that matter, we learn that Elena is the only woman to survive the change and that women only turn if bitten. But when Jeremy speaks of his father, it sounds like he’s talking about his biological father who was also a werewolf, so I wonder if male werewolves can be born...

    The sets, however, are terrific and wonderfully detailed. They give the sense of a family and a history. The house also looks like it might have seen better days. It’s also very masculine. The records room is a great set, and I’m intrigued to find out what they use that cell for. Elena’s room is somewhat more feminine but is very bare, reflecting that she took everything important to her or resisted putting roots down there. It was a nice touch to have some photography gels on the window sill. We see that she’s left what possibly looks like a wedding ring – it matches one worn by Clay.

    We do have a flashback that shows Clay bringing Elena to Stonehaven four years ago for the first time. We learn that Clay was forbidden from going after her by Jeremy.

    I loved the sparring. It was nice to see Elena holding her own against the guys. My pet peeve was how the sequence was shot – the scenes didn’t need to be “sped up” to be effectively impressive. Give me a nice long shot at real speed, please.

    Just as Elena is about to leave, they find the corpse of a the little boy. It’s clear that this is definitely enough to keep her in the hunt. We don’t actually see who killed the boy. Could it have been someone who knew that Elena wouldn’t be able to turn her back on a dead child or was it the Mutt? Naturally, as they find the body, hunters are also closing in on the fresh kill.

    Overall, I really did enjoy this second episode. It’s clear that Elena has had to fight for her independence, particularly in such a patriarchal hierarchy, which is highlighted when Clay pets her. While I did have a few quibbles about this episode, I’m still intrigued by the story, and it’s great to have a female character that is strong enough to carry the lead. What did you think of the episode? Are you intrigued by these new werewolves? Were you a fan of the books? How does the show compare? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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