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Bitten - Scare Tactics - Review

Bitten, “Scare Tactics,” was written by Wil Zmak and directed by Jeremiah Chechik, whose other credits include Helix, Reign, Chuck, and Burn Notice. The pack is under fire from all sides, even within as they must fact their own monsters as well as those from without.

The episode begins with a flashback to Clay (Tristan Culbert) being bitten by Malcolm (James McGowan). In case we have forgotten how much of a monster he is, we see him terrorize young Clay. He tells Clay that adrenaline makes the meat taste good before chasing him through the woods. Clay finally goes to ground, but Malcolm, now in wolf form, bites him. We know already that Clay then survives on his own in the woods until he’s found and taken in by Jeremy (Greg Bryk). Culbert does a great job as young Clay, capturing a lot of Greyston Holt’s expression.

We see Clay in the present visit the trailer where he grew up. Now it is decrepit and covered by graffiti.  The caretaker (Howard Jerome) finds Clay there and tells him that he remembers the family that used to live there and that the boy went missing and the mother (Michelle Monteith) was killed by a wolf the same day the father returned from the war in Somalia. They searched for the boy but never found him and the father soon committed suicide. It’s clear that Clay’s family did love him and meant a great deal to him.

Clay also goes to see Dr Shayhaus (Raoul Bhaneja) about the symbol. As soon as he sees it, he pretty much freaks out and doesn’t want to have anything more to do with it. He tells Clay that it is tied to witchcraft. When Clay responds, wicca? Shayhaus is quick to respond, that it’s definitely not wicca, it’s “left hand path malevolent practice” witchcraft. I like that the show makes that clear distinction. It’s also ironically funny when Shayhaus tells Clay not to go poking monsters and Clay responds, “I’m not afraid of monsters.” However, we see that there may be monsters that Clay should be afraid of.

Shayhaus tells him to seek out a Miss Yoruba for more information. When he gets there, she’s been murdered – by Malcom. Clay does find an old book hidden in a secret compartment, containing spells and the symbol from last week. In addition, on the same page as the symbol is a note saying “The Destroyer Comes.”

There are a couple of really good scenes between Jeremy and Malcolm. I can’t say enough about the quiet and commanding power that Bryk brings to the role – perfect for an alpha wolf. Malcolm is the monster in the cage at Stonehaven. He's very good at using scare tactics. He’s a master at manipulation. He knows that Jeremy’s weakness is also his greatest strength – his pack and his family. Malcolm, of course, is neither. It’s interesting that the only time we hear Jeremy call Malcolm “Dad,” is when he tells him he’ll be executed the next morning. Malcolm tries to get leverage with Jeremy by asking if he’s willing to sacrifice a werewolf child – the first of his pack’s. Jeremy realizes that Malcolm is uncharacteristically willing to negotiate. I loved when Bryk leaned in to him and said, “it tells me that you’re afraid. And I’m enjoying that.”

Rodrigo (Salvatore Antonio) returns and tries to make amends with Jeremy. This is one of several scenes in which we really see Nick (Steve Lund) step up as Jeremy’s second. I really liked the confrontation in the driveway. Once again, the body language here really reinforces that these beings are part wolf. Rodrigo’s body language is quite submissive with dropped shoulders and looking up at Jeremy. Rodrigo thinks that Jeremy is going to let him make amends. However, instead of letting Rodrigo kills Malcolm, Jeremy, in a show of strength, rips Rodrigo’s throat out right in front of Malcolm – just so Malcolm realizes no one is coming to help him.

I also very much liked the final scene between Jeremy and Malcolm. Malcolm tries one last time to tell Jeremy that the pack won’t survive what – or who – is coming without his help. Jeremy once again asserts his authority, telling Malcolm that he’s not afraid of him anymore. He tells Malcolm to make peace with himself. Finding peace is a theme of the episode as well.

Malcolm keeps warning them that something is coming for them. Malcolm also keeps goading them, hoping to get one of them mad enough to let him out of the cage. Logan (Michael Xavier) comes to realize that Malcolm doesn’t have Rachel (Genelle Williams). There’s another fantastic scene at the end between Bryk and Xavier. Logan is despairing over Rachel. Jeremy comforts Logan and while he doesn’t ask him to give up hope, he does tell him to prepare for the worst. He also tells Logan that he needs to heal. Jeremy wants him to stop running and to come home where his family can help him to heal. Jeremy is tender and caring in this scene. In fact, Bryk continues to do a wonderful job showcasing all of the facets of Jeremy from cool headed leader to vicious wolf to father-figure.

Elena (Laura Vandervoort) is stretched to her limits. She is seething with hatred for Malcolm and consumed with guilt over Philip’s death. When she is essentially forced to meet with Diane (Natalie Brown), she is forced to come to terms with her responsibility for Philip’s death. Vandervoort is really quite spectacular in this scene. It was nice to see Brown again, and she delivers a great performance here as well. She tries to be as honest as possible with Diane, who is understandable distraught over the loss of her brother.

          In fact, Diane also has to be working through some guilt of her own as she was the one to introduce Philip and Elena. Diane tells Elena that she won't go to the police and that she never wants to hear from Elena again. Elena tells Diane that the only thing she and her family are focused on right now is revenge. Elena’s pent up emotions are perfectly symbolized by the crumpled fork she drops on the table before leaving the restaurant.

Upon returning to Stonehaven, she goes directly to Malcolm. Vandervoort is equally good in this scene as she fairly vibrates with rage. I particularly liked the way her upper lip trembled, so very reminiscent of a dog snarling without going over the top and actually curling her lip. Elena wants to know why Malcolm targeted and killed Philip. He tells her because she needed to know who’s boss. But he didn’t mean himself, he meant her nature. He tells her, “you are bound to our ways be your biology.” And that is the lesson she learned last year. That she couldn’t deny her nature.

         Sadly, she’d learned it before Philip was killed. Malcolm tells her, “I gave you the greatest gift of all: your true self. You are now all wolf. You are our future.” He’s right that knowing your true self is the greatest gift, but Malcolm doesn’t know her true self. He only knows the savage that is himself. Elena is more than that. It’s still not clear how Elena is the future, but it is clear that Jeremy sees the same in her.

Clay and Logan arrive just in time to stop Elena letting Malcolm out to kill him. Logan takes her upstairs, and Malcolm attempts to taunt Clay by asking him about his trip and telling him about killing his mother. Clay resists, and returns to Elena. She tells him he was right and that she does have to deal with Philip’s death. She tells him she’s doesn’t know what she’s capable anymore. He tells her he just wants her to find peace. As always, she finds that peace in his arms as they make love.

Of course, the biggest development in the episode is the entrance of the witches into the lives of those at Stonehaven. Nick is the first to be hexed. It’s a pretty creepy scene as he comes across the crying burlap bag and then Paige (Tommie-Amber Pirie) appears behind him with the whited out eyes to hex him into believing he’s blind. Nick is clearly freaked out by them. I really liked him trying to get reassurance from Elena that there weren’t also ghosts and her being of no help whatsoever. Of course, Nick mocks the spell work, but this seemed like a ‘he doth protest too much’ ruse on his part.

On the first foray into the house, Ruth (Tammy Isbell) uses her seeing ball to find Malcolm. Luckily for Malcolm, Logan had the foresight to change into his wolf form, so that as she came down the stairs, he lunged at her and sent her packing. I wonder if their magic only works when the wolves are in their human form?

The witches maintain that it’s not the spell that resulted in them showing up in the living room but that they’d decided it was time to chat. I liked the touch of Paige telling them to “sit” like you would a dog – and none of them responding. Ruth shocks them by revealing they know all about them being werewolves. Here again in this scene, Nick takes his place at Jeremy’s side as Jeremy sends Clay and Logan to stand guard at the doors. Ruth manages to expand the universe of the show considerably with her one sentence – that they can call them witches because they are both from the “other world” and are both non-humans or supernaturals. This seems like a clear indication that there are more non-humans out there.

I liked how Paige and Nick silently faced off while Ruth and Jeremy did so on center stage. I liked her magicking her card to him and him blandly remarking “I guess we all like to show off from time to time. Ruth tells Jeremy that the witches are all female. Their power is hereditary  - like the werewolves – but they only give birth to female children. She also tells him that their motto is “live and let live.” Jeremy disputes this and says, “Yet here you are in my home, calling us out to the woods. Were you responsible for Rochester?” But Ruth denies any part in that, telling Jeremy that they face a common enemy.

Ruth wants to trade Malcolm for a young witch who has yet to come into her power who is being held by this person. Is this young witch possibly Rachel? Rachel is a cook and spellwork has always seemed a lot like cooking to me – recipes and all….Jeremy can’t turn over Malcolm, however, and the meeting turns a lot less friendly. Ruth tells him that eventually they will be begging for her help. There’s a beautiful shot of Jeremy and Ruth fluidly standing up in a mirror image of each other. She tells him “you’re either on our side or in our way.” She makes a clear threat. She also leaves her ring in the bowl of walnuts on the table. The next morning Elena awakes to sense something is wrong. All of the doors and windows are open – including the cage. Malcolm is gone and the Alpha council will be wanting his head!

This was another packed episode. We learned a lot about the witches and see the universe of the show expanded. I can’t wait to see if the witches will ultimately become either clear allies or enemies. The title is reflected in both Malcolm's scare tactics and those of the witches. What did you think of the episode? Do you think that the witches are responsible for Malcolm’s disappearance? Do you think we’ll see him again? Do you think either Elena or Logan will find the peace they seek? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Forever, Defiance, Bitten, Glee, and a few others! Highlights of this past year include covering San Diego Comic Con as press and a set visit to Bitten. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.

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