Friday, October 26, 2012

Supernatural: Season 8, Episode 4: Bitten

 I’m almost tempted to just say “werewolves. Done” and then, perhaps, fill the rest of the post with pictures of Castiel. Because that pretty much sums up the entire episode in all its dull pointlessness and gimmicks. But, alas, I suppose a recap should follow.

We go straight into the gore with a room plastered with blood, one body reduced to shreds and another seemingly neat under a nearly clean sheet – just one little blood stain. Then Sam and Dean burst in, guns ready, check the room is clear and find a lap top with the words “play me” written on it. They do

And they get the story of Brian and Michael. Brian the film geek, Michael the more athletic, physical friend and room mate. They record everything hence the video. Including meeting Kate, another camera fan who quickly falls for Michael

There follows several clichéd college scenes – Kate and Michael becoming more lovey-dovey, their friendship, their lectures, one of their professors (complete with convoluted close up of his lapel badge), their plans for the future, how Michael stands up for Brian against bullies. Yada yada, still no reason to actually care about these people and all to the patented gimmick of the shaky handy cam because it’s totally authentic real guys.

Then there’s a murder, a college kid has been sliced and diced and his heart taken and eaten. The students gather and film it – including filming 2 FBI guys coming and asking questions – Sam and Dean. The witnesses to the attack heard a growl. More scenes of Michael saying he always has to back Brian because he has no-one else. And with a murderer on campus they have to go out at night to film stuff for Brian’s project

Out filming they catch a couple making out, he gets handsy and she pushes him away especially when he doesn’t take no for an answer. He notices them filming and chases them, separating them so they fun off into the trees. It’s then that we get a Blair Witch effect (honestly this gimmick is far too old) and something bites Michael.

Brian gets him home where *gasp* the bite disappears! Not a scratch on him! More scenes of concern and friendship and discovering Michael has super-strength… whooooa! They play around with that for a bit, having him lift Kate one handed and Brian having great fun filming it – calling it his film project, filming Michael’s superhero “origin story”

But Brian also wants to go out and get bitten himself. He’s tired of being the weakest of the group, tired of being in everyone’s shadow – he wants to have super strength too. Michael tries to reassure Brian he’s fine as he is and, as he pushes, loses his temper because he doesn’t want this.

Sam and Dean interview them to ask about the murder and ask if anyone has been bitten – naturally they deny. As they leave the students hear them talking about Mayan gods, which they joke about considerably.

Michael is still chanting about Mayan gods that night when he looks in the mirror – and shifts. It’s painful, he lashes out, breaking the mirror and then devours the whole kitchen. He does touch Kate, however, gently and carefully. All the food eaten he goes out shopping where he is harassed by Scott the campus bully. Who gets shredded and his heart eaten – aaaah karma.

Michael comes home covered in blood and with claws. The others panic, Michael tells him he saw red when Scott spoke of getting Kate. Kate clings to the idea of self-defence. When they go check the crime scene where Sam and Dean are, again, in attendance they hear that Scott was shredded by claws and his heart was eaten.

The students have their angry freak out, Kate in defence mood, Brian accusing Michael of eating a human heart and Michael losing it –knocking Brian across the room. Emotion emotion drama drama.

They continue to follow Sam and Dean around to try and find out what they know and what’s happening. They hear of a case 10 years ago where the same thing happen. They think they know what caused it but think it’s the wrong time of the month. By using Brian’s hacking skills they get to film them eating and hear about their research – a Werewolf that’s 4 generations or more removed from a pure blood is less feral and can transform before, during and after the full moon. They can also control themselves – even eat animal hearts rather than human. And silver should still kill them.

Michael freaks out that he’s a werewolf and Kate points out there’s no way Sam and Dean are the FBI (the FBI doesn’t say “awesome” that much) and that they’re looking for the one who bit him, not him.

Brian, checking his vids, may have an answer to this. He goes out into the woods at night (wow, survival instinct anyone) and finds the lapel pin we conveniently zoomed in on earlier. Yes, it’s the professor. He goes and sees him and confronts him – threatening him with silver and multiple cameras recording and streaming what he says and does. The professor confesses to being a werewolf, says he can usually manage his craving and eats animal hearts – but he fell off the wagon that one time. Realising that, in the modern age, it’s easy for hunters to track him down, he decided he needed a scapegoat so bit Michael. He sleeps through his classes anyway.

Brian happily takes this news to Michael and Kate who are confused – and then horrified when they realise that Brian used the threat to force the professor to bite him – and he’s now a werewolf as well. As they watch the hidden camera in the professor’s office they see Sam and Dean enter – and kill the professor. Kate panics, she says the hunters will track them down through the cameras. Brian and Michael fight about Brian being in Michael’s shadow, how they’re not equal – and they do fight – with Michael being accidentally stabbed during the battle.

Kate panics and collapses in grief while Brian tries to comfort her and says he loves her – and she’d understand if she were a wolf too. Yes, we have another bite. Kate flees to the bathroom, loses it as her bite fades and she becomes a werewolf – until she comes out and shreds Brian into itty bitty pieces.

She makes the video – showing their lives, showing them as people, showing that none of them chose to be monsters. She signs off saying she just wants a chance, she’ll eat animal hearts, she won’t hurt anyone – just give her a chance

The video ends and Sam and Dean are left with her words, shredded Brian and dead Michael. After discussing whether Dean says “awesome” too much, they decide to do as she asks – and give her a chance but the first slip and they kill her. That’s a bit of a backtrack on previous episodes.

Is this original? Not really. Ok we see things from the monster’s point of view and how they weren’t always monsters and they can’t help it… but we know that. We saw Dean get turned into a vampire. We saw Sam fight demon blood addiction. We’ve seen the vampire who tried to get by only eating animal blood. We saw the tragic werewolf who loved Sam but couldn’t stop her urges. We saw the Kitsune who only killed to feed her sick child. We saw Bobby fighting his rage and pain as he descended into becoming a vengeful spirit. Supernatural is full of tragic monsters desperately trying to hold onto their humanity but being unable to do so and sinking into the abyss. The only difference is that we sepnd a whole episode following the monsters this time – and their lives were so flat, so normal, so clichéd (I suppose to give them a sense of “every man” ideal) that they just weren’t interesting.

And yes I did see the two comments on Sam and Dean “work place romance” and “long separated couple”. Episode 4, Season 8 – and slash fodder is still being used (and praised) in the place of actual GBLT inclusion. Enough of this shit – homoerotic subtext is insulting on a show that has so little inclusion and gay jokes are generally insulting, but especially on a show that has this little inclusion.

Frankly I think Sam and Dean both had their own issues to work through and I’d rather have seen them than spent the whole episode on 3 very real, but very bland characters that added nothing to meta or character development.