Monday, April 13, 2015

Bitten, Season 2, Episode 10: Fine Temporum

The wolfies head to the big witch battery (joined by Cain) and they’re all having wolfy issues. After much talk rather than actually doing something, Elena realises what Savannah’s “dead by dawn” vision means – the death of the witches won’t remove the werewolf curse, it will kill them.

Cain also wonders if killing Savannah will solve it all. Elena nixes that idea.

Nick also decides now is the best time to tell Jeremy he saw his mother and wants a relationship and this is why he can’t turn into a wolf if he can’t change back (I  thought we’d just established the curse was killing them?)

Alistair’s spelled the doors so Clay throws something through them. Easy. Wait, Alistair is INSIDE while they stand outside having the exposition rant?!

Ruth hexes Alistair, Alistair hexes Paige. There’s a whole lot of hexing. Paige becomes hostile and some human guards with guns arrive objecting to the whole breaking and entering thing. They’ve also been Alistair whammied. Fighting and splitting up follows.

Alistair & minions continue to Ruth’s hidden chambers, using a mind-whammied Savannah to open the doors. He arrives to tell Ruth about his abusive childhood before resorting to calling Ruth a “whore” because abandoning your child to death and to be raised by abusers is totally less an issue than the sleeping around (I’m bemused by the “come and say that to my face” retort, given that they’re in the same room).

Ruth does manage to break her own circle. Well done Ruth. She also loses her ring which apparently is keyed to all the nasty black magic she has been pouring into Alistair because once he takes it off her he’s fine again. She falls back on Plan B – apologetic motherhood.

Elena gets through to Piage to remove Alistair’s mind control whammy and cause nasty black vomit. She opens the door for Elena then stays behind in case we need more door opening power. That leaves Elena to ride to the rescue on her own (everyone else is playing with human guards – including Zachary having a fairly laughable talk about love – he doesn’t have the acting chops for this - before running at a gun toting guard, taking several bullets Clay doesn’t have to and risk not being with the woman he loves). Paige does tell Elena that, as a last resort, she must kill Savannah

Elena interrupts Ruth’s attempts at mother/son bonding (failing terribly since Alistair knocks Ruth out). Elena beats Alistair around very easily in the magic proof room but he still manages to stab her. He then watches as Elena cuts out the bug from Savannah’s arm – the creature that makes the whole “I am the lock” mind control works.

Claire and Alistair drag Savannah from the room leaving Elena and Ruth on the floor. Clay arrives and he and Elena have a long tearful scene rather than him chasing the bad guys, killing Alistair and giving Elena back the werewolf healing he needs to survive the wound.

Elena apparently dies. Yes join me in the eye-roll because there is no damn way she just died. Of course with Elena dead Clay now has no reason to stay human so shifts into a wolf to chase Alistair.

Ruth decides she has to save Elena, despite Paige’s protests, because she decides she’s responsible for all that has happened since Alistair is her non-murdered son. Ruth sacrifices herself to save Elena. Elena lives, Ruth is dead.

Unfortunately this means all the magical dampening is gone as wolf dies so Alistair has his woo-woo and can fend off Clay. Well… almost. He ends up nastily savaged by werewolf claws, giving Savannah chance to grab her talisman.

Savanah kills Clara then she and Alistair have a magical duel which ends up with Savannah dropping in time for Elena to tag in and her being fended off as well; which means he ignores Savannah. 1 distraction, 1 angry werewolf and Alistair loses his talisman. Elena drowns him (convenient bucket of water) as dawn breaks – when all witches are supposed to die and all werewolves are supposed to lose their powers

Where they in time? Time for lots of tears as Elena sees Clay still in wolf form. But Paige is alive – and Clay shapeshifts to human.

Afterwards, Jeremy pledges friendship with the witches since Ruth sacrificed herself for Ruth. Paige also insists that Nick returns with the werewolves so they have time to heal – especially since she is the new Coven leader (the coven of… 2?) so they can’t be together any more. Clay and Elena are sappy and, randomly, Savannah decides it’s all her fault so over to Elena for a pep-talk.

And have an ominous bloodstained fiery vision for next season

Sadly in the midst of all this tension, I laughed several times because of the shoe-horned love conversations they continually had a time out for. At the beginning they don’t chase Alistair because they have to take time to discuss Nick’s love life. Cain actually waits while the guard he charges RELOADS so he can tell Clay about the power of love. If he has just ran at the guy while he was reloading he wouldn’t have been shot. Or there’s Alistair who must have literally just stood there and watched with Claire as Elena cut the mind control bug out of Savannah

And why, with the shared knowledge that the witch catacombs are underground, did the werewolves go up, through side-rooms et al?

I’ve been a bit luke-warm this season. I think it has had a severe pacing and distraction problem. I think the whole arc of Alistair was pretty terribly done. We had a lot of episodes of vagueness – and the worst part of that is that it wasn’t enough for a major arc, but its presence meant we never really developed the far more interesting (at the time) arcs of the Alpha-council, Jeremy, the plotting within, whether to kill the witches to keep their secrets and the Spanish pack’s conniving. All of these storylines were woefully underdeveloped.

Then we actually found Alistair, we had a couple of episodes of heavy action and they won… on episode 6. With 4 episodes to go. Everything after that felt dragged out, fighting a battle they’d already won. I expected Alistair to be put in the plot box to be pulled out as a big bad in a later season, not to try for round two while still reeling from round one.

I think this also lead to a lot of weak development this season – and not just the Alpha council. We have a lot of talk of Jeremy being an uber Alpha – but none of that really shown. The werewolves and witches went from antagonists forced to work together to close friends… and I’m not entirely sure when that happened. Nick and Paige happened… because reasons? All of the witches, especially Savannah, could have sorely used some characterisation. Cain was dragged up for…. Reasons (which still escape me). Nick had mother issues and the whole issue of werewolves not being able to have relationships – but it was covered so briefly as a sidepoint. Elena went from her aversion to being a wolf to fully embracing it and regarding it as an inherent part of her person – but we didn’t see it. It just happened.

This all combined to add to that humour moments in the last episode – because it’s like the writers were desperate to insert some pathos but hadn’t done enough to develop Ruth, Cain et al for them to actually be impactful.

We also had the woeful sidelining of Rachel and Logan who had the most powerful personal story of any of the characters – and were in a perfect place to centre Jeremy’s conflict (be a modern alpha who accepts humans and witches or stand with the alpha council and turn on Rachel), lay a foundation for Elena embracing herself (as she lets go of Phillip’s family and talks to Rachel about whether or not they’re a monster) and Nick’s own personal issues (seeing a couple trying to do what his dad did and what he wants). They could have been the core of this season and told the personal stories of these characters that needed telling. Instead they were an afterthought, usually ignored – and Logan ended up dying in an almost dismissive fashion. Since he and Rachel were the only regular POC on the show (we had some silent, briefly appearing Alphas and a lot of Alistair’s mind-controlled sacrificial minions), it’s also a terrible way to deal with the minimal racial diversity on the show as well

We also have zero LGBT characters – and the cast is not small. With the introduction of the witches we do have some more female characters rather than a very heavily male season 1. Though Sondra and Cain’s ex both appeared to remind us how very special the only female werewolf was (I still am utterly bemused by Sondra’s presence let alone what they did with her character). Alistair the only male witch carried with it some elements of diffusing Elena’s the only female werewolf – but the tone was off. Elena is the only female werewolf because she’s super special. Alistair is the only male witch because the witches have not had male children and are afraid of them (and Alistair seemed immensely powerful in comparison to any of the witches). Of course there’s also an additional undercurrent of sexual shaming – behold the penalties of teen pregnancy: evil genocide child!

I’m left more frustrated than bored by this whole season. Because I can see what this season could have been; they have the characters, the conflicts, the world and the plots to tell a really good story. But the execution was appalling, really terrible. I both want the next season to see what they can do, and don’t want it because of what I fear they will do.