Bitten S1 Ep 1 – Summons

I’ve been cautiously anticipating Bitten, SyFy’s new werewolf (we’ll split hairs over the term later) series, based on Bitten/The Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong. I’ve read some of Armstrong’s work and liked it, but still. I didn’t want to get too excited about a show featuring female wolf lead. Because I really wanted it to be good.

After watching the series premiere, I have to say I’m not disappointed. Not yet, anyway. It’s not perfect, but it’s also not the cheesy Werewolf Dream Barbie mess I worried it might be. Oh, it’s cheesy enough — but not turn-the-channel, why-did-I-agree-to-recap-this cheesy.

Bitten has a few things going for it: it features grown-up people who sometimes day drink and do things like sell home security systems. Yeah, Elena, the protagonist, is some kind of erotic art photographer, but at least she’s not an erotic art photographer in high school. And at least she’s not an awkward everygirl who gets swept off her feet by a hot werewolf. That may be what happened in her past, but when we meet Elena, she’s already a wolf, trying to live a normal life with her attractive but ordinary boyfriend, Philip, who didn’t so much sweep her off her feet as was set up with her by his sister, Diana, who also happens to be her best friend.

On the downside, Elena is the only female werewolf. Like, in the world. I can’t help imagining if it were an all-female pack, and how cool that would be. For some reason, people commonly associate werewolves with masculinity, but if there’s one thing the Ginger Snaps series taught us, it’s that werewolves, with their intense physical and emotional cycles, have a definite, if underrepresented, association with the feminine. Not so much in this universe. The pack, which Elena has estranged herself from (save for one, her good friend and “therapist,” Logan), are all men.

Still, the pack is interesting, as is the mythology Bitten has chosen. The pack, made up of wolves from all over but based somewhere out in the boonies of Canada, live by a strict code that says, first and foremost, that humans are never to be killed. If a wolf kills a human, they are dealt with by the pack as dangerous criminals. It’s worth noting that the wolves in Bitten maintain their awareness in their wolf states. They also turn into true wolves, not technically werewolves (man-wolves), so they can roam in wolf form without too much notice or threat from humans, as wolf hunting is illegal. They also don’t automatically turn on a full moon. They can turn pretty much whenever they want to, but if he or she tries to suppress the wolf for more than a couple of weeks, they’ll change without warning. Elena is working on this.

In “Summons,” a young woman leaves a bar at night after an uncomfortable exchange with a man from out of town  (it also happens to be the night Elena abruptly changes, though relatively far off in Toronto), and is killed in the woods near the pack’s enclave.  When the police investigation confirms that it was a wolf attack, the pack goes on high alert. To the humans, this is a tragic consequence of nature, but to the wolves, it’s murder. The pack’s Alpha, Jeremy, doesn’t recognize the scent at the murder scene, and determines that the killer is an unknown “mutt,” or a rogue wolf. 

Meanwhile, Elena is trying to fit in with Philip and Diane’s family, specifically their judgmental mother. Not everyone adores Elena, though mom really has no good reason to dislike her. Elena is called “home” to the pack repeatedly, something she resists, but eventually agrees to after a wolf run with Logan. Elena, possibly because she is the only female, is the pack’s best tracker, and they need her help. Not surprisingly, she has some baggage back home, in the form of Clayton, the handsome university professor.

It’s not not soapy, but the premiere isn’t quite as soapy as it sounds.  Though she struggles with her condition, Elena is surprisingly well-adjusted and spends very little time feeling sorry for herself (and when she does, it’s with Logan). She eats constantly (an effect of the condition, presumably), to the envy of Diane, and she can take down a creeper with one hand. She has some self-esteem issues, but seems well aware she’s beautiful. I like her.

It doesn’t take a lot to put together who the “mutt” is, but the mystery isn’t so much who killed the woman as what the hell is going on? What’s going on will be revealed in the next episode — this murder won’t be an isolated incident.

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