Rip Your Heart Out: A UK Review: Supernatural #8.4 “Bitten”
- Directed By Thomas J. Wright
- Written By Robbie Thompson
- Original Air date 24th October 2012
This review is dedicated to fellow writer/reviewer and Supernatural fan Jorge Solis (@JSolis82).
Supernatural has made a demonic return to our UK TV screens, broadcasting in double bill formats on Sky channel Living every Wednesday from 10pm. Thus far, Season Eight kicked off with Dean (Jensen Ackles) (minus Castiel (Misha Collins)) escaping from purgatory following a deal with a vampire named Benny (Ty Olsson), whom he resurrects. Once reunited with Sam, who this time has decided to get on with his life instead of hunting for Dean’s whereabouts, they go on a quest to find Kevin (Osric Chau), a prophet who has been chosen to translate a tablet deemed The Word of God. The tablet is said to contain spells that can ultimately unleash every demon imaginable on this earth through opening the Gates of Hell which Crowley (Mark A. Shepperd) has sinisterly discovered. It also has the reverse effect and could potentially close them, which provides us with the Winchester’s main quest for this season. The brother’s relationship is once again strained full of angst and conflict, Sam has had a mysterious relationship with a vet named Amelia during Dean’s absence, which he addresses to Dean and the viewers that it has ended, so far under unknown circumstances. The youngest Winchester now has a taste for a normal life and toys with the idea of giving up hunting for good. But, can Dean survive going solo? This is the aspect I’m mainly looking forward to the writer’s developing as the eighth season unfolds because the dynamic between Sam and Dean is the heart of the show. The season’s plot focusing on closing the gates of hell is sure to be a captivating watch and could prove the Winchester’s most difficult task yet.
The long-running horror series is famed for its stand-alone, monster-of-the-week episodes. Following a two-part introduction to the main focus of the season in We need to talk about Kevin (#8.1) and “What’s up, Tiger Mommy?” (#8.2), the subsequent episodes return to this well-known, established formula. Episode Four titled Bitten which is the subject of this review came as a surprisingly experimental and gripping stand-alone addition to the Supernatural-verse. Taking characteristics from the found-footage sub-genre, it almost felt like a horror short from an anthology such as V/H/S rather than an installment of Supernatural. This type of episode has refreshed the show to a degree and demonstrates that straying from the expected structure can work successfully. Bitten is an example of how television these days is becoming more cinematic through expanding on trends within the horror film genre, bringing in recognizable traits and styles for fans. The show has previously attempted a type of found-footage format with Ghostfacers (#3.13) which satirized ghost-hunting style shows e.g. Most Haunted balancing humor and all out creepiness really well. Werewolf mythology has always been a frequently re-visited fixture within the show (as has its close relatives Shape-Shifters) particularly the episodes Heart (#2.17) and All Dogs go to Heaven (#6.8), Bitten crosses over previously seen narrative styles that Supernatural has depicted over the past eight years.
Rather than focusing the episode on Sam and Dean investigating a horrific incident, normally linked to the occult, Bitten has them in the background, making short appearances throughout. The Winchesters are firmly placed in the eyes of the viewers as they watch a video taken from the perspective of film students Brian (Leigh Parker) and Michael (Brandon Jones) after entering a blood-soaked crime scene. There are themes present which emphasize the rise of technology in the modern world as Brian and Michael mess around with their cameras, searching for a subject to create a movie on. It demonstrates that so many people in today’s society have easy access to the world of film-making with found-footage particularly being a popular trend, suggesting that anyone who can pick up a camera can think they’re a filmmaker. The same sequence discussed also introduces Kate (Brit Sheridan) who becomes Michael’s girlfriend. Strong character development is then defined between the trio, setting up the later conflict that will be seen within the episode. Considering these young actors have to hold their own in this episode away from Sam and Dean, they do a tremendous job and play well-rounded, engaging characters.
Brian displays jealousy towards his best friend’s new found relationship and hints that he is also in love with Kate. When Michael is bitten by the lycanthrope, he becomes stronger and even more appealing in Kate’s eyes which causes Brian to fixate on wanting to be just like him even more. The episode takes a dark turn as expected, heightening the blurry lines between human and monster in the werewolf mythos and how the individual doesn’t have the choice, bringing in a heart-breaking effect similarly to Sam’s decision to murder his werewolf lover in Heart.
Milo Green’s What’s The Matter has a strong presence throughout adding to the devastation as it echoes back to the happier times when the trio first met. It was refreshing to see the perspective of the victims and how they view Sam and Dean. As they eavesdrop on their investigation they refer to them as just a couple of unconvincing FBI agents with nods to The X Files (which comes at no surprise as director Thomas J. Wright worked on the show). They misinterpret the brother’s relationship as romantic, echoing back to the earlier seasons, adding humor within a dark, twisted storyline without going over the top with meta referencing i.e. Wincest.
Bitten is a beautiful, thought-provoking episode with an engrossing storyline. Its left open-ended, therefore I’m hoping it will at least be followed up or referred to later on. Bitten experiments with Supernatural’s format, yet returns to what the earlier seasons conveyed. I can definitely place this episode as one of my favorites and it goes to show why Supernatural is still one of the most popular genre shows on television today.
Hayley Alice Roberts.