We've been following this project since it was first announced that an adaptation of Kelley Armstrong's novel Bitten was in the works. And now, here it is! Check back weekly for episode recaps from Jackie Lester the day after the show airs in the U.S. on SyFy (and remember that in Canada the show will be airing a couple days earlier, on Saturdays on Space).
The scene opens with a trail of clothes lining the floor in a path to the bedroom. What better way is there to start a new show than to have a beautiful couple, Elena and Philip, going hot and heavy in the sheets? All too soon, though, there’s a change from heavy panting to a loud heartbeat. Then Elena's vision begins to change, and her, um, pace slows, indicating something isn't quite right. She stops abruptly to say she forgot her camera at work and has to go, promising to return soon to make things up to the quite obviously very naked, very fit Philip still in bed. In a few quick moves, she’s in the elevator, but it's moving too slowly. Her hand begins to bulge suggestively. Shaking and impatient, it’s uncertain whether she’ll make it outside in time.
She enters an alley, strips off the dress she'd just hurriedly put on moments before, and leaves them in a tidy pile in an otherwise dirty landscape. Holding back screams, her body morphs into that of a blonde-haired wolf.
We switch to a bar scene where a woman sets her sights on a new man in the bar and walks over to him in attempts to snag her prey. Rather than fall for her charm, he asks her about the “Danvers family.” She replies with descriptions like “creeps in the country” and “they're hot but weird.” The man says the Danvers think they can set the rules but assures the woman he's there to break them. Not having any clue what he’s talking about, she dismisses that particular discussion and asks him to go home with her, while suggestively rubbing his...thigh? He refuses on the basis that she's “a slut” (harsh words!) As she leaves the bar (without even trying to pick anyone else up, it seems), the man yells out a warning for her to be careful. It’s easy to see he’s probably the one she should be looking out for.
Back in the alley, the wolf walks out onto a fairly quiet, yet obviously city street. Rapidly moving, the street is left behind as the wolf moves into a wooded area, though it’s hard to say if this wolf is Elena or a slightly more reddish coloured wolf. The scene switches between the bar girl, now walking through a slushy, tree lined path and the wolf traversing through a similar setting. As what is now obviously two separate wolves pounce in attack, there's a dead rabbit in one area (that strangely squeaks like a chew toy) and, in the other, bar girl falling to the ground, the sound of oozing blood apparent.
Elena is back in human form, trying to dress as the rain pelts down on her. We see a quick view of the city, Toronto for sure from the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) sign. It seems like little time has passed between Elena’s resurgence in alley and her arriving at the apartment, yet she is back in a different outfit, looking drier than moments before. She’s brought food with her and dives right in, hearing the shower running. As the water turns off, she walks to see Philip’s outline behind the frosted glass. Aha! She stuck with the camera lie from earlier, claiming to have “pulled an all nighter” at the studio, hence the time to clean up and change. Elena isn’t dwelling on any of this as she shows Philip just how much she missed him...with her hands. Philip won’t let her get away this time!
In a college setting, the University of Upperstate New York, Clay Danvers is giving a lecture about “who we really are” in Jungian animus/anima terms. Hmm, seems like there might be a little doublespeak going on there. A class of captive female students are enraptured by his mention of “deep desires.” One smart girl catches on to Professor Danvers comments about “the beasts within us” (another irony, evidently.) Prof. Danvers clarifies the difference between humans and all other animals is “the mask behind which we hide…and everything that scares us about ourselves.” Slightly creepy, but the students seem to like it.
In a comfy office, Elena is confiding to Logan that her change nearly happened in front of Philip. Logan asks how long she’d waited between changes for it to be almost forced on her. When she admits it was thirty-seven days since the last one, he gives her a good talking to about holding out so long. Logan offers Elena to run with him but she refuses on the basis that she doesn’t want to make them social outings. This seems a strange viewpoint, when according to most werewolf tales, the change is inevitable, though here, it doesn’t seem to be dictated by moon cycles. Elena seems hell bent on not running at all, and here she's meaning “changing” period, which screams dumb because of that whole inevitability thing.
As Logan's next client arrives (he's not only a fellow werewolf, he's also a psychologist), he offers Elena a sandwich for the road. This would be all kinds of weird, if she didn't happily accepts and start throwing double-meat subs into her purse. With an appetite like her's, how the heck does she maintain those ubër-skinny legs?! Right, it's the werewolf thing...
Logan sends her off with the thought that if she can't cope in the city, she can always go back “home.” The suggestion looks about as welcome to Elena as would a massage with thumb tacks.
The scene switches to a dog and his hunting owner walking through an area of sparse woods in daylight, the dog all excited at having found something. The excitement doesn't extend to his owner as he sees it's the body of bar girl, with her throat ripped out.
Back in the T-dot, Elena and Philip's sister, Diane, are having coffee and looking at images on a laptop. Diane is lamenting her current cleanse and inability to eat a brownie like Elena is (there’s a pattern forming here with Elena and food). We now know the secret of the she-wolf’s eating habits, but Diane is in the dark. Diane notices a necklace around Elena’s neck that apparently Philip had given her as an anniversary gift. The sister is sufficiently impressed, but quickly moves on to squee’ing about a gallery showing that will feature Elena’s work. She expresses concern that Elena won’t show up for it. Looks like there’s a precedent for Elena bailing. When Diane asks what excuse she has this time, Elena alludes to naked time with Philip, labelling it “making him happy.” It has the desired effect of a little gagging on Diane’s part and the subject moves to talk of a special night for Philip later that day, where they will all get to spend time with Mama McAdams, which sounds like torture for all involved.
Back somewhere in New York, Jeremy Danvers leaves the Stonehaven estate in his pickup truck, moving slowly. He sees a group standing in the trees just off the main road and stops to see what’s what. Before walking over to them, he takes a healthy sniff at the air. There are two uniformed people, one of whom mumbles, “Well, if it isn’t Boo Radley.” Looks like Jeremy doesn’t get out much. The woman he’s with, her jacket reading “Bear Valley Sheriff” tell hims to shut it, adding that she thinks the Danvers are great because “they’re quiet [and keep] to themselves.”
Jeremy offers assistance, but the sheriff says that bar girl is beyond help. Seeing her on the ground in gruesome condition, he asks the sheriff what could have done the damage to the girl, but it’s just fishing to see if she’ll confirm his suspicions. The sheriff says the coroner will make the final call but the hunter from earlier offers his opinion that it was “an animal kill.” The sheriff quickly asks her snarky underling to cover up the body with a tarp. She advises Jeremy that if the coroner says it’s a wolf kill, they’ll have to do a sweep of the land, including parts of the Danvers’ property. Jeremy readily complies, though through the whole exchange maintains an unreadable, stony facial expression.
Clay sees an incoming text and immediately calls back. Jeremy advises him about the killing and that they have a “mutt” in town. That sounds like a serious werewolf insult, if you ask me. Clay says he can be there in two hours and will head straight to Bear Valley. Clay seems to think he can handle it all on his own but Jeremy informs him he’s calling “everyone” home. From the tone Jeremy uses, he must be the pack alpha. He tells Clay to just come home and uses the “everyone” designation again, as in he wants them all there before they proceed. This time Clay repeats the “everyone” in a meaningful way. Who could they be worried about?! (Hint: I’ll bet it’s Elena…)
Over in Toronto, Logan’s girlfriend is lamenting her job situation (she can’t be a famous enough chef in her current position as an underling) when he gets the text from Jeremy to "call home.”
Switch to a scene where a woman is in the throes of passion and another text message is receivedby Nick, but not before the view pans to one of another man in the room, positioned as though he’d been watching the action up to this point. Dirty boy! Nick breaks the news to “Mr and Mrs Smith” that he has to leave and offers to leave the account open for the room for them to order room service, etc. Correction: dirty but nice.
Then Elena gets the text message to call but we don’t see if she decides to respond.
As the body is being zipped into the coroner’s bag back in the woods, the man from the bar walks up to the caution tape, looking on with curiosity? Pride in the kill? It’s hard to tell, but he comes across as a man up to no good...
At a cocktail party, the one to celebrate Philip’s award, Elena is found once again snacking on a skewer of meat. This girl can really pack it in! Philip brings drinks to prep Elena for the evening ahead...with his mother. Philip’s other sister Becky runs in for the first hug, followed closely by Diane and and their mother. Elena tries to be nice by thanking Mrs. McAdams for coming but the matron’s catty reply that she’s “been going to Philip’s things since he was born” works to set Elena in her place right away. Ouch!
Becky and Philip joke about her getting married before him, leaving Elena to tune out a little from their conversation and turn her wolf hearing onto the mother, who’s headed off to get a drink with Diane. Mother laments that Philip met Elena on a blind date and because he’s her only son, she can be picky about who she likes in terms of his girlfriends. Diane’s remark that she was the one that initiated the blind date makes no headway with Mama McAdams.
As they all reconvene, the topic turns to Becky’s upcoming wedding. Elena offers to help in any way she can, but Becky assures her Mama McAdam won’t let anyone help. Controlling much? Diane says all Elena has to worry about is finding a dress for the occasion to which Elena informs them that she was planning on wearing the same dress she was currently wearing. Oops. Diane says she’ll fix her up and all seems settled for the moment.
Over in Stonehaven, the pack members start to arrive as Nick shows up with Antonio, who was mentioned in Nick’s text earlier but we haven’t seen until now. Antonio heads down to an ancient looking basement to find Jeremy. The leader fills them in on the details—the kill looks like a wolf did it, but the smell was from something that wasn’t really a wolf. Antonio offers that they haven’t had problems with mutts in the area for a longtime. The use of the term “mutt” sounds like some kind of half-breed, though with wolf parts, and still heavy elements of an insult in it also. Jeremy tells them he didn’t recognize the scent, so they have little to go on.
Clay asks why this thing would be coming into their territory and killing. Jeremy is more concerned that the mutt has broken “the cardinal rule” of “killing a human for sport.” The plan appears to be about assembling the pack and dealing with it as a cohesive unit. Concern seems to emanate from them all at the mention of Elena’s name and whether she’ll show. Jeremy is the only sure one of the bunch based on the fact that “she’s [their] best tracker and she knows it.”
Back at the party, Philip wins the award (that everyone knew he would, including me) and he gives a lovely acceptance speech that demonstrates his winning campaign centered around family and insurance coverage for...the zombie apocalypse? It’s a whole new world out there.
Mid-speech, Elena’s phone buzzes loudly. She leaves to take the call, surely giving more fodder for Mama McAdams to use later. Logan is on the other end questioning why she hasn’t called Jeremy back. He tells her what’s up and says this is a family obligation. She dismisses this as not being her family anymore but Logan is persistent. He convinces her to meet him the next day for more information to which she grudgingly agrees.
Elena walks into Logan’s office, already aware that someone else is there also, and it's Peter. Elena argues that they all have lives away from Stonehaven now, that there’s no need for them to go back. Logan offers the reasonable argument that if the mutt even hints at their existence, their lives will not be worth much in the end. Elena wants to know who killed the girl, thinking the culprit is whoever is most pissed off at Clay at the moment. Do I sense a bit of history there? When Elena adds “Clay is reason enough for me not to go back,” that question becomes solidified in truth. Logan and Peter impress on Elena that a girl was killed and the pack needs her. She asserts that she just wants to be normal, but Peter wisely informs her “that ship sailed years ago.”
Back in the condo, Philip is getting ready to head to work (the code word for watching sports, apparently) on a Sunday. Elena hopes to convince him to stay while she tries on dresses for Becky’s wedding, but her feminine wiles just aren’t cutting it. Philip leaves as Diane shows up with her arms loaded with dresses. After trying only one on, she finds one with the perfect fit (despite sandwiches, skewers, brownies, etc.). Personally, I would have liked to see the rest, but the time was needed to pan over to a bar where the ladies are now indulging in martinis. The wolf hearing switches on and Elena catches two guys at the bar talking, one making a bet with the other that he’ll “bang the blonde.”
Seconds later, drinks arrive at the table along with the key to the betting man’s hotel room. Elena heads over to return it and tell them nicely to buzz off. As she turns to leave, the betting man grabs her arm and Elena goes full out ninja on the guy, barely stopping before breaking his arm.
Leaving the bar, Elena begs Diane not to tell anyone about the incident. Diane is more concerned with how Elena knows to fight like that. Elena alludes to knowing to prevent things from happening or knowing so they don’t happen again, which has an ominous ring to it.
At Stonehaven, the sheriff drives up to inform that “wolf kill” has been confirmed. In the background the pack (in people, not wolf form), looks on from the doorway. Even as humans, they do make a menacing looking bunch. The sheriff says it’s illegal to kill a wolf in the state despite the townspeople’s request for a bounty. Jeremy offers to lay traps on his property but the sheriff insinuates they’d probably catch more hunters in them than wolves. Sheriff says the sooner the wolf is caught, the sooner it can be put down as it poses a risk with its taste for blood. Um, didn’t she just say it couldn’t be killed? She forgot to add the disclaimer “unless by the proper authorities, I guess.
After the sheriff leaves, Clay, Antonio, and Nick express the need to have this all dealt with ASAP. Nick closes the scene by saying, “we need Elena.”
In the Toronto condo, Philip is telling Elena how much she has changed his life. Things seem to be moving towards more sexy time but Elena gets another “Elena call home” text, which shocks Philip, because he has no idea where “home” is for her.
Elena has to explain how Jeremy Danvers is part of an extended family; that no one knew about her when she was being passed through the foster care system. She explains that neither she nor the “extended family” knew of each other’s existence until later, when she was an adult. Philip convinces her that she needs to contact her family, so she finally calls. But Clay answers and she hangs up. With Philip looking on she has to blame old wiring at Stonehaven on the disconnection. Lame, but he falls for it.
Nick and Antonio are meanwhile giving Clay hell for answering the phone, reminding him he is why she doesn’t want to come back. What could he possibly have done?!
As night settles in, Elena hears a wolf howl through her open window. Soon after, she’s outside on a park bench, watching Logan arrive. She says she thought he would’ve heeded Jeremy’s call by now but Logan has a patient that isn’t doing so well. He assures her he is still going back to Stonehaven and will be leaving the next day.
The two of them look around, like anyone seeing them would think they had some kind of drug deal going on. Instead they’re trying to find a place to strip down and change. Elena makes a comment about them all being soldiers but Logan redirects by calling them “family.” Elena sees no difference.
Some cool change shots follow, then the two wolves going running along the beach. Elena-wolf sees a coyote heading for Logan-wolf and takes it down quickly, with a yelp coming from the other animal.
It’s early morning, Elena and Logan are back in their clothes. Logan expresses concern for Elena’s lack of sleep and for an injury she sustained from the coyote. She brushes it off and asks what Logan’s alibi will be to his girlfriend, Rachel, about the trip to Stonehaven. He offers a vague truth as the best explanation. What Elena really wants is not to have to lie at all about any of it, but she seems to be living in a more ideal version of the world than everyone else. She’s also concerned about the questions that will inevitably come, especially from Clay about what she’s been up to. Philip’s safety is mentioned, if Clay finds out about him. Logan turns on the psychology powers and says she had his back with the coyote and that’s how family acts. She caves and tells him she will be on the first train. What is kind of weird is that if they’re going to the same place anyway and leaving from the same place, why wouldn’t they travel together?
Back at the condo, Elena is breaking the news to Philip that she’ll be leaving for a bit, while filling in some further details about her family, like Logan is her cousin. Philip shows all kinds of understanding and encourages her to go, but says he wants to hear more about her family when she returns.
Elena arrives in Bear Valley to see the warning signs and newspaper headlines about the wolf attack. She hops in a cab that will take her to Stonehaven. The cabbie questions her destination, but she assures him that nothing scares her about the place, despite what children have always thought. As she crosses through the entry onto the estate, she finds Clay waiting for her. He delivers a “missed you too” snark, as they exchange guarded looks.
In a seedy looking part of town, a woman is lying in bed, naked. Sounds from the bathroom might indicate she hadn’t done her part of the sexy time very well, as grunts and groans are heard. The noise changes to the popping sound of the “change” but the woman doesn’t understand this. She opens the door to find a ferocious wolf looking back at her. He attacks.
With the background between Elena and Clay yet to unfold, a 'can they make it' story line for Philip and Elena, and Rachel and Logan to a lesser degree, the potential of Mama McAdams to create hell between her son and his werewolf girlfriend, not to mention a murder or two to solve, there’s lots to come on this show.
How did you all enjoy the first episode of this new series? How did you feel about changes from the book to the TV version? Did anyone else pay attention to the soundtrack (like I did)?
Jackie Lester imagines a day when she can make a living as a writer. Until then, she reviews eclectic books at My Ever Expanding Library and lives in small-town Ontario with her daughter.