One of my favorite things about Supernatural is the show’s ability to put a different bend on tried and true story telling formats. While they don’t always hit the mark, they’re generally close to the target and always offer an entertaining time in doing it. ‘Bitten’ is one of those episodes that, while entertaining, doesn’t hit the high notes of the first two episodes of season eight.
Dipping their pens in the found footage genre, the Winchesters come across the story of three friends—Brian, Michael, and Kate—as they chart their everyday lives together on film. Things start off normal (or as normal as two guys creepily filming everything in sight can be) with Michael and Brian trying to find the perfect subject for the latter’s movie, but it doesn’t take long before things angle towards the supernatural. The three end up capturing the police investigation of their neighbor’s mauling/murder on film, complete with the appearance of ‘agents’ Sam and Dean. While doing a nocturnal investigation, Michael and Brian get separated after being chased off by Scott, a douche whose bully-ish tactics belong more in a high school than college. During the separation, Michael is attacked by something in the woods. When Brian gets him back to the house, all traces of the bite are gone. In its wake is a newer Michael, one that’s stronger but also harbors an instinctive aggressiveness beyond his control. From here the show becomes a Chronicle-esque experience where the three friends try to answer questions on just what Michael has become and what it means for the group. For his part, Michael keeps many of the changes hidden from the others while Brian, the typical outcast, is jealous of his best friend’s newfound abilities (and this goes on top of the jealousy he feels for Michael getting the girl). Back to Michael, though he tries to hide the aggressive nature his transformation has brought on, it explodes when Scott disparages Kate one night and Michael makes pay, shredding the bully and gnawing on Scott’s heart like one of those fruity snacks with the delicious cream in the middle.
Between Michael’s self-loathing, Kate’s determined support, and Brian’s whiny pleas to become what his best friend has
become, we find that Michael has been bitten by a pure-blood werewolf. These purebloods are able to control their change, swayed more by the dynamics of their emotions than the phases of the moon. While he quickly devolves from a sympathetic character to a sanctimonious and hypocritical punk (‘I want you to turn me!’, ‘You killed someone!’) Brian detective work is able to discern that their professor is the one who bit Michael. Unable to corral his desire for human hearts, the Professor, knowing that hunters would be on the case, decides to turn Michael, making him the patsy for the Winchesters to eliminate. In a hysterically unbelievable turn of events that have Brian getting the upper hand on the Prof, the nerdy outcast up being turned (even a shorter time later Sam and Dean catch up to the Prof and turn his lights out for good). The new blood coursing through him boosts his confidence and before long, he and Michael are in a fight to the death; though Michael’s the one paying with his life after Brian plunges a silver knife into the belly of his former best friend.
Horrified, Kate doesn’t get time to lament before Brian turns her. She throws a hysterical tantrum in the bathroom before calmly emerging and taking her vengeance on Brian. By the time the Winchesters arrive at the house, the first scene of the show, Kate’s gone. She uses the video and a ‘post credit’ scene to explain away the happenings between her, Michael, and Brian. She knows the Winchesters would come knocking and plead for them to leave her be. It’s more than a surprise when Dean, of all people, is okay with letting her go. Though not an identical situation, it’s a stance he didn’t take in last season’s “The Girl Next Door”. Sam promises that if Kate shows up again on their radar, they will take care of things but, until that time comes, they will let the werewolf live her life.
It’s a 50/50 proposition when a show highlights episode-centric characters at the expense of pushing the main protagonists to the peripheral. ‘Bitten’, or Chronicle 2.0 as I see it, does a decent job of offering something we’ve never seen on Supernatural outside of the Ghostfacers. And my comparisons to Chronicle are more a positive than anything; said movie was one of the best entries in the found footage genre that I’ve ever seen. Where ‘Bitten’ loses teeth, though, is that its complete dissociation from the focal point of season eight’s story arc. One can argue the final act does hint at a possible change within Dean. He’s such a black and white stance on monsters, as Amy found out last season, that’s it’s quite the surprise when he agrees to let Kate go. Put is it something this particular case has caused him to rethink or is it his Purgatory-formed bond with the vampire Benny that’s changed his tune? And what does that mean for his relationship with Sam? We’ll find out in the coming weeks and, judging by the mountain of secrets the elder Winchester has been keeping, maybe the mercy he showed Kate becomes a stash of good will he can cash in on when Sam finds out about Benny.
Next Week: It’s pretty standard procedure to never trust a vampire. But what about when said vampire is the only way you survived a year surrounded by enemies in Purgatory?