May 30 2015

Bitten – “Dark Arts” Review. More Unfinished Business.

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Savannah's initiation isn't as easy as it looks

Savannah’s initiation isn’t as easy as it looks

Season 2, Episode 8

Airdate: Friday, May 29, 2015, 11/10c on Syfy

Rating:

 

If something looks too good to be true, it’s because usually it is. So, it doesn’t surprise me to learn Aleister’s (Sean Rogerson) story line is far from over after the events in “Bad Dreams.” In “Dark Arts,” Aleister returns with a vengeance; but like most things involving the homicidal warlock, there’s a catch. Writer Michael MacLennan injects plenty of drama wreaking havoc among the characters, but none as unsettling as the scenes between Elena (Laura Vandervoort) and Clay (Greyston Holt).  Meanwhile, the Winterbourne witches continue their residence in Stonehaven where Savannah (Kiara Glasco) completes her initiation into the coven.

Guess Who’s Coming to Stonehaven

After the major cliffhanger in last week’s “Bad Dreams,” where Clay’s fate seemed uncertain, I couldn’t wait to see how those events would impact the rest of the season. In “Dark Arts,” we get a lot of action, memorable performances, and once again, lives are at risk as the threat of The Undoing rears its ugly head again.

Clay gets a little rough, thankfully Elena is a master in kicking some ass

Clay gets a little rough. Unfortunately for him, Elena is a master in kicking some ass!

Aleister and his endeavors to complete The Undoing may be part of the focus in this episode, but the heart of “Dark Arts” is Elena and Clay. These two characters have been separated for the majority of the season, unable to fully engage in a life together with one problem after the other. The means by which Aleister uses Clay to achieve his sinister plans in “Dark Arts” gets under my skin. Holt does an amazing job of turning the thoughtful and charming Clay into a cold and calculating aggressor with just one look in his eyes. Vandervoort does an equally commendable job showing Elena’s confusion and concern over Clay’s erratic behavior. I wished Elena realized the truth sooner because there’s a moment where Clay crosses the line and gets physical with her— it’s an uncomfortable scene to watch because Clay is so forceful; I feared a point of no return for the couple. Luckily, Elena’s been working extra hard on her defense moves.

That said, what I appreciate about “Dark Arts” is the way the episode balances out the two major plot points: Savannah’s initiation into the coven and Aleister’s influence on Clay. When Paige (Tommie Amber Pirie) and Ruth (Tammy Isbell) guide Savannah we get a glimpse as to how a witch is made in the world of Bitten. I truly enjoyed seeing the Winterbournes bonding for a change; it adds a nice light-hearted element that doesn’t happen too often on Bitten. In direct contrast, we get the darker side of witches with Aleister’s backstory regarding his introduction into dark magic. When everything comes to a head, by the episode’s end, it feels like the Winterbournes’ story comes full circle in a tragic way.

 

Final Thoughts

I didn’t expect I would feel so many conflicting emotions, both good and bad, before tuning into “Dark Arts.” On the one hand, I respect how complicated Aleister’s character has been this season. I don’t sympathize with him, although he does have moments where I don’t blame him for feeling so angry at the world. On the other hand, the man has major mommy issues; it’s cumbersome witnessing his disdain for witches, especially when he goes so far as to calling his half-sister, Paige, a “whore.” I get it; Aleister is evil, but I wouldn’t have minded seeing emotions other than angry and extremely angry. Aside from Aleister’s lack of emotional range, his involvement with The Undoing finally gets some resolution and with it consequences for all the characters across the board.

No surprise, Nick and Paige still can't keep their hands off each other

No surprise, Nick and Paige still can’t keep their hands off each other

Director Rick Bota skillfully captures the subtle nuances on the actors’ faces, adding more tension to an already suspenseful script. The performances are what stand out the most, especially Holt who I never envisioned playing a bad guy kind of role—he’s convincing, which is a testament to his ability as an actor, and Bota’s guidance of the episode.

Other plot developments in “Dark Arts” show Nick (Steve Lund) and Paige still together, albeit in secret. Watching their heated scenes, and small moments together, make me a bit apprehensive. If you consider Bitten’s track record with happy couples, you’ll find it a rarity. Remember how Logan (Michael Xavier) thought he may have gotten away with his happy ending in season one? Look how that turned out.

Overall, despite my disappointment with Aleister’s stifled development as a character, I do love the way “Dark Arts” sets up the season finale while linking together the werewolves and witches. If there is any certainty, it is that no one is entirely safe. Hold on tight, because “Dark Arts” is just “the beginning of the end.”

 

What did you think of “Dark Arts?” Post your comments below or on Twitter @conallen.

Follow the series on its official site on Syfy, http://www.syfy.com/bitten, where you can also watch videos and clips of the episodes.

Follow Bitten on its official twitter @bittentv, and don’t forget the cast: Laura Vandervoort (@Vandiekins22), Greyston Holt (@greystonh), Greg Bryk (@gregbryk), Paul Greene (@paulgreenemedia), Steve Lund (@leven_stund), Michael Xavier (@michael_profx), Tommie Amber Pirie (@TommieAmber), and Kiara Glasco (@kiaraglasco).

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Photos ©2015 Syfy, a division of NBC Universal, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

© 2015, Connie Allen. All rights reserved.

Connie Allen

I'm a writer, cinephile, avid reader, and pop culture enthusiast. I love historical dramas, and fantasy/sci-fi series. Currently living in SoCal.

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