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8 04 Bitten Friends
Of all the episodes Thompson has written, “Bitten” has the most controversy surrounding it. It seems to be an either "love it"or "hate it" type.  It centers on three college friends as they film a movie together. Along the way, a werewolf ends up attacking one of them, turning them into a werewolf as well. Sam and Dean are on the case---but in this episode they are on the peripherals, which is one of the most controversial things about the episode. Often, on Supernatural, we see the monster's story through the eyes of the Winchesters.  We, the viewer, see the monster's story separate from the brothers, too.  Here, we are seeing the story of the monster as it emerges. Thompson states about this episode, "that was actually the appeal, trying to do an ep from the monster's pov. they made a cool video about the ep for the dvds. [sic]"

The episode starts with Sam and Dean entering a house to discover the carnage left in the aftermath. There is blood splattered on the walls and another body tucked under a sheet. It leaves the brothers to wonder just what had happened here. They find a post it note on a computer, telling them to "please watch me" and they watch, much as they did the "Ghostfacers" episode, the case unfold. The footage is amateur and shaky. Shot on hand-held cameras, it sets the atmosphere for the story, making it more imminent and intimate. In a way, through watching the footage center stage, we, the viewer, become Sam and Dean, too.

In "Bitten," Thompson manages to tell a human story well---with all its beauty and ugliness as things move forward. Michael, Brian, and Kate are all young and trying to find their way in the world. They are happy and carefree as any college students are expected to be. They laugh and joke and goof around. They dream about their futures and talk about their dream jobs. Kate wants to be a lawyer, "but nothing corporate" and Brian wants to work for HBO, "maybe Michael Moore." Michael and Kate are attracted to each other---and eventually fall in love. They're normal and like most other college friends. Everything seems so promising for the trio.

That is until Michael is attacked while walking home. Thompson calls out to movies like The Blair Witch Project and Chronicle with this script, and the footage of Michael's attack is much like the former's shaky camera footage. Shot in night-vision, a lot of the attack is left to our imagination with just screams and brief flashes of images coming across the screen. It's after Michael arrives home that things start to truly change. He has a sudden power in super human strength---calling out to the later movie reference Chronicle---and he relishes it, holding Kate up with one hand, pulling doors off hinges, and declaring himself a "golden god." It seems like a boon, that a gift has been given to him. He has gone from being an attractive but average college student to being something more and potentially darker.

Michael is hungry. He devours everything in the house---and yet it is not enough. Brian, the seeds of jealousy already eating at him, demands that Michael turn him, too. It angers Michael, and he storms out of the house to get more food. As he is walking home from the store, grocery bags bulging full, he is encountered by other students that try to start a fight with him. They taunt him about Kate---and before Michael can stop himself, he's attacking. Before he even knows it, he's also eating a human heart---and his hunger isn't sated. Instead it's ignited. He arrives home, covered in blood, most of it smeared over his face. This scares all of them as the supernatural crashes their normal lives, changing them forever.

Brian is angry and wants to be more than "Piggy," the smart but considered weak character from Lord of the Flies. He is desperate to be something powerful, to be better than Michael, to become what Michael has become. As the trio stalk the crime scenes---and in turn Sam and Dean---they learn from their investigation what they're hunting and what could possibly be happening here. Brian looks over some footage of Michael's first attack, trying to figure out just who attacked his friend. If Michael won't turn him, he'll make the thing that turned Michael do it for him. He finds the same lapel pin that their professor wears and knows just who the werewolf in town is. Plan of action in hand, he heads to the professor's office and demands that he be turned or he'll release footage proving that the professor is a werewolf to the world. Backed into a corner, the professor gives in and turns Brian.

When Brian returns, fully turned now, he confronts Michael and Kate as they try to run. They know now that the FBI agents in town are frauds---after all no federal agent would say "awesome that much," and they're going to blow town before they can get caught. Brian won't hear of it and tells Kate that he can protect her, that she doesn't need Michael and that he's taken care of the situation. He made sure that Sam and Dean would head straight for the professor, and shows them the footage of the brothers attacking and killing the werewolf. Brian turns ugly now that he's a werewolf. His supernaturally changed self doesn't make him a monster---it merely amplifies his worst qualities a hundredfold. He picks a fight with Michael---and it turns deadly as he stabs Michael through the heart with a silver blade.

Kate, no match for the transformed Brian, ends up attacked and bit herself. In this way, Thompson makes the turning more like a spread of infection. It goes through this small population quickly, claiming them all. Kate locks herself in a bathroom and refuses to come out while Brian tries to convince her that he'll make things right, that they can go anywhere and do anything now that they're werewolves. Kate, mirroring Michael's earlier pose in the mirror, watches her new fangs emerge. A calmness claims her and she exits the room, only to viciously attack and rip Brian apart literally. She tells the brothers, pleading with them to let her live, that she's never hurt anyone, "not anyone human anyways," and that she will live on animal hearts. She wants a chance, needs a chance.

Thompson explored some of the worst of humanity, amplifying it here with a supernatural twist, showing us how greed, lust, deceit, anger, and hate can make the world dark and frightening. Yet, he also knows how to tell us about hope, and that's one of the things that resonates for this episode. Sam and Dean decide to give her a chance---they decide to let Kate go. As long as she hasn't hurt any humans, she doesn't deserve to be put down. He also plays well with the question of choice. Often, the creatures Sam and Dean hunt never asked for this. They didn't choose to become a monster and kill. It was chosen for them. It makes us think about how the quiet of life can be rattled to its core---and how the aftermath can take two possible paths. On one hand we can become Brian and give into the darker side of our natures---or we can try and adapt as best we can and try to be better as Kate has done. Thompson pulls us back out of the video footage, showing us Sam and Dean's reactions to what they've seen and what's been said about themselves.

The episode also had Thompson's great dialogue touch. He manages to capture the voice of the young college students, making them each their own fully realized characters---and keep Sam and Dean as we know them when we see them in the footage. In many ways, the set up allows for us, again to become Sam and Dean, watching themselves. Michael and Brian spot two of their classmates kissing at the field and Michael quips, "D-bags mating in the wild." Brian asks Michael, after they talk to Sam and Dean, "The FBI are looking for what bit you. Are you an X-file?" The trio overhear Dean as he chides the local police, "Well, if you did your job right, we wouldn't be here, would we?"Later, Dean tells Sam, "Not unless you want to put an A.P.B. out on Rocky Raccoon."

Thompson may write science fiction, but he most certainly uses that genre to tell thought provoking, human, and emotionally powerful stories. “Bitten,” may have been controversial for fans, but it most certainly did what it set out to accomplish: tell us a story about the monster---while showing us the truth underneath. Sometimes humans are more monster than anything our imaginations can ever dream up.

Comments  

Prix68
# Prix68 2013-07-27 07:42
Thanks for part 2 on Robbie Thompson. He definitely has a knack for bringing more depth to characters in subtle yet profound ways. He's definitely become a favorite writer for me.
debbab
# debbab 2013-07-27 22:46
RT has made Charlie(along with Felicia Day's portrayal) an iconic character in SPN. She plays so well off of Dean's character and in some ways she is Dean with a woman's perspective now that she has more hunting experience and yet she has such emotional depth which she tries to cover..Uhhem..a deanism. I have revisited Bitten and with your help I better appreciate the writing, but still not loving it since the Winchesters were written so light but not disliking it as much.
Bardicvoice
# Bardicvoice 2013-07-28 17:57
I am LOVING your profile of Robbie, Allison! He's rapidly climbed to the top of my Supernatural writers' chart because of his positive gift for blending strong characterizatio ns into solid stories, while always keeping Sam and Dean true to themselves. Other writers should learn from him - and especially from his choice to watch the entire show when he was first hired. He respects the show canon and I could kiss him for it. :)

Looking forward to part three!
KELLY
# KELLY 2013-07-29 19:58
Another great analysis. Robbie Thompson was a great addition to the show. I've pretty loved all his episodes. Though not Bitten, but I didn't hate it either. My lack of adoration didn't have anything to do with the lack of Winchester's. I just didn't connect with the kids. And since it was their story....

But the rest of his have been fantastic. I've quibbled with a scene here or there but nothing that doesn't make really excited to see his next episode. I ADORE his Dean. I think he writes him really really well. His Sam is a little more hit and miss for me this season but his Sam in Time After Time is one of my favorites. And I freaking love his interactions with Jody as well as Dean. And he wrote them both really playfully at times last year, it is one of my favorite things about the season.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2013-07-31 20:54
Quote:
Thanks for part 2 on Robbie Thompson. He definitely has a knack for bringing more depth to characters in subtle yet profound ways. He's definitely become a favorite writer for me.
Thank you for enjoying it so much. I loved delving into his episodes and seeing how he told these character's stories. It's one of his best gifts. He's probably at the top of my list for the current writers on the show, that's for sure!
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2013-07-31 20:58
Quote:
RT has made Charlie(along with Felicia Day's portrayal) an iconic character in SPN. She plays so well off of Dean's character and in some ways she is Dean with a woman's perspective now that she has more hunting experience and yet she has such emotional depth which she tries to cover..Uhhem..a deanism. I have revisited Bitten and with your help I better appreciate the writing, but still not loving it since the Winchesters were written so light but not disliking it as much.
I adore Charlie both for Robbie's writing and for Felicia's acting. She is truly one of the best characters the series has ever produced and I certainly hope we get to see her come back for season 9---especially if Robbie gets to write her episode again. I'd have to say those episodes are some of my favorites of his.

As for "Bitten," I'm glad I could give you a fresh perspective on it.

Thanks again!
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2013-07-31 21:04
Quote:
I am LOVING your profile of Robbie, Allison! He's rapidly climbed to the top of my Supernatural writers' chart because of his positive gift for blending strong characterizations into solid stories, while always keeping Sam and Dean true to themselves. Other writers should learn from him - and especially from his choice to watch the entire show when he was first hired. He respects the show canon and I could kiss him for it. :)

Looking forward to part three!
Thanks, Mary! I'm glad you enjoyed the final product after the month or so of talking about it on Twitter. It's been a lot of fun to write and now see everyone's reaction.

Robbie certainly takes advantage of having watched the show from start to finish and I love that most about his scripts. I think it's what allows him to pull in moments from the past, revisit them and make them bigger and more emotional.

I also love how personable he is with us fans on Twitter. Makes this profile all the more special. I hope you'll enjoy part 3 as much!
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2013-07-31 21:07
Quote:
Another great analysis. Robbie Thompson was a great addition to the show. I've pretty loved all his episodes. Though not Bitten, but I didn't hate it either. My lack of adoration didn't have anything to do with the lack of Winchester's. I just didn't connect with the kids. And since it was their story....

But the rest of his have been fantastic. I've quibbled with a scene here or there but nothing that doesn't make really excited to see his next episode. I ADORE his Dean. I think he writes him really really well. His Sam is a little more hit and miss for me this season but his Sam in Time After Time is one of my favorites. And I freaking love his interactions with Jody as well as Dean. And he wrote them both really playfully at times last year, it is one of my favorite things about the season.
Thanks for the comment! I'm glad you like this indepth look at his episodes. I agree with you about his Dean. He really captures both sides of Dean well---that tough as nails guy that does what he has to in order to save his brother and live---and the guy who is still that four year old boy looking to have fun deep inside. It's a nice blend and he makes Dean all the more real for me in his script. I think his scripts really allow Jensen to show us that, too.

I certainly hope we'll get to see them play more in season 9 and that Robbie will get to write some of those moments for us.