Throughout its history, Grimm has always found a way to steer out of the corners it’s painted its main characters into, always in a way that leaves them stronger and more united than before. Juliette was struck by magical amnesia, then she wasn’t and in fact became fully aware of what was going on. Nick was frozen and in the royals’ clutches from Cracher Mortel poison, then he came back able to enter a superhuman state, iZombie-style. Nick lost his Grimm abilities, then he regained them with a combination of magic and sexual congress in time to save his best friend. Consequently, as strong as the last few episodes have been, there has been a large part of my brain that worried the writers would similarly contrive a way for Juliette to step back from the dark path she’s been on, putting her on a tentative path to reconciliation with Nick and the rest of Team Grimm.
“Cry Havoc” shoots that worry down. And it does so literally, thanks to two crossbow bolts from Trubel that simultaneously end the threat and life of Juliette Silverton, at the exact moment she’s preparing to smite Nick with her powers. There’s no moment of shared regret between the two, just a sudden end to a relationship that had become progressively more and more toxic and that Nick, for all the evidence to the contrary, couldn’t bring himself to give up on. It’s one of the darkest moments in the history of Grimm, as Nick is left holding the body of the woman he once loved only 10 feet from the box holding his mother’s head, somehow at an even more hopeless point than the time he was frozen in a coffin awaiting transport to Europe.
That degree of darkness is a fitting way to close the story out. Season four of Grimm has for the most part been of a piece with the rest of the series, occasionally bogged down by the monsters of the week and tied up in its own mythology, but sustaining itself by virtue of its serialized elements and the episodes that devoted themselves more fully to those elements. The Wesenrein arc earlier this year was one of the most brutal and emotionally rich stories Grimm ever embarked on, and the ramifications of the Nick/Juliette/Adalind triangle have restructured the show’s main cast in interesting ways. In the last few episodes, the show has doubled down on the serialization and restructuring, and the results turned out to be the strongest run of episodes in recent memory. Even their most questionable decision, killing Kelly Burkhardt offscreen last week, proved a commitment to making the worst-case scenario a reality and a refusal to compromise not often seen on this show.
“Cry Havoc” benefits from this late season narrative inertia, as it’s an episode that’s constantly in motion. Picking up immediately from the “Headache” cliffhanger of finding Kelly’s head in the box, Nick and the rest of Team Grimm are on the warpath immediately. You can always tell on Grimm how bad things have gotten by the degree to which these officers of the law disregard the law part of the equation, and it’s jettisoned right away as the Trubel-severed Verrat head winds up in Wu’s car trunk. Here though, it’s a mix of enforcing the law and subverting it, as they use the head and Adalind’s cooperation to set Kenneth (or rather Kenneth Alun Goderich Bowes-Lyon, according to his passport) up as a creepy head-taking killer. It’s interesting to see the case-of-the-week beats playing out in a different framework, even as you wonder why no officers are able to connect Adalind to the dozen or so crimes she’s been connected to since the start of the series.
The setup also puts Nick and Kenneth together for the first time, which creates a proper showdown in an abandoned warehouse. Given Kenneth’s previously exhibited fighting abilities this has been anticipated even before what happened with Kelly, and it lives up to expectations: early swagger and taunts from Kenneth, up close and personal blows, Nick channeling his inner Ezio Auditore da Firenze with a sleeve blade to put the other man down. It’s a disappointing loss for the show, as Kenneth was the most active and interesting of the primary royal antagonists to date—sadly Grimm never made enough use of James Frain or Alexis Denisof when it had them—but it takes him out in a way that both respects his abilities and reinforces Nick’s.
Things also pick up when the action moves to an assault on King Frederick’s rented estate. It’s a sequence of a scope that Grimm hasn’t had since the zombie hordes of the season two finale/season three premiere, a stylistic departure from the usual fights that imbues “Cry Havoc” with the feeling of a war movie or final video game level. Everyone gets their good moments, be it Hank finally getting some worthwhile screen time as he fights off the Verrat commander, Trubel picking off the sentries with a crossbow, and (in the best moment) Wu channeling his inner Indiana Jones by blowing away an approaching Hundjäger. It has a scope that’s often missing from Grimm, and director Norberto Barba takes full advantage of the close quarters and winding staircases the house provides.
All of this excitement is only buildup to the real confrontation, as Juliette and Nick face off for the final time. While the show hints that Juliette’s connection to Diana may be the excuse that gets her out of the picture for a while, that would have played as antithetical to where the character has gone. Her embrace of her Hexenbiest nature is defined by a directed anger, anger at Nick and the rest of the team for what happened to her, and despite King Frederick’s promise of a new life the implication was always that she wanted to burn this one to the ground even more. Bitsie Tulloch was never the best part of Grimm’s ensemble, but she took this twist to her character and ran with it, and while Nick’s hesitation makes sense the fact that she has none is a perfect cap to her arc. Despite all best intentions on everyone’s part, Aunt Marie’s prophecy of so long ago came true, and proximity to the Grimm life destroyed her.
With so much of the show’s structure gone by the end of this episode—Aunt Marie’s trailer, the royal family line of succession, Nick’s relationship, Juliette’s very life—it’s an open question what form Grimm will take going forward. The biggest outlier is still Adalind and her unborn child, one which Bud brings up in typical Bud fashion by asking if they’re going to get married. (Rosalee’s reaction is a thing of beauty.) However, the last few episodes have made it clear that while they’re in no hurry to push Nick and Adalind together, some level of understanding exists and is deepening between the two, particularly given Adalind’s willingness to offer condolences for the woman who killed her mother. And the scene where Adalind is around the table with the rest of the group is far less awkward than everyones’ history would lead you to believe (also keeping with Grimm’s track record of excellent scenes around the dinner table) and makes it plausible Team Grimm would once again take in this stray. Claire Coffee’s spent so much of this show adrift, it would be nice to see her put down roots and get to interact with the rest of the cast regularly.
Speaking of strays, Trubel’s return to the fold is a welcome one. Time away from Portland has done the character good, her earlier impulsiveness and stubbornness smoothed over into a much calmer and efficient way of doing things. (And also giving rise to some wonderful reactions as everyone has to bring her up to speed on the new status quo.) The new dynamic set up between her and her former mentor is one of the most interesting ones promised in season five, as while everyone on the team had seemingly made peace with the idea of Juliette’s death, the reality—as it always is—is guaranteed to be worlds different. Plus, with the return of mysterious FBI Agent Chavez from the start of the season, descending on Nick’s house with a team of armed men, it’s further evidence that despite the fall of the monarchy a new enemy is ready to step into its place.
When reviews of Grimm returned a few months ago, I observed that the show had found a comfortable groove to operate in after surviving for as long as it did. And while the first few episodes back supported that theory, the last few episodes proved that longevity doesn’t mean David Greenwalt, Jim Kouf, and the rest of the writers want to rest on their laurels. Next year Grimm will be in its fifth season and hundredth episode, the point where a show that can’t evolve starts to run out of steam. “Cry Havoc,” and the last few episodes of season four, proves a willingness to change—and change in a way that benefits the show as a whole. Grimm is at its bleakest point to date, and yet the prevailing feeling isn’t gloom but anticipation for how they’ll take advantage of this opportunity.
- This Week In Portland: Kenneth’s base in the city is his Hotel Deluxe penthouse, a location that many visiting royals and royal agents have used over the last four seasons. And the sight of the Portland, Oregon (formerly Made In Oregon) sign in the rear view indicates Kenneth’s being driven to the east side of town.
- This Week’s Epigram: Act four, scene four of Hamlet, wherein Hamlet decides that his search for bloody revenge isn’t yielding results fast enough.
- The scenes of just how advanced Diana is magically—beyond aging years in the span of months—were necessary ones. The main problem with the hunt for Diana is that so much time has passed since the last time we saw her that she’s become less of a character than a MacGuffin, an excuse for the royals to keep getting mixed up in Nick’s business and for Adalind to be pushed to extremes. Hopefully now that she’s back in the hands of the Resistance, her importance will be made more apparent in future installments.
- RIP King Frederick, I suppose. Of all the royals the king was the weakest of them as a character, and given that he was Renard’s father and the head of the whole family there should have been more work done to flesh him out as an antagonist. He gets to leer at Juliette a lot this episode, but that’s hardly solid development. (Though the skull face he saw in the window before being pitched out of the plane was pretty hilarious.)
- “Cry Havoc” also neatly ties up the legal ramifications of Jack’s rippings by making use of the similar body types shared by Renard and Kenneth, allowing the latter man to take the fall and Renard to get off scot-free.
- Monroe and Rosalee’s moment of enjoying their massive glasses of wine was a great calm before the storm. “I swear to God, if I have to cut up one more body for a potion… Let’s drink to something.”
- “He’s kinda dead, Nick, I don’t think he’s gonna be answering any more questions.”
- And that’s a wrap on season four! Thanks to all of you who pushed for this coverage to come back and who kept it alive by showing up at the tail end of every week to discuss. It’s been a lot of fun walking through these last few episodes with you. I’ll see you for season five.