Between watching the last few weeks of Grimm and revisiting some of the earlier episodes to mark the occasion of episode 100, a thought came into my head that Grimm has truly outgrown its original conception of cop drama with a supernatural twist. While early episodes were all about introducing a new monster and imposing that monster’s particular skills onto the police procedural format, so much has happened since that point that the better episodes are almost universally the ones that get into the deeper mythology and evil organizations that oppose our heroes. Part of me thinks the show should chuck the conceit and dive even deeper into said mythology, even though it defies most laws of TV that a procedural ever stops being a procedural.
Consequently, I’ve known in the back of my head that we would return to the case-of-the-week format before too long, which we do with “Silence Of The Slams.” While it’s an approach that Grimm’s never been terrible with, it’s definitely ceased to be my favorite flavor of the show over the years, and the back-to-basics feel of events deflates the appreciable momentum of the last few weeks. Nothing about it is bad, but coming after a string of pretty terrific episodes it’s hard for it to avoid letdown.
A lot of these quibbles are also amplified by the fact that the transition of “Silence Of The Slams” from one story format to another is largely inelegant in its process. The action picks up immediately after Monroe’s miraculous restoration in the closing moments of last week, and once they draw a connection between said healing and the Splinter of Destiny they come to a unanimous decision to hide it until it can be dealt with later. And Adalind’s fear about her recent Hexenbiest manifestation gets the same treatment, swept under the rug by Nick even after she goes the distance of admitting her deepest fears of being cast out. It feels abrupt and almost resigned, as if the writers are admitting fun’s been had but it’s time to get back to work.
If they must get back to routine though, it’s hard to argue with a plot centered around Mexican luchador wrestling. Goyo (Joseph Julian Soria) is a young man struggling to make his mark after taking a dive in one too many fights. In the grand luchador tradition he thinks that the secret to success is a new persona, and he pressures mask maker Benito to churn out one of his “special” masks. It turns out those special masks aren’t just fabric and thread, but are part of an arcane ritual that captures the bestial powers of a woge. It’s a concept that pushes Grimm to ever creepier places, lavishing considerable detail on both how Benito extracts the face and how he binds it to its new format.
The creepiness is definitely what keeps “Silence Of The Slams” moving forward. The better episodes of Grimm that focus on individual wesen and their customs are the ones that get into the divide between man and beast, and this story also underlines that tension with aspects of Faustian bargain. Goyo isn’t a wesen trying to use his powers to his benefit or work around them, he has no idea what’s happening to him or what his blood contract was in service of. The beats of possession are paced well, the mask becoming harder and harder to remove as he ignores Benito’s warnings, his drive to perform in the ring eclipsed by further bloodlust and rage.
Unfortunately when looking at the man behind the mask things don’t hold up as well. Goyo as a character isn’t terrifically gripping, his motivations limited solely to wanting to rise above his station. There’s a couple interesting threads dropped in early lines about how he doesn’t speak Spanish, but ideas about being disconnected from his heritage never go anywhere beyond that, and he asks few questions about what the mask means until it’s too late. It’s a journey that’s fun to watch, but it’s hard to get invested in or worry about Goyo because there’s not enough to invest in. And the episode also opts out of giving him a final moment to come to terms with what he’s done, electing instead to show Nick filling out his latest entry in the Grimm diaries. That’s a continuity bit I’m always happy to see in Grimm, but Nick’s observation about the masks instilling madness doesn’t go the distance to convey where that madness leaves Goyo at the end.
“Silence Of The Slams” is also an episode that’s conspicuously and heavily in the show’s comfort zone, as all the typical Grimm beats are followed. A murder occurs, Nick and Hank start investigating it and discover the wesen connection, turn to Monroe and Rosalee for help, events start to escalate, and the Grimm diaries help lead them to a solution. (A solution that Monroe and Rosalee get press-ganged into initiating. Once again, I renew my calls for an episode where they finally lose their patience and snap at Nick for interrupting their cozy domestic life for the umpteenth time.) There’s nothing wrong with those beats, but we’ve seen the beats executed a plethora of times before, making for some action that’s routine despite all of its distressing elements.
The one effort “Silence Of The Slams” makes toward the Black Claw/Hadrian’s Wall story comes out of their overtures to Renard. Despite last week’s theories about this reward could tempt Renard’s lusts for power he’s keeping those lusts in check, still taking meetings but making no commitments toward their cause. His hesitation hasn’t translated to more forceful support on Rachel’s part, but it does persuade her to drop a second carrot in his path. Black Claw’s intelligence turns out to better than expected, as they’re familiar with Adalind—and more to the point, they’re familiar with Diana, a move that motivates Renard to make his first contact with his baby mama since “Iron Hans.”
Given that both Renard and Adalind have felt adrift this season—still present in the action but not what I’d designate as major players to any part of the plot—this reconnection is an encouraging thing. The two of them share something in Diana that no narrative finagling can sweep under the rug, and the circumstances that could reintroduce her to their lives are ones that would put any of their other plots on hold, willing to move heaven and earth to get her back. (This is assuming that Rachel’s suggestion of Adalind and Diana was more to secure Renard’s attention than it was legitimate belief that he needs a wife and daughter to win an election, because if that’s how we’re going to reintroduce Diana into the story that’s a major misfire.)
Renard’s secret meeting turns out to be not so secret, as Eve’s watched the footage of Dixon’s assassination and come to the same realization that Renard did. It motivates Renard’s first meeting with the reincarnation of the woman he once shared an awful side plot with, an interaction that’s at turns chilling and hilariously abrupt as she aggressively avoids forming any sort of connection with him. Her attention to this matter provides a necessary tie to everything that’s happened of late, that just because some things in the Grimm world may return to business as usual, that doesn’t mean the bigger problems and their attendant bob-sporting witch assassins are going away. Here’s hoping that even if it takes a while to get back to serious story focus, those connections remain sturdy.
- This Week In Portland: The Lucha PDX organization advertised on the floor of the ring is, disappointingly, not real, although luchador wrestling in Portland is not unheard of. We also get another scene that lets us know Renard’s breakfast spot of choice is the Stepping Stone.
- This Week’s Epigram: The wit and wisdom of Oscar Wilde. A good one, though despite my love of Wilde I’m more partial to Nathaniel Hawthorne when it comes to mask-related wisdom.
- Know Your Wesen: Patrick was a Balam, the jaguar wesen last seen in “La Llorona.” A good choice for the mask, though I wonder how a Siegbarste or Dämonfeuer would have raised the stakes.
- Was El Mayordomo not the whiniest luchador you’ve ever seen?
- Nick’s explanation about the cow mutilation murders and connection to wesen bounty hunters is a callback to “Endangered” from late season two.
- While keeping Renard in the dark about the chest feels like a smart move given the captain’s historically complicated motivations, Nick lying to Adalind feels like asking for trouble down the road. Does the distrust truly run so deep?
- I can’t decide which Silas Weir Mitchell delivery is better, his reaction to Nick’s description of events (“Jeepers creepers, that doesn’t sound good”) or his reaction to the mask unwoging at the end (“Hey, it’s Patrick!”)
- “This takes a face lift to a whole other place.”
- “At least we don’t need a chicken.”