David Giuntoli, Reggie Lee, Russell Hornsby (NBC)

One of the things that I appreciate about Grimm’s depiction of the Wesen world is that for all its ever-evolving taxonomies and contradictions, it’s a show that doesn’t straightforwardly present the idea of being Wesen as a good thing. There are plenty of Wesen who revel in their abilities and use them to commit very deliberate crimes, but there’s also plenty of them who are afraid of what they can do and do their best to keep those abilities under wraps. The Spinnetods who kill because they’re forced to do so in order not to age prematurely, the Seltenvogels who are hunted for the treasure they produce once in a lifetime, or the Drang-Zorn whose children become homicidal until they mature—despite their mythical origins being a Wesen isn’t always a fairy tale.

“Heartbreaker” is another episode to explore the more unfortunate side of being a Wesen, with a take on the tale of The Frog Prince. Except in this version, however, it’s not a frog turning into a prince but a young bicyclist named Bella who turns into a frog-like Wesen in the presence of sexual attraction, and one who produces a highly potent toxin in response to said attractions. Of the various effort to explore the dark side of the Wesen world, this is one of the more effective deployments because of how little control Bella has over what happens. She can’t control her poisonous reactions any more than she can control the men who find her attractive, with both the good and bad ones meeting the same gruesome fate when they try to get too close.

Russell Hornsby, David Giuntoli (NBC)

There’s a lot of interesting elements in this week’s case, although several parts of it feel underdeveloped. At several points in the episode she runs to her mother for help, and when things get truly bad her grandmother appears out of nowhere brandishing a brand and promising a solution to all of this. The fact that Bella is just the latest in a tragic chain is a good implication, but the episode speeds through the last part to the point that the grandmother is less a character and more the villain in a basic family horror movie. There’s only the bare bones of a tragic story laid out here, and with more time spent on either the three generations interacting with each other—or Nick and Hank digging deeper into the family past and realizing both mother and grandmother were raped—it could have had more resonance than it does as presented.

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Things come together more satisfyingly in the end, as Monroe and Rosalee are able to devise a new concoction that suppresses her toxicity. This is now two weeks in a row that Nick and company have opted to suppress the Wesen instead of killing it, and it’s a more positive experience than “Double Date’s” forced suppression of the Huntha Lami Muuaji because they present it as a choice rather than an imposition. (It also provides an strangely touching ending to the episode, where the toxins have given her a permanently scaly appearance yet she’s found someone with tattoos and piercings to balance it out.) Nick’s drive to help Wesen is something that’s always set him apart from other Grimm, and even as his personal life is on the downward swing it’s good to see he’s not keeping with the bluntest possible option.

Over in the Renard vs. Royals side of things, there’s a sign of some narrative propulsion finally manifesting. With Viktor shuffled off the show in abrupt and unintentionally hilarious fashion last week, his place has been filled by Prince Kenneth (Nico Evers-Swindell, Tucker of Manhattan Love Story and the William of Lifetime’s William And Kate.). Everyone in the know seems to pause for a moment when they hear his name, and with good reason: his first interaction with Renard’s double-agent Sam ends with him brutally beating the other man and later shooting him in the head. “I’m a little more hands-on than Viktor,” he says to a stunned Adalind, and that makes for a welcome change. As much goodwill as Alexis Denisof has from his time as Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, Viktor was about as useless a character as James Frain’s Prince Eric was in the show’s first two seasons, there to manipulate and dispatch Verrat agents while swirling tumblers of brandy in front of a grand fireplace.

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Kenneth, however, has every impression of being set up as a Big Bad for late season four, as his entrance into this world jump-starts several plots that have been laying dormant for too long. First of all, he exterminates the detente between the royal family and Renard by getting into a bare-knuckle brawl with the other man in a secluded paper mill—a brawl he manages to win even with Renard calling on his Zauberbiest side, largely thanks to the still unresolved phantom bleeding. And he identifies Adalind’s condition almost immediately and shoots down her early efforts to name Viktor as the father, meaning that she’s branded a liar before she even manages to convince one person. Grimm has in the past had a hard time giving its royal antagonists any real sense of threat, so to see one willing to take agency and force Renard and Adalind into higher levels of defense is an encouragement.

That desire for action will hopefully extend to Juliette, who has a largely off-week after her big moves in “Double Date.” She yells at Renard for not being able to fix anything, moves her things out of her and Nick’s house without even an apology, and shows a previously unseen ability to be snide with Nick when he protests that he loves her. As much as her own case forms a parallel to what Bella’s going through, “Heartbreaker” keeps her on the sidelines and doesn’t draw those connections beyond Nick’s comment about his own personal experiences with side effects. She needs to be a player and not a spectator in this world, and hopefully with Adalind revealing the truth to Kenneth and Nick revealing the truth to Hank—the latter giving a truly succinct take on things with “Oh man, this is really messed up”—her feelings toward the “Wesen insanity” will become more proactive in weeks to come.

Stray observations:

  • This Week In Portland: The River City Riders is a fictional group, but Mount Tabor Park does in fact have some spectacular biking trails.
  • This Week’s Epigram: Another obvious choice this week in the actual Frog Prince fairy tale, and one that Hank and Monroe call attention to right away: “Except if you kiss this frog, your face blows up and you die.”
  • Nick receives an email from Trubel midway through the episode and lets her know everything’s fine. Hopefully that’ll be enough, as I haven’t missed the character since she headed off to the East Coast.
  • Ricky, Bella’s second victim and attempted rapist, turns out to be a Klaustreich. At some point I want to see a chart that tells us exactly how many Wesen are in Portland and if that number is the global norm or far in excess.
  • Wu on the first victim’s ID: “Organ donor. But I think that ship has sailed.”
  • “Any other surprises? Oh. You’re full of surprises.”

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