It’s difficult to pin down my feelings on this week’s episode of Grimm, because more than any episode in recent memory, this is one where my appreciation of what’s going on fluctuates wildly with every scene. The various twists in the case of the week were confounded by the way it stretched credulity, even by this show’s standards. (How many corpsicles can you have in a city before reasonable people start asking what’s going on?) Interesting parts of the Monroe, Renard, and Juliette stories were introduced and almost immediately pushed aside by the next scene. And for a weekly case that was succeeding on its own merits, it’s infuriating to see the show get rid of its complexity in favor of trying to emulate The Walking Dead—the worst season of Walking Dead, no less. (Stupid farm.)
The reason for that is a problem that continues to grow larger each week: Grimm is a show that has entirely too many things going on. Even with every character now fully aware of the Wesen world—and in some cases even crossing over to become part of it—it feels like the show’s scope has over-widened rather than becoming more streamlined. There are multiple long-term plots going on and each episode feels the need to spend a few minutes on each one, on top of the strain of having to introduce a brand-new Wesen almost every week. I appreciate a show that has ambition, but it also needs room to breathe, and Grimm would benefit from either putting a couple of its plots on hold or more regularly having episodes where they devote the whole hour to just one story.
The most glaring example of this is Renard’s phantom bleeding, which refuses to coagulate and continues to drip over the show without any immediate purpose. Grimm historically gets good mileage out of magical side effects—be it Nick’s blindness or zombification, or Juliette’s Hexenbiest evolution—but this arc has been limping along without purpose for long enough. And it crosses into laughable territory this week with a hallucination after punching a mirror, views of blue skies and red demon arms that even by network drama standards look cheap. Renard should have better material than this—even though this is material that feeds the popular #ShirtlessRage hashtag on Twitter—so here’s hoping he heals up soon and maybe gets some blood-related superpowers out of the whole ordeal.
In terms of a plot we could use more of, additional time spent on Monroe’s emotional trauma would have been appreciated. The Wesenrein arc in the first half of season four took Grimm to one of the darkest places it’s ever gone, and for a show that’s often selective with remembering things that have happened to its characters in the past it’s important that this doesn’t slip through the cracks. Silas Weir Mitchell gets to display an emotional range in his breakdown that wisecracking Monroe doesn’t always get the chance to demonstrate, tearful comments about time striking the balance between his emotional pain and the intellectual refuge he finds in his clocks. (It also produces a welcome scene of him and Rosalee doing something other than helping Nick out, which is all they’ve done since the show came back.)
Disappointingly, that side of things is glossed over for the second half of the episode, as while he teams up with Nick’s investigation his role is interchangeable with Hank or Wu in terms of wryly commenting on the events of the day. “Hibernaculum” misses the chance to display his fear about losing his life in a hostile environment as he’s right there on the front lines in full woge, swinging a rake with total poise. As good as a reassuring clock metaphor-laded talk from Rosalee is, it would be disappointing if that’s the only time this matter is brought up, when it’s a topic that can realistically affect many of Monroe’s actions on a daily basis and provide interesting character-driven material.
If the show is handling one thing right this year though, it’s Juliette’s gradual turn to the dark side. She seduces Renard to finally consummate the magical attraction the two felt back in season two, fires her own shot in her increasingly heated war with Adalind by trying to drop a gargoyle on her head (thanks to information Renard gave her no less), and reveals her new nature to Monroe and Rosalee. Compared to the Katrina arc on Sleepy Hollow this season, where they decided in the last three episodes to make her go Dark Willow on the audience and it was the final straw for a character the writers had schizophrenia when writing for, the right groundwork is being laid. She’s still conflicted enough in some of her choices that she can steer back, but they’re doubling down on those choices at the right rate. Most promising move in that direction: shifting her resentment from Nick to the entire Team Grimm after a tense scene in the spice shop, which opens up a lot of room for this story to take over.
As for the case of the week, it has its moments. It’s another interesting Wesen of the week in the Varme Tyv, a serpentine creature that’s so cold-blooded it freezes to death without body heat, and it needs to either drain the heat from living creatures or hide for extended periods of time. It’s a return to the more primal types of Wesen that Grimm doesn’t use as often as it did back in the early days, reminding us that although they’re integrated into modern society many of them keep to the old ways. And from a structural standpoint, the opening scene plays with expectations nicely. You go into things expecting the driver to become our corpse of the week, and he turns out to be the killer; and the early camerawork keeps the possibility of multiple killers hidden until right moment.
However, the move to make the Varme Tyv a collective rather than an individual means that neither of the three brothers—or any of the later ones met in their sanctuary—develop much personality beyond being shivering and desperate. And as much as I can buy that their more primordial nature would lead the collective to attack any threat to their sanctuary, asking me to also buy that they’d leave said sanctuary and venture out into weather they know will reduce them to corpsicles within minutes is too much to ask. (Especially when you hear the ADR’d line where at least one of them says “It’s cold” once they’re 50 feet outside the house.) Making them a mindless horde that’s so blatantly trying to score some zombie points sabotages a lot of what made them interesting, as well as removing some of the usual moral ambiguity of Grimm-ing that’s one of the show’s strong points.
This ending, by contrast, is neat: Nick and company are literally able to sweep the matter under the rug and deposit their killer in a taxi to get a closed case. It feels on wrong side of being too neat, though given everything that’s going on in Grimm at this point, it feels good to see something get resolved in definitive fashion.
- This Week In Portland: Adalind does her window shopping at Mercantile Portland, a designer women’s apparel boutique located downtown. The gargoyles however are a creation of the show—Portland has many interesting stonework, but none in that particular alcove.
- This Week’s Epigram: Hans Christen Andersen’s “The Snow Queen.” Appropriate for the event, but given how badly the relationship between Nick and Juliette has deteriorated, I badly wish they’d pulled a 180 and used Foreigner lyrics.
- Grimm Superpower Continuity: Nick’s super-hearing from “Mr. Sandman” returns as he’s able to hear Knute darting through the woods.
- Nick is eating a TV dinner in the opening scene, the ultimate in sadness dining. Runner-up is eating Chinese food over the sink still in the takeout container.
- It was nice to see Grimm remember that Monroe is a clock repairman and not just a part-time spice shop employee. And he’s right to be excited about working on a Chauncey Jerome clock, as the man made some solid timepieces.
- The Magic Trailer’s library reveals that both yetis and fossegrim have Wesen analogues. Also good to be reminded that there’s more than one Santa Wesen when Nick recalls the anecdote Monroe told him about all the way back in season one.
- None of Adalind’s clothes fit her anymore. Kenneth is unsympathetic and wants to get the child. That’s about it. (Side note: how have the Royals not tapped Nick’s phone by this point?)
- “She’s a freaking HEXENBIEST?!?” Rosalee is so often the voice of calm reason on Grimm that it was fun to see her completely freak out once everyone else left the shop.
- “We we have a lot more of ticking and tocking to do.” Good job Rosalee, you get an A in wife.
- “Sort of like an animal heat orgy.”
- “If this is the hibernaculum, what are they doing down there?” “… Hibernaculating?”