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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Grimm: “Of Mouse And Man”

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I’m not pleased that Grimm is settling in to be a fairy tale verison of the first half of Law & Order. It has a predictable routine, and until now I’ve been along for the ride, pleasantly surprised by some clever takes on Grimm fairy tales, more invested whenever Eddie Monroe gets more screen time, and impressed by a few episodes that have managed to combine some well-teased serialized storytelling within a taut police investigation. Unfortunately, “Of Mouse and Man” is the weakest episode of Grimm to date. It’s best scenes are B and C-plot stories that get less than five minutes of screen time, linked to Juliet’s lingering fear after the break-in at her and Nick’s house, and finally some tiny connection to the Reaper that showed up to talk with the captain at the beginning of the season.

The opening epigraph comes from John Steinbeck. That in and of itself should be enough to signal how uninspired the case-of-the-week is, a generic murder plot in an apartment building featuring a “Maushurtz” — a mouse creature, somehow different from the rat-people from a previous episode in ways that are so insignificant the episode ignores the glaring similarities. Lenny, a rather mean fellow with a penchant for arguing with his neighbors and beating up his girlfriend, ends up dead in a garbage truck. Nick and Hank trace the body back to a dumpster outside an apartment building and quickly find Lenny’s girlfriend Natalie, who fled the scene after getting beaten up, Martin the mouse, the downstairs neighbor who lives with and cares for his elderly father, and Mason, a lawyer. I watched this episode with one of my roommates, and the second we found out that Mason was a lawyer, we both immediately knew he would be a snake. That’s just the disappointing direction the episode was going.

Of all the mish-mash made up German names the writers have come up with for the creature population of Portland, the name for vicious snake creatures — “Lauzenschlonge” - is categorically the worst. The slime ball lawyer couldn’t be the culprit, it was just too on-the-nose with the snake thing, but the mouse guy was just silent and inconspicuous enough to be the easy target. The more we find out about his dad, about how much he’s been trampled on by everyone in his life, the more apparent it is that Martin has been lying in wait to break out of all the constraints on his life. Every step of the investigation is predictable, even all of Martin’s actions separate from the police, as he confronts Mason, kidnaps Natalie, and then has a Being John Malkovich-level freakout where he imagines his father’s head on everyone else’s body, including his own in the mirror during the climax of the episode.

Other than Eddie Monroe, the writer’s haven’t distinguished any of the characters with enough depth to make them compelling. The more Silas Weir Mitchell’s character gets involved, the better the episode, even if it has a weak central case — the Rapunzel episode being the chief example. When he goes off on his own and gets jumped by a bunch of creatures, it’s initially very confusing, and I guessed that it was something related to the Big Bad Wolf/Three Little Pigs episode, but the actual reveal is better. A scythe drawn in blood on Eddie’s car is just enough to draw the connection to Reapers, the foes that up until now have been far too secret. The captain dealt with one months ago, and since then nothing has happened except for the creature world becoming much more aware of Nick’s presence as a Grimm in Portland. Now there’s actually a group out for Nick, and out to stop the advantageous partnership he and Eddie have forged.

I still believe Nick would have been better off as a private detective, or some kind of consultant to the police department — not unlike Shawn in Psych. It would give him freer reign away from the police department, and the ability to use Eddie Monroe as a more permanent investigation partner. But trying to revise the show doesn’t go very far. This is the Grimm we’ve been given, and as is it’s settling in for a very slow simmer that explodes in one or two episodes down the line that are chock-full of overarching plot within a lot more episodes like tonight.

Thanks to the ending, I’m strangely optimistic that Grimm can take a minor, surprising foothold and turn it into something more than tolerable. Eddie essentially says to hell with the Reapers, the status quo must change, and their partnership stands. It’s what needs to happen to keep the show going in a positive direction at all, but I hope it means that Eddie will be much more visible in the weeks ahead. Right now I have no problem watching each Friday night, but it’s not appointment television by any means. A more concrete partnership between Nick and Eddie against a foe they slowly begin to discover while Nick simultaneously investigates crimes with Hank for the Portland police department and hides his Grimm identity from Juliet — that feels like an overstuffed show, without a doubt. But it’s still more interesting than the glacial pace Grimm moves at now.


Stray observations:

  • It occurred to me that there have been creatures that recognize Nick is a Grimm, but somehow none of the creatures involved in the cases he investigates mention that something strange is going on in front of anyone else. I understand that they perhaps don’t want to alert other humans to the existence of the creature world, but still, I find it implausible that nobody would slip up in a situation like that.
  • My least favorite aspect of this episode? The dialogue. Normally it’s pretty hokey, but tonight certain conversations were just egregious, particularly the final Juliet/Nick conversation and the Martin/Natalie conversation as he over-accelerated Mason’s car.
  • I don’t know how to spell the made up German phrases, so I’m doing my best to approximate what I hear. If anyone has proper corrections, feel free to make them in the comments.