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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Grimm: “Tarantella”

Illustration for article titled Grimm: “Tarantella”
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Well, so much for consistency. I knew Grimm would take a bit of a dive after a series-best episode last week, and I knew better than to expect some forward development on the plot, but shows like this tend to operate on the assumption that after a handful of standalone plots, somewhere in the episode order is a very serialized one that moves the story along. Right now Grimm doesn’t do that, and even a pretty cool case-of-the-week didn’t abate my questions this week.

Angel’s Amy Acker gets a guest turn in Portland as a Spinnetod, a spider woman who needs to feed on three young men to retain her youth or she will be rendered an elderly woman overnight. When Nick asks Eddie about the creatures, Eddie refers him to a woman named Charlotte, a 26-year-old Spinnetod who looks about 70, the consequence of foregoing the Spinnetod innocent victim lifestyle. Charlotte describes that her kind don’t take pleasure in their killing, but it’s a biological necessity to avoid rapid aging that for some arbitrary reason plagues all Spinnetods.

I do appreciate that Grimm isn’t just using the Brother’s Grimm fairy tales, and this week’s story comes from the ancient Japanese short story “The Goblin Spider”, which gets a nod when Nick discovers a Japanese scroll in one of the books from Aunt Marie’s trailer. Spinnetods seduce their victims, then force them to ingest acid, which liquefies their victims’ organs, then bite and suck out the disgusting mess, leaving behind a rather mummified body. First, Lena the Spinnetod goes after a sleazy guy at an art gallery, then a random guy at a bar, but she seems to feel remorse about it during and after each killing. The twist that she’s a soccer mom with a family didn’t feel like that big of a twist, nor did the expected subsequent turn that her husband and daughter are also Spinnetods. I would have been more interested if her family didn’t know she was a creature, but then I’m not sure exactly how Grimm would justify that, since creatures seem to stick pretty confined to their own kind and just stay hidden in plain sight from everyone but Grimms.

The magic trailer gimmick is wearing thin though, and now the writers have to come up with a different way for Nick to search around the books before finally stumbling upon some bit on knowledge he can’t decipher before asking Eddie. The process is extremely predictable, and that gets boring quickly. I don’t really see a way to fix that, which has been my main worry for Grimm since the show began. I’ve built up some goodwill towards the show, but there’s always been the lingering problem that the problems of the early episodes don’t lend themselves very well to being fixed, and that repetitive structure - Law & Order case introduction, Nick/Hank investigation, magic trailer research, Eddie Monroe help, and Nick taking down the creature without Hank or anyone else finding out it’s a creature — is wearing thin. The one thing that’s stuck out in that process is that Nick now has a bit more agency, willing to go it alone and confront creatures directly, either with the fact that he’s a Grimm or that he knows what type of creature they are, in order to move the case along.

That development led to my favorite part of the episode, where Nick barges in on the guy who has been spying on his house and bringing his friends around to see the Grimm, surprising them into fear. It’s a family and some friends who are all beaver creatures, seemingly a harmless member of the Vessen world who basically wanted to gawk at Nick since to them a Grimm was just a scary story and never a real live threat. The fact that the guy’s kids egg Nick’s house was pretty funny, but his whole scare tactics routine to keep the guys silent was kind of funny. Nick is learning to use his authority, and is able to sort out pretty well the bad creatures he needs to track down from the harmless ones that don’t need to worry about him walking in and killing them just for being creatures.

When Nick confronts Lena’s husband about why he’s still alive, I’m pretty sure it was supposed to be some kind of tender moment, but I didn’t feel any real emotion there. Ditto for the final scene with the daughter in the back seat of the police car and Lena beginning to grow old in her cell. I thought the husband would end up being the third victim by virtue of a last resort for Lena to stay young, and that twist would’ve had some real bite to it (yes, that’s a terrible pun).


Once again, there’s no real development on the overarching plot, and that disappoints me. Teasing one little event every four episodes delays any actually interesting things from happening, and it makes the standalone episodes with no progress harder to stand. I don’t understand how Nick isn’t more incredulous about his powers, or why the captain is still lying in wait with his knowledge of the situation — despite the spoilers on NBC’s website that reveal more about his character in a single paragraph than Grimm has put on screen in 11 episodes. Yes, the confrontation with the beaver guys is more serialized, and perhaps who they’ve told about Nick’s presence will have further implications, but it was one kind of funny scene. Eddie and Nick’s conversation in the park about Juliette is very similar to that, just a carryover chat that didn’t really advance anything, just called attention to something that was on hold for this episode. Grimm sacrifices the ability to have bigger scenes that deal with those issues in order to give more time to the standalone cases, and that’s working to a certain extent. I was more interested in this case than the mouse/snake one or the lame ogre case (okay, that’s the last pun, even though “Game Ogre” is a terrible title for an episode), but continually dragging out the overarching plot can only go on for so long.

Stray observations:

  • So the plumber that recognized Nick as a Grimm was a beaver, and his friends are all beavers as well. Naturally, they’re Oregon State Beavers fans, and the home of the guy whose wife has been spying on Juliette has a banner that reads “Beaver Dam: Enter at your Own Risk.”
  • Nick manages to catch all of these creatures without Hank or anyone else seeing that they’re not human. Eddie’s explanation a while back that most humans just don’t understand the presence of the creatures justifies this to a certain extent, but still, there’s nobody who sees the spider woman jumping from column to column? Nick is extremely fortunate that this hasn’t required some big explanations to Hank, Juliette, and others.
  • No Sgt. Wu this week, which was sad. Hopefully he’ll be back next week.