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Grimm: “The Thing With Feathers”

Illustration for article titled Grimm: “The Thing With Feathers”
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Grimm has always had a Juliette Problem. The show has struggled to define her or give her any kind of agency, and haphazardly developed her character, having her assist Nick in the standout “Organ Grinder” but suffer recurring flashbacks to a home intrusion by a giant, and then suddenly finding the urge to learn how to shoot a gun. She discovered the engagement ring Nick bought for her before the series started, but tonight, in a hasty epilogue to a thrilling standalone case, she rejects his proposal. It’s a move that prolongs the arc of whether or not Nick and Juliette will get married but it doesn’t get at the root cause of the disturbance — Juliette no longer trusts that Nick is telling her the whole truth. Despite ample evidence of something bigger going on, she chooses to just ask innocuous questions and then leave Nick to sulk about the rejection.

It's a problem that Juliette's character shifts to suit whatever case Nick deals with in each episode. She's been both damsel in distress and a third partner for her boyfriend, who at times does fine on his own and on other occasions can't do anything without a partner. When Nick calls Eddie though, there's a humorous tone that always helps to lighten the mood. Juliette's presence brings up questions that the show seems content to let linger and never fully answer.

My bigger issue is that Grimm is stuck with a Hank Problem as well. He and Juliette are similarly nebulous in their relation to Nick. Hank is the unnecessary partner, the one that provides less guidance in comparison to Eddie Monroe, and whose connection to Nick is much more tenuous. Why do he and Nick have such a cohesive partnership? Why would his involvement with the Hexenbiest Adaline Schade be such a big plot point moving forward? Grimm has not done a good enough job establishing the police partnership as an integral relationship in the show on par with Nick’s relationship to Eddie or to his girlfriend/potential fiancé. To me, they serve a similar purpose, and if the previw for next week is accurate, Hank is about to assume the damsel in distress position that Juliette occupied a few weeks ago, and he will also have no idea what the Wesen world has to do with his involvement in a case.

As far as the standalone case goes, I’ve been impressed with just how much David Giuntoli has grown into the role of Nick Burkhardt. He is more assertive with his status as a Grimm, even in the isolated incident where he’s slowly easing into prosposing to Juliette, but she keeps pressuring him to investigate the all-too-convenient case of domestic abuse right down the road. Of course, when Nick calls Eddie for advice, interrupting what Eddie believes is a brief vacation, they discover that a cat Wesen, known as a Klaustreich (again I can only approximate these creature names phoentetically), is keeping a bird hostage, trying to force feed her into producing a once-in-a-lifetime gold stone that forms between her throat and her chest, but constricts her breathing so much that she could die. It’s a very compelling case, with twists and turns out in the wilderness beyond Portland. The plot doesn’t follow the typical arcs suggest by so many episode inside Portland, with the crime, then examination of the crime scene, autopsy, interrogation of suspects, and so forth. I thought that separating the characters and rigidly dividing the plots would have a negative effect - and in the case of Hank's development, it did - but was pleasantly surprised to see this twist on the Nightingale fairy tale work out. It's happening slowly, but I'm beginning to trust the show to take any old, familiar story and put the necessary twist on it to fit with this world.

Nick is on vacation with Juliette, and intends to propose, but keeps getting thwarted by the criminal activity that so inconveniently interferes with his daily life. He sees right away that something is wrong between the bird girl and the guy from Ed, but he tries to stay away from any conflict in order to preserve the romantic evening he has planned for his proposal. Once the supermarket scene goes down, and Juliette clumsily tries to interfere with who Nick surmises is some kind of golden-plumed bird, he found out the real value of her abilities. Not even Rosalee can name the last time someone got a golden bird to produce a golden egg-like substance. It’s important to note that Bree Turner has wonderful chemistry with Silas Weir Mitchell in the apothecary, and despite the forced and archaic ritual, those among the fold will remain recognized.

Before the impressive moments of surgical precision, I can’t help but note the incredibly cheesy moments that took me out of the episode. Right at the end, as he arrests the cat-beast-things, Nick uses the awful cliché about what must be done in order to make an omelet. Yes, he just surgically removed a gold egg-like object from the neck of a bird-creature using Face Time on his iPhone with Eddie Monroe and Rosalee — who gets a nice featured recurring role here and creates even more great chemistry with Silas Weir Mitchell. It’s a horrible intrusion of technology into a mythological world, and Nick apparently came prepared to do emergency surgery, what with carrying that completely unnecessary knife.


I thought there were enough compelling and tense scenes to keep this episode afloat, but the similarities between how Hank and Juliette separate from Nick give me pause. I think Hank, Juliette, and Eddie Monroe are covering the territory that two characters could accurately stand for. The partner, the mentor, the friend, the guide, could all be contained within two actors/actresses, making one of Hank/Juilette/Eddie superfluous. It’s clearly not Eddie, but either Juliette or Hank needs to become more integral to the plot, or be removed altogether. Otherwise, Grimm will continue to spin its wheels in mediocrity for the rest of the season, and potentially into next fall as well.

Stray observations:

  • The sequence in the grocery store where the cat-Wesen sneaks up on the worker trying to break Robin free was shot well, sound design especially due to the silence.
  • Sgt. Wu is back on the force and seemingly unfazed…until he just goes and eats an entire paper clip and nobody notices. There’s something going on there, and I hope it’s not a creature reveal, because that would be ridiculous. He can’t just eat out of couch cushions and chomp on staples with no consequences.