While Grimm is easy to summarize as a concept—another cop drama with a twist, the twist being that the cop is up against fairy tale creatures—it’s also a show that has some smarter ideas going beyond simply rolling out those fairy tale creatures. Chief among those ideas is the way that the show emphasizes the difference between the man and monster, the way some of its protagonists and antagonists struggle with the fact that they live two different lives. Sometimes it’s portrayed as a terrible conflict for the wesen in question, other times it’s presented as a weapon for them to steal or punish whoever they want. Yet it’s rarely a one-sided thing, as a harmony between the two sides is something that’s difficult to exist.
The balance is one that’s hard to keep for a lot of people in “The Taming Of The Wu,” an episode that sees a lot of the monster side manifesting and pushing the characters in different directions. Much as Black Claw is exerting its influence in favor of a wesen-controlled world, the wesen sphere of the show is waxing and everyone is being caught up in its power. Their reactions are something of a mixed bag, but everything that happens is definitive enough to augur some serious reactions in the final episodes.
Tonight’s most dramatic monster manifestation comes in Sergeant Wu, whose various dreams and blackouts are called into focus after the near-disaster of “Good To The Bone.” Those symptoms have finally crossed over to the point that Nick and Hank are asking a lot of questions, and Wu’s showing physical attributes that are getting increasingly hard to write off as the work of a dream. “Taming” also goes the full step by taking that ability to the crime scene, as a career criminal is following him around and a confrontation turns bloody. And with a visit to the spice shop, a deep trance calls out the monster that Wu is capable of becoming, a transformation which doesn’t have any easy answers.
Grimm devotees will recall that this isn’t the first time that Wu has been influenced by the presence of the wesen world without his full understanding. Season one saw him consume an enchanted cookie and begin consuming all manner of inedible objects, and season three saw him temporarily institutionalized when the sight of an Aswang drove him off the deep end. Yet this is shaking out in a way that makes it more effective than prior instances, the former of which was played for laughs and the latter of which was cut with the frustration that they didn’t just bring Wu into Team Grimm at that point. Wu’s life is being fundamentally changed, and in a way that’s creating real harm to others—he’s shot people in the line of duty before, but never yanked anyone’s throat out with his bare hands.
This is a lot more than Reggie Lee’s ever been asked to do as part of the Grimm ensemble, and he rises to the challenge of being more than just comic relief admirably. When Nick and Hank go to find him after Delano’s body is discovered and he awakens covered in blood, there’s remorse and then resignation as he offers his clothes over to the detectives, his commitment to the job showing in his understanding how things are done and lack of request for special treatment. (Some early scenes as he gently banters with Nick and Hank helps underline the clear comfort all of them have working together and why they’d choose to keep his secret.) And once he’s faced with the reality of what he’s become, there’s no histrionics or angst over his position. Instead, now that Wu’s finally in a position to understand what’s going on, he’s grimly determined to manage it if it can’t be cured.
Wu’s killing also helps bring forward the fact that Black Claw is back on the scene. Thankfully, after a few weeks where controlling local politics seemed to be the only thing an organization fermenting worldwide riots had on its radar, their degree of competence is restored. They have a new agent in Portland, the absurdly named Conrad Bonaparte (played by Shaun Toub of Homeland and Iron Man) and he’s spying on every member of Team Grimm. Last week’s suspicions about Zuri are confirmed when he shows up right after she finishes inviting Hank to dinner, adding yet another fail to his romance card. (Well, he can always call Deputy Harris from “Mishipeshu.”) And he shows up at Adalind’s office to strong-arm her into an alliance, making not-so-subtle threats about creating orphans.
Threats to Adalind and promises to Renard are backed up by the return of Diana, who may have grown up physically but is far lacking in emotional maturation. If the political storyline has given an unfortunate sense that she’s only important as part of Renard’s campaign or Adalind’s sadness, “The Taming Of The Wu” reminds everyone of what we’re dealing with. When there’s even a hint that she doesn’t get her way, Diana acts out, and her acting out produces effects that include sharp metal projectiles, astral projections that beg for attention or shatter mirrors into skulls, and imitating the voice of her father over the phone. After a long time of presenting her in the abstract, Grimm is finally getting around to demonstrating why so many players considered her a piece of interest, and they also ramp it up to make it clear how much those powers are going to have to do to even keep her under control.
Unfortunately, her mother’s powers aren’t receiving similar treatement. All of what’s going on with Adalind is being undercut by the fact that the original promise that the return of her powers will make her a completely different person, something Grimm continues to threaten and yet has given zero evidence to support. Her scene with Nick where she reveals the return of her powers has no pride or inner tension, just what you’d expect from anyone disclosing a secret they didn’t want to talk about. Even her eventual decision to leave with Kelly—to where remains a mystery—doesn’t come across as Hexenbiest calculation, it’s all about trying to protect her children. (And protect Nick as well, given the way that the letters fade.) Eve, Rosalee, and others can drop all the promises of what a Hexenbiest can do, but at this point even if Nick believes it the audience doesn’t.
The good news is that all of these reserves means that the Hadrian’s Wall crew is brought back into the fold, with both Meisner and Trubel returning to realize Diana’s gone and dispatch the Black Claw operatives waiting for someone to find them. (Once again, my cry for a show that just follows Trubel as a globe-trotting wesen hunter goes unanswered.) If Black Claw has suffered in the narrative for its low stakes, Hadrian’s Wall has suffered for its lack of presence, only some Eveard shapeshifting in the last few episodes to remind us they’re still there. Now they’re back to summoning Nick and Hank to their lair, reinforcing the danger of the situation—a danger that’s almost hilariously dismissed as soon as Nick and Hank get a call to assist Wu.
Hopefully, dismissals like that will be pushed aside in the weeks to come. With “The Taming Of The Wu” it’s clear that the small stakes of prior weeks are no longer the most pressing concerns of either side, and the monsters are being allowed out to play in force. Here’s hoping that Team Grimm knows how to use its own monsters to keep the other ones at bay.
- This Week In Portland: Wu and I turn out to share the same neighborhood, as his apartment building is located at the corner of NW 21st and Overton. The bar whose parking lot Wu kills Theo in is Joe’s Cellar, a great dive where I’ve spent many a Sunday night sharing my passion for Warren Zevon karaoke.
- This Week’s Epigram: “Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein rings true this week, though Wu’s bearing the pain relatively well.
- Know Your Wesen: Grimm falls back on its go-to enforcer and petty criminal wesen this week. Meisner is ambushed by a Hundjäger at Diana’s hideout and Theo turns out to be a Skalengeck.
- I love how Meisner’s shirt gets pulled off in the opening scene for no reason other than fan service.
- Renard’s frustrated “Can you do something?” comment to Adalind when he can’t get Diana to calm down is the closest to a family unit these three have ever felt like.
- “Oh, good! I’ll update the database.” Trubel’s blasé data entry reaction to a man’s death is somehow even better than her grabbing a severed hand in response to Meisner’s request for fingerprints.
- “Bad memories are like bunnies.” That sounds like Anya talking.
- “How was your day?” “Long and weird.”