Grimm closes out 2013 with a double dose of procedural cases, but as always it’s the ongoing Vienna mythology that keeps us coming back for more.
Let’s bitch it out…
3×07: ‘Cold Blooded’
The first hour addresses the popular “alligators in the sewers” urban legend as Nick (David Giuntoli) and Hank (Russell Hornsby) investigate a string of home robberies that leave victims with shaken baby syndrome and ripped-off limbs. Unfortunately it’s also one of the least developed cases of the week we’ve seen in quite some time. Did we ever learn about the incentive for the hoarding and the killings? Or why these guys came to Portland? Nope! This attention to detail is essential, but the writers appear far too eager to bypass an interesting story in favour of bitey/throwy action scenes.
It doesn’t help that the three brothers are woefully bland: they’re little more than a bunch of heavies who are big on violence and short on personality. It’s clear that they are meant to be formidable foes, but they come actually come off more like WWE performers. As a result everything to do with the Gelumcaedus feels stale and undercooked.
The Vienna scenes, meanwhile, immediately build on the developments from last week. Having escaped from an assassination attempt, Renard (Sasha Roiz) and Meisner (Damien Puckler) question Sebastien (Christian Lagadec) about their attackers and travel to meet up with the resistance. This includes Claude Fournier, the man who helped to save Renard’s mother’s life and a potentially significant character moving forward. Speaking of formidable characters, Fournier appears to be pretty ruthless and to the point. Our introduction to him is an interrogation of the man responsible for leaking Renard and Meisner’s location. Sentencing the man to death quickly and efficiently communicates what kind of man Fournier is and how serious the events in Vienna are. Previously we’ve heard that there’s conflict brewing, so it’s significant that death accompanies our first scene with the rebels – this guy Fournier means busy and the stakes are life and death.
On the other side of the scheme is Adalind (Claire Coffee) who’s hiding her secret Royal baby bump and entertaining the new Prince, Viktor (Alexis Denisof). The problem is that she doesn’t know Vik is a bit of a perv and he’s got a Big Brother feed in her room, allowing him unlimited private viewing of her icky Frau Pech belly beauty regimen. The big question is what will the new Prince do with the knowledge that the Hexenbitch is with child? And how does this hurt or hinder the rebel plans?
- Despite my complete disinterest in the sewer storyline, it certainly boasts some impressive horror visuals: the enclosed catacombs, the tight framing on Nick and Hank, and the restricted visibility due to the flashlights all work together to produce some genuinely tense moments.
- I’ll admit that I was genuinely worried for Sergeant Wu (Reggie Lee) after he uttered what appeared to be the following kiss of death dialogue: “I’m sure whoever did this has moved on”. Given how Vienna is developing, it is only a matter of time before Grimm ups the stakes and kills someone. Wu seems like the likeliest character since he’s not a series regular (though I hope that the Grimm team know what they have in Lee’s comedic delivery, which is second only to Silas Weir Mitchell).
- Groaner alert: the lead Gelumcaedus pronounces Nick a “decapitori”, so naturally Nick beheads one of them with his fancy wrist dagger. Far too predictable.
- Finally, Nick newly acquired “dead powers” now include super hearing. He’s able to hear the sounds of the clocks clicking from far away and behind walls.
3×08: ‘Twelve Days Of Krampus’
The final new episode of the year is more of a children’s fairytale, which makes it far more palatable than its predecessor (particularly given the topical use of “evil Santa”, which is a popular iteration of the Santa Claus mythos that’s popular in Europe). Krampus (Derek Mears) is a vengeful holiday Wesen who transforms once a year to punish naughty boys and girls, leaving behind lumps of coal in exchange for the children he imprisons and eats. The most memorable thing about this episode is Krampus’ costuming, whose curled horns and razor talons provide enough menace to offset the amusing visual of skateboarding teen thieves being tossed into an oversize bag and hoisted in giant Christmas balls from a tall tree.
This holiday tale also contributes meaningful details to the show’s mythology. Krampus’ memory loss outside of his December transformation is a new twist on the traditional Wesen abilities. This new knowledge allows Nick another opportunity to contribute to the Book of Lore. And since Nick can’t kill a man who is an innocent human for the majority of the year, he also elects to inform the Wesen Council of Krampus’ existence so that they can determine what should be done to ensure that no one is hurt next year.
Things aren’t quite so jolly in Vienna as Renard works to rally the Resistance troops to collaborate and end any attempt by the Royals to regain their global domination. It’s still very much a ramshackle group of vaguely foreign sounding individuals so the details of where – and how – this will all work remains really, really vague. What’s more interesting is Renard’s decision to reach out to Adalind: he leaves her a note to meet him to talk, encouraging her to fake a performance for the cameras in her room. Once again this B-plot is the most interesting aspect of the episode, but despite spending time across the pond in both of tonight’s episodes, there remains a lot of ambiguity about what we should expect moving forward. Thankfully this chapter on the Royal battle for power isn’t done by a long shot. There’s plenty more to come…
- I find it strange that Renard often refers to Nick as “his” when describing her relationship with the Grimm to others. Renard of all people should know better than to assume Nick can be controlled.
- In romantic news, Juliet (Bitsie Tulloch) helps Monroe (Mitchell) and Rosalee (Bree Turner) make their own holiday traditions. Apparently the middle ground between classical decorations from the 1800s and nothing is a beer and cigar. Gotta love these two together – particularly how they fall asleep in an identical position/location after exhaustively setting up all of those decorations.
- Side Note: 42 boxes of decorations? I don’t care how much people like the holidays, that is far too much for any rational human being (which, in fairness, they’re not).
- P.S. What the hell happened to Rosalee’s hair? It looks like she got a bad haircut/dye job between episodes. Poor Bree Turner.
- While I think the Krampus legends works well because it has a childlike element, I really wish that Grimm would stop talking down to its audience. The repeated dialogue concerning the lettering on the missing kid’s jacket is painfully stupid: “QB” -> “Quinn Baxter” -> “Those are the letters in the jacket”. Yeah, we know. It’s not exactly rocket science.
- I’ve missed Bud (Danny Bruno), but this episode is not a good showcase for the scaredy cat Wesen. Bud feels awkwardly shoehorned in, particularly when he barges into Monroe’s house to inform the group what they already know. When the characters acknowledge he’s wasting their time, it’s a pretty clear message to the audience as well.
- Finally, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of Aunt Marie’s Book of Lore, a companion book modeled on the texts Nick researches in the trailer on the show. The book contains colour images of some of the more memorable Wesen seen on the show, as well as replica handwritten notes by other Grimms. At times the size and font of the script is challenging to read and unfortunately the content doesn’t go beyond what is included in the show (I was hoping for secrets about the Wesen Council and the Royal family!), but it’s fun memorabilia for fans of the show and conveniently now available in stores in time for the holidays.
- Juliet (when Monroe tells her the number of boxes): “Kinda wish you hadn’t told me that.”
Grimm has now finished airing its 2013 episodes. The series returns Friday, Jan 3 at 9pm EST on NBC. Judging from the preview, there’s plenty to get excited about