Wu (Reggie Lee) gets to headline the A-plot as Grimm explores the Philippino myth of the Aswang. Plus: Adalind’s (Claire Coffee) bundle of joy is born.
Let’s bitch it out…As Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) comments to Nick (David Giuntoli) and Hank (Russell Hornsby), there’s something very disturbing about something creeping into a pregnant woman’s room and attacking her. It’s a situation that’s ripe for horror (as evidenced by a number of disturbing films about pregnant women in peril), particularly since there’s a defenseless child in jeopardy.
‘Mommy Dearest’ both acknowledges and challenges this notion. Whereas the conventional approach – ie: the one adopted in the A-plot – is to endanger the child’s safety, the B-plot inverts this idea by following through on last episode’s suggestion that Adalind’s baby has powers. Looks like telekinesis folks, and the little girl with the glowing purple eyes already appears to be protecting mommy, as demonstrated by the airborne books and hand crushing hair-jinks she employs against Meisner (Damien Puckler). It should be interesting to see how she responds to a real threat new week.
The A-plot follows the more traditional approach in depicting baby danger. ‘Mommy Dearest’ offers up another ethnic fable, this time the Aswang from the Philippines. This is the latest iteration in a series of episodes, including this season’s ‘El Cucuy’ and S2’s ‘La Llorona’, to tackle ethnic folklore. For my money, this is the most successful of the three. Whereas the previous stories felt separate from the series because they were exclusively case of the week stories, ‘Mommy Dearest’ is embedded in character development. Although we’re learning about the Aswang, which was used to scare children and ensure husbands don’t leave their pregnant wives alone, this is principally the story of how Wu comes to learn the truth about “safe” Portland’s Wesen population.
The result is not only more personal (we learn more about Wu in a single episode than we have in three whole seasons), it’s a benchmark for the series that illustrates how to balance serial narrative elements with one-off cases. Season three hasn’t been great at this thus far (the Austrian storyline has felt very isolated and underdeveloped), but the last few episodes have demonstrated an increased confidence by the writers for blending the stories together in a more satisfying way.
If Wu’s realization that there are monsters in the real world is encouraging, the ending is an emotional gut-punch. Wu has always been Grimm‘s comic relief, from his punchlines to his pratfalls (he has a habit of ending up with crap jobs on a lot of these cases). Even his most significant arc on the series – back in S1 – was played for laughs as Wu took on the Renfield role of eating everyday objects after accidentally ingesting one of Adalind’s spells. That’s what makes the end of ‘Mommy Dearest’, which finds a confused Wu locked up in a psychiatric facility, so upsetting. Suddenly the character we’ve loved to gently mock is in severe mental distress and it’s not funny. Clearly Nick, Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Rosalee (Bree Turner) made a bad call when they decided not to let Wu know the truth and now he’s paying the price. The daggered, “I effing told you so” looks that Hank throws at Nick tells us everything about how to feel. After all, if anyone knows what it feels like to be in Wu’s shoes, it would be Hank, who went through this exact same process after seeing Monroe Worg.
While I can’t imagine that Wu will be in the nuthouse for too long, it should be interesting to see how this latest development affects Hank and Nick’s relationship since Hank clearly blames Nick for Wu’s condition. On the plus side, we can now celebrate the fact that our final human character is aware of the Wesen presence (more or less), which means we never have to deal with another “keep the secret” storyline again!
- We finally learn Wu’s first name and it is a doozy! Drew Wu?! That is cruel.
- Ever notice how mean Nick and Hank are when they’re questioning people? In this case they’re kinda excused for being belligerent since Sam actually is involved in the crime, but initially they come off as a couple of a-holes.
- Renard’s (Sasha Roiz) role this week amounts to a brief conversation with Meisner in which he advises him to move Adalind and the baby as soon as they can travel. I can only imagine that Roiz is eager to get this Royal heir storyline going so that he can actually, you know, do something for a change.
- Finally, it’s a bit part, but I not so secretly love the bitchy clerk at the Viking motel. The writers should make all of the sketchy visitors who come to Portland stay here so that we can revisit him.
- Juliette (when Nick admits they’ll lie to Wu): “Ah – the basis of any lasting relationship.”
- Nick (reading from the Aswang’s entry in the Grimoire): “Snuck down an alley…blah blah…cut off its head…okay too far.” Giuntoli’s delivery of these lines is understated and really funny. Hats off
What’s your take on this personalized case of the week: an improvement over the other folklore tales we’ve seen on the series? Do you think that Hank is right to blame Nick? Eager to see more of Adalind’s new baby? Concerned that mom is now back to full Hexenbiest abilities? Comment away below.
Grimm airs Fridays at 9pm EST on NBC