This week everyone is haunted by memories of the past as a new breed of Wesen begins to literally freeze Portland residents.
Let’s bitch it out…
Case of the Week: Our case of the week features the Varme Tyv, a snake-like Wesen that needs to stay warm during the winter, traditionally by sleeping through the season like a bear in the titular ‘Hibernaculum.’ Unfortunately three brothers fail to make it to the designated spot when their car breaks down, prompting a series of frozen-people-popsicle murders as the brothers literally suck the heat out of victims to stay alive.
The case is fairly straightforward (with some very entertaining frozen corpse positions), but there are a few truly bizarre moments. At one point Wu (Reggie Lee) alerts Nick (David Giuntoli) and Hank (Russell Hornsby) that Knute Gunderson’s car has been spotted and a roadblock is set up. Wu, Nick and Hank and two other officers play chicken and when Knute bails, there’s a truly ludicrous visual presented from a bird’s eye point of view as the four cop cars stop mere inches away from Knute’s. Later, after doing the research thing at the RV, followed by a quick stop by the Spice Shop, the guys – now accompanied by Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) – track the sole remaining Gunderson brother, Sven, to the Hibernaculum and come across a mound of Varme Tyv that resembles nothing so much as a visual straight out of NBC’s own Hannibal – or at least the Friday night-lite version of it.
The sight of the pile of sleeping Varme Tyv isn’t quite as frightening as I’d hoped given expectations. As soon as the guys decide to try and extricate Sven, it’s clear that they’ve bitten off more than they can chew and they’re going to wake up the entire group. Unsurprisingly this is exactly what happens (the climax is disappointingly predictable in a number of ways – you can almost sense Grimm writer Michael Golamco’s glee at capitalizing on the popularity of The Walking Dead / zombie phenomenon). With a large group of Varme Tyv on their tails, Hank, Wu, Monroe and Nick end up trapped in a barn. Of course, even casual viewers should be able to anticipate that outside of their sauna-like lair, the reptile Wesen will quickly freeze to death.
For a moment, this seems like Grimm introducing another moral / ethical issue (we discussed Nick’s slippery slope of justice back in 4×15 ‘Double Date’). Here I honestly wondered if Nick would simply choose to let the murderous horde expire in the barn, but at the last minute he and the others elect to move the icy predators back into their Hibernaculum. All save Sven, that is; turns out he was already frozen…so they just leave his body in a cab for some poor woman to discover. It’s another in a string of odd narrative choices by writer Golamco. I’m suddenly much more excited for episode 20, which will mark his next writing credit.
The theme of the week for our regulars is PTSD or “haunted by the past.” No one is spared from memories of their tragic past:
Renard (Sasha Roiz), recovering from last episode’s smackdown with Prince Kenneth (Nico Evers-Swindell), continues to bleed from his phantom gunshot wounds. In one of the series’ most surreal moments*, the walls of his bedroom separate to reveal what initially looks like heaven…until a pair of devilish hands lunge at him. The moment is clearly hallucinatory and suggestive of his brush with dead, but the overall effect is marred by lacklustre visual FX execution and the end result winds up being a bit cheesy.
- Regarding that surrealism, I did love the push in on Renard’s face as the background falls away, mostly because it reminds me of depictions of virtual reality environments from 90s genre shows (shout-out to Profit and VR.5!).
Monroe, meanwhile, has his own demon to bear as he is haunted by the close call he suffered at the hands of the Wesenrein during the Tribunal. Initially he tries to shrug off his concerns when he accidentally woges on Rosalee (Bree Turner) – which made me groan because I hate “lie to your loved ones” story lines – but eventually Monroe confesses that he’s upset that their time was nearly cut short (cue the clock/time metaphor). Rosalee manages to calm him down and later sneaks in a hug, once again confirming that she is truly the heart and soul of the show.
- Side Bar: While the emphasis here is clearly on their marriage (hence the close-up of Rosalee’s wedding ring during their hug), I still think that Monroe’s memories here and the events at the fertility clinic will wind up convincing the pair to conceive a child by season’s end.
Finally there’s Nick, who opens the episode eating alone. It’s pretty sad, especially when he flips over an early picture of him and Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch). Nick remains haunted by Juliette’s reveal of her new Hexenbiest status, which is more than she can say considering she spends the episode on a humanity-destroying power bender. Juliette’s first scene occurs when she aggressively instigates sex with Renard (blech). I will admit that I thought the scene was a dream sequence until she shows up outside of Adalind’s (Claire Coffee) hotel and tries to telekinetically kill the blonde with a stone gargoyle. The glee Juliette takes in nearly murdering a pregnant woman frightens her, prompting her surprise cameo at the Spice Shop where Nick forces her to tell everyone her secret. Gotta say it: Rosalee’s reaction is perfection. I love that woman.
- I honestly don’t understand the point of having the first victim’s daughter explain the details of her mother’s murder when we just saw it occur before the credits. I know that there are plenty of ads on TV, but this literal recap is completely unnecessary.
- Juliette is pretty gonzo mad in this episode (Tulloch’s delivery of “Hold onto your hats!” is inspired) and I’ve got to say: I like it. I’m enjoying unhinged Juliette and her thinly veiled threat that she holds everyone responsible for her transition. It promises nothing but bad news moving forward, which is excellent for us viewers.
- Prince Kenneth is pretty bland this week, aside from putting a pin in a very pregnant looking Adalind’s anxiety after Juliette’s attack. So Kenneth’s plan is to hack Renard’s email and tap his phones in the hopes of catching Renard’s mom? Umm…seems pretty tame. Did the Royals really need to send a new Prince for this? Perhaps he should do something a little more proactive like, say, leave the apartment for a bit…
- Finally: Juliette is clearly off the deep end, but Nick also seems unmoored. The game of chicken and the willingness to jump into action without thinking of the consequences suggests that he’s becoming increasingly reckless. Maybe self-destructiveness will reunite Juliette and Nick?
- Also: everyone catch the return of Nick’s super-hearing? Maybe those “dead” Grimm powers Nick acquired post-zombification last season are finally making a comeback?
- Monroe (when they identify the second Gunderson brother): “Unless they’re married.”
- Monroe (when Nick asks what the Wesen do in the Hibernaculum): “Hibernaculating?”
Your turn: what did you think of the case of the week? Did you think that some of the story telling decisions were a bit unusual? Did you laugh at Renard’s hallucination? Are you happy that Juliette has embraced her dark side? Do you want her to get back together with Nick? Are Monroe and Rosalee going to become parents? And what is Kenneth’s plan besides hanging around that palatial apartment? Sound off below.
Grimm airs Fridays at 9pm EST on NBC