Last night’s episode of Grimm wasn’t as strong as last week’s mid season premiere, but I don’t mean that as a criticism. Premieres and finales always get the good stuff; it’s the in-between episodes where a show proves its worth. And while I may have a nitpick or two, I have no real complaints about “Natural Born Wesen.”
Even if it didn’t have that awesome title, “Natural Born Wesen” would still be pretty solid. The episode presents a stand-alone story as well as movement on the overarching plot, so I’ll explain both separately. Let’s look at the overarching one first, because this episode begins where the last episode ends, with Nick's unconscious and raspberry-colored after drinking the potion that’s somehow supposed to cure Renard and Juliette's magically induced obsession with each other.
For all the build-up last week, and all the dire consequences that were implied, I admit this was kind of a let-down for me; Nick eventually regains his normal color and gets back up, apparently none the worse for wear. Then Renard and Juliette have to drink a different potion, containing a drop of Nick’s blood (which freaks everybody out). At any rate, they drink the potion, nothing happens, and everyone goes home.
On a more promising note, Nick and Renard have another uneasy meeting together; Renard is hoping they can team up against the mysterious forces who want the key (including his brother) and Nick knows it’s the right things to do but still really, really wanting to punch Renard for making time with Juliette. It’s a great, tense relationship, and I hope they are forced to start working together soon while the wounds are still fresh.
Another positive sign: Nick brings his partner Hank fully up to speed on the Grimm-Wesen situation, and now Hank can meet with Nick and Renard to discuss Wesen problems (which I’ll get to in a second). Again, I’m still pretty new to the show, but I imagine Nick trying to keep his partner in the dark on his new life for the last season and a half has been aggravating, so good on Grimm for taking the plunge and bringing Hank on the team. The “can’t-let-my-friend/partner/loved one know my secret” is an extremely well-used trope in these kinds of shows, mostly used to fill airtime; if Grimm feels it can bring Hank fully into the action — and Juliette too, since she’s on her way to discovering the whole deal — that’s the sort of thing that means Grimm is kicking off its training wheels.
And speaking of Juliette, once she gets home, she discovers she has a big freaking hole in her house (well, Nick’s house). She can’t open the door; the stairwell nearby seems to go on forever, so she spends several days standing by, sleeping by, and dropping her cellphone into the hole. Eventually, she’s frustrated more than scared, and steps into it… and the wooden floor slats fly underneath her feet as she walks (which, to give all credit, is a very cool effect). Then she goes to bed… and wakes up with her bed floating over another hole, which I personally think is awesome, because I look for all the excuses to stay in bed all day that I can.
So is Juliette imagining things? Are the holes real? Is it part of the potion? I don’t know and Grimm doesn’t tell us, mainly because there are intensely stupid Wesen bank robbers to catch.
Specifically, two Blutbad and a Skalengeck have robbed a bank in broad daylight with their true Wesen faces. Now, everybody at the bank robbery (except Monroe, who was there because of course he was) thinks the robbers are just wearing incredibly realistic masks (tee hee), but Monroe knows the deal, and that they’re breaking the Codex of Urphlurphlhnm (my spelling might be a bit off). The important Codex basically basically says WESEN SHOULD NOT REVEAL THEMSELVES TO HUMANS BECAUSE THE HUMANS WILL FREAK OUT AND KILL US.
Nick and Hank catch the case, and a very disturbed Monroe fills them in on the situation. And it leads to a dilemma that I don’t know if Grimm has touched on before, but I certainly hope it continues to explore — whether Nick is a policeman or a Grimm first and foremost. Monroe wants these guys taken out immediately, for the safety of all Wesen (apparently the last time a couple of Wesen got uppity like this, it instigated the Salem Witch Trials, so you can understand why he’d be edgy). He suggests Nick put down his badge and kill these guys before shit hits the fan for everybody.
Nick, on the other hand, thinks the case is too high profile to make it go away by killing the robbers, and decides he has to put them behind bars. He’s technically correct, but that still doesn’t mean he’s doing the right thing, and you can see the anxiety in Monroe’s eyes. Nick puts human law over his Grimm duties, and while the show doesn’t have scenes of Wesen yelling at Nick to put them first, or have Nick looking consternated in the shower, trying to figure which path to take, there are some consequences to Nick’s choice for those willing to look below the show’s surface.
While these ramifications are interesting, the robbers themselves are not. They’re your standard crazy dude/crazy lady/more serious-minded dude trio; you know the Crazy Dude is going to take it too far, and he does when he shoots some people during a second heist; you know the More Serious-Minded Dude is going to say “You can continue being a crazy dude, because I’m out!” and then Crazy Dude is going to beat him to death, and that happens too. There are a few quirks in that Crazy Lady helps Crazy Dude kill More Serious-Minded Dude by ripping his throat out, and also in that the three of them live with several leaking barrels of toxic waste.
Anyways, Nick and Hank catch Crazy Dude and Crazy Lady, and arrest them. And as they lead the perps into the station — while Renard is holding a press conference that the robbers have been caught — a man in a nice suit does his best Jack Ruby impersonation and shoots Crazy Dude and Crazy Lady dead in front of dozens of cameras.
See, while the main episode plot was going on, and the overarching story was happening in the background; Grimm was also continuing to build on the mythology of the show in a way that worked organically with the main plot! Monroe freaks out about the possibility of the Wesen being outed to the humans, and reveals the existence of the Council to Nick. This Council has made many rules, as Councils are wont to do, including the aforementioned Codex.
And when Monroe enters Rosalee’s shop to find it stuffed with frantic Wesen, she reveals that she’s Portland’s lifeline to the Council, a job held by her brother, and by her dad… who was also on the Council (apparently even though her late brother Freddy used to sell human organs on the black market, he still was a firm supporter of the Wesen community). Rosalee calls the Council hotline and gets an extremely Santa Claus-looking gentleman somewhere in Europe, who takes down the appropriate details. Then Santa basically has a guy get another guy to take out the two robbers in front of as many cameras as possible to show any other Wesen who might be thinking of going public the consequences.
Now, this Council business is all still very vague, but the way Monroe’s eyes were popping out of his head when Rosalee simply revealed even her tenuous connection to it, I expect some payoff. You got that, Grimm? None of the horrible-potion-with-dire-consequences-turns-me-purple-and-then-I’m-okay business. Do that and we’ll be just fine.
While “Natural Born Wesen” wasn’t as great as last week’s mid-season premiere, it did have a nice balance of a self-contained story, the over-arching story and building the show’s mythology. Based on the premiere episode and what I’ve heard people say about the show over the last couple of years, this seems like a major improvement from the first season’s “meet a Wesen, kill a Wesen” episodes.
Again, for a follow-up to a premiere episode, “Natural Born Wesen” is strong, and while I don’t think Grimm is going to confuse anybody with Breaking Bad in the immediate future, it’s clearly stepping up its storytelling game and continuing to improve on all fronts. Here’s hoping this streak continues for #3!
• Sorry about the shitty, random-seeming photos. They are from the episode, but 1) NBC only releases four or so per episode, 2) you can see how exciting and representative of the episode they are, and 3) I can't even download them off NBC's Grimm site. NBC is the worst.
• Man, Nick looked like he was being tortured when Monroe was pricking his finger to give blood. Clearly, you do not want Nick to be your blood donor.
• Speaking of, doesn’t Grimm blood turned Wesen in regular humans? So shouldn’t Renard have become human after he drank the potion? Is a single drop okay? Is it what’s going to nullify the magic? Did other ingredients in the potion nullify its Wesen-evicting powers? Huh.
• I would think that being a Blutbad — which is effectively a werewolf, right? — would give Monroe some kind of keen sense of smell, maybe some way to track the scents of the robbers? Apparently not.
• I didn’t notice this last week, but Monroe’s Blutbad head is very reminiscent of Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf. I approve.
• The bank desperately needed a witness to say: “The robbers were wearing these animals that were really… really… uh… okay, I guess. I mean, they were clearly masks, but they I guess they had a certain design flair even if the production left something to be desired. Honestly, now that I think about it, they were pretty good considering the budget the robbers were probably working with.”
• Renard emails Santa-Looking Dude the mug shots of Crazy Dude and Crazy Lady… but is he contacting the Council on his own, or did they request those pictures specifically from Renard? Hmm.
• Again, new to the show and all, but… are Wesen immune to things like toxic waste? Because even if living next to several barrels of leaking toxic waste isn’t harmful to the idiot Wesen, it would still be extremely unpleasant.
• After my Grimm review last week, one of the show’s screenwriters and the story editor said hi to me on Twitter. I don’t know if you’re reading this, gentlemen, but you have my pre-apologies for next week’s recap, because that dude’s fly head looks ridiculous. It will not escape unscathed.