“Death Do Us Part” is a ghost story for the weary in January. Why don’t people tell ghost stories in January and October? January’s the most ghastly month of the twelve. It is gray, cold, and almost apocalyptic looking. Everything is dead; it is the ‘dead of winter’. I felt more drawn to ghost stories in the last seven days. I re-read Vladimir Nabokov’s remarkable ghostly short story, “The Vane Sisters.” I ordered Henry James’ ghost story, titled “The Turn of the Screw.” “Death Do Us Part” introduced three ghost seekers, who find ghostly goings on in an abandoned house where a married couple were brutally murdered five years ago. The most passionate ghost seeker dies the same death as the couple. The Wesen (it’s not a ghost) electrocutes the ghost seeker to death and he also crushes his skull. Nick, Hank, and Wu investigate who and why it happened. It’s not a ghost, so, then, it’s Wesen. It’s always Wesen.
Grimm, because of its creators, reminds one of the great WB series, ANGEL, mixed with a rote police procedural. The beginning of the episode seemed inspired by early X-Files. The two living ghost seekers found their friend burned to death, his skull crushed, and the woman, Carol, screams. Mark Snow’s iconic theme song seemed bound to follow. Grimm’s much different from the X-Files. The characters don’t clash over belief and empiricism. Either the character knows or the character doesn’t. The nifty teaser leads to a traditional Grimm case-of-the-week episode, with a side of Juliette trying to tame her hexenbiest. Oh well.
The case-of-the-week follows the beats of a procedural mystery. A former Portland police officer who worked the original couple murder drops helpful clues: the bodies were never identified, and the suspected killer was never caught. Nick, Hank, and Wu interview the wife of the suspected killer, now missing, and soon learn that the suspected killer was the lover and died that night, and the suspected dead husband is the killer. The ghostly apparitions have a cool, creepy, haunting quality. The dead wife smiles teasingly and seductively at her husband. He’s now more insane and bearded. Stetson, the name of the aforementioned husband, watched in horror as the ghosts of his dead lover and dead friend dance and romance. It combines Wesen murderer with a tropey ghost love story. The best part of the story was the explosive end. The tertiary wife character of the dead friend shoots Stetson dead. Stetson’s death released the electricity. A wave of light and electrostatic energy blew out the upstairs of the haunted house. One of the living ghost seekers filmed Stetson’s electric Wesen transformation and uploads it to the internet. The explosive denouement to the episode will not ripple into other episodes though. Hank asks Renard about the ramifications of the video for the case. Renard shakes his head and says, “No one believes in ghosts.”
No, no one believes in ghosts. Nick learned new facts about a new wesen. The trick to beating Stetson is Nick piercing his ear and rubbing paste into the hole to prevent the electricity from killing him. Carol watched Nick and Hank do the ear piercing and paste rubbing. She wonders what kind of cops they are, which continues the loose cop vs. wesen theme that seems likely to crescendo in the warmer spring months.
The theme of poor communication and knowledge continued for Juliette and Nick. The theme of knowledge and one’s lack of it is a character wide theme, not specific to a character. Juliette uses Renard to help her control her hexenbiest side. Nick notices oddities. Juliette used the trailer for hexenbiest research, but he disregards it as a follow-up to their her-as-Adalind healing thing with him. Rosalee asked about Juliette’s headaches. Nick stood dumbly by, as if he couldn’t decide between cocoa puffs and cocoa pebbles. Secrecy and horrible communication between characters in love seems a constant in Grimm. Those things don’t raise the dramatic stakes. The constant lack of communication between characters becomes tiresome four seasons in. It works for short stretches in the storytelling but when it keeps up season after season, it reflects poorly on the writers. TV writers will hit the same tropes, plot devices, narrative tricks over seasons, but mystery and obfuscation wears out.
“Death Do Us Part” is not without surprises. Renard sees his three bullet wounds re-bleed. Juliette meets a mysterious woman that knows about hexenbiests. That’s it for the surprises.
-No more scenes of Wu’s late night fast food/wesen book binges. The callback to Wu’s carpet eating days was great. I watched part of a middle season 1 episode when Wu began eating bugs (episode 16, I think. Find the review in the archives). I’ll miss Wu eating horrible shit.
-Whenever I visit Portland, I’d like to visit that remote house. I want to visit Ogden, Utah because of Everwood. I want to visit Wilmington, North Carolina to re-create Dawson’s Creek. Yes.
-I mentioned two ghost stories I re-read/will read. The former is Nabokov’s “The Vane Sisters”, originally published in The New Yorker: http://lavachequilit.typepad.com/files/the-vane-sisters.pdf. The latter is Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw”- http://www.gutenberg.org/files/209/209-h/209-h.htm (it’s longer than “The Vane Sisters”). I also podcasted about “Ghosts”. I don't have a direct link for "Ghosts". The url for the podcast is speakon.castmate.fm.
-Constantine Makris directed the episode. Jeff Miller wrote the episode (his first writing credit).