Saturday, February 20, 2016

Grimm "Map of the Seven Knights" Review

The Keys, man. A long time has passed since The Keys were integral to the plot. Grimm used to introduce pieces of mythology in the first season and then never follow up. I usually make jokes about Grimm following up on a plot point ten seasons later because The Keys disappeared as a plot point. Well, now they’ve returned as a plot point. The Grimm gang will travel to the place of Anton Chekhov’s death to retrieve the last of the seven keys.

“Map of the Seven Knights” is steeped in history. The epigraph—“History is the nightmare from which I am trying to awake”--of the episode comes from James Joyce’s Ulysses.  Stephen Dedalus speaks the words to Mr. Deasey in the second chapter. Before their conversation, Stephen taught his class a history lesson about ancient history. Nabokov noted: “In the space of one moment, while a schoolboy pauses in blankness of mind, Stephen’s vivid thought evokes the torrent of history, shattered glass, falling walls, the livid flame of time. What’s left us then? Apparently the comfort of oblivion: ‘I forget the place, sir. 279 B.C.’ Though probably unintentional, it connects with what Monroe read to Rosalee about the Byzantine Empire. James Joyce, in his final novel, Finnegans Wake, structured history as a circle, like a river, based off Vico’s theory of history. Rosalee remarked that what happened to the Byzantine Empire seems similar to Black Claw’s plan. Monroe replied, “Only things that changed are the names.”

Tyrannical groups burn the books first. Book burning has a long history. People in pursuit burn the books that challenge their power. Black Claws wants to wipe the Grimms from history. Monroe’s Uncle Felix, an antiquarian book collector, appraised twenty Grimm books. Black Claw pursued them from Prague to Leipzig, and Portland. The two goons from Black Claw murdered Felix in his hotel room. They took the shipping number for the books shipment, but Nick and Monroe stopped them before they could destroy the books. Black Claw would like to erase history and create a new one, while Nick, Monroe, and Rosalee want to preserve history and beat Black Claw by using history.

The episode builds, builds, and builds to the climatic Keys reveal in the last scene. The characters’ reactions mix shock and awe by the recovery of things they thought lost in the trailer fire. What was lost can be found. It’s a little late-Shakespearean, no? They Keys will unlock the treasure buried in the Black Forest as it has unlocked a central motivation for Black Claw, Nick’s crew, and Hadrian’s Wall. The writers connected past, present, and future in one scene—a rarity for a show that, more often than not, really, really slowly connects plot points.

Unlike “The Inheritance,” which was the last Grimm episode in which Grimm received a key, “Map of the Seven Knights” didn’t include quick flashbacks to remind the viewer of the keys and other dormant parts of the mythology (key figures and such). The show, seemingly, committed to its wacky story. It nears 100 episodes. NBC secured a sweet syndication deal. The network may not care to force accessibility. David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf probably decided that Grimm is what it is, that those watching always watched and don’t need the hand-holding of past episodes; or, Kouf and Greenwalt didn’t include quick reminder clips of mythology because Nick doesn’t know he’ll find three more keys. The show runners didn’t want to give the ficus away (despite telling interviewers during the summer about the return of the keys).

Uncle Felix offered another look at Monroe’s eccentric and idiosyncratic family. If not for Rosalee, Monroe, like Felix, would have devoted his life to clocks and clock-making Felix never married or bore children. He cared for books. The best part of the episode was Felix’s short monologue about protecting and preserving books. Felix’s death gives Monroe personal motivation in the fight against Black Claw. Protecting and preserving the Grimm books protects and preserves his Uncle Felix’s legacy.

Now, the fight with Black Claw means preserving and protecting history, the legacy of the Grimms, and life as everyone knows it.

Other Thoughts:

-That dinner scene in the beginning of the episode was written for the sake of exposition. It was sloppy exposition. “Does Adalind LIKE you?” “Shucks, I don’t know, Monroe.” “Do you LIKE her?” “Oh boy, oh boy, I don’t know!” “Hey, isn’t it weird you slept with both of them at the same time, with as one body?” Nick also complimented Adalind’s mothering.

-Example of flirty banter between Nick and Adalind, paraphrased: “I remember your birthday.” “Do you? Oh yeah, you did arrest me one time.” Nick should’ve followed it with a Pacey like caressing of her hair and the words, “I remember everything, Adalind.”

-More Eve debate: is she different from Juliette? Why does she remember what Juliette did? It’s a twist on character rehabilitation. Juliette will be back in the gang by season’s end.


-Jim Kouf wrote the episode. Aaron Lipstadt directed.

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.