Thursday, December 8, 2011

Grimm "Danse Macabre" Review

David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf want Grimm to be as dark as the original Grimm fairy tales. "Lonelyhearts" went to a dark, dark place. "Danse Macabre" did not go as dark as its source material. This episode was an adaptation of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, in which a town's overrun by rats. A pied rat-catcher arrived in town, with his musical instrument to control the actions of the town. The story goes dark when he lures the children of Hamelin into a cave where they're never seen again. In short: bad times for all.

"Danse Macabre" follows a young violin prodigy who happens to descend from a line of rat-jawns (I apologize for the clumsy use of jawn but I researched the name spoken in the episode and found absolutely nothing). The rat jawns aren't violent. Their violence emerges when highly irritated or upset. Like a song, music prodigy Ruddy's anger and violence builds and builds until it reaches its crescendo. Fortunately for a group of bastard youths, Ruddy (or is it Roddy) reaches a decrescendo.

The central conceit of the episode is the story of an outcast. Nick's an outcast. In world full of fairy tale (and sometimes feral) creatures, Nick stands alone as a Grimm. Prior to his Aunt's death, she warned him that his life would be lonely; that he couldn't possibly keep his girlfriend or his normal life when he alone's responsible for protecting society from the creatures who everyone but Nick think exist on a page, only in stories. Ruddy, the teenage outcast, earned a scholarship from a prestigious music school in Portland. His father catches rats for a living, which is low-income, blue collar work. Ruddy's rich classmates, except for Sarah, look down on Ruddy because he's poor and lives amongst rats. The three priveleged males also harbor jealousy for Ruddy because he's a terrific violin player--much, much better than they could hope to be. Ruddy's superiority with the violin combined with a relationship with Sarah led the three males to start a fight with Ruddy that ended in his suspension and banishment from Sarah as well her property.

The trouble truly begins when the music teacher's attacked by rats in his car. Cardiac arrest actually killed the music teacher, but the rats fed on his flesh. Nick and Hank investigate the case. Nick identifies with Ruddy because he, too, is an outcast. Unfortunately, Ruddy doesn't trust Nick. The creatures, whether they're mellifers or blutbads or rat-jawns, sense a Grimm immediately. Nick asks Monroe to talk to the Ruddy, in hopes the blutbad will break through the wall of Ruddy the Rat-Jawn. The scene between Monroe and Ruddy's particularly good. Greenwalt's great with subverting expectations. Monroe entered Ruddy's trailer expecting older male to bond with wayward youth. The scene unfolds in a realistic way: lots of pregnant pauses and awkwardness. Ruddy's clueless how to react to advice he didn't ask for. Monroe's clueless how to behave when he's clearly not connecting with the kid. Monroe leaves, though he reports a positive meeting between him and the wayward youth. I liked that.

The episode took its time getting to the major set-piece--a fake rave in the basement of a warehouse where a horde of rats awaited the rich and entitled bastards who conspired against Ruddy. The music prodigy learned he could control the rats with his music. Hank and David stopped things from getting out control. The anger, resentment, frustration, etc that built up within the soul of Ruddy nearly had disastrous consequences. I'd write more about the case-of-the-week but it was a cut-and-dry story about adolescent jealousy and romance with a supernatural bent.

Elsewhere, Juliette's slowly becoming aware of her boyfriend's identity. A refrigerator repairman ran in terror from the house when he came face-to-face with Nick. Juliette spent her scenes trying to figure out the reason the repairman fled. Perhaps Nick arrested the man once or maybe the 'fridge scared him half to death. The repairman returned to their house to recover his tool box and to reject Juliette's theories. The episode concluded on a moment of possible revelation.

Hank and Adaline had off-screen dinner together. Greenwalt, Kouf, and the others writers haven't devoted much time to the Capt. Renard/Adalind arc. Renard watched Hank follow Adalind in the restaurant, evidently pleased by the dinner arrangement. The reasons are unclear. I'm going to criticize Grimm for the first time right now: I hope the writers devote more time to the recurring storylines. The cases-of-the-weeks are always interesting, thanks to the fairy tale bent. I'm interested in Juliette and Nick's relationship as well as whatever plan Capt. Renard has. Procedurals feel stale after awhile, though. For example, I predicted when Monroe would appear this week because I've figured out the formula. Hell this is a show some aspiring TV writers should spec. It's extremely easy to spec.

Overall, I didn't like "Danse Macabre" very much despite the awesome title. The rat story was a bit flat. The characters weren't written well enough. Ruddy had the most depth but he was just a variation of the Teenage Outcast archetype. We were supposed to invest in the romance between Sarah and Ruddy because her parents hated him for his working class roots, which is not enough to make an audience care about two teenagers who sort of liked each other. I don't know. The story just didn't work. There were about five minutes total devoted to the Juliette, Renard and Adalind stories.

Grimm's back tomorrow night at 9PM with a promising episode about Monroe. I'll be back with a review.

David Solomon directed the episode. David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf wrote it.


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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.