Friday, December 9, 2011

Grimm "The Three Bad Wolves" Review

"The Three Bad Wolves" is an example of Grimm at its best. This episode told a self-contained story with a focus on one of the principal characters involved. "Danse Macabre" largely failed, for me, because we were subjected to a whole story in which Nick, Hank and Monroe were just bystanders with nothing at stake in the story. "The Three Bad Wolves" A story directly involved Monroe personally, as well as Nick when a fellow cop turned out to be directly involved in the murders of two brothers. Monroe experienced personal conflicts; Nick experienced, again, professional conflicts. And it all worked and it was a terrific hour of TV.

Monroe's the one character I wanted an entire episode devoted to. After awhile, quips and sarcasm become old. A character needs depth and dimension to thrive in a long-form narrative. Monroe mentioned his troubled past in the pilot, but those details were swept aside the last several weeks (like the majority of the major pieces of plot in Grimm). His troubled past comes back in energetic and furious fashion. Monroe's a recovering alcoholic as well as blutbad. His ex-girlfriend gave him some line about restriction's perverse relationship with compulsion so he'd break. Monroe's internal battle with temptation was riveting enough for the hour. I liked how his temptation was personified in flesh by the saucy blutbad who blows by town to protect her brother from a vengeful baurschvieten. When the ex-love-of-his-life wasn't around, the memory and taste of blood, plus a bottle of hard liquor, kept honest and occupied. The presence of these various temptations transformed Monroe into a person we've never seen--tightly wound, stressed-out, vengeful, and even blood-thirsty. For the first time in the series, he was a loose cannon--to a degree.

The people from Monroe's past are also wolves. Throughout the centuries, they're bloody-rivals have been the pigs (or bauerschvieten). Once again, the writers of Grimm adapted a classic fairy tale in an interesting way. Instead of witnessing a back-and-forth between the wolves and pigs, we saw the tail end, after three deaths and another to follow. We learned from Officer Orson, an arson specialist that the wolves huffed-and-puffed for years and years, and now the baurschvietens are retaliating. I liked the 'less-is-more' approach because one doesn't need an elaborate history about the rivalry. What's important is that both sides despise one another and bad things happened. We witnessed the true nature of blutbad wolves--impulsive, quick to anger and to strike (literally). The back-and-forth murders put Monroe in a difficult position, one in which he needed to choose between his nature and his morality.

Nick experienced nearly the exact same situation in this episode as he did in "BeeWare." Grimm duties and police duty placed Nick squarely between a hard place and a rock. Early on, Hap's volatile sister, and Monroe's ex-lover as well, assaults Nick outside of Monroe's property. Nick wants to arrest her for assaulting a police officer but Hap and Monroe convince him not to arrest the woman. So, Nick doesn't. Later, he wants the blood war to end. Officer Orson was a brother to the two men murdered by Hap's sister. Orson tried to explain that his war with the wolves is way beyond the laws of human society; that Nick needs to eventually choose between his two duties, or find a way to reconcile them. Nick stood by, silent, no closer to finding balance between his two duties.

Conflicts of any kind always strengthen a story. Internal conflicts are more interesting, to me, than external conflicts. If Nick and Monroe were removed from the classic Three Little Pigs/Big Bad wolves case, it would've been significantly weaker. Scenes in which Monroe tearfully looks at pictures of deceased friends and a woman's he lost work. Scenes in which Nick's confronted with his two selves work. As Nick looked at the face of wolf, Hank wondered if Nick saw what he just did. Nick reacted in surprise, forgetting for a moment that Hank can't see what he sees. Hank just noticed blood on the woman's clothes. I wrote about the growing difficulty Nick has keeping his Grimm duties separate from his police duties, and well, it just gets more difficult. I anxiously await the episode in which Nick learns about the devious ways of his Captain because, then, the two worlds collide and the series will feel more cohesive and whole. As much as I enjoyed the focus on Monroe, the cohesion wasn't there because Hank was off investigating insurance policies and whatnot.

Overall, though, it was a terrific hour of Grimm--definitely the best episode of the young season. It was great to see Brad William Henke and Daniel Roebuck on the small screen again. Henke portrayed Bram in LOST. Roebuck, of course, was Dr. Arzt. Next week's episode is intriguing. At the very least, we'll get the most badass adaptation of Rapunzel.

Noren Shankar and Sarah Goldfinger wrote the script. Clark Mathis directed it. Yes, the very same Clark Mathis who directed 2007's beloved Meet Dave (only damn good thing about that movie was Elizabeth Banks).


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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.