Friday, February 10, 2012

Grimm "Tarantella" Review

The lovely Amy Acker guest-starred in tonight's episode about a wesen who needed to kill three young males in order to retain her youthful looks; It was a story about what people will do to thwart the horrifying aging process, or something along those lines. Grimm focused entirely on the creature-of-the-week, except for two brief scenes devoted to the serialized element of the show. Grimm's churned out forgettable stand-alones, average stand-alones, and excellent stand-alones. The latter's been few and far between. "Tarantella" isn't a forgettable hour of TV; it's more or less an average stand-alone episode.

Amy Acker's Lena began the episode as an enigma. Lena was an intoxicating beauty, walking around an art exhibit wearing a posh black hat, looking like the kind of girl who'd inspire a man to turn her into literature. A jerk in an expensive suit walked around the exhibit, surveying the scene (women, not the art), and pursued Lena. They exchanged in small talk. Lena left. The jerk followed. Lena seemed disinterested, but she followed him to his apartment nonetheless. The episode took a Mutant Enemy turn when the jerk attempted to rape her, followed by Lena turning the tables on him, transforming into her spider side, and sucking the life out of him from his chest. Lena left the apartment with tears in her eyes. One wondered whether or not this vicious side of her was dormant until the attempted rape. The teaser's effective because it made the audience feel for her. Lena was the victim. The man's gruesome death could've been interpreted as self-defense. Zak Whedon told a story at the Nerdist Writers Panel about the brilliance of the first 45 minutes of Psycho. Hitchcock followed the lovely Janet Leigh around, but she dies. The focus shifts to Norman Bates as the camera follows him for ten minutes post-murder, and when someone arrives at the hotel, the audience suddenly fears that Norman will be caught. There's a specific word for the technique, but the word escapes me. The teaser of "Tarantella" had a similar effect.

Lena quickly transforms from victim to predator though. Nick and Hank arrive on the murder scene. The partners are befuddled by the murder. The evidence doesn't make sense with what the victim physically looks like. Nick consults the books in his trailer; a new book is devoted entirely to this spider creature Nick suspects is behind the murder, because the coroner discovered spider venom in the corpse. The information's written on a scroll in Japanese though a rough translation's written on the corners of the scroll. For whatever reason, we don't learn about the creature's motivations until Monroe takes Nick to a monastic center for retired vessens, or blutbads.

A woman named Charlotte resides in the monastic home as a retired creature. Like Lena, she's a spidertaud (or whatever the hell that word is). Monroe greets her with a compliment, "You look well-ish," which is probably my favorite single line of the 2011-2012 TV season. Through her, we learn that spider jawns need to kill three young males every five years to prevent the mortification process. Creatures like Charlotte and Lena have the misfortune of rapid aging. Charlotte looks a great deal older than 26, but 26 she is, and she lives a solitary life in a home void of temptation to prevent a relapse, and that sweet dream of a youthful appearance.

Lena's unable to accept Charlotte's fate. She's a desperate soul. There's a twist at the mid-point of the episode when we learn of her marriage. Another twist happens near the end of the episode when we learn her husband's of the same species as her. Nick questions her husband about why she didn't kill him since the women always murder their mates. Her husband explained that they met in high school and became inseparable; that neither would have a life without the other. The domesticity of the household's admirable. Lena and her husband are actively intimate and supportive of one another. They attend their daughter's soccer games. Lena's need to stunt the aging process is a sacrifice the husband makes for their marriage, though it makes him somewhat responsible for the murders, because he doesn't act. So, I liked the complexity of the family's story. Lena never killed her third male. The last shot of the episode is of an elderly Lena, sad and alone in a cell. The penultimate scene between Nick, Hank and the daughter put a nice button on the story--they couldn't even properly explain what truly happened to her parents; it's complicated.

The character stuff was fantastic tonight. Monroe and Nick ate breakfast together in the park. Nick confronted the beavers about their behavior around his home. Two of their children egged Nick's house, and Nick responded by going outside with his gun, which scared the shit out of the children. I laughed aloud because that type of response was so Angel. The writers know what works from a character standpoint. Again, I'm willing to let the series take its time with its central arc if the character interactions will remain as good as they've been. The first season of ANGEL lacked a specific arc beyond the premise about a vampire with a soul who's on a path of atonement. Grimm's similar in that it lacks a specific central arc beyond its premise about a contemporary Grimm who's fated to combat the fairy tale creatures.

"Tarantella" told a rather good story about a woman who's desperate to thwart the aging process, a rather relevant story in contemporary society. The Monroe-Nick scenes were absolute gold. The Nick-Hank dynamic is great. Renard's been better since his motivations were cleared up last week. Nick's close to tell Juliette the truth, but he's still reluctant too. I suppose the biggest compliment I can give the show is: this feels like a David Greenwalt show now-the humor, the dialogue, the creative storytelling; it's great fun.

Other Thoughts:

-Allright, it's time to gush over Amy Acker. Amy Acker stole my 17 year old heart when I first saw her on ANGEL. I watched reruns on TNT every day after school while simultaneously watching the fifth season on The WB. I loved her portrayal of Winifred Burkle so much. I was so invested in the Wesley-Fred coupling that I teared up and sniffled during the series finale. "Fredless" is among the sweetest, most honest, and heartfelt episodes ever produced. Acker-as-Illyria showed a whole different side. Dollhouse features some of Acker's best work in her career. The scene between her and Topher in "Vows" is terrific. I look forward to her portrayal of Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. As for the episode, there's no way I could resist kissing her, even if I knew she'd suck the life out of me. Amy Acker is amazing.

-Nick's interactions with the pacifist blutbads could be terrific. I fondly remember the interactions between Angel and Merle in early ANGEL. Comic gold.

-I should write down the writing and directing credits henceforth. IMDB is unreliable.


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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.