Friday, October 26, 2012

Grimm "La Llorona" Review

The legend of La Llorona is an old folk tale about a woman who drowns her children to be with the man she loves. The man does not love her back, which devastates her, so she throws herself into the river. When she reaches the gates of heaven, she's turned away for her sins and spends eternity wandering the earth, weeping for the children she drowned and cannot find. La Llorona's slightly different in Grimm. She's a ghost Wesen who drowned her and her husband's children after he cheated on her with another woman, and now her ghost wanders the earth in search of three new children to give in exchange for the lives of her own children killed in an act of crazed jealousy.

Ghost stories have a poor history on television. Movies and literature are the better mediums for ghost stories. Halloween episodes are a mixed bag on network TV, too; these episodes tend to feel different from other episodes, as if the writers need to break a story separate from the ongoing story they're telling to meet the demands of the season. Various channels celebrate Halloween throughout October, running old movies day in and day out. There's a pressure on networks and the individual shows to join the Halloween trend, dress their characters up, have some fun, try to scare the audience, or delight them with scenes of the holiday.

Grimm's "La Llorona" tells the story of La Llorona. It begins on a sunny afternoon by a river in Portland. A father and son are on the docks when a woman in a white dress walks into the river, weeping, and goes under the water. The father rushes to rescue the weeping woman only to emerge from the water a third time to witness the weeping woman walking away with his son. Nick and Hank take the case. A former detective in New Mexico rushes to Portland to assist in the case, obsessed with La Llorona since the day her nephew was taken by the ghost woman. Juliette assists as a translator and meets a Hispanic woman in possession of the spiritual kind of sight--she sees ghosts and senses things others don't, e.g. Juliette's cat-scratch and her interest in both Nick and Capt. Renard.

The version of the La Llorona story Grimm tells is just okay. It mixed ghost story with typical Grimm procedural, which slowed down the pace. Nick and Hank follow the clues. The conveniently obsessive detective from New Mexico seemed like a creation that happened around 10-11pm in the Grimm offices. The detective has texture and a story, but a rather convenient and rote story for this kind of episode, right down to the consequences of her obsession that threatens to disrupt the case. She's plopped down into the story as a nod to the source of the story in Mexico and the US Southwest. Whenever Nick and Hank need to know an important detail, the former detective knows for she spent five years collecting evidence about the weeping woman. The introduction of the stereotypical mystic Hispanic woman was icing on a half-assed made cake.

Nick and Hank need to save the kids before La Llorona drowns them. The former detective helps them until the FBI arrests her for interfering with a case. Nick and Hank research in the trailer and discover La Llorana is a ghost Wesen. A former Grimm went to face her and never came back, writing he would either come back alive or wouldn't at all. The journal entry is supposed to add an extra perilous edge to the story. Writers need to keep their main characters in danger, but Nick's inevitable confrontation with La Llorona lacked the life-and-death stakes the journal entry was designed to inject into the last act. Nick and Hank save the kids. Nick fights the ghost in the water. She disappears. The former detective's key role in solving the case frees her from the clutches of the FBI; we will never see this character again.

The Hispanic woman whom Rafael's dad loathes tells Juliette a bunch of nonsense the audience figured out when she saw Renard after kissing Nick. No other character could directly talk to Juliette because Juliette barely interacts with anyone significantly, except for the rare scenes with Nick in the beginning or end of episodes. The woman should've imparted advice about why and how the amnesia is specific to Nick instead of stating that she'll need to choose between the men she loves like she's a secondary best friend character on a CW show. I identified with the emotions of Rafael's father when he yelled at the plot device, threw something against the wall, and went into a room to cry. Trusting the audience is a virtue now. Not enough writers or networks most likely, trust the audience. Case-in-point: Juliette watches Renard dress down Hank and Nick, a flash of the woman's warning shows to emphasize Juliette's indecision about the two men. Leave the beat for Betsie Tulloch's face to express. Trust the audience.

Grimm gave La Llorona a decent go, but its procedural formula sucked the fun out. Thankfully, Monroe gave out candy in the B story. He waged war with three local toughs after he witnessed the toughs try to steal a little girl's candy. The local toughs broke his window. For fun and scares and payback, Monroe volga'd in front. (Earlier, Monroe told Nick about the Wesen Halloween celebration of the past.) The village would meet in the forest and Volga out at midnight. It was cool piece of Grimm mythology. I loved the fun Halloween side of the story.

Grimm's still in a 'slump' per se. November sweeps looms along with another Grimm who's not too happy about Nick's benevolence in Portland. Renard's tracking Adalind. Grimm's comfortable moving at a glacial pace, which is fine when the episodes tell good stories; that hasn't been the case the last few weeks. I think November will be a great month for the show.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not all last episodes have been that bad. The only two episodes that really disappointed me were The Good Shepherd and The Bottle Imp.

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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.