Saturday, March 15, 2014

Grimm "Once We Were Gods" Review

Grimm’s still an oddly structured show. Significant characters come and go, and disappear for long stretches, and then reappear with an ominous air. The Wesen Council seems like Grimm’s Watcher’s Council, headed by shadowy and untrustworthy Wesen, who come and go as the plot dictates. “Once We Were Gods” brings in the Wesen council for a rather macro story about Wesen (like the story when the writers info-dumped the Fuschbau coins). I haven’t figured out why I feel detachment during certain scenes or pieces of crucial characterization that serves as a way to show rather than tell, which is always a favorite rule among creative writers in any medium. Alexander represents the Wesen council; he surprises Rosalee and Monroe in their home, which induces feelings of uncomfortability, paranoia, and dread in the cute couple. How did Alexander learn about their relationship with Nick? The question has not an answer. Rosalee and Monroe behave carefully and cautiously around him. Monroe’s phone call to Nick in which he relays Alexander’s request to speak with him shows a very uncomfortable Monroe, trying very hard to convey an urgency but unable to do so. Monroe once told Nick about the council and lied about it to the council, of course, but I think the storyline tapped into a larger problem for the show: its reliance on secrecy.

Secrecy is a staple of Grimm. The characters keep secrets for ages. Secret organizations spring up that remain secret or so out of the purview of the main characters that it’s inconsequential for Nick and whoever else to learn about the secret society. Characters keep secrets from each other. Hank didn’t learn about Wesen until season two, after he had almost killed himself or someone he loves. Juliette didn’t know for a longer stretch of episodes. The truth led to amnesia, amnesia led to another roundabout way of telling Juliette the secret. Renard worked against Nick for a season and a half, which included hooking up with Juliette via cat spell. Nick learned he and Renard were allies all along which ended that particular secret. Secrets are everywhere. Renard wanders off to Austria for an adventure that seems to barely matter for Nick, even though it does (but not yet). Wu sees the scariest Wesen to date (Monroe’s words), checks into a psychiatric care hospital, and needs Juliette to talk him down, when the truth would set him free. The Wu conversation doesn’t include concerns about another person’s exposition to the Wesen side of life, though that is a continued theme this season; no one wants Wu to suffer a mental break even though he had suffered a mental break. Grimm’s secrecy doesn’t instill tension and suspense into scenes. Stories drag because of secrets. There’s stagnancy in the overall storytelling. Perhaps Grimm’s best for a shorter episode order this season to avoid filler, unless the secrecy in Grimm is organic, natural storytelling.

I liked “Once We Were Gods.” The secrecy problem continues. The guest star of the week stumbles into seeing a Woge Wesen in the climatic final act. Grimm returns to the history of Wesen, and it’s always a fun journey to see how far Wesen trace back in history. Hitler was Wesen. Wesen were also Egyptian gods, which is a neat concept. The Anubis, the ancient Egyptian god of the dead, its protector, was half-human-half-dog, a wesen, and a local university receives a recently found sarcophagus with an Anubis inside. Two Wesen men try to take the sarcophagus from the university, but fail and one kills a security guard. Nick and Hank are brought in. The story unfolds interestingly from there.

Through Rosalee, the Wesen council, the criminal of the week, and also footage from the trailer captured by past grimms, we learn about the old Egyptian wesen gods. Those who died in Woge were tortured to death. The exposure of a god in a public museum is immoral and disrespectful to the wesen community. There’s yet another secret group that pops up in this episode--a group of which the would-be robbers are part--that protect the dead gods from humans. The Wesen council intervenes because the Anubis may not be displayed in a public museum and because Nick must kill the murderous wesen. Nick does not kill as ordered to, but he arrests the murderer and allows Alexander to take the sarcophagus from the laboratory. Before he arrests the criminal of the week, Nick listens to him say, “It must be done right.”

“Done right” means honoring the dead wesen by burning it on a pyre in a scene reminiscent of Monroe’s sad howls when his ex-girlfriend died. Hank watches the Anubis burn and says, “It’s touching.” Nick nods, silent, as Alexander, Monroe, and Rosalee, respectfully watch their old god burn away. I’ll echo Hank’s words: ‘twas a touching scene. Nick’s approach to the case showed his continued ambition to act differently from those who came before him. By respecting traditions he does not make himself an enemy of the council. Whenever a case feels personal for a character or group of characters, it makes for a richer episode. “Once We Were Gods” was very satisfying.

Other Thoughts:

-Elsewhere, Viktor and his men took the woods, after torturing Sebastien, in search of Meisner, Adalind, and the baby. The only part of the story that engaged my imagination was the phantom baby Meisner finds in the woods, drawing on that time Adalind was told of two heartbeats. Grimm may not follow up on the phantom baby/two heartbeats intrigue until season five. I jest.

-Alan DiFiore wrote the episode. Steven DePaul 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.