Grimm Special: “The Thing With Feathers”

Well, Once Upon a Time took Easter Sunday off, so there wasn’t a new episode last night, which means that we have a Grimm Special this week in the Battle of the Network Fairy Tale Shows.

This is just as well as this episode was so awesome (and horrifically disgusting) on so many levels, that it really does deserve its own space. In “The Thing With Feathers” there’s relationship drama between Nick and Juliette; a teasing, flirty vibe between Renard and Adalind; an adorable crush vibe between Monroe and Rosalee; an abusive relationship between a cat wesen and a bird wesen; and the stalkerish beginnings of a relationship between Hank and Adalind.

Meanwhile, Wu continues his love affair with eating objects that aren’t food.

Grimm, Ep. 16: “The Thing With Feathers”

Nick (David Giuntoli) excitedly takes Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) on a weekend getaway in the hopes of building up to finally proposing. However, their romantic weekend is sidetracked, because of a couple, Tim (Josh Randall) and Robin (Azura Skye) in an obviously abusive relationship staying across the way. With Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Rosalee’s (Bree Turner) help, Nick learns that Tim is a klaustreich, a vicious cat-like wesen, and that Robin is a seltenvogel, a rare bird-like wesen that produces a Unbezahlbar, a golden egg, once in its lifetime, and is usually kept prisoner, because of its value. Meanwhile, Captain Renard (Sasha Roiz) encourages Adalind (Claire Coffee) to kick things up a notch with Hank (Russell Hornsby), who has already left her countless voice mails and threatened someone he thought was her suitor. Adalind finally accepts a date from Hank. Nick rescues Robin, both from Tom and from the unwanted burden she carried, but he cannot rescue his romantic weekend, and Juliette turns down his marriage proposal. Back at the precinct, Sergeant Wu (Reggie Lee) eats paper clips.

Script: Holy Hatem, Batman! Richard Hatem has written what is officially my favorite episode of Grimm thus far. “The Thing With Feathers” gives us both an intriguing, suspenseful, and emotional case in the Robin/Tim storyline as well as some amazing character development for all of Grimm’s leads. While the story is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Nightingale,” it also seems to draw a bit of inspiration from “The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg,” to wonderful effect, creating one of the best instances of a case that could easily be something commonplace (in this case, domestic violence), but actually has wesen causes. Nick and Juliette’s relationship was handled beautifully here, and I was particularly impressed that, even with Juliette turning down Nick’s proposal, it didn’t go into the cliched break-up. On television, it always seems like if a guy asks a woman to marry him, and she says no, the relationship is over, and that’s always struck me as weird. The reality is that there’s any number of reasons that a woman might say no at a certain moment, and it doesn’t have to mean the death of the relationship. Juliette’s response to Nick’s proposal is both true to her character and a game-changer for Nick, who now has to choose between keeping his secret, or keeping Juliette.

The Hank/Adalind subplot was equally engaging, and I think it such an interesting use of Hank. Since the pilot, we’ve heard all about Hank’s many failed marriages. In this episode, he’s thrilled that Nick is finally proposing to Juliette…even as he’s embarking on yet another relationship that can only end badly. Poor Hank. Also, what is up with Renard and Adalind? How many bosses do you know that slip into your bathroom after you’ve gotten out of the shower to talk business, then dodge your kiss after nuzzling your hair and leave? What. The. Hell.

As Emily Dickinson wrote, “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.” What’s interesting is that “The Thing With Feathers” captures Nick and Hank at their most hopeless. Or maybe not. After all, Nick and Juliette are still together, and Hank still has a Grimm as his partner who can eventually save him from Adalind’s clutches. Perhaps there’s hope after all.

Performances: David Giuntoli was outstanding in this episode, perfectly balancing his “normal guy” self with the burgeoning, badass Grimm. The look on his face when Juliette turned him down was heartbreaking, conveying the immense pressure and sadness inherent in his new role. Bitsie Tulloch was also remarkable, and even as she does things outside of Juliette’s comfort zone, like assuredly using a gun, she doesn’t stray too far into “kick-ass heroine” territory. Tulloch is great at keeping Juliette completely grounded and realistic even in extraordinary circumstances. The main cast was strong all around, and Azura Skye brought a beautiful vulnerability and steely resolve to the role of Robin.

Production: UGH. OH MY GOD. THAT UNBEZAHLBAR DELIVERY SCENE! THAT WAS THE MOST HORRIFYING THING I’VE SEEN ON TELEVISION IN A LONG TIME. AND I WATCH FRINGE! It had me cringing and screaming the entire time. The prosthetics on Robin looked amazing and gross. Also, the locations, particularly the force-feeding station, had a great look to them. Grimm excels at keeping things modern, while also evoking an old-timey, storybook feel.

However, Robin’s bird transformation always looked horribly fake. The yellow feathers looked animated. Also, the corpse of the guy that was helping her escape looked fake, too. Still, for the most part, “The Thing With Feathers” was a beautifully designed episode.

Representation: Hank is central to a major subplot, and it was great to be able to see him pull rank on a white man as a black cop. Not just a cop, but a high-ranking one. And sure, it was Hank being crazy and under a spell, but it was an important visual that Grimm gave us in that moment. Even though we only got one scene with Wu, because of the nature of what’s going on with him, he pulled focus in that one scene, so any viewer knows that he’s important. I only hope that by the end of the season they aren’t simply being saved. I hope that they both, in some way, have a role in overcoming whatever’s coming to a head for Nick. It should be Nick mostly, but it shouldn’t be Nick all alone. He has an entire team at his disposal, not just Monroe, and they should all come together on his side by the time all of this is over. This includes Juliette, who clearly wants to and is capable of being included. She followed Nick into the woods, and he trusted her to hold a gun on someone! Why he hasn’t already told her about being a Grimm, I don’t know. He clearly knows it’s best, and she’s made it clear that she prefers honesty to secrecy and that she can handle herself. The show seems to be setting her up as another partner in the field for Nick, and I hope they follow through on that. I like them together, and I like Juliette involved. Nick needs to read the memo.

I’m having a bit of trouble with Adalind, though. Now, you all know that I love her. However, too much of her “power” is starting to come from her ability to attract men, and this kind of disturbs me. Especially when she talks about how she could have ripped that guy’s face off. I was thinking to myself, “Yes! More of that!” Up until now, I never felt anything romantic between Renard and Adalind. It always felt more like a mentor/mentee or captain/trusted second in command relationship, and I liked that about it. With this obvious sexual tension put into it, it kind of lessens their relationship for me. I want Ripping-Faces-Off Adalind back. The Adalind that Renard set loose from his car to attack someone early in the show. Now, the interesting thing is that Renard seems to like that she rips faces off. The way he said “Just be what you aren’t” when advising her implied that he really likes what she is, and it’s possibly a turn-on for him. That could be interesting, especially since he’s in a position of power (royalty, even, where one imagines there’s certain protocols and acceptable behavior) clearly wearing a wedding ring and Adalind is not. They’d just better not reduce Adalind to a mere sexpot.

Rosalee is proving to become an asset as well, and that’s a wonderful thing. I love that Monroe was a bit jealous of her when Nick asked her for advice first! Robin was a wonderful character, and even though she was the victim in all of this, she wasn’t entirely helpless. She, like the trapped heroines in Once Upon a Time’s “Hat Trick,” made every realistic attempt to escape. Also, the “golden egg” meant nothing to her, and she saw it as a burden, which was very interesting. There wasn’t anything implied about the importance of motherhood, and she didn’t get sentimental about it for any reason. In most ways, she was a victim the way a male character would be a victim, except that perhaps the situation wouldn’t have caught Juliette’s attention so quickly if it were a male seltenvogel instead, because it wouldn’t have so obviously looked like abuse.

Hmm. There’s a thought. What if the Robin character were a guy along the lines of Martin the mouse guy in “Of Mouse and Man?” After all, they didn’t specify that all seltenvogel are female, and while the unbezahlbar is egg-like, it’s not an egg and is produced in a gland in the throat. Would anything have gotten done about a male seltenvogel in the same situation? Would it have been seen as abusive or troubling? Would a klaustreich have been as interested, or would another type of wesen have gone after a male? I’d be curious to hear what you all think in the comments.

Audience Engagement: As I said up top, “The Thing With Feathers” is my favorite episode of Grimm so far. I would put this in front of anyone who hasn’t yet seen the show and tell them “This is the best of what Grimm can do.” And they would love it. Because it is awesome.

Well, that’s all for Grimm this week (and next week’s episode looks exciting)! Make sure you join us next week, as we’re in the final episodes for both shows! Grimm airs Fridays at 9PM ET on NBC, and Once Upon a Time airs Sunday nights at 8PM on ABC.


Teresa Jusino wouldn’t have a problem with Renard sneaking up on her after a shower either. Just sayin’. She was selected as one of the Top 11 Geek Girls of 2011 at the Geek To Me blog at Chicago Redeye, and her “feminist brown person” take on pop culture has been featured on websites like ChinaShopMag.com, PinkRaygun.com, Newsarama, and PopMatters.com. Her fiction has appeared in the sci-fi literary magazine, Crossed Genres; she is the editor of Beginning of Line, the Caprica fan fiction site; and her essay “Why Joss is More Important Than His ‘Verse” is included in Whedonistas: A Celebration of the Worlds of Joss Whedon By the Women Who Love Them, which is on sale now wherever books are sold! She is Geek Girl Traveler when she travels. 2012 will see Teresa’s work in two upcoming non-fiction anthologies, and her “Moffat’s Women” panel will be featured at Geek Girl Con in August!  Get Twitterpated with Teresa, “like” her on Facebook, or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.

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