Once Upon a Time Vs. Grimm, Part 15: Hunting Season

Be vewy, vewy quiet. I’m hunting power-crazed dads and wesen rebels. Huhuhuhuhuhuhuhuhuhuh….

Last week, in the Battle of the Network Fairy Tale Shows, it was all about the hunter and the hunted. On Once Upon a Time, Rumpelstiltskin is hunted down by an important figure from his past, and we learn exactly who August Booth is!

Well, not really.

On Grimm, we’re thrust into a WWII-style political climate as a wesen rebel from Europe makes his way to Portland with a wesen hit-man on his tail, and Nick has to choose between acting like a cop and acting like a Grimm.


Once Upon a Time, Ep 19: “The Return”

With Kathryn (Anastasia Griffith) back in town, Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) is officially off the hook, and gets to return home. However, the homecoming has left her a bit jaded, as she’s not sure who her real friends are anymore after her ordeal, and she cuts off David (Josh Dallas), because his not believing her was the worst of all. Meanwhile, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) continues to investigate where a heart with Kathryn’s DNA came from, and it leads her — improbably — to Sydney (Giancarlo Esposito), who is clearly in love with Regina (Lana Parilla) and would do anything she asked, like make a BS confession. Meanwhile, Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) confronts August (Eion Bailey), whom he at first believes is his son trying to find him, then realizing he isn’t. August is, however, from the fairy tale world, and is apparently dying.

But who is he??

And in the fairy tale world, we learn what happened to Rumpelstiltskin’s son, Baelfire (Dylan Schmid), and about the only deal that Rumpelstiltskin ever broke.

Script (1.75): Rumpelstiltskin episodes are great, aren’t they? Jane Espenson has written a suspenseful, exciting Rumpel story, and we get to see him at his most ruthless just before he loses the most important thing in his life. Yes, more important than even Belle. The episode starts right in the thick of things with August having a violent physical response to something mysterious. From then on, the episode never loses its pace — thank God there was only one Mary Margaret/David, so the episode wasn’t bogged down by their whining.

I don’t know what it is. I mean, I LOVE Snow and James individually and together. I love Mary Margaret individually. But whenever Mary Margaret and David are together, I want to shake them both like rag dolls. So, really, it’s just David then. He’s just lucky he’s hot, is all I’m sayin’.

Anyway, script. The scene between August and Henry was wonderful. They make great conspirators, though I thought it interesting that even Henry has his limits when it comes to Operation Cobra, and he’s not afraid to speak up when he’s concerned. Mr. Gold going to see Archie was a great choice, and I look forward to seeing them get to know each other better. If ever there were a chance for an unexpected friendship, it’d be between those two. Watching Regina and Mr. Gold together was a treat as always, and it was fun to watch Regina squirm. Mr. Gold confronting August was heartwrenching. And Emma’s final declaration that she is going to take back her son? Completely badass.

So, why the wonky score? As good as the episode was, it promised a resolution that didn’t come. Obviously, resolutions don’t always happen when we want them to, but in the case of August Booth, the mystery had been coming to a boiling point, and should have bubbled over in this episode. We should’ve learned who he was. Yet, the entire episode was a red herring, and that felt cheap. Like a plot twist for the sake of a plot twist, a la M. Night Shamaylan in every movie after The Sixth Sense. So, August isn’t Rumpelstiltskin’s son — my guess, based on the preview for the next episode is that he might be Pinocchio (maybe the curse didn’t affect him because it’d require him to tell a lie?) — and after this whole episode promised we’d know who he was, it disappointed, and for seemingly no good reason. Not enough that it deserved a 1.5, but enough that I couldn’t give it a full 2.

Performances (2): The cast was solid all around, but the episode belonged to Robert Carlyle. His Rumpel is always fascinating, never more so than when we’re allowed to see him vulnerable. What’s the most interesting about his performance is that we never get the sense that “he’s not as bad as he seems.” He is as bad as he seems – as power-hungry and as bloodthirsty – but he also loves his son, and is capable of having feelings for Belle (though it’s debatable whether that’s love). Carlyle gives us a believable and astonishing portrayal of a man who is capable of just about anything, for better or worse.

Other standouts were Eion Bailey as August, who was given a much more emotional arc this week that allowed him to shine, and Dylan Schmid, who gave an intelligent and heartfelt performance as Baelfire.

Production (2): As always, the costumes were impeccable, particularly in the fairy tale world. Rumpelstiltskin’s make-up looks amazing and evokes stone, which makes sense considering that his heart has hardened as he’s gained power. And I become more and more fascinated by the design and set decoration of Mr. Gold’s shop every episode. It’s more than just the geeky Easter eggs planted throughout the shop – though there’s plenty of those – it feels like the kind of place where anything is possible amid the clutter.

Representation (2): Regina had two wonderful scenes where we got to see her remain (mostly) unflappable despite her plans beginning to blow up in her face. Sidney is becoming more and more complex with every episode he’s in, as he is put in the stereotypically feminine role of someone who will do whatever it takes to please the one they love.

I was also relieved to see Rumpel as an example of a bad male parent, and Emma step up wanting to be a good mother. So often in fairy tales, fathers are loving and protective (ie; Hansel and Gretel) while mothers and step-mothers are evil. It was nice to see that turned around here.

Audience Engagement (1.5): This episode is best watched along with the other Rumpelstiltskin episode, as I think you need that one to put this one into context. Fans will love the episode, a newer/casual audience might not be as emotionally invested in the outcome.

TOTAL SCORE FOR Once Upon a Time: 9.25 (out of 10)


Grimm, Ep. 18: “Cat and Mouse”

Nick (David Giuntoli) and Hank (Russell Hornsby) investigate a mysterious shooting without a body. It turns out that the the shooting victim, Ian Harmon (Neil Hopkins), is a fuchsbau who is a member of the Wesen Resistance and being pursued by the Verrat, a Gestapo-like wesen secret society that has infiltrated governments and positions of power all over the world. One of their top assassins, Edgar Waltz (Sebastian Roché), managed to shoot Ian in the shoulder, but Ian escapes, and ends up finding refuge at the spice shop with Rosalee (Bree Turner) and Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell). As Nick is investigating the shooting, Monroe summons him to the shop. At first, when Nick arrives, he believes that Ian is the shooter and prepares to take him down, but Rosalee and Monroe explain the Wesen Resistance and the Verrat and why Ian needs his help. The game of cat and mouse is on, as Waltz continues his relentless pursuit of Ian, and Nick struggles with his conflicting duties as detective and Grimm. In the end, Nick successfully captures Waltz, but before he can arrest him, Ian shoots him. Despite his initial disapproval of Ian’s actions, Nick decides to help him escape, choosing his Grimm duties over his police duties in this instance.

Script (2): Jose Molina has given us a refreshing and exciting episode in “Cat and Mouse.” This episode has given Grimm a global scope after hints in previous episodes, and it effectively introduces an entirely new aspect to the Grimm mythology by unironically tying the Wesen World to real historical events. The seamless blending of “Old World” and modern world has always been one of the strengths of the show, and “Cat and Mouse” is a prime example of how well it can work. Even as Nick resides in a thoroughly modern world, I couldn’t help but imagine the entire cast in period 1940s costume.

The episode is refreshing in that the storytelling was different from any other episode of Grimm. While there is technically a crime that is investigated, the story of the episode isn’t as much about solving a crime as it is about the furthering of a political movement. Monroe and Rosalee don’t simply act in their usual capacity as humanoid wesen encyclopedias, but also as Nick’s conscience as he navigates his way through their shared Old World history. Nick is written extremely well in “Cat and Mouse,” realistically following his detective nose only to struggle with the truth he discovers. Also, having Nick agree to a truce with Waltz without knowing what the German word means was both inspired and hilarious.

The episode also beautifully explores the conflict between Nick’s detective and Grimm duties, which the show hasn’t really done in-depth since “Bee-Ware,” when he allows Adalind to live. Then, he chose his police duty. Now, he chose his duty as a Grimm. Or, perhaps it was his innate sense of fairness, which seems to govern everything he does in either of his roles. “Cat and Mouse” was a fascinating story.

Performances (2): Grimm has the Midas Touch when it comes to amazing guest stars, and that run of awesome continues with Sebastian Roché as Waltz. Roché is terrifying both when he’s menacing and when he feigns being mild-mannered. He imbued complexity and depth into a role that someone else may have delivered as a one-note villain. Roché was an absolute pleasure to watch.

Bree Turner also stepped up her game in this episode as she showed us both a softer and a more politically motivated Rosalee. She always manages to be vulnerable without losing her backbone of steel, and I love that about her portrayal of this character. Silas Weir Mitchell continues to charm as Monroe, and David Giuntoli continues to impress as Nick. What I noticed in this episode is that, despite being the titular hero of the show, he never “acts heroic.” He acts like a regular human being who works hard not to compromise his values. That is heroic in real life, and Giuntoli showcases that kind of heroism without descending into cliche.

Production (2): My favorite production moment of the episode had to be the moment when Ian, lying in bed in pain, morphs into full fuchsbau mode as Rosalee does the same. First, seeing the morph happen not just on the face, but on the body gave us our first real glimpse of what a wesen looks like in full, and it was a great-looking effect. Secondly, this beautiful moment (complete with adorable animal purring noises!) was a wonderful example of how visuals can tell a story that might not be in the script. While no words are spoken to this effect, we notice in that scene that Rosalee is truly herself with a man who is like her, unlike Monroe the blutbad who stands by knowing that there are some things he will never have in common with her. It will be interesting to see how interspecies wesen romance will work (the only other example we have to go on is the abusive klaustreich/seltenvogel relationship), and it was lovely how one morph could tell so much story.

Representation (1.0): Well, basically Hank, Wu, and Juliette were barely in the episode to make room for Old White Dudes and White Dudes From Europe. It was a great story, don’t get me wrong. But seriously, was there nothing substantial for any of them to do? Rosalee was holding it down on the female front, and she had some great moments — particularly as she bravely stared down Waltz when she was being held at gunpoint. But still, she was the only one. And of course she had to have been romantically involved with Ian. They couldn’t have just been partners in the resistance, because as we all know women can’t be involved in things like politics or protest without getting involved with the cute boy. There’s nothing wrong with this on the surface — people fall in love, and love is not weakness — at the same time, it would’ve been a nice change of pace if perhaps Ian had always wanted Rosalee, but Rosalee rejected him in order to devote all her focus to the Resistance. This could then be related to her situation with Monroe — if the fight is coming to Portland, she’s going to be preoccupied again, making things difficult for them as a potentially burgeoning couple. Just trying to illuminate another option, because sometimes women can work side by side with attractive men without developing girly romance feelings. Especially when their lives are at stake.

Audience Engagement (2): Since “Cat and Mouse” introduced an entirely new element to the Grimm mythology, fan and non-fan alike would be able to get into this episode as a standalone even as it ties into the overarching Grimm story. Also, Bitsie Tulloch continues to be a fabulous Grimm cheerleader on Twitter during #grimmlive live-tweets.

TOTAL SCORE FOR Grimm: 9 (out of 10)


Cumulative Scores So Far:

Once Upon a Time: 128.25

Grimm: 128.5

Whoa! The race is getting closer and closer, people! And I’m going to be getting even more picky with my scoring the closer we get to the end of the shows’ seasons. These stories are beginning to arrive at the end of their arcs. Let’s see if they can stick their landings!

In the meantime, feel free to discuss these episodes below. And, as always, watch Grimm on Friday at 9PM ET on NBC and Once Upon a Time at 8PM ET on ABC so that you can come back here and join in on the conversations!

Teresa Jusino is so happy that Emma’s decided to fight for Henry. Because who wouldn’t want to be Henry’s mom? 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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