Wed
Feb 8 2012 5:00pm

Once Upon a Time Vs. Grimm Ep 10: Wishes, Organs, and My Crackpot Theories

Once Upon a Time Vs. Grimm Ep 10: Wishes, Organs, and My Crackpot Theories

Aaaand we’re back to the Battle of the Network Fairy Tale Shows as both Once Upon a Time and Grimm aired new episodes this past week. As it happens, Grimm skipping a week has allowed me to get ahead of Once Upon a Time, meaning that as long as there are no more interruptions, I’ll be reviewing Sunday’s episode the next day instead of a week later.

Huzzah!

On Once Upon a Time, we got some back story on Sidney Glass, aka The Magic Mirror, learning how he got to be in the mirror in the first place. Meanwhile, Grimm gave us a gruesome take on Hansel and Gretel involving human organs and, even worse, 90’s college slacker fashion!

*gasp*

Once Upon a Time Vs. Grimm Ep 10: Wishes, Organs, and My Crackpot Theories

Once Upon a Time, Ep. 11: “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree”

When Emma (Jennifer Morrison) complains about Regina’s (Lana Parilla) latest effort to keep her and Henry apart by tearing down “The Castle” playing structure where they’d meet, Sidney (Giancarlo Esposito) asks her to help him expose Regina for “who she really is.” While they find some discrepancies in her records, and attempt to publicly embarrass her, she shuts Emma down by revealing that the money that’s missing from the budget has been used to create a new playground, making Emma look like a heel for accusing her of fraud. However, while Regina wasn’t guilty of fraud in that instance, she was guilty of fraud in a grander sense as the entire issue of the playground, and Sidney’s appeal to Emma for help, was all a scheme to shame Emma publicly and get her to trust Sidney so that he can keep a more effective eye on her. Meanwhile, in the fairy tale world, we hear the story of a genie who is freed by Snow White’s father, falls in love with Regina, and kills the King in an effort to “free” the woman he loves only to discover that she wanted him framed for the murder and punished. It was all a plan. Lastly, The Stranger, who still has this strong interest in what Henry’s up to, NOW HAS THE BOOK.

Script (2): Despite the Disney’s Aladdin “free the genie and the shackles magically drop off” vibe, Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss have given Sidney Glass perfect context in his fairy tale back story. Also, their script highlights something that I’ve been noticing for a while, but was really apparent in “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree.” We know that Regina has ulterior motives. However, nothing she says to Emma is ever really, technically wrong. Here, the writers have done a great job of giving Regina just enough to say, so that one can read into it whatever they like (and Parilla can play it however she’s directed), but that Regina never says anything with which one can disagree.

The theme of rushing headfirst into “doing what’s right” without all the information is an interesting one to explore. We see in the cases of both The Genie and Emma that rushing to protect the people we love without seeing all sides of the argument can do more harm than good. And we learn through Mary Margaret and David that sometimes doing what’s “wrong” is really the thing that needs doing. Morality is an interesting thing in Storybrooke.

Lastly, I have a new crackpot theory about The Stranger. In my review of “7:15 A.M.” yesterday, I posited that The Stranger might be a Grimm, or Hans Christian Andersen. In other words, a well-known writer of fairy tales. But after the scene between him and Henry in the diner, where The Stranger was so interested in the stories Henry was drawing, as well as the end where The Stranger ends up with The Book, I have another thought. The Stranger IS Henry all grown up. Little boy Henry got written in by older Henry, who escaped Storybrooke years ago, in order to go find his mother and tug on her heartstrings enough to draw her to Storybrooke to fix everything.

Hey, this is a show brought to us by the writers of Lost. It could happen.

Once Upon a Time Vs. Grimm Ep 10: Wishes, Organs, and My Crackpot Theories

Performances (2): I love Giancarlo Esposito. I love him on Breaking Bad, and I loved him in “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree.” He’s capable of such an amazing balance between hopeful vulnerability and bitterness, and it was wonderful to watch him trace the journey Sidney/Mirror has taken from one to the other. Once again, Lana Parilla does amazing work. Both Regina and the Evil Queen are so wonderfully layered that even as she’s doing something horrible, you see in her eyes and in her delivery this underlying pain that makes you almost sympathize with her, even as you’re loving to hate her. Lastly, I really love Eion Bailey as The Stranger. His dialogue never seems ethereal, or cryptic just for the sake of creating mystery. Despite us not knowing what they are, there are very definite motivations and emotions underlying everything he says, and his performance is grounded and concrete.

Once Upon a Time Vs. Grimm Ep 10: Wishes, Organs, and My Crackpot Theories

Production (1.5): While much of the episode was well-designed and beautiful as always, I have to dock points for some obvious CGI. Particularly in the scene when The King and The Genie are walking to the palace under a stone archway that looked layered on, as well as the fake-looking snakes. Also, I had a bit of trouble with the look of The Genie. While I understand the need to adhere to certain conventions to get a point across visually, Once Upon a Time has been so successful at creating characters and costumes that are new takes on old ideas that this standard Genie of The Lamp get-up seemed lazy. On the plus side, the view of The King picking up The Lamp from inside was really well done, and the Evil Queen’s white fur coat and hat were beautiful.

Representation (2): We finally have an episode focused on the one black, main character on the whole show. Yay! The fact that the episode heavily featured both Esposito and Parilla was a double bonus.

On the gender front, it’s great that we have female lead characters making mistakes. Emma is no longer a clear-cut do-gooder. She struggles with her own self-righteousness and the consequences of mistakes past. Meanwhile, we also have a male character in The Genie who values finding true love above all else. We saw in Prince James, and now in The Genie an example of a different template for what a male character can be.

Once Upon a Time Vs. Grimm Ep 10: Wishes, Organs, and My Crackpot Theories

Audience Engagement (2): An engaging, entertaining episode that spoke to issues larger than the show. Is it okay, as Shakespeare writes in Merchant of Venice, “To do a great right, do a little wrong?” Because the actions are so extreme in this episode, both fan and casual viewer alike are drawn in to the morality debate. Was Emma right to break into Regina’s office to find proof of wrongdoing? Is Mary Margaret right to continue seeing David? Was The Genie right to kill the king that was keeping his wife a prisoner? Yes. And no. And yes again. “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” is one of the most thought-provoking episodes of Once Upon a Time thus far.

TOTAL SCORE FOR Once Upon a Time: 9.5 (out of 10)

 

Once Upon a Time Vs. Grimm Ep 10: Wishes, Organs, and My Crackpot Theories

Grimm, Ep 10: “Organ Grinder”

A teenage boy’s body is found floating in the river with puncture wounds in his neck, and Nick (David Giuntoli) and Hank (Russell Hornsby) are brought in to investigate. They are led to a teenage brother and sister, Hanson (Daryl Sabara) and Gracie (Hannah Marks) — Hansel and Gretel. Get it? — who are living out on the street selling puka shell necklaces and whose only access to health care is a nearby free clinic.

Script (2): Grimm is great at creating cases that are both troubling and believable on their own in addition to being a symptom of creature goings-on. Akela Cooper and Spiro Skentzos have created an intriguing story of black-market organ harvesting that could play easily on CSI. The only difference being in the use of the organs, of course. Again, Nick’s abilities help the police get to the answers a little bit faster without becoming implausible. What’s more, this episode effectively brought all of the main characters into the story.

“Organ Grinder” made me wholeheartedly and unabashedly love Nick. From his wanting to tell Juliette about his double life sooner rather than later, to his acknowledging that sometimes it’s better to act as a Grimm than a cop, we see more evidence of his growth here than we have in the nine episodes before it. It was a great choice to have Monroe become concerned that his friendship with Nick was limited to interaction about creature-related cases, and I’m thrilled that we and Nick now all know that his favorite color is red. Hank had some interesting moments, too, as he remarked that Portland has gotten a lot weirder recently several times. I don’t think that Nick will tell Hank about his double life. I think that Hank will figure it out himself, as he already seems to be putting things together. There was great material for Captain Renard as well. Not only did he have to deal with an illegal operation that intruded on both his jurisdiction as a police captain and in whatever his royal capacity is, but we were able to look a bit deeper into his feelings about Nick. In the final scene in the episode, it seems that Renard is genuine in his defense of Nick.

So, here’s my crackpot theory about Renard. I think he wants not only to keep Nick alive, but to keep him being a Grimm the way he’s being a Grimm. I think that Renard wants to change things, and I think that he sees letting Nick find his own way as a Grimm as a way to change the status quo and build the kind of creature world he wants. Furthermore, I think he had Aunt Marie killed, because he didn’t want her being a “bad influence” on Nick. If Aunt Marie had continued to guide him, he would eventually be as ruthless in his dealings with the creature world as she was. Now that she’s out of the picture, he’s free to do things like attempt to catch a creature falling into a pit of fire, and I think that Renard is trying to build a world in which Grimms interact with creatures that way.

So, stop calling Renard a villain, m’kay?  Unless, of course, he actually is one. In which case...um...I’ll let a Reaper scythe me.

Once Upon a Time Vs. Grimm Ep 10: Wishes, Organs, and My Crackpot Theories

Performances (2):  The entire cast brought their “A” games to this story. Nick in full-on Grimm Mode? Ridiculously hot. He can back me up against walls in a threatening fashion any time he wants. Attractiveness aside, that hotness had to do with the assurance with which David Giuntoli embodies Nick. Giuntoli has really hit his stride with the character, and the specifics of Who Nick Is were so clear to me in this episode because of his carefully etched portrayal. Bitsie Tulloch got to shine, and I loved the humor and depth she brought to Juliette this week. Silas Weir Mitchell continues to exude humor and warmth in his portrayal of Monroe, and what makes his performance sparkle is that, underneath that humor and warmth, there’s a bit of sadness and solitude. As Renard, Sasha Roiz continues to expertly walk the fine line between defending his personal and professional interests, and we got to see the first cracks in Renard’s veneer in his final phone call.

And we had the benefit of a lovely guest star in Hannah Marks, whose Gracie was intelligent, sweet, and complicated.

Production (2): Some of the most difficult things to get right are the little details, but this episode not only provided us with realistic looking human organs in varying states, but well-designed locations to house them, from the interior of the trailer “greenhouse,” to the shop where the powders made from the organs are sold. Also, the geiers (the bird-looking creatures that harvest organs) had a pretty amazing transformation. Those enormous talons were sick.

Once Upon a Time Vs. Grimm Ep 10: Wishes, Organs, and My Crackpot Theories

Representation (2): Juliette keeps getting better and better. In “Organ Grinder,” she was funny, smart, insightful, a help to Nick’s case, and most importantly - Nick noticed. While she dismissed her insight at the diner as “just girl instinct,” Nick told her “You’re pretty good at this. You should’ve been a cop.” Also, Nick isn’t pulling a Peter Parker, and Juliette isn’t his Mary Jane. He knows she can handle it, and thinks she deserves to know. He has total faith in her, and he doesn’t think he knows better than her. It’s himself he’s not sure of, and that’s what’s keeping him from telling her. He’s not confident in his own assessment of the situation, which is probably correct.  Also, I’ve been noticing recently that, whenever the detectives have to call upon a specialist or a technician, that specialist - from Dr. Harper in the morgue, to lab technicians looking into blood samples - are female more often than not.

Sargent Wu, while not getting as much personal attention, continues to be a major presence on each and every case. Most importantly, there has never been even a hint of Asian stereotypes in the way he’s written. Hank gets a lot of personal attention in what’s written for him. Not only is he a complex character, but he’s also never written in a way that devolves into stereotypes.

As Grimm goes on, the writers seem to have gotten the message. When it comes to representation, you can’t be what you can’t see. The show isn’t perfect, but it’s doing a great job at allowing more people to consistently see themselves in it.

Once Upon a Time Vs. Grimm Ep 10: Wishes, Organs, and My Crackpot Theories

Audience Engagement (1.5): “Organ Grinder” dealt with a crime that people have heard of and with which many have a morbid fascination (there are even urban legends about it, as well as a video about a unicorn named Charlie who has his kidney stolen). That, plus the fact that it was an effective, self-contained story even as it delved further into the show’s mythology makes this episode easy for anyone to enjoy. Sadly, the #grimmlive live-tweet on Twitter didn’t include Bitsie Tulloch last week, because she was filming. Silly production schedule.

TOTAL SCORE FOR Grimm: 9.5 (out of 10)

 

Cumulative Scores So Far:
Once Upon a Time: 80.5
Grimm: 81

What was wonderful about both shows this week is that, after each one, I was inspired to have long discussions with friends about all sorts of topics of which the shows reminded me. Particularly as to whether either of my crackpot theories have any weight.

To get in on the conversation, you should be watching Once Upon a Time on Sundays at 8PM ET on ABC, and Grimm on Fridays at 9PM ET!

Follow the Battle of the Fairy Tale Network Shows on Tor.com here.


Teresa Jusino has never owned, purchased, or worn a puka shell necklace. She can be heard on the popular Doctor Who podcast, 2 Minute Time Lord, participating in a roundtable on Series 6.1, and at the end of last year she was selected as one of the Top 11 Geek Girls of 2011 at the Geek To Me blog at Chicago Redeye. 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! 2012 will see Teresa’s work in an upcoming non-fiction sci-fi anthology. Get Twitterpated with Teresa, “like” her on Facebook, or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.

19 comments
Cassandra Cookson
1. cass
I like the theory of the Stranger being an older Henry, but then we have the Stranger making sexy talk with Emma and now we are into Greek tragedy territory rather than fairy tales. Did Lost really go there?

Cassandra
John R. Ellis
2. John R. Ellis
Cassandra: Why, yes. Yes it did.
John R. Ellis
3. AlBrown
Grimm was great this week, creepy and scary. In my opinion, its Hansel and Gretel episode was better than Once Upon A Time's episode based on the same tale last week. I did notice that Reynard wanted to go out personally on this mission, and made sure to shoot to kill before anyone could talk to the guy in the trailer. He definitely has things to hide. Great interaction between the main characters, and the Hansel and Gretel teens worked very well in a story that got the spirit of the original tale just right, even though things didn't follow the original exactly. And boy was that clinic doctor an evil, evil woman!
I really enjoyed this episode of Once Upon A Time. It sucked me right in, to the point where I thought they might be showing a softer side to the Evil Queen, but then it turned out she was just manipulating the Genie, and ended up being more evil than I ever imagined. And then the twist at the end where Sydney and Regina are in cahoots to manipulate Emma--he is not one to put your trust in.
With Emma compromising her morals, and Mary Margaret in an extra-marital affair, and Rumplestiltskin becoming evil despite having the best intentions up front, I am starting to see a definite over arching theme developing on Once Upon A Time. How do people go toe to toe with evil without losing the very quality that separates them from that evil?
Cassandra Cookson
4. cass
@2
John, didn't know that. I never watched Lost past the first season. All righty then! The family hour on ABC is really the "family" hour.

I do wish Emma could have been a little smarter this time around. The whole "fraud" business reeked of setup.
Cassandra
Teresa Jusino
5. TeresaJusino
Cass @1 - well, actually, there wasn't any "real" sexy-talk. I mean, he did say "go for a drink with me," but then when she brought it up at the end of their conversation, he said "I said sometime." I don't think that was a serious offer of a drink. I think he was testing her with something to see how badly she wanted to know what was in the box. He actually didn't seem particularly interested in her.

AlBrown @3 - I totally agree! Wasn't thrilled with the OUaT Hansel and Gretel ep, as you may have read.

What I thought was interesting about the Evil Queen's double-cross, though, were the tears in her eyes when she told him that she'd planned that he would kill the king. There was clearly a conflict there. I think that she genuinely loved him, but not enough to put him ahead of her ambition/goals.

John R. Ellis @2 - Lost had lots of Greek Tragedy allusions, but there was never any son-mom monkey business. :) There WAS however brother/sister monkey business. Though, they weren't REALLY brother and sister....
John R. Ellis
6. John R. Ellis
Teresa: I know. And yes, I know. Though I fail to see how them not being blood relations changes things. It certainly messed both siblings up and poisoned their relationship. Arguably, it also directly lead to both their early deaths.
John R. Ellis
7. Sabrina Vourvoulias
Grimm is consistently more interesting to me than Once Upon a Time.
Sans the fairytales, I'll always pick the crime procedural over the soap opera - but also I just think the characters in Grimm are more complex and juicier. I absolutely adore Monroe, and enjoy the interplay between him and Nick.
While "Organ Grinder" was a fine episode, my favorite remains "Let Your Hair Down." I found it genuinely moving - something I was not expecting.
The way the fairytale motifs and elements are incorporated into the storylines in Grimm is very satisfying precisely because it is much more circuitous and unpredictable than in Once Upon a Time.
Now that I know you're writing about both on an ongoing basis, I'm going to have to come back and read more!
Teresa Jusino
8. TeresaJusino
John R. Ellis @6 - Oh, it doesn't make a difference at all. I was TOTALLY icked by Shannon/Boone. :) That was pretty much some Flowers in the Attic shit right there.

Sabrina @7 - Yup. I'm pretty much like one-stop shopping for all your fairy tale show needs. :) But yeah, you should come back here in general. I love this little geeky hole in the wall. :)

I, too, love the Nick/Monroe relationship, and I love that, as it goes on, Monroe is pushing for it to be an actual friendship. I think Nick wants that, too, but he's so preoccupied with his Grimm-ness that he can't even deal with it. He can't even deal with getting married - he still hasn't proposed, and I read in interviews with the creators that they WILL be dealing with that.
Lisa Keefe
9. fledge
I've been wondering who this stranger is too. I'm not entirely conviced it's a Grimm brother or Hans Christian Anderson. However, I don't think your grown up Henry theory is possible at all. No way is Emma old enough to have a son that age if only 28 years have gone by! Though I have always wondered why nobody notices Henry change and get older while nothing and no one else in town does. Oh well, guess I'll just have to wait and see!
Teresa Jusino
10. TeresaJusino
fledge @9 - And how old is Emma, exactly? She was born in a fairy tale world hundreds of years ago and was sent in a bassinette to the present day. :) And how old is Henry? He's been living in a town in Maine where time had stopped. How long had it been stopped before Emma got there to change things? I think things like age are up for discussion in this world. :)

There's no guarantee that the Emma that comes to Storybrooke is "present day Emma." If The Stranger is an Older Henry, he could be writing in a younger version of his mother coming to save the town, as well as a version of himself as a child. Remember, Emma IS a fairy tale character. She's Snow White's daughter. Her entire history is up for grabs. Just because she believes certain things to be true of her life, doesn't mean they are. She's been created the same way all the other characters have been. Things like timelines are relative in an existence like that!
Cassandra Cookson
11. cass
Teresa @5
As to Emma and the Stranger, I suppose I viewed the scene differently. He was trying to intrigue her, yes, but the body language and the drink offer suggested more. Plus he has a motorcycle and a leather jacket! With Graham no longer in the picture, I assumed he was being set up as Emma's love interest. Could be wrong though--have to wait and see what happens.
I had forgotten about the Shannon/Boone stuff in Lost.
Enjoying the recaps, Teresa, thanks!

Cassandra
John R. Ellis
12. Blend
I don't think you're right about Reynard... Last week's episode (or the one before that, I'm not sure) Monroe got beat up by Reapers, including that blonde one that works for Reynard since the beginning, presumably to warn him off working with the Grimm. If Reynard WANTS Nick to work alongside creatures instead of directly against them all the time, why would he warn off the best link Nick has with the creature world?

As for The Stranger, I really like your idea of him being an older Henry, but I don't really believe it. I suppose with all the time warping mumbo jumbo that is apparently possible in Storybrooke, it could be possible, but I don't see it. I do believe, however, that he's the 'narrator' or the 'writer' of The Book, and that he's going to be the key to getting Emma to believe Henry, finally... I don't know, I guess we'll see.
John R. Ellis
13. Lsana
I was definitely disappointed in Emma this week. I know she shouldn't be infailable, but why would she trust Glass enough to go along with breaking the law? If she wouldn't do it for Gold, it seems to me that she has even less reason to do it for Sidney.

Also kind of disappointed in David and Mary Margret. If they want to be together, David needs to tell Kathryn and leave her, not be sneaking around behind her back. That's definitely going to come back to bite them.
Teresa Jusino
14. TeresaJusino
Blend @12 - I didn't say that I think Renard wants Nick to work alongside creatures, but that he wants "this kind of Grimm" being in charge of keeping the balance. He wants a "Good Cop" not a "Bad Cop," so to speak. The Reapers who called him talked about "maintaining balance." I think that will be a recurring theme throughout the rest of this story, and I think there's disagreement as to what constitutes "balance." Also, the blonde who works for Renard is a Hexenbeist, not a Reaper, and she wasn't in this episode. Not all blondes look alike! ;)

And I'm not sure if either of my theories are right either! :) But they're what I thought of when watching these two episodes.

Lsana @13 - I dunno. I think Mr. Gold has consistently been more suspicious the entire time, whereas Sidney has always seemed like a good guy. He was doing a good job of selling working for Regina as a product of fear, whereas Mr. Gold is always working against Regina, not for the "Good of the Town," but for mysterious ends. I understand Emma trusting Glass over Gold. It just so happens that she was very wrong.

As to your point about David and Mary Margaret, you pretty much just summed up my feelings about cheating in general. :) It annoys me when people are reluctant to leave the people they're with because "they're good people" or "I don't want to hurt their feelings" acting like they're doing something for that person, when in reality, they're sparing themselves that person's heartbreak. And I wanna be all "Be a freaking GROWN-UP!" :)
Risha Jorgensen
15. RishaBree
@10 - did we at some point establish that the fairy tales took place hundreds of years ago? I have been under the impression that they were in some sort of parallel world, and were directly transported over 28 years ago or however old Emma is.
John R. Ellis
16. AlBrown
@15 I agree, I don't think fairytale land is in our past. Its relationship to our reality is probably a bit stranger and harder to explain than that. To use a technical term, it is probably a bit wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey.
John R. Ellis
17. Quedog5
This story is great..but it is taking too long to get to the point! For the life of me, I can't understand how they don't believe henry. NO ONE has left Story Brook..EVER. His biological mom can't see that. It's getting frustrating.
John R. Ellis
18. Quedog5
Same thing with Grimm. Who the hell is the Captain...and WHY is he placing his fiancee' and partner in continued danger without telling them the truth. It is getting old fast...
Chris Meadows
19. Robotech_Master
You know, while this was a great episode, I found it really distracting that Snow White's father is basically the spitting image of Burger King. :)

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