This week in the Battle of the Network Fairy Tale Shows, characters on both series are exploring their deepest dreams and desires to totally different effect. On Once Upon a Time, we learn how Grumpy became Grumpy after his dream to be with his true love didn’t come true. On Grimm, we bear witness to Captain Renard’s deepest dreams, which apparently involve him preening before an adoring crowd in his silk jammies.
Once Upon a Time, Ep 14: “Dreamy”
Miner’s Day has arrived in Storybrooke, and Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) has taken on the responsibility of selling candles for the annual fundraiser for the Storybrooke convent. The problem? Everyone’s still mad at her for being a homewrecker (funny, no one’s mad at David. But, I digress...), and refuses to have anything to do with her. Luckily, Leroy (Lee Arenberg) happens to meet Astrid (Amy Acker, who seems to be guest starring on every fairy tale show lately), one of the nuns, and likes her enough to want to impress her by helping Mary Margaret sell all the candles so the nuns can make their rent. Meanwhile, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) begins looking into Kathryn’s whereabouts, and as it turns into a Missing Persons case, Regina (Lana Parilla) and Sidney (Giancarlo Esposito) throw suspicion onto David (Josh Dallas). Lastly, we learn the story of Grumpy; how he started out as a dwarf named Dreamy who saw a beautiful woman in a dream who turned out to be a fairy named Nova. Dwarfs are born from eggs and there are no female dwarfs (so, um, who laid those eggs?), so they’re supposedly not able to fall in love. Because of accidentally dropped fairy dust, Dreamy can.
Script (2): Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz have recovered nicely from the misstep that was the last episode with “Dreamy.” It’s a beautiful story in a tightly-woven script that illuminates an often overlooked, but wonderful character. Also interesting is the approach that the episode took to dreams. On a show about fairy tales, one would expect that dreams are all good and all possible. While several of the characters feel that way about it, the moral of the episode seems to be that some dreams need to be rewritten; that sometimes, if you love someone, and your dream is in conflict with something that’s good for them, you have to let your dream go, even if it makes you, well, Grumpy. However, it’s not as bleak as it sounds, because sometimes dreams come true in a way that you weren’t expecting, but in a way that’s good for you. Leroy knows he’ll never get to be romantically involved with Astrid, but they can be friends, he can take her out on his boat, and he was allowed to be there for her and have his Moment. All the important parts of his dream remain in tact, and he realizes that the part about them being a couple wasn’t really the important part. The important part was that he was able to be there for someone who’d shown faith in him. And that was a beautiful thing to watch.
As for the Kathryn disappearance, I’m glad it focused more on Emma’s investigation and less on Mary Margaret and David drama. I never thought I’d say this, but I don’t need to see them together again for a while. Snow and the Prince are another story. But Mary Margaret and David? Whiny McWhinersons.
Performances (2): This is one of the most solid casts on television when they have great material to work with, and this episode allowed everyone the chance to be their best. However, the clear standouts were Lee Arenberg and Amy Acker. Arenberg is amazing at conveying a gruff vulnerability. There are times when you want to punch him in the face, and there are times when you want to give him a huge hug. He seems to have been made for this part, as he is wonderful at navigating the unhappy terrain of the character’s life without ever losing our sympathy.
Guest star Amy Acker was wonderful on Grimm a couple of weeks ago, and she was wonderful here, albeit in a different way. She managed to play a clumsy, unfortunate character who wasn’t ditzy so much as inexperienced. She brought a charm and depth to the role that kept it from becoming mere comic relief or an empty focus of love for Leroy. Amy Acker is just good at every damn thing.
Lastly, I just want to reiterate how much I love Emilie de Ravin as Belle. Even though we only saw her for a minute, she was still a wonderful presence. Best Belle ever.
Production (2): Dwarf eggs. I love dwarf eggs. Even though they don’t make sense to me, and they’re a slightly annoying “Which came first, the dwarf or the egg?” riddle, I love how they look, and I love watching them hatch. The entire mine was very well designed, and if it was mostly computer-generated sets, it didn’t look that way to me. Also, the scene with the fairies in the clouds was great, both for the fairy costumes and the cloud effects. Meanwhile, the styling in the Storybrooke segments of the show was impeccable. Mary Margaret, Emma, and even Astrid in her nun attire looked fabulous.
Representation (2): Not only did we have both Parilla and Esposito in the episode, but we have Arenberg representing for the under 5’5” crowd. Even though this was primarily a story about Leroy, all the female characters were fleshed out and each had a smaller journey that led to a satisfying resolution. Mary Margaret was welcomed back into the fold, Astrid learned believing in someone pays off, and Emma was forced to confront a “truth” that she didn’t want to face. Truth is in quotes, because, of course, Regina is lying to her.
Audience Engagement (2): “Dreamy” was a damn near perfect episode that would appeal to anyone with a soul. In addition to it being a great episode, as well as the live-tweeting going on during both the East and West Coast broadcasts, the cast and crew of Once Upon a Time recently did an amazing panel at the Paley Center’s PaleyFest, where they gave some wonderful little insights into the season. Apparently, we will know who August is by the end of the season as well as the nature of how to defeat the curse. Eek! Can’t wait!
TOTAL SCORE FOR Once Upon a Time: 10 (out of 10)
Grimm, Ep 13: “Three Coins In a Fuchsbau”
Nick (David Giuntoli) and Hank (Russell Hornsby) are called in to investigate the murder of a local jewelry store owner, and end up tracing the origins of three mysterious coins that were found in the victim’s stomach. The coins seem to have an odd effect on whomever possesses them. Hank becomes hostile and full of energy. When Captain Renard (Sasha Roiz) pockets the coins rather than putting them into evidence, he not only starts visualizing himself perched over an adoring crowd, but later calling a press conference to make a passionate speech about his devotion to keeping Portland crime-free in a politically adept move. Meanwhile, Nick meets Farley Colt (Titus Welliver, aka The Black Smoke on Lost), a steinadler, a hawk creature who’s not only connected to Aunt Marie, but to Nick’s parents who were apparently murdered for their role in keeping the coins safe.
Oh, and Hitler was a blutbad.
Script (2): “Three Coins in a Fuchsbau,” written by series creators David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf, is Grimm at its best. One of the most interesting things about this story was that it employed Greek mythology rather than Grimm’s fairy tales, giving the show a more global feel than Germanic tales alone would allow. The episode also, more successfully than “Last Grimm Standing” before it, had the case of the week exist firmly within the wesen world, which seems to be when Grimm does best. The story was fast-paced and enthralling, because the drama was so firmly rooted in the characters we love. From finding out that Nick’s parents were murdered, to Hank acting all crazy, to Monroe geeking out again about being in Aunt Marie’s trailer, to Captain Renard having an Evita Moment on his balcony, we received insights into the things that make us care about the show.
And yes, we got more information with regard to the show’s mythology. I thought the Coins of Zakynthos were a great device that tied Nick to all of human history and every corrupt, dictatorial regime, making the scope of what he has to fight so much bigger than mere wesen in Portland. Farley Colt having had a relationship with Aunt Marie ties him to Nick in an interesting way, and the door is left open for his return, which is great as steinadlers are fascinating — mostly because of their “big sausages.” (go, Aunt Marie!) And OH CAPTAIN RENARD. We learned just how much he craves not just power, but the superficial trappings of power (crowds cheering, flashbulbs, fine attire, etc), and just how pitiful he can become when he doesn’t have them anymore.
“Three Coins in a Fuchsbau” was a well-written, solidly entertaining character-driven episode that managed to incorporate all of the regular cast as well as an intriguing new character.
But where the heck is Renard’s spouse? He wears a wedding ring, yet he’s sleeping alone in the center of a big bed. What’s up with that? CRAZY THEORY ALERT: The wedding ring is for show, to make himself seem all family-oriented for his eventual run for office. Or, something boring like his wife died, or lives in Europe or something. I just really want him to have a Lady MacBethish “Lady Renard” who’s as ambitious as he is, so that they can be a wesen royal power couple.
Performances (2): While the performances were top-notch all the way around, there were two clear standouts. Sasha Roiz, no one does silk-pajama-wearing badass quite the way you do. Seriously, though, what continues to impress me about his performance as Captain Renard is that we are always aware of the Captain’s underlying insecurity and vulnerability even as he’s throwing his royal weight around. Also, he’s a hell of a charismatic speaker in dress blues, and his desperate my preciousssss moment at the end of the episode made me feel sorry for the fame-seeking monarch.
Guest star Titus Welliver was an amazing addition to the world of Grimm, and I hope the show finds reasons to bring him back often. Despite playing a wesen, Welliver’s performance was firmly grounded in reality. Had any other actor been given his expository speeches, they might have been hugely boring. Welliver, however, is an amazing storyteller, and I found myself listening to him as intently as Nick did.
Production (2): I want to live in Captain Renard’s apartment. OK, that sounded really fangirly, but that’s not what I mean. This character apparently has amazing taste. The second we see Captain Renard walking the length of his apartment, I immediately stopped paying attention to the character for a second, because I was too busy marvelling over the decor. I was all, “Holy crap, that apartment is amazing! I want to go to there!” And those silk pajamas and that robe? OH MAN. And the dress blues uniform. Renard is ready for GQ, with or without coins.
Oh, and then there’s the matter of the DEAD BODY STAPLED BACK TOGETHER AFTER AN AUTOPSY. Ugh. I mean, it looked great, but....ugh. Thankfully, we got to take a brief jaunt to Paris, which looked appropriately continental, and I forgot all about the corpse.
Representation (1.5): Seargent Wu is back! And he knows how to use computers! But the show is still severely wasting him. When are we getting some Sargent Wu character development? inquiring #Grimmsters wanna know!
The women in the show fared pretty well. Doctor Harper was actually part of the story beyond the Beginning Of The Episode Investigation Scene, and the character behaved in a completely believable way the entire time. Meanwhile, Juliette volunteers to help Nick find out more about Colt, which was also pretty cool, as she’s finally starting to take an active role in helping Nick, rather than only helping him emotionally. However, next week, she’s a bona fide “damsel in distress.”
Audience Engagement (2): This week, Grimm not only provided the viewing audience with an engaging episode, but they engaged directly with a special teenage girl.
Natalie Hill is a 16-year-old Oregonian with a bone cancer called osteosarcoma. Though she’s had lots of chemotherapy and several operations, as she says on her public Facebook page, “I have been told that they my life is coming to an end, and that we are just trying to prolong life and make sure it has good quality. My family and I are looking into other options, other less known treatments that may possibly save my life.” She created a bucket list of things she wants to do. One of them was “be on a TV show.” As Grimm shoots in Portland, the choice of show was a no-brainer.
Natalie made her television debut in “Three Coins in a Fuchsbau” as you can see in the photo above! There are also some wonderful pictures of her and her best friend, Stephanie, on set at her Facebook page. It think it was so awesome that Grimm was able to give her this kind of experience!
This week, she had an additional surgery on her lungs, so she’ll be recuperating for a while. But when she’s able to, it would be great if she could get back to her bucket list! If you’d like to donate to Natalie’s bucket list fund so that she can have all the experiences she wants to have, visit her Facebook page, or her website.
TOTAL SCORE FOR Grimm: 9.5 (out of 10)
Cumulative Scores So Far:
Once Upon a Time: 100
And that’s it for this week’s Battle of the Network Fairy Tale Shows! Don’t forget to watch Grimm on Friday at 9PM ET on NBC and Once Upon a Time on Sunday at 8PM ET on ABC! Then come back here and join the conversation!
Teresa Jusino wants Captain Renard’s Portland apartment. 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.