Apparently, Once Upon a Time was taking a longer vaycay than I realized. But it will definitely be back with an all-new episode this coming Sunday. Says so right on the website. So... there.
But don’t fret, pets! This week’s Grimm special is chock full of badassery, unrequited love, requited love that goes horribly awry, and Sargent Wu in his underwear, thus one-upping any shirtlessness engaged in by Renard, Nick, OR Hank.
Grimm, Ep. 17: “Love Sick”
Nick is horrified to discover that the new lady-love Hank wants to introduce to him and Juliette is none other than the hexenbiest, Adalind Schade, and he is determined to stop her from harming his friend. Meanwhile, Captain Renard is feeling pressure from his family about getting the mysterious Grimm key from Nick. Not satisfied with the work that Adalind is doing, Renard employs the help of her mother, Catherine (True Blood’s Jessica Tuck), to ensure Adalind’s success. Catherine is indebted to Renard, it seems, and making sure Adalind succeeds would free her from it. Sargent Wu (Reggie Lee) continues to suffer from his compulsion to eat objects, Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Rosalee (guest star, Bree Turner) help tie all the threads together, and it all ends in blood, comeuppance, and extreme douchebaggery.
Script: Catherine Butterfield has given us an episode of Grimm that is full of both driving action and small, emotional character moments. “Love Sick” throws us right in the middle of things, as Nick frantically rummages through his trailer to find what his Grimm key fits, and Renard is led at gunpoint to face concerns from his family. The entire episode was wonderfully paced, quick while also giving us a lot of new information in an economical way through dialogue and some interesting visuals (leeches as part of the hexenbiest beauty regimen?)
Nick was really well-written in this episode, and was given plenty of opportunity to shine, both as a detective and as a Grimm. We see what a good detective Nick actually is, his progress on the investigation of the double-shooting coming a little too close for comfort for Renard. There’s also the wonderful scene where he talks to Adalind on the phone, speaking in code so that Hank doesn’t know what they’re talking about, but firmly asserting himself as a Grimm.
Interpersonal relationships were beautifully explored throughout the episode. The budding relationship between Monroe and Rosalee is touching in its awkwardness as they clearly have feelings for each other, but are too shy to act on them. Renard is apparently hexenbiest catnip as we learn that not only is Adalind in love with him, but he’s had implied “fun” with her mother. (awkward....) The relationship between Adalind and Renard as well as Adalind and Catherine is complex and heartbreaking. Adalind being left powerless showed how horrible Renard can actually be (He was only interested in her for her power. Now, he’s dropping her like a bad habit! That bastard!), and the fact that her own mother is willing to leave her out in the cold just as easily. Adalind being left alive but powerless was a brilliant decision, as she is now free to come back with bitter, human vengeance, which can be just as troublesome as any harm that magic can inflict.
My only qualm about the script concerned Nick and Juliette. She turned down his marriage proposal in the last episode. While I’m glad that they didn’t suffer a cliched break-up, it also seemed a unrealistic for it not to be addressed at all. Nick’s pride must have been severely hurt, and Juliette is staying with someone she knows is keeping something from her. For them to be going to dinner quite that cheerfully seemed a bit off. He mentioned “something going on between me and Juliette,” but only as a cover-up for his concerns about Adalind. We should’ve seen what was “going on between [Nick] and Juliette” for real.
Best line? Nick saying, “It’s time we settled our differences...violently.” An Angel-esque line if ever I heard one! Brilliant.
Performances: David Giuntoli just keeps getting better. His Nick successfully balances the humor, uncertainty, intelligence, and ferocity the role needs. He also never lets Nick stray too far from the thing that makes him special as a Grimm — his heart. When he bites Adalind, we see that he is conflicted about what he’s done to her, even though he’s “won.” Giuntoli never loses sight of Nick’s conscience, even as the character is being “badass,” and this often elevates what is on the page.
Renard is a tricky role, because it could so easily be overplayed, veering into mustache-twirling territory (unfortunately the way Jessica Tuck played Catherine), or it can be underplayed to the point of blandness. Sasha Roiz is great at walking that fine line between Renard’s own interests and the interests he fakes in order to manipulate others. When Renard speaks to Nick about the case, he seems genuinely concerned, allowing the writing of the episode, rather than cracks in the performance, to be what gives away Renard’s true concerns in scenes like that. Also, I don’t know if it was directed this way, an actor choice, or written this way, but when Renard disarms Woolsey and shoots his cousin, it’s badass, yes, but it’s also balletic and graceful. It’s the precise fighting style of someone who prefers fencing to throwing punches. As violent as the character is capable of being, we also glean from this moment that he will not get dirty if he doesn’t have to, giving us further insight into the character. As Nick mentioned with regard to the cell phone, Renard is “too clean.”
Claire Coffee was amazing in this episode, particularly in the scenes with Catherine and Renard. She, like Roiz, does a wonderful job of balancing the character’s interests with the interests she fakes for others. However, in this episode her performance goes one step further as we see Adalind as truly vulnerable for the first time. I’ve always been a huge fan of the character, but this was just tragic. Powerless Adalind broke my heart so much that I actually HATED RENARD WITH THE BURNING OF A THOUSAND SUNS. And it takes a lot for me to not like Renard. But he messed with my girl. Eff that. I hope that Adalind starts helping Nick out to take Renard down. He’d deserve it. Bastard.
Reggie Lee brought some wonderful moments of humor to this episode. I love that, while Sgt. Wu is still snarky as all get-out, we also see him being funny in an inclusive, “buddy” kind of way. He genuinely wants to make his co-workers laugh, and he’s absolutely charming. Meanwhile, Russell Hornsby, while a good actor, had some trouble with the humor he was given in this episode. His conversations with Nick about Adalind should’ve had some humor to them, but his timing was off and the funny didn’t stick, making those moments more awkward and serious than I think they were intended to be.
Lastly, I’m thrilled that Bree Turner, who plays the fabulous Rosalee, has been promoted as a series regular! A well-deserved promotion, too, as her performance is beautifully subtle and smart, and a perfect match for Silas Weir Mitchell’s Monroe. From the very beginning, Turner had me curious about the inner-workings of this tough but sweet fuchsbau, and I’m so very glad we’ll be seeing more of her.
Production: I’ve always loved the hexenbiest morphing effect, because unlike other wesen who usually look like familiar animals, the hexenbiests look ghoulish and frightening. In “Love Sick” we got to see how individual the morphing can be, seeing it on both Adalind and her mother, and the effect of Adalind’s powers leaving her body like a ghost is a natural progression from the original effect.
Also, I just have to say — I don’t know if Portland is really just this nice, but everyone seems to have an amazing house or apartment on this show. If Portland really does have such attractive real estate, I wanna live there!
Representation: I’ve been thinking about Hank and Wu a lot lately. I’m thrilled that they’ve been given such a focus, and that we get to see both Russell Hornsby and Reggie Lee do some great work. However, now that their big stories are essentially “resolved,” I’m concerned that their only purpose on the show was to function as a vehicle for Nick without getting resolutions for their own characters. Hank clearly has issues connecting with women and Wu clearly has issues connecting with, well, anyone. I hope that these characters get some sort of resolution for themselves and not just in the context of the Grimm story by the end of the season.
However, there was a really interesting female relationship between Adalind and her mother. It was wonderful to see them bonding over power and things “getting ugly.” Catherine helping Adalind with her beauty regimen was oddly charming. While I was a bit conflicted about the entire reason for Adalind’s actions coming down to her loving Renard, having him so callously spurn her coupled with her already-precarious relationship with her mother gives her some great places to go. I’m hopeful for the future of this character.
I love what they’re doing with Rosalee. There was a beautiful moment where Monroe called hexenbiests hot, then after looking at Rosalee kind of put his foot in his mouth by saying, “If you like that obviously hot thing, which I don’t.” He clearly wants Rosalee and is saying everything all wrong. I love that in Rosalee, the beautiful, smart, low-key, not-obviously-hot woman is getting quality attention.
Audience Engagement: While “Love Sick” focused entirely on the show’s mythology and tying up threads from the over-arching storyline, the script was so well-structured and pertinent information was so well woven into the dialogue that it was a surprisingly strong standalone. “Love Sick” raised the bar yet again, proving that Grimm greatly deserves its second season in order to explore these wonderful characters in greater depth.
Also, shout out to @tishalulle1 on Twitter from the #grimmlive Grimm live-tweet for coining something awesome by saying that Nick gave Adalind a “GTD - a Grimm-Transmitted Disease.” That tickled me.
That’s it from me this week, folks! Join me next week when there actually will be a Battle of the Network Fairy Tale Shows as Grimm returns tomorrow at 9PM ET on NBC, and Once Upon a Time returns with, appropriately enough, “The Return,” on Sunday at 8PM ET on ABC.
Teresa Jusino struggled really hard to not make any “carpet-munching” jokes about Sgt. Wu in this review, and is hoping this doesn’t count. 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.