Apr 10 2012 1:30pm

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.

Matt Ries
2. mattries37315
I've been watching Grimm from the beginning and as the season has progressed it has only gotten better. For myself, this wasn't my favorite episode of the season (Plumped Serpent or the Amy Acker-Spider episode), but it's definitely top three. The casting, both regular and guest, on this show has been top tier and whomever is in charge should receive a nice bump in pay.

Right now my only concern with the show is Nick and Hank always getting cases in which wesen are somehow involved, either as victim or perpetrator or both. I know "suspension of belief" has to be applied somewhat, however wesen aren't half the population on the Earth from the information that Monroe gives Nick and Nick reads in the camper. So eventually Nick and Hank are going to get a strictly normal human case and Nick will have to deal with a entirely seperate wesen-related issue that same episode, to me that's when Nick will have to really confront being both a dedicated police officer and a Grimm when they don't intertwine. Based on how this show has been hitting on all cylinders, after a shaky first few episodes, it should be well handled but it's a hurdle the producers and writers will eventually need to jump.
Teresa Jusino
3. TeresaJusino
mattries37315 @2 - I don't know that I agree with you. I think a big point of the show is that wesen are everywhere, and always have been. The line between wesen and non-wesen has always been a thin one, and we're seeing just how thin it is as we're following Nick, the one person who knows them on sight. There are more wesen than we think - even Nick was surprised that, even in a remote, romantic location, there were wesen staying across from him - and I think expecting there to be a case that doesn't involve them in some way would be unrealistic in the world of this show. Nick and Hank probably worked on cases involving wesen all the time before Nick's ability kicked in. They just solved them using the human clues at their disposal. What I like about this show is that any of their cases can be solved this way. It's just that Nick's ability helps them get to things a little faster.

Also, there are episodes like "Dance Macabre," where the victim was human, the perpetrators were human, and the concerns of the boy who was a reingen had nothing to do with his being a wesen, but with his class. The kids framed him by using the rats from his father's house, because he was poor and they were rich and they could. Roddy was upset, because he liked a girl who was out of his league. All of that would've still been true whether he was a wesen or not. His rat-like nature actually had very little to do with the story.
4. priyakish
I loved your recap. Grimm is one of the best tv shows. I love the entire cast. Everyone loves Monroe, however my fav has been Adalind since the show started. Claire Coffee is so awesome playing the evil. I hope we'll see more rip your face off Adalind in the next ep. I think they downplayed Adalind's power becasue she's dealing with Hank who thinks Adalind is a sweet girl.
I got to say I enjoyed that bathroom scene with Renard/Adalind. It was hot. Also I am worried if Renard is just using her to get to Nick.
This is one of my fav ep . I am really enjoying the
Hank/Adalind/Renard SL
Teresa Jusino
5. TeresaJusino
priyakish @4 - I've been thinking about that, too. Someone on Tumblr (of all places) said something interesting - that Renard is now doing to Adalind what Adalind is doing to Hank. Except that Renard "doesn't need cookies, because he's magically delicious all by himself." Heh. You know, that's not a bad theory at all. :) I mean, have you SEEN his silk pajamas? This is a man who knows how to manipulate the ladies with his seduction skills.
6. AlBrown
My wife found this episode absolutely repulsive. During the force feeding scenes, she made me turn down the sound and refused to watch. I can see her point. Watching that woman being abused was pretty tough to take--beneath all the fantasy trappings, it was watching sadistic, evil behavior at its worst.
While there were some interesting moments, because of the cruelty in those torture scenes, this was my least favorite episode of the series so far.
Matt Ries
7. mattries37315
TeresaJusino Thanks for reminding me of "Dance Macabre", I knew as I wrote my comment that what I was forgetting something from earlier episodes when the show had yet to hit its stride. Though in a way since Roddy was considered a suspect and investigated as part the case, it wasn't technically a seperate wesen issue.

The scenario I was trying bring up was a totally non-wesen case in victim, perp, and suspects (wesen as witnesses or who knew the victim exempt) with Nick and Hank investigating the case like they did before Nick's ability kicked in. Meanwhile Nick gets alerted by Monroe or one of the neighboring wesen that two groups of wesen are starting to have problems and since he's the Grimm (a different kind of one from what wesen grew up hearing about) he might be needed to resolve that issue. The conflict is when he's needed on the case and needed to be Grimm at the same time in two different places. Of course the writers could just have Nick deal with a wesen related case and with a seperate wesen issue as the Grimm.

I'm not saying that its expected by the audience, but it'll remind the audience that not every crime that Nick and Hank investigate could involve wesen. The best example I can come up with off the top of my head is the Buffy episode in which Janice(?) Summers dies, the death didn't involve magic and the episode dealt with hardly any supernatural elements but it was one of the best episodes of the series. I'm not saying that Grimm needs to take things from Buffy, I'm just saying that Nick being shown as a cop first and Grimm second or in conflict with one another can work.

Its hard for me to remember everything off the top of my head, so I hope you bare with me in the future. I just found out that every episode can be viewed on Comcast On Demand until June 16, so I'm planning to rewatch the series to refresh my memory. And before I forget, you're doing great work in reviewing and analyzing each episode of Grimm.
Teresa Jusino
8. TeresaJusino
AlBrown @6 - Oh, I agree, those scenes were horrible to watch. But that added to the episode for me, because it 1) recalled feeding a "baby bird" regurgitated food (in this case, worm smoothies), and 2) did speak to a specific kind of medieval practice that would be a go-to for someone in the wesen world, since they're generally more Old-World. It didn't disturb me enough to not like the episode, but it did disturb me. In a good way, though, I think.

Also, it reminded me of this HBO movie that came out years ago about the women's sufferage movement called Iron Clad Angels w/Hilary Swank. The force-feeding scenes in that movie (when Alice Paul was hunger striking) were much more disturbing to me because they actually happened. Fake movie/TV torture doesn't bother me so much.

Also, it was interesting that she had to be force fed. At some point, then, she must have refused eating, when at first she was drinking his concoctions willingly, which says a lot about the character.

mattries37315 @7 - That would be interesting. And now that there's gonna be a season 2 (yay!), they'll be able to explore stuff like that, I'm sure. And yes, that ep of Buffy was amazing. It also didn't have any music in it, which also made it emotionally affecting. So good! :) And hey, I'm sure some Buffy influence is inevitable, considering that the creators of Grimm wrote on Angel and Buffy. :) And don't worry about remembering everyting! I just remembered that ep, because it was one of my faves. :)

And thanks for the compliment! Glad you enjoy reading.
9. OwlThought
Oh, I am just imagining how much poorly it would have gone for the characters if it had been a male seltenvogel. Part of what lured Robin into the situation as she admitted was that klaustreich said he loved her.

So, option one, the male seltenvogel is straight and is taken captive by the klausetreich who doesn't even bother with niceties. Just wants the golden egg. The klausetreich just keeps the seltenvogel locked up, and there is no chance of rescue because no one knows.

Option two, the male seltenvogel is gay and is lured into the same relationship with a klaustreich. I imagine this being worse in a way, just because life has a tendency to be much more difficult in our society when you are attracted to anything other than what has been deemed "norm." There are fewer available options and that offered love may seem even more precious. Then, there's the likelihood that other people would want to be less involved in the situation. I imagine strangers feel relatively comfortable intervening when it is a woman being abused by a man, but what about a man being abused by another man?

Option three, a male seltenvogel with a female klaustreich. I can't see this ending very well either. Societal views of abusive relationships where the victim is male is just horrendous. There is disbelief and humor and ugh. I think Juliette would have picked up on the situation no matter what, but I'm not sure how they would have gone about resolving it. Would there have been someone in town willing to risk him/herself to help the victim? Would the clues work themselves out as easily?
10. jbo
I have watched every episode and really like the show. However, one major flaw really bothers me. Nick has zero power other than the ability to see the animal people. He has no super strength or anything else. So why would someone as powerful as Monroe be even remotely afraid of Nick? The Grimm reputation seems poorly earned. Am I missing something? This show would be so much better if the Grimm's had some special power against the animal people, such as super strength only in their presence or the ability to read their minds. Alas, Nick can just see their true selves (though only when they let their control slip for an instant).
11. ErinStatia
Some people have voiced concern that Nick (and hence Hank) appear to be investigating only wesen-related cases. I dont see this as being contrary to the Grimm universe. This is not because there are that many weson in Portland, but rather that their supervisor is Captain Renard. It makes sense that the Captain would filter the cases that he suspects are weson related both to fill his duty as a law enforcement officer and as a way of testing & training Nick for his long term goals (whatever they may be).

I personaly hope that the Captain comes to a crossroads where he realizes that his ambition in furthering his wesen goals is jeopordizing his oaths as a Captain in the police force. He has a duty to his lineage but also to the men under his command and the public he has sworn to protect.
Joe Vondracek
12. joev
Nick and Hank probably worked on cases involving wesen all the time before Nick's ability kicked in.
Except that the show itself has kind of refuted that. In one of the earlier episodes, one of the cops said something about them having more and more "weird" cases. (It might have been the medical examiner who said that.) Maybe this means that the wesen were always around but are now "acting out" for some reason. Or maybe it means that wesen are now being drawn to the Portland area for some reason (because of Renard?). Hopefully, the show will resolve this question.

In regards to every one of Nick and Hank's cases involving a wesen: I just figured that these are the cases that we're shown, and they sometimes work on cases that don't involve wesen but we're not shown those. Kinda like how you don't see them taking bathroom breaks because it's not germane to the story, which revolves around the Grimm.
Thomas Simeroth
13. a smart guy
I'm trying to catch up on Grimm so I can fully enjoy the episodes. Is there any way I can watch the episodes for free? I'd appreciate it if you could show me where to go to watch them.
14. KateH
TheresaJustino - I love your reviews, but just wanted to say that the Hilary Swank movie is called Iron Jawed Angels, because it required a torture device to force open the women's mouths so they could be force-fed.
a smart guy - you can see the most current episodes on Hulu, and all episodes with HuluPlus.
Teresa Jusino
15. TeresaJusino
OwlThought @9 - Such interesting scenarios. Especially a gay seltenvogel. Someone needs to write that! PS - no gay characters on Grimm yet. Just sayin'. :)

jbo @10 - I think fear of the Grimms have less to do with their powers and more to do with their single-mindedness of purpose and their (up until now) ruthlessness in dealing with wesen. As we saw in Aunt Marie, Grimms trained with the sole purpose of kicking wesen ass. No questions. And their unique ability to see them when they don't want to be seen makes Grimms all the more dangerous, because they can attack when you least expect it. Grimms are wild cards, which is I think why the wesen are so afraid. Nick, however, is the first Grimm (that we know of at this point) to be trying a different approach toward wesen. And while he's taking full advantage of his Grimm reputation preceding him, I think he's also going to have to figure out how to deal with/control wesen once word gets out that he IS different. It's gonna be an interesting balancing act for him.

ErinStatia @11 - EXCELLENT point. Because Renard knew Nick was a Grimm even before he did. It might even be why he hired him/promoted him. There's so much more to that story. Yes, you are absolutely right.

JoeV @12 - your point about bathroom breaks is pretty much what I thought, too. :)

asmartguy @13 - the most recent 5 episodes are available on the NBC.com Grimm page. Everything else, sadly, you have to pay for at this point. If you subscribe to HuluPlus, you can see everything back through the pilot. Otherwise, Amazon.com has them all for $1.99 each, which isn't bad.

KateH @14 - YES! Argh. Total slip of the typing fingers. That is definitely the title. "Iron-clad oath" must have popped into my head or something. I'm not gonna go back and edit the comment, because then this one won't make sense. But know that I know that it's wrong. :)
Jenn Nixon
16. Nixenji
Great episode, even though disturbing. I think I have to say that that scene with the force-feeding is my biggest nightmare. It scares me more than anything else.
Even so, I like the dark, grim tone of Grimm. This show is different in many ways, from most shows I've seen.

Some thoughts in general, not just this episode:
1. I wish there could be more of a "team" feeling, since they have excellent characters that work so well together. I want more interaction, more working together.
2. I want female characters that aren't just for romance. We've seen 3 occurring characters now, and even though I kinda wish some romance for Monroe - I also kinda wish that Rosalee would be a character in her own right and not just a girlfriend who happens to be useful.
I actually felt sorry for Adalind, even though she's been horrible and evil - it must be so frustrating to lose everything you are and suddenly become weak. To only have her beauty and not her powers... Interesting thought there.

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment