Season finales are upon us! And I think they deserve special attention, don’t you? While the Once Upon a Time finale aired Sunday night, I’m going to be posting my write-up next week as part of the big Battle of the Network Fairy Tale Shows: Season One conclusion: a review of both Grimm and Once Upon a Time season finales (complete with final Battle stats and a winner declared!), and a season wrap-up essay discussing the shows’ arcs, their strengths, their weaknesses, and what I’m looking forward to from their second seasons. So make sure you’re around next week, kids! There’s going be a lot going on!
Now, on to Bigfoot!
Grimm S1, Ep 21: “Big Feet”
In a Blair Witch-esque opening, a group of Bigfoot hunters are filming themselves making Sasquatch calls when they are viciously attacked in the darkness. Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) has been called to a nearby farm to tend to a horse that’s been mysteriously attacked, and in investigating with the owner what might have happened, she not only finds mysterious fur, but she stumbles upon the dead bodies of the Bigfoot hunters. She calls Nick (David Giuntoli) who, along with Hank (Russell Hornsby) and Sgt. Wu (Reggie Lee) arrive to investigate. Juliette continues an investigation of her own and calls in a favor to have the fur she found examined.
Meanwhile, Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) gets a surprise visit from a friend named Larry (Kenneth Mitchell), a wildermann (get it? Wild Man — aka Bigfoot) who was shot by the horse owner and is stuck in Wesen form. He calls Nick for help, insisting that Larry isn’t a murderer. Eventually, Larry dies from his wound, but not before digging a white plastic device out of the back of his neck for Nick and Monroe to investigate. The search leads Nick to Dr. Konstantin Brinkerhoff (guest star, Roger Bart), a Wesen psychiatrist who creates a drug cocktail that, when administered through a device in the back of the neck, suppresses a Wesen’s beastly urges. The problem? The drugs are in an experimental stage and actually make the wildermenn to whom he administers the treatment go on murderous rampages. Also, there’s the matter of removing their freedom of choice. Eventually, Nick and Monroe work together to take down Dr. Brinkerhoff — but not before Hank sees both Monroe as a blutbad and Brinkerhoff morphing from a wildermann to his human form. AND, when Juliette gets inexplicable results from the lab pointing to the existence of a human/animal hybrid, she goes to Nick and says “What if all this stuff is real?”
Script (2): After last week’s huge misstep, it was nice to see Grimm back in top form in a story by Alan DiFiore and Dan E. Fesman with a teleplay by Richard Hatem (writer of my other fave episode of Grimm, “The Thing With Feathers”). The story not only provided a suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat plot, but gave Monroe, usually a fan favorite because of the comic relief he provides, more substance than he usually gets, which was really refreshing. Not since “The Three Bad Wolves” have we gotten to see something truly resonate with Monroe personally, and it was great to see his helpfulness on the case in this instance be less about wanting to help Nick and more about wanting to resolve things after a friend’s death hits too close to home. The issues of choice and identity that this case brought up for Monroe were beautifully explored, and fed nicely into Nick’s issues with his own identity that are starting to come to a head with those he cares about most.
We had the long-awaited pulling of Hank and Juliette into the Grimm world. It was only a matter of time before Hank saw something inexplicable, and the way it happened in this episode (twice!) was well-crafted inevitable. Having Juliette come to the conclusion that there’s more to the world that what we see on her own was a brilliant and unexpected choice that had me squealing on my couch like a stuck piglet Wesen.
My only problem? After Hank saw Brinkerhoff morphing, the episode just cuts to Nick and Juliette at home with no resolution for Hank! HAS NICK TOLD HANK YET?! WHAT DID HE SAY IN RESPONSE TO THAT?! That seemed like much too important a moment to be glossed over.
Still, the entire episode was written so well, and while I was initially skeptical about the use of Bigfoot — I mean, that’s not even a fairy tale character — it worked well for the story being told here.
Performances (2): The performances were amazing this week. I was heartbroken for Russell Hornsby after Hank saw Monroe in blutbad form. He didn’t play the moments in which he was confronted by strange things in a comic or nonsensical way. Here was a man who genuinely felt like he was struggling with his own sanity, and not only were my sympathies with him, but his performance made me angry at Nick, because I thought it completely heartless that he wasn’t immediately trying to explain things to his friend. Silas Weir Mitchell did amazing things with Monroe this week, conveying the gravitas of what is, essentially, a recovering addict. All of Monroe’s seemingly cute and funny behavior — the pilates, the yoga, the vegetarianism — are all coping mechanisms for a large problem that Monroe fights every day, and it was great to see the non-cute flip side of all that in him this week. And Bitsie Tulloch was flawless as Juliette. Competent, warm, funny, and determined; Juliette has become a character worth paying attention to over the course of this season as Tulloch always underlies Juliette’s warmth and nurturing with a fierce intelligence. Also deserving of mention is guest star, Roger Bart, who was a wonderful presence as Dr. Brinkerhoff.
Production (2): Everything from the consistent quality of the Wesen morphing effects, to the prosthetics involved in transforming Larry and the rest into convincing (and frightening-looking) Wildermenn, to the make-up on the poor horse that got attacked, to the corpses of the Bigfoot hunters that were torn apart, all of these production elements came together in wonderful service to the story.
Representation (1.5): Hank got great treatment as a character in this episode, and Juliette had a chance to shine brilliantly, but Wu, while he continues to get some great comedic lines, also continues to not be properly included in the story. Sure, he got an interesting storyline this season for a couple of episodes, but whereas Hank is generally more seamlessly involved in the story, the writers seem to have trouble giving Wu things to do and ways to connect. Also, are we really going to go a whole first season without giving Wu a first name? The only way that can continue to fly is if they do so knowingly, and make his first name some sort of big deal a la “Cosmo Kramer” on Seinfeld. But if not? Just give the guy a name already. A name is a first step to a complete identity.
Audience Engagement (2): Judging by the reactions on the #grimmlive hashtag, the audience was definitely engaged. “Big Feet” gave fans key moments that were a long time coming, while giving newbies just coming into the story a fast paced standalone story that was as entertaining as it was emotionally resonant.
TOTAL SCORE FOR Grimm: 9.5 (out of 10)
Okay, kids. That’s it for this week! But don’t forget that while Once Upon a Time is over for the season, the Grimm Season Finale airs this Friday, May 18th at 9PM ET on NBC. Discuss “Big Feet” in the comments below, and then come back next week for a run-down of both season finales and find out which show will win the Battle of the Network Fairy Tale Shows!
Teresa Jusino is proud of her spoken-word poem about the ladies of Grimm. 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.