Our favorite shows in the Battle of the Network Fairy Tale Shows are on Episode Eight, and this week finds both shows firmly in their strides, each of them dealing with shifts in power. On Once Upon a Time, Emma runs for Sheriff of Storybrooke much to Regina’s chagrin. On Grimm, an ogre out for vengeance brings Nick closer to fully owning his role as a Grimm, but not before he takes a huge beating that knocks him down a peg. And Rumpelstiltskin’s quest for power? Well, that’s something else all together….
Once Upon a Time, Ep. 8: “Desperate Souls”
Storybrooke reels in the wake of Sheriff Graham’s death, and Emma (Jennifer Morrison) decides to leave being deputy behind and take on the burden of Graham’s job.That is, until Regina (Lana Parilla) fires her and tries to declare Sidney Glass (Giancarlo Esposito) sheriff. With Mr. Gold’s (Robert Carlyle) help, Emma forces an election in accordance with the Storybrooke charter. She becomes Sheriff of Storybrooke, teaching Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) that good can win. But at what cost? Meanwhile, we learn about Rumpelstiltskin’s past, and how he came into his power.
Lost Reference Tally: 4 (another appearance by MacCutcheon’s whisky)
Script (2): Jane Espenson has written a tight, focused script that manages to paint a picture of Storybrooke as a town going through change even as it focuses on Emma and Mr. Gold’s work toward securing Emma the Sheriff position. That, to me, was the best part about the way this story was told. An election allowed us to get to know Storybrooke as a community and as a citizenry in small moments like Mary Margaret and David hanging up posters for opposing candidates, a debate held in a tiny town hall and presided over by the town’s psychiatrist, and the fact that even in a place where dirty politics still exists, it still happens in a small-town way. Another strength of the episode was its exploration of how parents can be heroes to their children. We see an obvious example in Emma, who successfully shows Henry that the good guys can win. But then we also get, in Rumpelstiltskin’s backstory, an example of what not to do as he goes to extreme lengths, lengths of which his son cannot approve, to protect his son from the threat of war. Seeing Emma juxtaposed with Rumpelstiltskin as a parent rather than Regina was an intriguing exercise, and I’d be curious to see if Emma becomes more similar to him the deeper into Storybrooke she goes. She still owes Rumpelstiltskin a favor, after all. Will she pay any price to protect her son as he did? Or will she place more value on teaching Henry morality and ethics in a way that Rumpelstiltskin never taught his son, even if it means something happens to her in the attempt? “Desperate Souls” raised some very interesting questions.
Performances (2): I was so happy to finally get range from Robert Carlyle. The lack of range with Rumpelstiltskin wasn’t his fault, but he was boxed into a one-note “mysterious villain” mode by the stories. In this episode, we get a vulnerable Rumpelstiltskin, and Carlyle makes us completely believe that the “Town Coward” could become the same man who is corrupted by power at the end of the episode. Everyone in the cast brought their “A” game to this episode, particularly Lana Parilla, who continues to ground Regina in humanity even as her desire for power and control bring her closer to her “real” Evil Queen self. Jared S. Gilmore was also a standout this week as Henry was, for the first time, hopeless. Gilmore played his scenes this week with a sensitivity and fearlessness that many actors twice his age can’t muster. And Mary Margaret’s flustered reaction to talking about David’s wife? Priceless. Ginnifer Goodwin soars in this part.
Production (2): As always. :) Particularly as we got to see more of Storybrooke, and we got to see the small-town feel echoed through several locations, like the town hall, the diner, the area where Mary Margaret and David hung posters, etc. I can’t get over how cute Mary Margaret and David’s wardrobe was, either. And, of course, Rumpelstiltskin changing from his normal, mild-mannered self to the darker version we’ve gotten to know was done beautifully and subtly.
Representation (2): Once again, this is one of the most gender balanced shows on television. Particularly, it seems, when Espenson is writing it. Since her two episodes have been so well-balanced in terms of story, both the male and female characters have their individual goals and motivations, and a lot to do, and no one feels like a token. And it’s always wonderful to see more Giancarlo Esposito as Sydney Glass.
Audience Engagement (1.5): The episode was great, but required lots of past knowledge of relationships/mythology to keep up with what was going on. I was watching with a friend who’d never watched the show before, and he was like “huh?” and stopped watching halfway through. However, it did engage him just enough to make him start watching the show from the beginning on the ABC website, and now he’s a huge fan! So, there you go.
TOTAL SCORE FOR Once Upon a Time: 9.5 (out of 10)
Grimm, Ep 8: “Game Ogre”
A case from Hank’s (Russell Hornsby) past returns to Portland in the form of an ogre who’s escaped from prison and is going around killing anyone that had anything to do with putting him away. And he has his sights set on Hank. Nick (David Giuntoli) delves into Aunt Marie’s files and discovers how to deal with the creature, but not before being beaten within an inch of his life. Incapacitated, he directs Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) to Marie’s trailer and instructs him how to kill the ogre.
Script (1.5): Cameron Litvack and Thania St. John have delivered an episode that is as edge-of-your-seat as they come. The simpleness of the plot (ogre comes to town for revenge) allowed for the complexities to arise between characters, which is where all the interesting stuff happens anyway. We see yet another side of Hank relating to his past on the force. We see Hank and Captain Renard have tension. We see Monroe in what is actually his natural state, fixing watches, and how that translates to his geekiness over the intricacy of Grimm weaponry. We see a different dynamic between Nick and Juliette. All of this made for a wonderful, enjoyable episode. So, why the 1.5?
This should’ve been the episode where Nick took his first step toward owning being a Grimm. Everything in the episode was pointing in that direction. A situation was set up in which he could save his partner. The creature world got too close to him and invaded his home. He easily went to Aunt Marie’s books and looked through it more confidently than ever before, as if it were finally becoming a part of him.
And then he has Monroe kill the ogre.
That actually upset me while I watched it. And yes, I know Nick was in the hospital. But that should have been Nick’s moment. The show is called Grimm, not Blutbad. It was Nick’s moment, and the writers made him miss it. And I feel like they’re setting something up in relation to Renard, but that shouldn’t come at the expense of Nick’s heroism. Nick should never be this passive in relation to the crime being solved. That just didn’t sit well with me.
Also, why were NIck and Monroe so jumpy when Nick and Hank came to Monroe for help? Hank obviously knows they know each other…why wouldn’t they be friends? Why wouldn’t Nick know where the coffee is, and why the big production. The vibe of that scene didn’t make any sense.
“Game Ogre,” was a great episode out of which Nick was gypped.
Performances (2): The cast has never been better. I don’t know the order in which these episodes were shot, but this one clearly came at a time when the cast had time to gel. Giuntoli has never been more comfortable in Nick’s shoes, and Hornsby brought an amazing, quiet fury to Hank this week. We actually got to see some wonderful work from Bitsie Tulloch as Juliette, too, and she conveyed concern for Nick without seeming weak or incompetent in the process. She was a fully lived-in woman, and I loved seeing that. And, at long last, there was finally chemistry between Nick and Juliette! That’s something you’ve seen me complain about here before, but in this episode their interactions were believable and sweet, and at times heartbreaking. For the first time, they felt like an actual couple. Sasha Roiz, as always, did so much with so little as Captain Renard. Whether comforting Juliette at the hospital, earnestly trying to protect Hank, or examining bullets that may have something to do with his hidden agenda, there is always both a truth in his care for and kindness to others and an undercurrent of something going horribly wrong at any moment, The way Roiz consistently balances those two things lends his portrayal of Renard a vibrancy and electricity that has made the character a fan-favorite and makes him so compelling to watch. And speaking of fan-favorites, Silas Weir Mitchell also did some of his best work yet, bringing into his already complex portrayal of Monroe a geekiness about Grimm weaponry, which I loved.
Production (2): Aunt Marie’s trailer is just one of the best-designed locations ever, and I love every opportunity we have to explore it. Ditto the Grimm weapon props. The ogre prosthetics were great, and the burns he suffered after Juliette splashed him with boiling water were appropriately intense and disgusting. Nick’s bruise make-up worked really well, too.
Representation (2): JULIETTE ACTUALLY DID SOMETHING! And it was something that was brave and realistic (ie: she didn’t suddenly become this ass-kicking acrobat who could inexplicably take down a guy three times her size). Yes. More of this, please. Also, this was the first time that the primary victims or people that needed protecting in this case were mostly men.
I’ve been loving that Hank has become so complex over the course of the show’s run so far. Every time we think we know something about him, another case comes along that reveals something else. And even as his actions tread into unethical territory, you know it’s always for a good reason. I’m waiting for the same level of complexity to be bestowed on Sargent Wu. They’d better do that, soon!
Audience Engagement (2): “Game Ogre” was definitely a self-contained episode that anyone just sitting around flipping channels could’ve stopped to enjoy. Also, I have to hand it to Bitsie Tulloch for sometimes taking on sole Grimm cheerleading duties on Twitter as the rest of the cast slacks off! Seriously, she can always be relied upon to do live-tweets during episodes, post photos, and interact with the fans in a way that the other cast members don’t do. I appreciate that, as do my fellow Grimmsters!
TOTAL SCORE FOR Grimm: 9.5 (out of 10)
Cumulative Scores So Far:
Once Upon a Time: 62.5
And that’s all she wrote from the land of fairy tales this week. You’ve probably already watched last night’s Once Upon a Time, which airs Sundays at 8PM ET on ABC (and if you haven’t you can catch the episodes on the ABC website), and you can tune into Grimm, which airs Friday nights at 9PM ET on NBC.
Teresa Jusino wants to steal Aunt Marie’s trailer and take a road trip with it. She can be heard on the popular Doctor Who podcast, 2 Minute Time Lord, participating in a roundtable on Series 6.1. 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.