Friday, May 18, 2012

Grimm 1.20: "Happily Ever Aftermath"

For the first time since episode seven, Grimm tackles one of the well-known princess fairy tales (Cinderella) with tremendously successful results. Now I've loved Grimm from the start, but I have a special affinity for the princess stories since I adored them as a child, and seriously -- is there anything better than a twisty send-up of the iconic happily every after embodied by a story of a girl finding her prince? I think not (ha!). :) This episode also delves further into Nick's backstory and investigation into his parents' deaths, an ever-present burden brought to the fore by his encounter with the Shakals (jackals) who arranged the "accident" that left him in Aunt Marie's care as a child.

The hour opens when Arthur (David Clayton Rogers - is it just me, or could he be Nick's brother?), a handsome and prosperous businessman, discovers that he's fallen victim to a well-executed Ponzi scheme that has completely wiped out his fortune. In a panic he calls Spencer (Tom Wright), his wife's godfather (who is suspiciously reminiscent of a Sydney Glass in Once, no?) for advice. Spencer quickly surmises that Arthur is more worried about telling his wife, Lucinda (Amanda Schull), about their reversal of fortunes than the actual loss of money/prestige. Spencer encourages Arthur to ask his stepmother-in-law for money, a step Arthur is loathe to take since apparently there's a bad history there. But when he sees Lucinda return home, deliriously happy from an incredible shopping spree, he realizes he has no choice. You know how people seem a little too sweet, a little too perfectly happy? Yeah, that's Lucinda. :P Arthur and Spencer approach Lucinda's stepmother Mavis (Patricia Hunter) for money -- and in keeping with what we're conditioned to expect from Cinderella's "wicked" stepmother, she flatly refuses. Mavis is a pitch-perfect modern representation of the "evil" stepmother of legend -- a cool, cutthroat businesswoman, when she's first introduced it is implied that she took advantage of her husband's death to cut Lucinda out of the family fortunes. The set-up is so suggestive of the story, when Mavis is shortly killed by a disgusting batlike creature in an apparent home invasion, it seems like vigilante justice -- the only question is who took up this "helpless" Cinderella's cause -- right? Think again. :) (Side note: LOVED the way the attack was filmed, the whole sequence had a very intense, film noir-ish vibe -- and oh goodness, what a way to go with the blown out eyeballs. Ick!)

Cut across town, and Nick (David Giuntoli) is in the throes of a nightmare about his face-off when the men who killed his parents. When Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) wakes him, he only admits part of the issue -- one never gets over a violent loss, but he withholds the information he recently uncovered about who exactly was behind the "accident." Nick, Juliette is awesome, just tell her everything -- she's a smart woman, she'll find out sooner or later! *sigh* Proving my thesis that Juliette is AWESOME, she suggests contacting the lead investigator in an effort to gain some closure for Nick -- and makes the call herself the next morning (I LOVE THIS COUPLE). The officer in question makes good on his promise to contact Nick, telling him that the case was classified as an unsolved homicide, and four men were involved, though nothing could be proved -- three of the men are already dead (the Shakals involved in the coin heist), leaving a fourth to be reckoned with -- Akira Kimura. THE PLOT THICKENS!

When Nick and Hank (Russell Hornsby) arrive at Mavis's home, they're puzzled by the broken glass literally EVERYWHERE and the victim's phsyical "implosion." Tiffany (Orianna Herrman) and Taylor (Niene Pugliano) immediately cast suspicion on Arthur and Spencer, since they know their mother just turned down the pair's request for financial assistance. Again, since we're conditioned to think poorly of CInderella's stepsisters, the scripting for this episode plays into that time-honored stereotype -- sure, Mavis died a horrible death, but in the context of the fairy tale framework we're conditioned to view the step-family as a collection of horrible, abusive people. When Nick and Hank follow-up on the sisters' tip, Arthur is panicked, Lucinda is apparently grief-stricken, and Spencer loses his cool and transforms into a batlike Wesen, identical to the one who killed Mavis, catapaulting him to the top of the suspect list.

During questioning the Arthur/Lucinda backstory is revealed, and all the pieces of the seemingly idyllic Cinderella story are in place -- meeting at a ball, first dancing with the less-favorable stepsisters, Arthur was immediately smitten and it's been his mission in life ever since to keep Lucinda happy (he seems particularly brain-washed here, no?). Spencer, the (fairy) godfather figure, has made it his mission to look after Lucinda ever since her father's death and her stepmother subsequently cutting her out of the family fortune. Revenge AND monetary motives? Check and check. Spencer initially seems like the most likely culprit, until the deceptively vapid Lucinda insists on visiting her childhood home and paying her respects to her stepsisters. I loved how Lucinda's meeting with Tiffany plays out -- it quickly becomes apparent that Lucinda's condolences cannot bridge a chasm of loathing years in the making. When the sweet and pretty Lucinda suddenly morphs into another batlike creature, emitting the shrill, piercing noise that blows out Tiffany's head, Cinderella the victim has become Cinderella the out-of-control perp, her beauty masking a horrific secret. This, my friends, is just one of the many reasons I love this show, because how it transforms the victimizers of the traditional story into the ones who need protection is deliciously realized.

Nick and Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) meet at the trailer to research this latest case, since conventional weapons would be useless or quickly overpowered since this creature kills via sound waves. After finding a drawing of the batlike creature, Monroe explains that Spencer is a Murcielago, which is basically a "bat out of hell" (fitting since my initial response to Lucinda's transformation was that she's "bat-sh** crazy" -- couldn't help myself, sorry! LOL!). *wink* This brings up an interesting dilemma for Nick -- how to merge his work as a police officer with his Grimm identity -- because the latter's crime-fighting methods would certainly be viewed as unorthodox by his coworkers (well, Renard excepted! ha!). The only weapon capable of incapaciting the bats is a crank-style device that emits a sound that leaves Murcielagos temporarily stunned. Seeing as Monroe's Wesen alter-ego is a wolf, with particularly sensitive hearing, he's also affected, but I love how gamely he works through it, because DANGIT HE HAS TO HELP HIS BFF! (Also, how hilarious was his question about whether or not Nick had the trailer insured? Like that would go over well!) 

Now Nick is prepared to faceoff against Spencer, who he finds standing by Tiffany's body (apparently in the Portland version of Cinderella, the godfather gig mostly means taking the rap when one's charges commit felonies). While Nick and Hank question him, he lets some very telling comments drop about his Wesen capabilities IN FRONT OF HANK, which is all kinds of awkward for Nick and just leave Hank thinking they're questioning a loon. This is where the script adds some layers to the Cinderella/stepfamily dynamic -- instead of merely reversing the traditional roles, there are suggestions that Lucinda was unfairly marginalized after her father's death, and that her position as her father's favorite likewise marginalized her would-be sisters -- it's a tangled web, implying that no one in the family was without culpability in adding to the toxic stew of emotional abuse that culminating in Lucinda's murderous spree.

So, wrapping things up here...Spencer tips off Nick that Lucinda is the culprit, and the remaining sister will be her next target. He promptly escapes custody in an attempt to stop her, while Nick and Hank rush to Taylor's house -- but they're too late as Lucinda has already entered the premises. Taylor's terror is palpable and the whole scene leading up to Nick's final confrontation with the bat is among the show's best thus far -- I thought it had something of a cinematic quality. Nick has called Monroe to bring the sonic weapon (I hope he's given Monroe copies of the trailer keys by now!), and when Lucinda makes a break for it he moves to head her off and sends Hank in another direction (if only Hank knew what Nick was saving him from, ha!). The weapon forces Lucinda into the open, but Spencer finds her first and "helps" her to her death (clearly therapy wasn't going to be an option). Of course one good bat shriek isn't enough to take Lucinda out, as she kills Spencer too -- and then Nick and Monroe are left with the problem of explaining THAT HOT MESS to Hank. The look on both their faces was just priceless -- horror at the crime scene, and then puzzlement -- i.e., how the heck are we going to get out of explaining THIS one?

To cover the Wesen fingerprints ALL over this mess, Nick makes the call to turn in the Grimm sonic device as the murder weapon. Show of hands, who thought Renard's (Sasha Roiz) rather puzzled response was absolutely hilarious? *wink* For my money this easily ranks as one of the season's best standalone episodes, with the added "bonus" of a choice development on the Nick-investigating-his-past front. Side note: I love the growth in Nick and Monroe's friendship, and the unorthodox nature of their working partnership, but how the heck does Monroe support himself? He can drop everything whenever and whereever Nick calls, and really is the clock-repair gig that lucrative? He seems to have no routine outside of Pilates and cello-playing and that bothers me. LOL!


Gina said...

Sounds like Gus on "Psych," working in pharmaceuticals only once in a while. :-) Nice review!

Ruth said...

@Gina - HA! You will probably not be surprised I actually thought of that when I was typing this up. ;)

Rissi said...

Glad you continued liking this one, Ruth. I haven't decided if I'll try it once it makes its debut on DVD or not.

Tasha B. said...

I thought this episode was pretty good, too. Usually my back gets up when people try to make Cinderella out to be less than awesome (not that I take it personally or anything ;), but once she told Arthur that she never loved him, she had to go. Poor guy.

Still, the whole thing with Lucinda and Spencer killing one another was way over the top.

Ruth said...

@Rissi - This show can be just brilliant -- and it is much funnier than the "scary" previews led me to expect. Still, I do acknowledge that the "darker" humor isn't for everyone, and tha's ok too. :)

@Tasha - HA! See I've always been more of a Briar Rose/Sleeping Beauty girl than Cinderella. :) The "everyone dies" ending was a bit much, but I do feel that in this case Portland is a lot safer. HA!