This installment of Grimm was a real treat if you're as invested as I am in the "Renard comes undone" fallout from the pure heart potion (not to mention his jawline...that bone structure is so perfect it kills me...I am VERY invested in that respect). But before I go on and on about that, let's talk about the set-up for the crime of the week first.
We're introduced to a group of high school students competing in an academic decathlon, all vying for the coveted slot that will send one of them to the state level to represent their school. (I might as well go ahead and admit it, I don't think I knew such a thing existed prior to this show.) All of the kids are wickedly smart, but Pierce (Logan Miller) is a clear standout, time and again beating his classmates to the answer, sometimes answering correctly before the moderator can get half the question out. Pierce appears to have a mother (Mary Page Keller) who is a classic stage mom, tense, attentive, and prone to grimacing at every slight misstep. Clearly there is a ton of pressure on Pierce to perform and perform well (at this point I pegged Dr. Higgins as an overprotective Wesen mother). After the practice session concludes, Pierce persuades his mom to let him join his friends Brandon, Jenny, and Stan for a bite to eat. All goes well as the kids good-naturedly rib each other about their contest chances and then go their separate ways. Brandon (Titus Mankin Jr.) opts to walk home and is viciously attacked by some sort of creature -- the only question is, which of his teammates is a Wesen?
Meanwhile, Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) may still not remember Nick (David Giuntoli), but she's willing to play the role of his girlfriend in an attempt to recapture a sense of pre-coma normalcy, hoping to reawaken her memories of their previous relationship. Nick and any and all available members of the police force are attending a dinner where Renard (Sasha Roiz) is accepting some sort of award for his work in the Portland community. (I suppose it's a sign that Christmas is coming, because all this made me think of was A Christmas Story and MAJOR AWARDS! LOL!) Nick and Hank (Russell Hornsby) are all "AWWWW...look at the Captain being all statesman-like," which makes them COMPLETELY OBLIVIOUS to the fact that Renard and Juliette cannot stop DEVOURING EACH OTHER WITH THEIR EYES. Seriously how are they missing this?! Things get even MORE awkward when Nick and Hank are called to the crime scene where Brandon's body has been discovered, leaving Renard to oh-so-gallantly volunteer to give Juliette a ride home.
Now here's where things get...ahem...interesting, to say the least. They are all cute and awkward (or would be really cute and awkward if all of this unspoken tension was the result of genuine feeling as opposed to magical goop), and then Renard sees Juliette enter the house (okay, she's living with a COP, and she keeps a spare key UNDER A FLOWER POT ON HER PORCH...really?!?!) and he just can't drive away. While Juliette showers, Renard enters the house, climbs the stairs, and stands in her bedroom like a total creeper. (Here's the thing...I am adamantly anti-stalking, but I might as well go ahead and admit that I enjoyed this scene because it FINALLY gave us some forward momentum on the whole question of what exactly has this potion done to Renard?!) Roiz makes it patently obvious that he doesn't want to be doing this, but at the same time he can't help himself -- and that internal war results in him nearly getting caught by Juliette, who finds the glass in a photo frame containing a picture of her and Nick mysteriously broken. Whether it is a question of Renard fighting his attraction to Juliette, or his half-hexenbiest nature warring against the effects of the pure heart potion, or both is unclear -- but if this encounter is any indication, Renard is far nearer to a breaking point than I'd ever imagined. (Also, imagine the horrid publicity if it got out that the police chief was mowing down random citizens in his car...yeesh!!)
Okay, so leaving behind angsty Renard for a moment, as soon as Nick and Hank see Brandon's mutilated body they suspect a Wesen is probably behind the attack. This suspicion is reinforced when, after interviewing Brandon's teammates, they meet the coach (Han Altwies) who is so upset during their exchange that he transforms into a Lowen -- the vicious, temperamental lion-like creatures first introduced in the "fight club." I love how Hank is acclimating to Nick's world, to the point that even though he cannot see most transformations, he is learning to recognize Nick's "Grimm look." :) Suddenly they have a suspect -- but it has to be hard when the crux of your investigation lies on a point of identity that most people can't see, no?
Nick and Hank head to Aunt Marie's trailer to research the creature, which turns out to be a Genio Innocuo (innocuous genius, ha!), an extremely rare turtle-type Wesen. Apparently some of Nick's ancestors took a trip with Darwin in the 19th century and documented the creatures' lack of fear for humans -- before promptly killing them (yeah...Nick is, thankfully, a very different breed of Grimm!). As turtles are pretty much essentially incapable of ripping out throats, Nick and Hank go with the assumption that the Lowen coach is behind the killings -- until they arrive at his house and discover that he has been killed as well. THE PLOT THICKENS!
Meanwhile, after his stalker freak-out episode, Renard visits the spice shop seeking a cure for his increasingly obsessive behavior. Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Renard are completely unaware of each other's identities or their respective connections to Nick, and that coupled with Renard's hilarious awkwardness at having to seek help make this one of my favorite moments ever in this show's run. Seriously this is comedy gold, people, comedy GOLD!! When Monroe manages to extract the tidbit from Renard that his obsessiveness is 1) for a HUMAN (very important, ha!!) and 2) the result of a kiss, his attempts to go all mano-a-mano relatable are just laugh-out-loud funny. I loved the shout-out to Rosalee (Bree Turner) -- one kiss was all it took? Excuse me while I swoon. :) With Monroe's promise of researching "cure" options, Renard beats a hasty retreat. (Side note: the leather jacket and sunglasses? I DIE. That outfit needs to make a reappearance!)
It turns out that Pierce has been suffering from debilitating headaches (the spate of murders would be enough to cause that, yikes!), and during one such episode he spills a drink on his pillow. When he goes to put the dirty pillow case in the laundry he discovers the machine is filled with blood-tinged water (ICK!). He has a completely understandable freak-out and calls Nick, only to be interrupted by his mother. And then things get REALLY twisted. Because as a genetics expert his mother had conducted experiments on Pierce in-utero in an attempt to give her son the added advantage of characteristics enjoyed by other Wesen -- namely, Lowen. So it is PIERCE who's the culprit -- and the tragic thing is, he isn't even aware of what he's been doing thanks to his mother mixing two strands of apparently VERY incompatible DNA.
This episode opens with a quote from "The Adventures of Pinocchio," which I suppose is valid insomuch as it speaks to Dr. Higgins's attempt to create a child to her personal specifications. Personally, I think the show should have gone for a direct Jekyll and Hyde tie-in, since even though Pierce certainly didn't choose to perform genetic experiments on himself, the result is much the same. All things told I thought this was a rather fascinating take on the idea of a split-personality disorder playing out in this dark fairy tale world.
So, wrapping this up, Nick and Hank chase after Pierce who went all Lowen-ed out on his mother and now that he realizes he's been killing people wants to jump off a bridge. His frenetic morphing between the Genio Innocuo and the Lowen is pretty intense -- at one point I thought he might just implode. In a nifty piece of stuntwork Nick manages to save Pierce's life, and one hopes he can get some psychological help. But the final scene of Pierce in prison seems to suggest that the Lowen is fighting to become the dominant and uncontrollable aspect of his personality.
As I was typing this I realized I almost FORGOT TO MENTION that Adalind (Claire Coffee) and Eric (James Frain), Renard's royal brother are back! I loved this -- not only because they were supposedly in Vienna (I mean a swanky set in Portland dubbing as Vienna...ha!), but James Frain was wearing a tux! And he was dropping a few clues about my favorite enigma -- namely, that when it was discovered that one of their father's mistresses was a hexenbiest, she made for America with her son, a.k.a. the Captain (do you think we might meet his mother at some point? or get a flashback episode?! that would be awesome!). I loved watching Adalind's expressions as Eric was bad-mouthing hexenbiests...it seems like she doesn't want to admit that she once was one, since I'm thinking she wants to use Eric to facilitate some sort of revenge against his brother and Nick, perhaps even regain her powers -- but you can tell she just wanted to wallop him for disparaging her kind. Definitely looking forward to that alliance's development!
The episode ends with Renard returning to the spice shop only to get the bad news from Monroe that unless he's willing to bring in the "object of his affliction" so they can undertake a joint cure, the best he can hope for is "dampening" his obsession. But since his "affliction" is the result of dark magic, Monroe warns that it will only get progressively worse, leading him further desperate behavior, i.e. removing any barrier that stands between him and Juliette. Renard really did look so despondent for a second that I REALLY REALLY wanted to give him a hug. But I didn't. I left him to wallow, because I enjoy Renard angst too much. *wink* It's coming at an incredibly slow burn, but we appear to be seeing the groundwork for some much-needed tension between Renard and Nick, which will be especially interesting considering that Renard's plans and goals relative to Nick have never been fully spelled out.
Bonus Renard Being Devastatingly Handsome Photo: