“Cat And Mouse” S1 / E18
- B Community Grade
Kevin’s off gathering information for the resistance movement, so I eagerly took the chance to step in after the promising developments of last week. I’ve been a Grimm fan—or at least a Grimm apologist—since the start of the season, both as a fan of unconventional procedurals and a long-time resident of Portland. The show’s been able to expand from its Germanic roots to draw off Greek and Japanese folklore, and in installments like “Tarantella,” it proved it knows how to reinterpret that source material and tell compelling stories with it. However, it's been hard to get past Grimm’ s reluctance to commit to its overarching story, or the fact that some of the standalone episodes have been clunky, bordering on ridiculous. (Never forget, this is the show that stated Hitler was a werewolf who rose to power through magical Greek coins.)
As the show gets into the last few episodes of its first season, it’s been showing marked improvement in both those areas. I agree with Kevin that “Love Sick” was one of the best episodes the show has done to date, able to resolve the long-running plot of Adalind Shade while advancing the development of lead characters Nick and Monroe. It’s as if the continued signs of Grimm’s survival—first a full-season pickup, then a second season renewal—encouraged David Greenwalt and the writing staff to make it a show that deserved its new lease on life, or to at least take some more chances with the storytelling.
“Cat And Mouse” continues this promising trend for the show's home stretch. It’s not as full of resolution as last week’s episode, but it's a much-needed expansion of just what the creature world consists of. Ian Harmon, a well-known British journalist, has come to the city fleeing some particularly bestial Wesen with silenced pistols and diamond tattoos on their palms. Apparently an old friend of Rosalee’s brother Freddy—and former paramour of Rosalee’s—he makes his way to the spice shop after taking a bullet and draws both her and Monroe into his quest for survival. Meanwhile, shooter Edgar Valtz (an appropriately menacing Sebastian Roche, formerly of Fringe and Supernatural) carries on his own investigation, leaving a trail of bodies to force the police into pursuing Ian as a prime suspect.
Through Ian, we’re given our first real explanation of how the creature world operates. Most of their activity is controlled by an organization known as the Verrat, an autocratic regime that exerts authority through agents at all levels of government. There's an active resistance against the Verrat called the “Laufrey,” which Rosalee's family supported (explaining Freddy’s stash of passports from two weeks ago), and seven “houses” of royal families that command respect and are always looking for more power. As Ian explains to Nick, Monroe, and Rosalee, most all of the tension in the world—the European financial crisis, the Arab spring—is all tied together by this feud, and a war is coming in which Nick might find himself in demand.
Thankfully this doesn’t come across as a pure exposition dump: Monroe and Rosalee are all able to fill in some of the pieces, and even Nick’s informed enough by now to know what the Verrat are. Granted, the idea of a shadow government and resistance against said government isn’t a new one by any means, but it's a structure that Grimm could definitely make the most of. There are a lot of moving pieces that go into both, several of which we saw in Valtz’s body count—a Lausenschlange bartender who passes on information, a Mauzhertz camera shop owner who forges documents. If it's true that Portland is something of an underground railroad station for this resistance, it means the long roster of Wesen that keeps popping up in Nick’s backyard may not be as contrived as it occasionally seems.
More immediately, though, it finally gives some context to the various cryptic actions of Captain Renard, which previously seemed like unconnected whispered threats Grimm was introducing throughout the season without knowing where they’d lead. It doesn't come any closer to explaining who Renard is—he's unfriendly to Valtz and the Verrat in general, but earlier episodes imply he’s not on the best of terms with the seven houses—but it does seem to get closer to explaining what he wants. “If you seek peace, prepare for war” he quietly muses after Valtz's first visit, and certainly everything he’s done this season seems to imply his overall goal is primarily to maintain the status quo of his domain. (Magic Greek coin-powered speeches aside. Sorry, I can’t get over that stupidity.)
“Cat And Mouse” still doesn't spell out where Renard stands in this conflict, but it does say a lot about where Nick might fall. After a tense meeting with Valtz where the latter promises to go on a killing spree if Ian’s not delivered to him—and then kidnaps Rosalee to prove a point—Nick and Monroe manage to trick him and leave him on the floor of the spice shop. But this isn’t good enough for Ian, who knows they’ll never stop hunting him and puts two rounds through the killer. For the first time, Nick’s now forced to choose between what’s right for the creature world and what’s demanded as a policeman—and there's a body on the ground, making it a far bigger decision than Renard sabotaging evidence last week. In the end, loyalty to his friends wins out: He drives Ian to the bus terminal and tells him to never come back, and Monroe dumps Valtz’s body to look like Ian got the upper hand.
While it's certainly not as bad as if he’d shot Valtz himself, this is a point it's going to be hard for Nick to come back from. Things are escalating fast around Nick and his friends, and it seems less and less likely he’ll be able to hold it together much longer. But based on this week and last, it does seem more and more likely Grimm can be trusted to put the pieces together in satisfactory fashion.
- It was announced this week that Bree Turner will be added to the regular cast in season two. This is a no-brainer decision, since if the show’s serious about getting deeper into the creature world, it needs more regular representatives than Monroe. It also doesn't hurt that Rosalee’s been a fun addition to the Nick/Monroe dynamic, and has an appealing chemistry with Silas Weir Mitchell.
- This week’s epigram comes from Brothers Grimm fairy tale “Iron John,” often interpreted as a parable about maturation. Fitting for both a show and a main character heading for decisive changes.
- Morality aside, Nick’s become much more proactive at the day-to-day of being a Grimm: writing his own chronicle of the various Wesen he's encountered, and identifying the Verrat as an European organization. (Though he still draws a blank re: the seven houses.)
- Hank explains away the odd conclusion of his relationship with Adalind by suggesting Adalind drugged him. I hope he finds out about the Wesen world soon, because he's coming across as an idiot.
- This week in Portland: good use of the city’s Old Town district streets to build tension as Edgar stalks Rosalee to the shop. Amusingly, the show’s far less convincing when it tries to replicate other cities, as the Washington D.C scene is blatantly shot on the Portland riverfront with green-screen landmarks added.
- Best Monroe line of the night, after Ian asks if he’s always so agitated. “Well, you made me miss my yoga, so...”