“Happily Ever Aftermath” S1 / E20
- C+ Community Grade
Cinderella is an odd choice for Grimm to use as the inspiration for an episode. It doesn’t have any creatures to use as Wesen, and it’s difficult to substitute any of the characters to solve that issue. Sure enough, “Happy Ever Aftermath” is unquestionably the worst episode of Grimm’s first season, and spoils a nice run of episodes heading into May sweeps.
Firstly, far too much time is given to the episodic characters and their own drama instead of Nick and Hank’s investigation, Nick learning new information with Monroe, or Nick looking into the death of his parents back in New York. That Nick has a nightmare about the three men fighting over the Fuschsbau coins feels completely arbitrary. It doesn’t complement the Cinderella storyline at all, and there’s barely any time given to the development. It’s just plugged into an episode with some space to spare. Juliette is somehow leading the investigation into Nick’s parents’ death, calling a detective in New York, since an actual police detective in Portland couldn’t do anything more official about it.
I guess my biggest problem with “Happily Ever Aftermath” is that nobody recognizes the case resembles Cinderella exactly. I get that every case Nick deals with has a creature from some kind of folklore, but when he investigates this case with Hank, he has to make that connection. Somebody has to note that the case involves a stepmother and stepdaughter in the exact same setup as one of the most ubiquitous fairy tales in popular consciousness. I figured at least Sgt. Wu would make some kind of offhand comment about it, or that literally any character one the show would make a passing mention to how a great many of their cases resemble popular folk tales. Many of Nick’s encounters with Wesen happen away from the police or don’t draw direct attention to their equivalent Brothers Grimm tales, but like the Three Little Bears episode all the way back in the fall, this particular hour had too many similarities to go completely unnoticed.
In this retelling, Cinderella married an investment banker and has a godfather instead of a fair godmother. Both Cinderella and her godfather are Murcielagos, a Wesen Monroe translates to “Bat Out of Hell,” which might not be correct but has a nice ring to it. They’re capable of emitting a sound so high frequency that it bursts eardrums, pops eyeballs, and painfully kills anyone. It comes out of nowhere in a Cinderella story lacking any hallmark attributes of the tale, like a ball, a pumpkin, a glass slipper. I’ve grown to loathe Once Upon A Time, but one thing the show does well is actually include the touchstone elements of each Disney princess story they want to tell.
Adding to the problems, the Prince Charming in this scenario is the weakest guest actor since the Maushurtz back in January’s “Of Mouse And Man.” The scene where he pleads with Lucinda not to go to her stepmother’s house was particularly awful, with every emotional plea and rededication of love coming out flat and completely unbelievable. Almost nothing in the world of this show is believable, but we’re willing to go along with it because the reinterpretation of the fairy tale is compelling each week, or because Nick and Monroe have good comedic chemistry, but none of that was on display tonight.
It’s not even clear how Lucinda—the stand-in for Cinderella—figured out her husband’s financial trouble to begin with. Her husband kept the information from her initially, and unless she just up and decided to kill her stepmother and stepsisters coincidentally at the same time her husband was going through financial ruin, I never caught an explanation for that.
I’ve stated before that one of my biggest misgivings about a show is when the writers choose to make a smart character suddenly and inexplicably incompetent. It happened last week to Juliette in the dinner scene with Monroe, but this week Hank is the guy who just doesn’t notice what’s sitting right in front of him. Despite that, Nick and Hank’s interrogation of Spencer is probably the best scene in the episode, because it puts Nick into a situation where he may actually have to explain his Grimm status to Hank. But of course, Hank doesn’t believe that Spencer is actually capable of killing anyone with high frequency noise, thinks he’s playing the crazy card, and dismisses the strange goings-on out of hand. When Spencer escapes by breaking the windows with his voice, Hank rushes into the interrogation room looking shocked, so perhaps there is still hope that Nick will have to divulge his secret to one of the people close to him: Juliette, Hank, or Captain Renard.
Eventually Grimm was going to have a complete dud of an episode, and this fit the bill. Aside from a few throwaway lines, Monroe’s contributions, and a tiny bit of progress in the investigation into the death of Nick’s parents, I want to forget that this episode even happened. Cinderella is a story that doesn’t mesh well with the world Grimm has built over the course of its first season, and featured less of its main characters than a typical week. Episodic plots work when executed well, but this just wasn’t integrated into the style of the show enough to make me care about characters that would be dead in a half hour, or never show up again.
- Sgt. Wu’s reaction to seeing Taylor’s body was pretty hilarious.
- Murcielago is the best creature name so far. Even if it isn’t German, which seems like the default language for the Wesen world.