Grimm: "Eyes Of The Beholder"
C+

Grimm: "Eyes Of The Beholder"

 Nick and Hank seem to encounter a different Wesen every week, whether it’s working with Renard and the outside world, or chasing down a culprit for a case introduced that week. Perhaps the show doesn't give that much indication of how time passes for these characters, and maybe, as I’ve posited before, Grimm simply doesn’t show the more “routine” cases the two detectives handle. But it sure seems like they’re getting an awful lot of crimes involving Wesen concentrated in one area of investigation.

I think the problem is a matter of scope. Any supernatural show that takes the format of a procedural has to deal with something new in each episode. But those shows don’t always purport the hiding-in-plain-sight element Grimm uses over and over again. Lost Girl confines the characters to within the insular Fae world of an unknown (obviously Canadian) city, so that most of the fantasy characters interact with each other, preying on or protecting the humans outside the community. But Nick is a Portland detective, and Wesen Portland is very much a character on this show. It just doesn’t have any kind of explanation. Even on Angel this makes more sense, because as a specialty private detective agency, that group receives clients who have exhausted all other options. Nick and Hank are simply working through the cases that show up, and a ludicrously high number of the random cases they end up responding to involve Wesen.

This week, it’s an unfortunate characterization of rival Wesen street gangs, members from a Portland gang beating a Seattle man to death outside a diner, with a young kid as the only witness. That kid turns out to be the younger brother of Hank’s physical therapist Zuri. And once Nick and Hank showed up at that apartment and they made the connection, alarm bells went off that she and her brother are in fact Wesen. Grimm has portrayed the Grimm/human romance with Nick and Juliette, however rocky it’s been, and romance between different Wesen with Monrosalee—who continue to be adorable even without great dialogue, but now perhaps Hank will explore the human/Wesen courtship, since that went so well last time and he didn’t end up entirely exploited.

My issue is that Hank seems to only have one mode when he sees someone he likes: total head over heels commitment. That didn’t go well for him with Adalind, and Hank doesn’t seem to recall his last go-round with a Wesen girlfriend when he sees Zuri. Add to that Nick never jutting in to get a word in about how Hank might be taking things too fast or, “Hey buddy, remember the last time you went for the Wesen girl?” I know the actual reveal that Zuri and her brother Jared are Yaguarate—jaguar-like Wesen, no Airstream tonight so no additional info—doesn’t appear until the final act, but the nonchalance after Hank continues to pursue a crush shows that nobody really remembers much about Hank. And that doesn’t solve the clutter problem on Grimm, since basically the show has traded one ancillary plot (Juliette’s friend) for another.

But going back to the actual gang involved in the case—it wasn’t great for the show to cast only minorities as the gang members, and then to throw Rosalee’s knowledge of the gang scene in and attribute it to her low point, dealing with her past drug addictions. Hank is a consistent presence in the cast, but this is the first episode that has focused on his growth and development in a long time. The only regular with less development is Sgt. Wu, and he’s mostly there to provide peppy one-liners. Those are the two non-white characters on the show.

Not helping is that painfully rote interrogation scene between Zuri’s brother Jared and the detectives. If anyone with passing familiarity of police procedurals sat down with 10 minutes to write an interrogation scene, those are the lines they would come up with. It’s that generic.

As for the lingering plot about Juliette’s friend Alicia, Nick breaks the news that she’s Wesen to Juliette, who immediately turns around and tells her friend that she knows. And then the plot plays out like Alicia is denying that she’s in the closet, which was kind of an uncomfortable parallel, making shape-shifting non-human species being “outed” in some way feel equal to that real life event. Juliette’s conversation with Rosalee is the most insightful moment of the arc, as Bree Turner pulls off the one moment of genuine emotion in the entire episode when expressing how badly some Wesen kids want to feel normal when they confront who they really are. That identity crisis hasn’t been picked at as much as it could on Grimm, but having Juliette continue to pick away at her friend’s secret felt a bit callous.

If there’s one thing about Grimm that I’m getting increasingly tired of, it’s the moment when a strange Wesen goes woge, and then recoils when they realize Nick is a Grimm. It happens so often—though it’s a logical necessity—that I’m no longer surprised when Nick meets a new Wesen. I’m shocked when he meets someone who sticks around for an entire episode that isn’t Wesen in some way. Tonight there are three such moments, an overloaded hour where Alicia freaks out and runs, only for Joe to show up and instigate a fight—which is how she and Juliette eventually make up, after a display of physical defense. But another suspect in the hospital and Zuri both have similar reactions to Nick and it’s getting stranger to see that same action play out again and again, expecting everyone to be surprised in a new and different way to see a square-jawed cop standing there, since he doesn’t change like the Wesen.

I’m all for Hank getting some much-needed character development, but at this point I’d like Grimm to choose a way to pare down the cast so they can more consistently play off each other. Adding a partner for Hank would bring the gang up to six, plus Sgt. Wu, Renard, Adalind, Bud, episodic guest stars, and the recurring players in Europe. That’s overfull when Grimm makes such haphazard progress each week, instead of focusing on a main story (like the royal succession) and other small ones around it. A distinct lack of a central villain has created a boredom vacuum, where Grimm has stagnated in the middle of its third season.

Stray observations:

  • Next week looks like it will finally provide more Monrosalee, which the show has desperately needed. The unified team aspect has somewhat fallen by the wayside, and that’s not a good thing.
  • No news from Adalind in Europe this week, and only a passing appearance for Renard. I think that has more to do with the episode focusing on Hank.

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