The best thing about “Natural Born Wesen” is that it echoes last season’s “Cat And Mouse” which similarly expanded the Wesen world in compelling fashion. But this episode isn’t as good as that one, since it skimps on the explanations and necessary confrontations that arise from the information that Monroe and Rosalee reveal.
First, Grimm dispenses with last week’s cliffhanger rather quickly. Nick recovers, Monroe collects a bit of his blood, and Rosalee slips it into a final concoction without telling Renard or Juliette what exactly went into it. Supposedly, that’s the last step to returning their emotional interactions to normal—but that doesn’t exactly go as planned. We’ll circle back to that, but I’d rather deal with the far better portions of this episode.
A group of three Wesen—two Blutbaden and one other I didn’t quite catch—begin robbing banks while in full “Volga,” which humans believe are just incredibly convincing masks to shield their identities. Monroe is present during the first robbery, and when talking to Nick he takes great offense that any Wesen would break this ancient code. It’s dangerous, potentially inspiring copycats and drawing attention to a world that needs to remain hidden. In essence, it’s a much higher stakes but significantly less compelling wrinkle than the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy in the world of Harry Potter.
In “Cat And Mouse,” we first found out about the Verrat, the resistance movement against them, and the royal families that make up the Wesen world. This week, we discover the Wesen Council, which operates as some sort of secret police law enforcement, feared by all since the only thing they seem to do is assassinate Wesen who violate a difficult to pronounce (and spell, so I won’t attempt it) ancient law that prohibits Wesen from willfully revealing themselves to ordinary humans. The retroactive explanation of witch trials as Wesen hunts makes far more sense than claiming Hitler was a Wesen given power by the Fuschbau coins.
This council seems to only get called in when rash and idiotic Wesen flout the honored law. Rosalee’s father was a council member, then her brother was a contact, and since she’s the only one left, now she knows all the information about contacting the surreptitious Wesen authorities. This complicates the power structure of the Wesen world—the royals, the Verrat, the Grimms, and now a lay-Wesen assassin resource force of last resort—but what makes it so interesting is that Monroe and Rosalee actively work away from Nick and his investigative path to finding the robbers. To Wesen, it’s a matter of their safety as a people that these hooligans be eliminated.
At one point, Monroe says that Nick may have to quit being a cop and take on Grimm responsibilities, and I’m not quite sure exactly why Nick doesn’t heed that warning. His tenuous alliance with Renard—still vague and in need of specification—results in Renard sending information to the exact same person that Rosalee calls to report the violation, so they’re not working toward different goals. But that Monroe and Rosalee either didn’t trust Nick with internal Wesen business or believe that he could get the job done brings up a whole different aspect of their partnership. They challenge the assistant roles Nick assumes they’ll stay in, and he has no reason to think they’ll go against his authority as a Grimm and the de facto leader of their little covert operation.
But once the Council assassin, with his creepy red eyes, goes through with the killings, right after Nick and Hank finally track down the two remaining bank robbers, there’s nothing else to that plot. It’s so close to the end of the episode that it just cuts off without a real confrontation or conversation about Rosalee calling in the Council. The most interesting part of this entire ordeal is how Rosalee and Monroe deal with the problem without consulting Nick.
At the end of “Cat And Mouse,” Nick ignores his duties as a cop and puts his independent Grimm thoughts first, and he’s done that on multiple occasions to cover up illegal activity like, you know, murdering a bunch of Verrat. “Natural Born Wesen” doesn’t try to justify his decision to play this one by the book, not because of Renard or any other reason. He cites media attention, but other than one random news van that draws Sgt. Wu’s ire, Nick just seems to stick to standard investigation without absorbing the information Monroe offers.
From the look of next week’s episode, this is a bridge from the heavily serialized midseason premiere back into more purely episodic cases. But if the show omits the opportunity for Nick to confront Monroe and Rosalee about subverting his implied authority to take care of their own kind, then it’s wasting a golden opportunity to create conflict in what to this point has been the rock solid partnership on the show. If there’s a fictional issue that would make Monroe and Nick take different sides when they’re so often in agreement, it would be this one. And I’d like to see that kind of anger and disagreement between those two.
There are a lot of different directions this revelation can go, but without any kind of resolution, or any pattern to suggest that subsequent episodes will deal with the lingering questions sooner rather than later, then it’s an unfortunate byproduct of wasting time on superfluous touches like the young bank robbers celebrating and arguing with each other. Each actor slammed one note home, never deviating from one character trait. While the way that case fits into world expansion, it’s memorable, but those three characters feel underwritten.
I’m very intrigued by Rosalee and Monroe’s actions, and to find out that there’s some sort of international council that monitors brazen action that reveals Wesen to ordinary humans. But though it gets in some exciting action scenes, it cuts off right at the point when the discussion over the issue between Nick, Monroe, and Rosalee, was about to get far more interesting.
I wanted to ignore this for as long as possible, but seriously, that Juliette runner throughout the episode made absolutely no sense. She’s hallucinating a giant pit and an endless staircase, seeing sparks, hearing voices—but Renard is perfectly fine. He’s a royal and part hexenbiest, so maybe it’s because she’s human, but sticking quick little moments of a C-plot in the middle of two somewhat braided plots felt superfluous, especially since all that comes of the entire distracting side plot is that a voice tells Juliette it “just want[s] her to know the truth.” The first time Nick tried to explain all of this to Juliette, it was part of a spiral that led to her spell-induced coma, but the logic behind the concoction only affecting Juliette and not Renard is sketchy at best.
“Natural Born Wesen” is a fine episode, but a lesser achievement than “Cat And Mouse” due to the big lingering questions. Grimm is learning how to expand its world with episodic plots like this, but when it does raise interesting questions of authority, the episodes without a clear thematic point pale in comparison to the few hours that do.
- Yes, the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy. I’m a Harry Potter nerd, it’s all up there somewhere.
- Great little touch to have Rammstein playing in the Wesen bar.
- Monroe has the line of the night, surprising absolutely no one: “Well I think the ‘alone’ was a step in the right direction.”
- Next week looked like a rather intriguing episodic plot, though I imagine that it’ll be an impossible to spell type of Wesen once again.