Though Grimm stumbles in broad strokes, occasionally it manages to win me over with a surprising attention to detail. The featured Wesen tonight is the Naiad, based on the water nymph of Greek myth—though the epigraph comes from Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid.” In Grimm’s version of this creature, the males are sterile, and the women must mate in the water with other men in order to further the species of half-human Wesen. In essence, the men must care for children they cannot sire themselves. Putting aside the emasculating rage that inspires in the episode’s villains, it took me a full 45 minutes to notice that the three Naiad daughters in the episode looked nothing alike: Sarah, a blonde, Anna a redhead, and Elly, a deaf brunette. That depth of backstory without calling direct attention is impressive, and touches like that make “One Night Stand” an enjoyable episode in spite of some repetitive flaws.
For starters, the prologue is one of the worst opening scenes the show has ever done, a moronic setup that only gets more preposterous as Nick, Hank, and Wu find out more details of how it came about. What initially seems like two guys and two girls having the world’s worst guitar sing-along on the shore actually turns out to be two guys fishing who are then joined by two random mysterious girls, plus an awkward third sister watching from the brush and claiming to be in love with one of the guys. But when two of the girls lure the guys into the water, only for them to get pulled under by some mysteriously violent sea creature, the insular community mystery begins.
Grimm has done the Wesen-as-forceful-cult thing before. Mostly I remember it from “Bad Moon Rising,” notable as the episode where Hank became fully aware of Nick as a Grimm. But I’m mostly interested in the way the show constructs the isolated enclaves of Wesen holding onto what modern society views as a savage and cruel patriarchal dominance over women forced by nature into submission. In the case of the Naiad, there are arranged relationships, and the two mates for Sarah and Anna come from Alaska, where their family is strictly traditional. Since Naiads are tight-knit families and presumably very rare—though Rosalee knew a weird one out near Bainbridge Island outside Seattle, which sounds about right—it’s incumbent on the girls to further the species, and tolerate the violent, vengeful men who are so upset that they’re not a part of the reproductive process that they seek to kill the humans the girls lure into the water.
This does lead to some familiar moments of closed-off communities refusing to cooperate with law enforcement. Nobody wants to talk to the police, preferring to keep to traditional values of the Wesen, even under threat of arrest or prosecution. Instead of the alluring mermaid, Grimm constructed females who are trapped by frustrated male counterparts. I found that a little disappointing, since sirens and mermaids have been depicted as fierce and dangerous in other modern fairy tale adaptations, and here the girls and their father (who lovingly raised them despite not fathering them) simply want to further the Naiads without drawing too much attention from the violently traditional Alaskan Wesen. It's a rather meek depiction, and one that shows emotional and physical abuse toward young women in the same way a more standard crime procedural might linger on that kind of violence
Grimm does find some more clever ways to show how Nick and Hank have to tiptoe around a normal police investigation to make the justice system work for them. After consulting the Magic Airstream, they know Naiads dry out and die of dehydration after about a day, so they hold two daughters in the precinct, then use the father’s false confession to leverage real information out of the daughters. It’s contrived, and was always going to lead to a climactic fight scene anyway, but I like that Nick and Hank aren’t always “smash first, questions later” detectives. They figure as much out through coercion and deft police work as they do through supernatural means. Then Nick once again gets to use his super-zombie Grimm powers to breathe for minutes underwater in order to save Elly, but also to fight the male Naiads. The benefits to that zombification continue to pay off, but it’s so heavily emphasized that it has to be an extended setup for a fall.
As for Monroesalee, they continue to be just about the cutest couple ever. I giggled through most of their screen time together tonight. They’re adorable, but in the back of my mind I keep thinking that Greenwalt worked on Joss Whedon shows, so he’s going to do exactly what Whedon would do in this situation and kill off part of the happy couple. I don't think that’s going to happen, but even the thought kind of wrecked me. She’s moving her stuff in, they’re talking about big kinds of permanence, and it all just makes me think that something big and sad is looming on the horizon. The camera lingers on that ugly decorative thing Monroe briefly places on the mantle. Perhaps that holds some significance. Either way, Silas Weir Mitchell and Bree Turner have lovely chemistry, and every moment they get to spend together onscreen is an entertaining use of Grimm’s time.
- As for Renard, his henchman, and Adalind: this plot has moved so slowly and in such small pieces that I honestly forgot that Renard would have no idea that Adalind is the one looking to sell a baby with royal blood. Not much development on this front other than connecting dots, though maybe that will help tie Adalind back to the main plot of the season.
- I briefly thought the water Wesen would be spelled Nyad, but I had confused the mythical creature Naiad with world record long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad, which is oddly appropriate.
- “Let’s round up the usual suspects.” —Renard, with a nice reference to Casablanca
- Well, Nick’s mom is back from Europe with the Fuchsbau coins, and Juliette can’t parse out from the email that it’s his mom. Hopefully that means Titus Welliver can return, because that’s literally the only good thing I can think of related to that plot. Please, no more Hitler connections, Wesen or otherwise.
- COUNT IT: “She wasn’t normal.” “Nobody is, Jake. It’s Portland.”