Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Grimm: “Volcanalis”

Illustration for article titled Grimm: “Volcanalis”

There was a very brief time in my childhood when I collected rock. Mostly from around lakes or rivers, when I would be skipping stones along the water, but also if I found anything interesting while hiking during my family’s various trips to national parks. What I’m saying is that that little kid version of me would have been totally murdered by molten hand strangulation if I had lived in Grimm’s Portland.

I don’t like when the mythology and creature abilities on Grimm leave wide gaps for me to think about logic problems. It distracts from the episode, takes me out of a world I’ve come to enjoy, and for the most part learned to accept despite its flaws. But when the logic is stretched so thin—Does the Volcanalis kill everyone who takes rocks from near any dormant volcano anywhere around the world at any time?—it’s impossible to ignore. Even with the benefit of two very interesting creature—or one Wesen and a demigod figure—“Volcanalis” suffers from being too ridiculous to work completely as an episodic diversion.

As with several episodes that lurch from introducing what the main characters start out doing and innocent victims about to become part of a crime scene, this week we get an enthusiastic geologist out neat Mount Hood happily taping steam emerging from a fumarole. She turns up dead, evidence points to a mountain man who turns out to be a bull Wesen attempting to guard the mountain from those who would take rocks and anger the godlike, titular monster of the episode, who seeks revenge on any who take a rock without showing proper respect. It’s all totally ridiculous, from how the Volcanalis could hide its trail in any way since the heat it gives off melts everything or causes it to combust, to the sheer number of murders it would have to commit each day for all eternity due to all the rocks that people would take from near dormant volcanoes.

And yet, I still somewhat liked this episode, because, come on, a magma monster choking people to death with hands of molten metal. Sure, the CGI is passable at best, but the other effects, like a pot of water boiling or paint starting to peel and char directly preceding an attack, looked cool. Plus, seeing Nick and Renard team up gives a little peek at what a different configuration of the show would look like. Hank gets forced into going on vacation—no Rosalee this week either, tear—so the Royal-Grimm partnership commences. Nick and Monroe bringing one of Aunt Marie’s books to the captain seems ill-advised, especially so close to their confrontation, but it’s worth it to hear them all discussion a plan of action, and then carry it out swiftly without involving anyone but Sgt. Wu.

I was no chemistry or physics whiz, but even I know that three lame jets of liquid nitrogen aren’t enough to cool magma, that it would just create a giant cloud of nitrogen vapor. But Grimm doesn’t concern itself with such science! No, all it needs is a cool way to stop the monster and then destroy it via sledgehammer, smashing it to obsidian bits. So ends the catastrophic history of a demonic creature before it really had the chance to wreak havoc and destruction. A lava monster that leaves a clear trail of torched footprints but can move about undetected, Mount Hood begins to act up again, but not for any cool Dante’s Peak or Volcano reasons, and only an impossible Hail Mary play saves Nick, Renard, and Monroe from getting extra crispy.

Strangely, the part of the episode I liked most was Juliette’s plot, as she finally confronted her overloaded memories that have been flooding back in unsettling fashion, multiple Nicks around her all the time. After reconvening with the woman from “La Llorona” again, she focuses on one memory, moving into the house with Nick, and that anchors her enough to settle everything down. When she sees Nick at the hospital after freaking out early in the episode, seems visibly relieved that it’s actually him and not a vision, then emphatically pushes him away emotionally, it’s a rousing moment, but one that would have a much stronger effect if we cared about Nick and Juliette’s relationship in any way.


This is the first time in a while that I can say I was actually interested in what was going on with Juliette, but it’s so dependent on what the show failed to build in the past, a relationship to root for between her and Nick, that it can only go so far. In the end, Juliette recalls Nick’s proposal, and though she looks more accepting, she’s still not ready to entirely trust Nick.

Lasly, Adalind’s plot with her royal child begins to take shape. She intends to sell the baby to a gypsy woman of unknown ability— $500,000 for a boy, $750,000 for a girl, presumably to breed more royals—and only asking for her powers back in return. So perhaps Adalind’s plan all along was self-serving and she doesn’t care about either side of the brewing battle. Considering she can’t keep it a secret forever, it’ll be interesting to see how Renard and his brother react to that news.


I never thought I’d say that I want to know what will happen with Juliette, but by roping me in with the sadness of her desperation, I think the show might be able to weave her back into the fabric of the plot and salvage the memory-loss crutch. And the fate of Adalind’s child will certainly have larger implications: either she gets her powers back and goes for revenge, or the royals find out and all hell breaks loose. Here’s hoping for the latter.

Stray observations:

  • Originally this episode was titled "Ring Of Fire." No indication on why they changed the name, but perhaps because of the same precautionary thinking that led to the episode getting delayed a week.
  • Juilette’s pep talk to herself did Bitsie Tulloch absolutely no favors in figuring out how to make this work.
  • I’ve always found the story of the Mt. St. Helens explosion/eruption fascinating, and I’ll any opportunity to point people to looking back at before and after photos of the mountain. They’re absolutely stunning.
  • “He’s a Wesen.” “Who isn’t these days?” — That’s the kind of winking, knowing, throwaway line of laugh-inducing dialogue that I expect from one of the creators of Angel, and sure enough, David Greenwalt shares credit for this week’s script with co-creator Jim Kouf.
  • Monroe and Bud are Portland Timbers fans, which makes so much sense for their characters.