'fraid you're stuck with just me this week, kiddos. Kitty's off seeing her family, which means you get nothing but pure undiluted batshittery on my end. It's okay, we're all mad here, and you wouldn't have come here if you didn't like the flavor of crazy we provide, right? Of course right. Apologies for the resulting delay, though honestly it's not as bad a delay as I feared it might be. Apparently doing this a lot means building up the muscle to marathon it alone if necessary. WHO KNEW. One note before we get started: neither one of us knows a great deal about Filipino culture, nor do we know Tagalog at all. (Or, for that matter, anything in the Austronesian language family; it's not something that comes up much in either our general geographic areas or in our specific social circles.) That said, I'm trusting that the people in cast/crew/writers' room with Filipino background supplemented whatever research Brenna Kouf did for the ep, and that the script went through many notes as a result. (Based on what I watched, it seems like she was willing to listen to those notes, which is a feat of grace for any newbie writer to accomplish. Ask K sometime about the early years of our partnership.) If any of our readers cares to offer a more informed opinion about culture and language than can be acquired through brief immersion in Wiki and its sources, please feel free! All I've got is the usual round of generalized anthropological blather. (Edit 3/18: go read the comments for Kris Q's extensive explanations and analysis, all of which were awesome and incredibly cogent!)
According to the Grimm Wiki page, which is where the source for the epigrams ends up being linked, tonight's quote is a rhyme dealing with a Gello. Which is a creature sort of like an Aswang, though European/Middle Eastern in origin, and a demon which was known for possession rather than being a separate entity, unlike, say, the lilitu. That geographical change is mildly irksome, though I'll grant that finding the right sort of quote from Filipino culture and then translating it accurately enough for an epigram was probably pretty tricky. I'll also grant that in many respects these myths are all of a type: a woman who's trying to regain power through the life of an infant or fetus. GEE DOES THIS SOUND FAMILIAR nah couldn't be. Possession? Nevah. They would never ever do such a thing oh I'm sorry did I get sarcasm on your screen there? Yeah, the themes on this one are awfully anvilicious, but that doesn't in and of itself make them poorly done, so let's move along to Meisner's cabin in the woods and the demon baby. Dear demon baby: are you gonna mind-control your mother? Because while I can't deny that would be suitable punishment for being used as a pawn, I a) can't buy an infant that's that self-aware at birth unless it in turn is being possessed by Frau Pech (always possible!) and b) I'd really, really like to see what Adalind does when she's acting on her own recognizance and not being dragged this way and that by the various factions. Up to and including anything that resembles awareness of her own mother as the object lesson for what not to do when raising a kid. For damn sure the demon baby is still telekinetic as it comes out of the womb, and I'm not sure if I blame Adalind or baby for biting the hand that's trying very hard to be helpful. To Meisner's credit he does seem like he's trying to cross-apply what you say to people in the middle of combat medicine to the birthing chamber, which is kinda close! Sorta maybe. Not to Puckler's credit, his Austrian accent disappears entirely when he's stressed out. Unless that's on purpose. In which case, the fuck. I demand explanations. Adalind does not appear to be taking Mama Catherine for anything other than a role model, considering she looks more delighted by having her woge back than by having a baby. Nor does she make grabby hands at the kid. This poor, poor child. Hey, even demon babies need love.
We move along to a house in Portland with a big weeping cherry tree in front, ooh, shiny. When I get my witch's cottage I'll have one of those, please. The nice Filipino couple is being watched from outside oh goodie. By a clicking thingummy. By now if you know the story of the Aswang but somehow avoided the glut of media releases around this ep, you're probably hiding behind the couch. Doubly so when we see that the woman is very, very pregnant. The couple is adorable, as far as we can tell loving and supportive even if the guy's not the best cook in the world. New parents, since there's no other kids in the house but also because they're both that edgy sort of nervous that first-time parents get, especially when it's close to the due date. (I am utterly, utterly ignoring the fact that neither supposedly pregnant - or formerly pregnant - actress in this ep really looks pregnant. The hassle you'd have to go to for the added weight in boobs and face and yeah, no, it's a pain.) The wife teases about how he'll go get her prenatal meds since dinner was an utter disaster, right? Of course right he will! While we all sit here twitching. Poor woman's in the stage of pregnancy where she's tired all the time, so it's not long and I guess he's walking to CVS? That tongue is really, really damn creepy, I'd scream and chop it off if that were me. (I don't even have pregnancy phobias! Something we may all be grateful for as we proceed through the ep.) Then again, I tend to sleep with weapons to hand and I've been known to fight off all kinds of interesting drugs to do weird shit that I don't remember the next morning. And she is clearly drugged, as that's not enough blood loss to weaken her to such a degree and she should be running high on adrenaline right now. Interestingly for this show, she also doesn't look too confused by what the fuck this thing is, just horrified. Which could be the drugs and/or an inability to process beyond "make it stop," but given the givens this ep, I'm going with totally deliberate. Lot of Dutch angles, the Aswang's very convenient for them because it prefers to climb, use its tongue as a ranged weapon, and avoid any retaliatory hits. Smart! Both in the Doylist and Watsonian senses. Apparently they rigged a Technocrane into this set for these shots. I can't decide if I'm glad I wasn't set designing or mildly envious of their toys. (Ask me sometime about the amazing high school theatre set designer whose sets never, ever even wobbled on the cast and crew.) We'll go with both. Oh, hey, it's early enough that a neighbor's taking out the trash and hears the screams! Probably sees some of the ceiling-clinging, too, though I can't blame her for discounting that in her later witness statement. Oh GOOD Dana that's a badass woman who will fuck your shit up while drugged and in pain. I approve. Neighbor woman is trusted enough and this is one of Those Neighborhoods where you put your spare key under a rock by the front door, I guess? I still don't understand that concept and I grew up in one of those neighborhoods, but I'm also an insular fuckhead, so. We may all be grateful that the neighbor in no way sees the Aswang! Because two humans with the Delirium is not what this ep needs. Poor Wu.
Hey, Wu. How's the donut-eating coming? (Seriously. We are stopping and getting some of those mini-donuts when we're in town next month. Waaaant.) Wu, your marital advice of a belly rub is probably why you're still single. Back rub. You're thinking back rub. Still, Franco and Wu's banter is adorable and friendly and I'm not even going to question why two sergeants are on patrol together. Okay, not much. You'd think they'd have a rookie apiece to teach the ropes, though then we wouldn't have character-building, so I withdraw my complaint. Wu does have a cat. Pardon me while I do the fuck-yeah-vindicated dance of having dug through that goddamn apartment set last year. And further banter's gonna wait, because Wu knows that address and has a friend there and we can shout about poor protocol all we want? That's totally believable, that a cop gets the address of someone he knows over the scanner and takes off like a bat outta hell to go help. We won't even bother with more than a second of travel time, just to emphasize the urgency behind Wu's actions. Into the house with guns drawn, yeah, Wu's been here before, he knows his way around better than just "cop on TV show" or even "cop who knows general layouts of most houses in the neighborhood." (Besides which, this is a nice enough neighborhood he shouldn't have been in that many of them on callouts.) The neighbor continues to be one of the smarter witnesses we've seen! Shouting down for help, not presenting as a threat, pointing the cops through to where they need to be. I'd complain about the apparent lack of first aid, except the bleeding's not obviously continuing and there's a pregnancy at risk, which always complicates matters beyond your average bystander's ability to be clueful. Wu runs through the basics anyway, and we can see (because Reggie Lee is awesome) the moment where he registers blood around uterus, blood on bed, open window, and puts it all together to form a story he doesn't want to think about too hard. Too bad, Wu, 'cause Dana has a message for you. Yeah, that's the face I'd be making about now. Look, it could be worse, okay? It could be a Manananggal, which is kind of similar except the upper and lower halves of its body detach. I'm assuming when they went to Reggie Lee for Filipino Folklore 101 that was discarded due to cost-prohibitive effects. Ahem.
The ambulance is here, and with it comes the husband. I appreciate that they did not make Sam show ID to get into his own home, and Franco trusted to the distressed body language instead. Also, looking at these first few minutes, this is a very action-feeling episode and yet not a ton has happened for the amount of time passed on camera. It's all in the camera work and the reactions of the characters; we're not quite in the super-tight 3rd person POV can see their nosehairs as we root around Wu's brain (because it is mostly his POV), but it's maybe a step and half removed from that. Somewhat unusual for Grimm writing, and a nice change of pace in a lot of ways. In other ways I'm a little twitchy over how it earmarks this as a Different Episode, but I have to admit it does us good as an audience to be reminded of how incredibly fucked-up the Grimm world is from the perspective of someone who's been here all along. Quietly hanging out in the corner being snarky. Like he does. Sam is not quietly hanging out in the corner once he gets upstairs. Sam is lunging toward his wife, and that's a look of distress and fury, albeit well-concealed on the second, not distress and confusion as would be more appropriate. Certainly he lacks the confusion. Who's suspicious? I'm suspicious. Wu's suspicious. Well, at least they can rule out problems with the pregnancy; that's good, right? Uh. Maybe not. That look after the ambulance is that of a man trying very hard to reconcile what he lives by now with what he grew up with, and not coming up with any answers he likes. That's because none of the answers are good. Meanwhile, the Aswang tiktaks away, and we roll credits.
Drinking game for this recaplysis: sip whenever I say "oh Wu." Probably water. I don't want you to end up in the hospital. Nick and Hank show up to figure out if their services are required, since they don't have a perp and the vic's not in any shape to talk. We know right away that Wu is still shaken; he doesn't quip like he normally would, he even lacks some of his professionalism, and Nick, you are not helping by trying to convince him it's not his fault. Help by figuring out what the fuck happened and who you can lock up for it. I would definitely prefer the "lock up" option, anyway. Putting the line about "I can't help but feel it is anyway" in Wu's mouth feels a little overdone to me? I think Reggie Lee could have accomplished that beautifully with sheer body language, anyway, but here's the problem with writing the start of an arc focusing on a character you've never focused on before: you have to somehow or another convey all the basic knowledge we should already have. Yeah, I know we haven't grumbled about Wu's characterization before - that's because there was hardly anything there to grumble about. We knew he was sarcastic, lived alone but for a cat, played video games and enjoyed a variety of forms of spec-fic media, probably was in other respects a Portland geeky type. Has a healthy respect for the police hierarchy, since he's never really tried to be more than friendly acquaintances with Nick and Hank, which says nothing about his after-hours socializing tendencies. (The lack of space for guests in his apartment, however, suggests introvert.) And on top of that, this ep is doing a couple of things at once with Wu's character: we're peeling back the layers to get a good look at what's already there that we didn't know about, and we're setting up a new character arc for him to take as he confronts the Wesen side of things. (Credit for that clear explanation of two major ways to develop characters goes to Eric, by the way, who just wrote a post that clarifies many of my thoughts on the matter. And explains why I have no interest in watching Mad Men!) I'm not sure I want to say that it's trying to do too many things, but it's damn ambitious for a first ep. Presumably this is part of why they had Norberto Barba in to direct it, matching inexperienced writer with experienced director.
Anyway. Nick and Hank, now that Wu's admitted personal involvement with the case, go to their jobs and start poking around for useful evidence. That is… a lot more blood than we saw in the initial attack, I wonder if most of that isn't from Dana slicing the Aswang's tongue. In which case, ew, put your tongue back in your mouth when you go fleeing the scene. Didn't your mother teach you table manners? (Probably not.) Oh hey, claw marks! And blood trail leading out the window! That is, indeed, the kind of tree anyone in reasonable physical condition could climb. Location scouts must've been thrilled when they found this place. Wu has a look on his face that we've seen far, far more often on the other cops' faces; it is, for lack of restraint on my punning, awfully grim. Wu, tell them she said it was an Aswang. Wu. Please? Mainly because I still wanted the Wu who freaked them out by already knowing about Wesen. Alas, no, he's not going to share in-group myths with a couple of his sort-of-superiors who have every reason - as far as he knows - to laugh in his face. Franco's got the witness out front for a statement anyway, so we'll leave him staring thoughtfully at the blood trail over the fence and please stop licking your lips when there's at least one Aswang about, Wu, that's creepy. Witness is actually very helpful! Surprisingly so. They've had a rash of those on Grimm lately. I think they're about due for the kind of witness who wants to be helpful and is failing miserably. Witness swears she didn't see any attacker, but there was a ticking sound! Which of course she offers right as Wu wanders out of the side yard, for extra bonus way-too-still points. And a shadow across the window, though that definitely sounds like she knows what she saw (the ceiling-clinging figure) and is refusing to believe it because it wasn't a direct sighting and That Shit Doesn't Really Happen, Right? Wu seems to have the hands-on-hips tell, which is interesting. Makes him look bigger to any potential predators, solves the issue of what to do with your hands when you're nervous and jittering. It's not so much a concealment tell as a nervous twitch; the hiding other emotions and information part is largely done via facial expressions. Wu, you can try and play stoic all you want, but that disapproving tone about Sam the husband is kinda blatant. Be nicer.
Let's all go to the hospital, then! The doctor is also twitchy and nervous, which in this instance has more to do with a bunch of data that makes no goddamn sense and less to do with hiding anything. It does make sense that the Aswang would need to suck out the amniotic fluid first, I guess, and then suck out the baby? Though given later developments it must do the equivalent of a Will It Blend? (hint: yes) with the fetus in utero, if it's possible for a woman attacked by an Aswang to have children later. Or, y'know, it's Wesen magic. Let's go with Wesen magic, because thinking about the biological requirements that don't involve the woman turning into a victim out of Aliens is making me vaguely nauseated. The fetus right now is unharmed, anyway, and the amniotic fluid will replenish on its own. I do not envy Dana either staying hooked up to an IV for most of a week or having to drink that much liquid for a week. Particularly when the baby's undoubtedly pressing on her bladder by now. Oh, and most sedatives dehydrate the fuck outta you (valerian definitely among them), so enjoy that part, too. Poor woman. Not that they know what the sedative is just yet, and the doctor doesn't have anything else for them, so let's go bug the husband! Nick will once again be the more aggressive bad-cop. Thanks, Nick. Could you save the asshole act for later? No? No. Though they're right, they do need to verify the husband's alibi, and Wu is pretty clearly trying to save Sam from being typed as Belligerent Brown Guy at least in Nick's head. Oh both of you. (I think it's more likely Nick's trying to get the husband to woge in front of him, but dude. Stoppit. Most eps lately I want to smack Nick with a cluehammer of Just Because You Have Power Doesn't Mean You Get To Club Everyone With It. Renard will back me up on this!) Fortunately, the doctor needs more medical history, thereby saving Wu from having to give them the receipt in front of Sam. It saves face for everyone involved, even if Nick thinks maybe Sam was involved despite not being present! Okay, yes, sort of, but probably not in the way you're thinking, Nick. And Wu, just because you think you know Sam and Dana that well doesn't mean you really do. I'm glad he was right, but let's just put that out there right now that domestic violence is private even from your closest friends. Sometimes especially. Whether or not Wu knows that, he's interposing himself as a guardian between the cops and his friends. Wu, honey, let them do their jobs. Nick, be less of an asshole. You may want to start drinking when I yell at Nick for being a dick, come to that. Hank, thank you Hank for being The Best, will keep Wu informed of what they discover even though that's probably breaking half a dozen regs about who's supposed to know what and personal involvement with a case. Thing is, if they don't keep Wu involved directly, he'll find ways to involve himself, and it's better to be able to control his direction at all. Sigh. Right now that direction is standing outside Dana's hospital room in the fond hopes that if a second attack comes he'll be able to protect her from it; he doesn't say that, but it's blatantly obvious. Just like his being half in love with her. Oh Wu.
Crime scene pictures are not at the precinct, for a change. They're at Nick's dining room table while he tries to get Juliette to help with anything. It looks like they came straight to dinner from the hospital, since the guys are in the same clothes, so presumably this is in the spirit of maintaining their newfound partnership in a couple different ways, including not running off to the precinct when they have a perfectly useful source of animal knowledge right there! Unfortunately for them, Juliette's right: those clawmarks aren't distinctive at all, it's something medium to large sized which rules out squirrels, but it could for all they know be a medium sized critter or the adolescent of a larger species. Insufficient data! I love Juliette's annoyed expression over that. Aside from the marks and the fucking weird nature of the case (I mean, come on, stealing amniotic fluid? for stem cell research? that's like kidneys in the bathtub levels of urban legend) they don't have anything firm to indicate Wesen. Meaning, Nick, that you didn't get the husband to woge out. You dick. Juliette will continue to bring up all the most excellent questions, like, how do they handle Wu wanting to know what's up if it turns out to be Wesen? It seems like both the boys have thought of that independently but not discussed it, or if they did in the car on the way over Hank's not pleased by the answer. Interestingly, and kind of hilariously, he's also sitting at the head of the table like he should be the authority figure here but isn't. Hank's ceding the answer to Nick because he knows he's not as experienced, but he's so, so not happy about it. Or about what Nick's answer turns out to be. Nor is Juliette! Hey, Nick, you want some ice for that burn? Fucking hell, dude, you would think you'd learned your lesson twice over by now. Maybe three times, given the Captain. LYING IS A BAD ANSWER.
Lying in bed isn't such a bad thing when you've been attacked and drugged, though. Wu's standing guard, he could possibly be more obvious about it though I'm not sure how without freaking out hospital staff. Sam is remarkably polite considering the usual level of bristling two men would do in a situation like this even if there were no one-sided feelings going on. (Also can I just say, Wu, you're treading into Nice Guy territory? I promise if her husband turns out to be a monster in either the figurative or literal sense Dana is not going to flee into your arms, and that's kind of what he's acting like right now. Stoppit.) Go home and get some sleep, implied "while I take watch" is a nice way of saying "back the fuck off," though, and Wu knows it, and so we get Sam calling… someone? Sam who are you calling. This cannot be good. Watch me avoid Dr. Seuss jokes only half-successfully for the rest of this post. Sam is calling his brother! Who's still in Manila. I have a suspicion that either that's stock footage or a street in Portland made up to look like Manila; someone want to tell me which it is? (Judging by Twitter last night I'm guessing the latter.) I can give you almost no help on the Tagalog except to say that I think Sam is using the oblique third person to refer to "she" and I think Tom is using the informal you form, both of which are to be expected. I'm sure there's idiomatic language at play, possibly pronouns that would better inform us about who the her they're referring to is beyond the family connections which are obvious, but without any kind of grounding in an ergative language I can't help more than that. I will note that Sam code-switches between Tagalog and English; Tagalog seems to be for intimacy and emphasis of emotion, English for declarations of intent and imperative commands. Because many Filipinos are English-Tagalog bilingual, I'm assuming that was deliberate on the part of the actors if not the writers, so that does tell us something about what kind of code-switching Sam engages in, at least! It's also useful to note that despite that, his brother doesn't use English at all, presumably because he more commonly uses Tagalog in his daily life. Remember that we didn't see any Tagalog in the after-dinner scene; whether that's because they didn't want to overwhelm us with subtitles or because that's not what these characters do in their home life I have no idea.
Wu is gonna go have a nightmare now. Because that's always helpful. Wu, I know the subconscious mind makes no goddamn sense, but as far as anyone knows you can't get pregnant. (I would be shocked if the networks ever allowed a transgender character whose gender identification was not the focus of the show or the episode. Pleased. But shocked.) Back to Dana's bedroom we go with a helpless dream-Wu! In typical dream logic, the door from the bedroom now leads to… Wu's childhood! In the Philippines, if the vegetation is anything to go by, and a backyard where his grandma's telling him stories. Oh honey. Again, can't give you a damn thing on the linguistics (and how sad am I that neither K nor I could? SO SAD. brb moving Tagalog up the list of languages to learn, which only means it'll be another five years or so), but there's code-switching again. Grandma Wu's description of the Aswang sounds awfully familiar! Hard to say if that's because Wu is dropping details from the case into his recollection of her storytelling, but I wouldn't be surprised if the local legends matched the Wesen type very accurately in this instance. The more isolated a culture is, the more you get very similar stories with very region-specific variants, as a general rule, which seems to be what's happened with the Aswang in real life legends. Poor ickle Wu looks terribly freaked out. This does, by the way, also indicate that he either didn't immigrate to the US until adolescence at least (he looks about 8-10 here) or his family went back often enough for it to be prominently featured in his memories. I'm guessing the former, based on what he said about encouraging Sam and Dana to move to the US and about his childhood with Dana. Aaanyway. We will now have the nightmare within a nightmare where Wu thinks he's waking up to an Aswang through his window, complete with tiktiktik sound. Luckily for him, not so much! Sort of luckily. Waking up from those sucks. I appreciate that they did the gasp and bolt upright thing, not the scream and flail in reality thing, and Reggie Lee totally sells it. Let's see what I can get out of the bedroom, since this is our first look at it, shall we? Double bed, sleeps in the center, pretty blue comforter/quilt thing, lamps either side, windows over the head of the bed and also off to Wu's left as he's lying in bed. One low bookcase at least half-filled with paperbacks and a few knickknacks on the top on the other wall. Another noir/horror poster like the ones we saw in his living room back in s1, good continuity there. Landline phone on the headboard, small globe knickknack, what might be a watch and some jewelry? Up on the windowsill above the bed, a couple carved wooden statues that look like they match, and some kind of small framed thing that doesn't look like a photo from here. More like a small painting or woodcarving. No cat, but I think there's a cat bed/perching type toy on the floor near the window? Very simple, almost spartan, but at least a few personal touches. Maybe Wu leans toward a minimalist decorating style; that'd be in keeping with what little else we've seen of his apartment. Also maybe he just doesn't know how to decorate. Sometimes I forget that this is not a skill everyone has. Ahem.
Back to the Austrian Alps we go! Meisner's looking very master of the house in the chair by the fire. Adalind and demon baby Pech are asleep, or at least doing a very convincing imitation of it. I'll go with at least Adalind's asleep, because wouldn't you be after shoving a demon baby out of your body? I know I would. At least this one appears not to be either Jasmine or Connor! It's time to call Renard and fill him in on the salient details, as much of them as there are. Because he's not a total incompetent, he will take the precaution of leaving the damn cabin before updating Renard. Good man. They're both fine, it's a girl - and can we just take a second to admire what Sasha can do with less than a minute of screen time and very few lines? I knew we could. He goes all soft around the edges and not really smiling but kind of quietly joyful. Inasmuch as he can be for a child with Adalind. And then he visibly pulls himself back together, because he can't relax at all yet. The extent to which this gets under his skin shows by the furtive looking around the corner in the precinct to be sure nobody's listening in; normally Renard's much better about the whole "act natural and blend in and nobody will think twice about what you're doing" school of espionage. Meisner doesn't want to move them until Adalind's ready to travel, which is fair, and the only way to get to the cabin really is on foot. Or maybe by parachuting into dense forest, I'm sure there's a clearing somewhere, but we haven't yet seen any Wesen that can fly so I'm not too concerned about that avenue of attack. I'm a little surprised Renard didn't outright say "keep your goddamn phone off so they can't trace the GPS signal," but maybe we'll get lucky and Meisner will be smart or lucky. Probably lucky. I do appreciate his philosophical attitude of, nobody knows exactly where we are and we'll be safe until we're not. It's definitely the sort of thing you get when you've been in the trenches and betrayed by a supposed comrade recently, so that's a decent bit of further characterization. Renard still can't quite keep from smiling. I'm going to keep boggling over it being a girl. I was expecting? hoping for? a boy, who would then be pushed into prime pawn position as being in line for the throne. This places more emphasis on the Hexen-Zauber side of things, in all probability, unless Adalind's going to have her daughter make a play for the throne regardless. Which would not surprise me. I admit I think that Sasha's performance is informed by the goddamn unexplained photos of young girl and woman who's probably her mother in Renard's condo and office, whether or not the writing was. And now I want to pick his brain about his headcanon for those, because you know he's come up with it the same way Reggie Lee started extrapolating based on getting to see the set of Wu's apartment in s1. Where's that interview - ah, here, under the acting challenges.
Speaking of, let's go back to the case! Nick's got nothing criminal on Sam. What a shock. Hank's expression and tone say about the same thing as he relays the utter lack of anything bad to say about Sam from his supervisors. There's nothing interesting and unusual in the prenatal meds, and Hank will continue to demonstrate why he's The Best by suggesting that maybe it was in whatever she was stabbed with? You know, the really big needle the doctor mentioned? Yeah, that one. Immense kudos to Russell for playing Hank like he wants to punch Nick even now before they know it's Wesen for sure, because yeah, wouldn't you? After going through an entire season of being lied to and then hearing your partner hasn't fucking learned from his mistakes? Yeah, no, punching time. I actually have a recently-developed theory that, regardless of if the writers know it, Grimm is actually about a white guy being forced to realize that hey! Other people are real people too! No matter what species, color, gender, orientation, or any other damn thing they come in. And species is a convenient shorthand for all the real-world problems we have, while also complicating things in ways that force people to look at individual cases rather than treating any one group as homogenous. It's brilliant. It's why Nick's often the blandest character on the show, and it's why one of these days they're really going to have to shove him through the grinder and make him change enough to become more interesting. (Personally, I would've done it last season, but if they're operating on a rough five-season plan even in the back of their heads, I can see the logic to doing it now.) The other option, though, is that Nick's response to even this small amount of grinder-shoving that they're doing is to become more belligerent and cling to what he knows and what limited power he has to keep it that way, even if it translates into passive-aggression/outright aggression at people who are otherwise his friends. It's not an ideal response and it's not one geared towards making life easier as your friends increasingly want to punch you for it (see also: Renard's very blunt speech about killing Wesen vs killing humans and Hank's expression just now) but it's a very realistic response. Anyway, let's go visit Dana in the hospital, she's awake! Yay! Sort of.
First, Wu has a visit to pay to his cousin at a Filipino restaurant in town. The interaction doesn't do much to move plot along, but it serves to illuminate his character some more, so let's dig into that, since this is a character ep alongside a solid procedural ep. He's a lot less reserved here; I think this is the first full and genuine smile we've gotten out of him in three seasons, and any lingering reserve in the physical language I'm chalking up to not wanting to get raw pork on him. Out of uniform, he's dressed in muted colors, the omnipresent "I've lived in a temperate rainforest for a few years" jacket and a nice wool scarf. There's some teasing about using the whole animal which is, I think, mostly to showcase the old vs. new dichotomy that anyone brought up in a culture who then emigrates and has to decide how much to assimilate is balancing. It sets the tone for Wu's line of questioning, does his cousin remember the Aswang stories? Why yes! He will, in fact, confirm the details of how Aswang attack their victims and mention how it's a great story to keep husbands from straying from their pregnant wives. Either in the literal or metaphorical sense, as it were. (Don't go sleep with someone else, asshole, or your kid might die. There's a morality tale for you!) He even offers up the tidbit about the plant or something that sedates the victim, not that he remembers the name. And then we get more details about Wu and Dana, they used to date, they don't anymore, there's a lot of commiseration which Wu seems to half-appreciate and half-really not want to discuss further over how she's married now but they're still close. Oh honey. No, I really want to know the fuck happened there, because the broad strokes of this make Wu seem like he's hanging around hoping to be chosen later and is that hung up on her, and I can't tell without details how morally gray he's supposed to be coming across as. Anyway, the final bit of this scene involves both bouncing the outline of the case off his cousin and saying it looks like an Aswang, and mentioning it as a warning to the community. I'd assume that his cousin has stronger/deeper ties within the local Filipino community than Wu himself, given their respective jobs, and the likelihood is - not that they're discussing it openly - that anyone with enough knowledge to duplicate this legend so closely would themselves be Filipino. It's very, very subtle, there's not even a "keep your eyes peeled," but it's there. I think, anyway.
Come on, you guys are Portland hippies, surely you've heard of valerian root before? I think I still have a bottle lurking around my desk somewhere for those occasions when insomnia strikes. Though I would not be taking it in the dosage Dana presumably got. Hank is still the gentle one, but Nick's toned down the asshole routine. GOOD. I'm making it my headcanon that Hank chewed him the fuck out for his stunt in the gang jaguareti episode. Regardless of how much they're presenting as non-threatening, Dana will keep her hand on her belly between her and the cops. She claims not to remember anything except the pain, no noise, nobody there, nobody at her window. It's difficult to determine what of that might be continued grogginess from the valerian and what of it she's lying about because she doesn't want to be thought of as a crazy person by the cops, but I think it's safe to say that she remembers something more than what she gives them. Wu gets a smile and a little bit of relaxation out of her when he shows up, and also a spark of defiance directed at Nick and Hank over did she maybe take something? Maybe on accident? With valerian in? No, no she did not, not that she knows off, she doesn't remember anything, go away. Heh. Wu, you are being really overeager and almost hyper about this. I know you care, but that whole thing where you respect the hierarchy? You're throwing people off their game, which means they're not going to be as much help as they might be. Though to their credit, they don't get aggressive; Hank asks if he's got anything and we're treated to Reggie Lee making all kinds of faces as he dithers about making himself look like the crazy one. Let's conclude on another of those looks from Hank to Nick that pretty much says FUCKING TELL HIM, HE KNOWS SOMETHING. Because those will never get old. Well, if they don't let Hank smack Nick with a cluehammer they will, but I have hope! Sort of!
Baby brother has a location on, oh, let's just say it, on their mother. Viking Hotel! Not, for a change, the room number that matches the episode, that's interesting. 'cause believe you me I was expecting it. We don't get more than a few seconds of brotherly warnings before Sam has to go answer the doorbell. WE HAVE A FIRST NAME, LADIES AND GENTLETHINGS. Drew Wu. Which is presumably short for Andrew. He's here to be confrontational, Sam, don't you know what hands on hips means? Okay, first he's here to give information, but it's the kind of information-giving that's probing for a reaction. He gets one, too, because Sam has a shitty poker face and goes all still and vaguely guilty over the valerian root. Which is enough for Wu to push on about looking at the bedroom for anything he missed, no, really, he might have missed something! CSU might have missed something! Except we know that Sam's not even lying when he says he's cleaned it all up so there's nothing to find, because we saw the bedroom at the start of this scene. Wu knows he's lying about something, in this case it's the part about going to the hospital. He might have wanted to go soon, but the hotel just took precedence. At any rate, Sam does seem aware that he can't control his face, so he turns the fear and guilt into confusion and wariness, which are close enough cousins that Wu can't call him out on anything in particular. Just plants the Aswang idea, I know what you are, kind of thing in there and then stands there and watches with due annoyance as Sam drives off. I'd even say the jab about getting some sleep is a deliberate one - Wu might not be an Aswang's supposed victim, but that doesn't mean that he'll be sleeping easy anytime soon. Oh Wu.
Meanwhile at the spice shop, Rosalee found the valerian root! I assume she's pulling out the stock to check and make sure nobody's broken in and stolen in recently, because otherwise there's no reason for her to be moving around. Maybe giving motion and a sense of urgency to the scene? Sure, we'll go with that. For those of us who did not take a side trip down herbalism lane at any point in college, Rosalee hits the high points of valerian root: highly sedative, dangerous in high dosage, could be used because it doesn't interact much with other drugs. Definitely not something you want to fuck around with unless you know what you're doing. And no, neither she nor Monroe recognize the type of attack offhand, which is reasonable: I would've needed to do more research had they not made the PR materials for this ep so widely available. But they can maybe cross-reference eating fetuses with valerian root back at the trailer of infinite knowledge! Monroe, please stop talking about eating placentas, that's just disgusting. (Okay, yes, in certain species it's a semi-common behavior, there's a lot of iron and other nutrients in there that the newborns won't need and the mother could use replenished, but still. Ew.) Off to the trailer with them!
And off to the hotel with us, which is full up. Well, at least there shouldn't be any physical fighting, the neighbors might overhear. Unless mommy's bought out all the remaining rooms to ensure her privacy. Much to, at this point, nobody's real surprise, the woman Sam and Tom have been talking about is their mother. It's apparently Aswang tradition that the first child born to the eldest son (who of course might not be the actual eldest son, depending on if the sacrificial child was a boy or a girl, and this entire scene is overwritten with Sam's realization of and horror at that) is given to the mother to prolong her life. I would like to know, what about the fathers? Do they have this kind of fucked up bargain with their eldest daughters? Or some more complicated and less of an exact mirror type of kinship arrangement? I can't even be entirely pissed off that they set it up as mother and son in this case, both because there's so many themes with mothers fucking up their sons in this show already and because frankly, adding a father into this particular story would lend even more overt rape themes to it. And I don't think that's what they mean to address, actually. (Come to that, it would've been more interesting if the Aswang had been Dana's mother and she didn't know because she was halfblooded and didn't get the Aswang traits. Lord knows it would've paired with Adalind's fucked up maternal line.) I mean, it's present, but I think the one they're aiming toward has to do with the battle of old vs. new, traditional obligations vs. obligations you choose to fulfill. I'm still skeeved out in all kinds of ways by this tradition. For that matter, who the fuck knows if this is really Aswang tradition for all families. It could be just this family. It could be just the group of families in the specific region Sam comes from; remember, the Philippines are a cluster of islands and variations on traditions flourish under such conditions. We're not given enough information in this scene to say for sure. All we can say is that the mother Aswang is very, very afraid of death and believes she's owed this, and that is by any human standard a sick and wrong set of obligations to place upon your child. Sam, for his part, knows this and yet has a couple clear moments of cognitive dissonance where he seems to feel like his worlds are colliding. I say seems to feel, because all I've got to go on is actor interpretations and that camera tilting skewed on and off throughout this scene, which I think it does when Barba most wants to emphasize the clash in Sam's mind and the way his refusal breaks his mother. The threat of the police seems half-hearted at best; they both know that the police won't know what to do with "my mother is responsible for the previous attack," but it's a measure of how desperate Sam is that he's willing to make that threat. Aaand the Aswang mama rips up the plane ticket. Not like we didn't see that coming.
Other things we could all see coming from a mile away: Wu went straight to the hospital to confirm Sam's story about going to the hospital. Also because he's an overprotective grumpy jackass right now. Wu, don't be a jackass interrogating your friend about where her husband is. Though I'll grant the amount of stuff for an overnight hospital stay is a little worrying. Less in the way where maybe Sam's going to kill her on vacation and make it look like an accident, lost at sea, the usual soap opera type thing, and more in the way where, whatcha getting ready to run from, Sam? Yeah, at least he's being appropriate-ish with his protectiveness now that Dana's expressed some of her fears over going home. Even if she doesn't remember most of the details, or is writing it off as a hallucination of some kind due to being drugged and attacked, that's enough to make you feel unsafe in your own home. Oh honey. Hugging her and huffing over being such a good friend (seriously, Wu, I know you think Sam's not good enough for her, quit it or Imma smack you) would be one thing, getting caught by Sam is another. Oh my god everyone put their dicks away, fucking seriously. Men. Sam has more excuse right now, considering what he just went through with his mother, and Dana sees that. Wu, the aggression thing? You could just start baring your teeth at people instead. I'm sure nobody would spot that as a sign of aggression. Ahem. No, now they're getting things more or less out in the open, and much to my surprise Sam isn't just hauling off and punching Wu. Or telling him to fuck right off. No, he'll take advantage of Wu being growly to tell him about visiting his mother in the hotel, how Dana and her MIL don't get along, and she's headed back to Manila. Really. Totally. Yeah, Wu's not buying it either, though he's still rolling along the well-worn grooves of it's always the husband. Which finally gets him called out on caring about Dana as far more than a friend, and knock that shit off because you don't have a right to that much overprotective behavior, dude. Nobody is being very well-behaved in this situation, except for Dana who I think would smack them harder if she weren't so recently traumatized, sedated, and dehydrated.
Over to the trailer we go so we can see the Scooby gang learning about Aswang. Because nothing can possibly go wrong here. I'm a little amused by Monroe's insistence on moving straight to the useful part, you know, the one right before the Grimm cut off its head? I'm also a lot facepalming. Monroe, don't remind Nick of his default tactics right now, okay? He doesn't need that kind of help. Skipping the blah blah down a dark alley only I was the boogeyman bit is appreciated for saving time, though. I'm giving all the side-eye to how this particular Grimm acquired the knowledge from the midwife about blood relative of the Aswang, how the whole life-prolonging thing works, so on and so forth, because it seems like that kind of knowledge is the sort of thing you want to keep really, really close. So, um, enhanced interrogation? Yeah, I'd say so. Great! They know what it is, now let's go talk to Wu. Yes? No? No. Okay, I'll grant Monroe's point that an Aswang isn't a very good gateway Wesen. I will also back Hank up on the fact that there isn't a good gateway Wesen. Particularly not in their line of work; any Wesen they encounter will involve violence, possibly death, there's no good option here. Oh, but wait, you guys, you have a Fuchsbau sitting RIGHT THERE. And access to an Eisbieber. And apparently everyone here has forgotten how they acclimated Juliette to there being Wesen among us. Russell Hornsby does an amazing job here of showing us Hank arguing the case, being incredibly upset by everyone's unwillingness to listen to the words coming out of his fucking mouth, and taking the next steps necessary to try and protect Wu, to say nothing of Dana and Sam. Yeah, Nick? Wu is involved with this whether or not you like it. Wu is likely to find out about it whether or not you like it. Claiming you're protecting him by lying to him is exactly the fucking problem in the first fucking place, and it's not like Monroe or Rosalee are unbiased in this situation. They want to protect their existence from other people too. Which is probably the only reason Hank doesn't fight them all harder on this. It's also like they've been recently traumatized by rejection from their own kind and have no reason to believe that a kehrseite would be any more welcoming. That, I can't blame them for either. I can and do, however, blame Nick for being an asshole who needs punched! What, like you didn't expect me to be incredibly cheerful about that. Well, okay, let's go find out about any blood relatives they might have in town, because that's the only way to resolve this in a way that makes everyone happy. Or even close to it. Over at the house, Dana doesn't know her mother-in-law is in town. Dana does know that Sam's been cranky at one of her best friends lately! I appreciate that they're not playing this like she doesn't know that Drew is half in love with her still, she just values their friendship over whatever lingering issues he's got. Presumably when she's not in danger the men are a lot more reasonable to each other? Also presumably some of the stress of having his mother attacking his wife has Sam on edge and lashing out at the things and people he feels he can control, and Wu is one of those people. Dana does not have patience for that shit. Dana will bash heads together if she has to. Fortunately, it doesn't look like she'll have to right this second.
Right this second Wu is bugging the detectives in the bullpen for any progress. Hank, your poker face is better than Nick's, and that's damning with faint praise. Deliberately. No, not much progress! That they can tell him about. Hell, even if Hank had browbeaten Nick into not lying to Wu, they wouldn't be inclined to talk about this in the middle of the bullpen, because just no. I mean, Nick's sometimes dumb like that, but I'd like to think he'd have the sense not to do it someplace that uncontrolled. At any rate, this gets them the information that Sam's mother is in town, where she's staying, that she's supposedly flying back to Manila, yay game of telephone. Which actually works, for a change! And then we get the conspiracy hush hush theory that Wu's come up with to justify the Aswang appearance of the attack, which is that Sam's trying to kill them both and make it look like some kind of supernatural thing so that nobody will look at it too closely. Uh. Huh. About that, Sergeant. Hank has this great expression of "well go on and fucking tell him" on, and Nick's poker face isn't, but Wu will take all of their shiftiness as expressions of doubt and intimations that he's fucking crazy. Or jealous. Or both. Well, jealous, definitely, but not crazy. Based on the limited knowledge available, it's not a bad working theory! It can be tweaked into a great cover story when the time for one comes, as a matter of fact. Hank looks so uncomfortable with this lying. Oh honey. Nick, stop being a discouraging asshole and help your partner come up with some words to say. No? No. Hank goes running after Wu and completely chokes on anything about the supernatural, but manages to get out something encouraging that he thinks Wu's instincts are good in this case. Hank? You're still the best, even if you have no idea how to handle this situation. I'll also glare less at Wu for his acting the asshole around Sam, because he is pretty clearly worried that he's wrong and acting out of emotion rather than evidence, he just won't show that to Sam. Or Dana, for that matter. In conclusion: oh everyone. Except Nick. Nick gets no free pass, since he won't listen to Hank's voice of experience in this matter. On the verge inDEED. You keep your hands off our Wu's sanity.
On the one hand I'm displeased about Wu pulling a creepy stalker stunt to sit in the squad car outside Dana and Sam's and make sure she's okay. On the other hand, I can kind of understand his twitchiness. On the gripping hand, dude, the fuck do you think you'd do from that distance if it is Sam? Wu: not thinking very clearly right now, obviously. Hey, Nick. About that lying thing. Yeah, I'm not letting go of that anytime soon; lying has never improved matters on this show and there's no reason to think starting now is a good idea. (Okay, lying to preserve the lives of the rebels/conspirators, yes. Lying to your supposed friends? No.) Anyway, Wu calls to check in on Dana. And to see how she's doing. They're a little bit adorable and a lot bit silly, in the way that only longtime friends can be. Wu seems to have been looking out for Dana all her life, or so that phone call suggests, and now she's gonna go attempt to sleep. I would definitely say attempt, because no matter how groggy she might be from the past couple days I bet she'll have at least a little difficulty passing out in that room again. No matter! Here comes Mama Tomas to be creepy some more. In a cab. Yes, Wu, that's kind of odd. Doubly so the tree-climbing. Enjoy the Delirium, Wu, because you're about to get mind-whammied.
First the detectives whose case this actually is have to slowly catch up with the plot. Honestly, I don't know why they don't just turn around and walk out to go to the Tomas' place the second the hotel clerk tells them she left already. Maybe they're struck temporarily senseless by the campitude of the clerk? Which is fantastic, by the way. I have no idea who this guy is but can he play ALL the random bit parts from now on? Oh, okay, Hank continues to be the best and even though he probably has a good idea where the cab was headed he'll do the legal thing. Best Hank is best. Yes, that would be one ripped up plane ticket and one jar of not at all hidden valerian root. Aw, hotel guy's trying to be helpful! Extra helpful! Seriously, let's keep him. Did he just walk in off the streets of Portland? Ahem. Meanwhile back at the ranch house (I'm not the only one who first learned that on Reading Rainbow, right?), Sam is definitely not sleeping. Well, that's one way to get Dana to sleep, is stay up and keep watch. Whether that was a stated or a tacit understanding is left to us to parse. Sam will go investigate and hope he's wrong about his mother. No, Sam, you're not wrong. Why are you not wogeing out, Sam. Why are you leaving the bedroom when the last time she came in through the window. SAM. Civilians. I swear. Okay, well, that's one person out of commission and knocked down the stairs. Mama Tomas is apparently going to take the semi-stealth route of playing the concerned grandma-to-be. Which is entirely true! Just not concerned in a direction that Dana would much like. Also I actually like and get along with my mother-in-law and I would still be freaked out if she came into my bedroom in the middle of the night. Do Aswang have some kind of hypnotizing voice/gaze on top of that? 'cause the lullaby would suggest yes. (Also I'm told the form of address from Dana deliberately implies a contentious relationship, which makes me doubly suspicious of the speed with which Dana goes back to sleep.) Or maybe she smeared valerian root on her hands? Something.
Wu is suspicious of that tree, you know, the one that leads to at least one if not two upper-storey windows? I would be too. Oh, hey, there's a body on the floor. Again with the not thinking super-clearly and moving on autopilot: he kicks in the door (PS to Hollywood, shoulders are usually better and leave you less off-balance, but I will not turn down classic!action!Wu) and checks Sam's pulse and that's all the first aid he gets to before barging into the bedroom. Dude, I know you made noise coming in but there's no need to make more noise going up the stairs except emotionally compromised and on the edge of going crazy trying to explain this shit to himself. Oh Wu. Oh honey. SHOOT, dammit. Except, you know, Delirium. I'm even pretty sure he would have shot, were he not confronted by a scene out of his nightmares and scared to hit Dana. Lucky for him Hank and Nick are that close behind him. Hank continues to be The Best by ordering paramedics to the house. Wu continues to be affected by the Delirium to the point where he can barely fight off Mama Aswang. Although considering the number of times he's had someone or something land on top of him I'm not sure how good his hand-to-hand really is. This time he'll get something shot off of on top of him. If you can keep track of all those prepositions, you haven't been drinking enough while reading this post. Aaaand that's Wu's cue to get as far away from Mama Aswang as possible without falling out the window (for small favors, etc.) and to stare at her de-wogeing as she dies. I do wonder, given this, if Aswang must go into full woge in order to feed, then? Which would make a certain amount of sense, given the fucking creepy tongue action. Nick, you are not actually being helpful, though I will grant that getting Wu calmed down before trying to explain that yes, they saw it too is probably a better plan. Making him focus on the fact that everyone but the Aswang is alive is a semi-decent start. Calling it an Aswang would help too! Goddammit Nick. Hank has the best "aw fuck" and "I told you so" face on. That's a pretty epic iteration of mind breaking trying to make the fucked up shit you just saw make sense. Oh Wu honey. Let me punch Nick for you a few times.
Or we could go hang out in the demon baby cabin some more, that works too. I think that's my main complaint with this ep, or more accurately with the promo for this ep: they spent a long time ramping up expectations for both a Wu-focused ep and an Adalind's baby-focused ep, and in the end they delivered the former far more than the latter. Which is about what I expected, since it's right after the midseason two-parter it's unlikely to have quite as much metaplot, but still. Your PR, you guys, work on it, wouldja? Anyway, Meisner's being all adorable and caretaker-y, which is a little surprising but not much. He seems to be one of those rebels with a squishy center. No wonder Renard doesn't really trust him. Ahem. Also a little pervy. Dude. No touchy the hair while she's asleep, or demon baby will use her mama's hair to threaten you with a broken hand. Please, please let Meisner not fall in love with Adalind. Because that way lies really awful things for at least him if not him and everyone around him. Also: OMG DEMON BABY. I guess that answers the question of whether or not the telekinesis stays after birth. It raises a bunch more, like will her fine control over it improve? How aware is she? How much of Frau Pech's powers, personality, and memory are hanging out in there? If the answer is "quite a bit," was this still all planned between Stefania and Frau Pech to get the latter a new younger body and the ability to control several key players by virtue of everyone going "awww it's just a baby OH GOD TELEKINESIS WHY"? The answer to questions looks yet again like more questions.
Nick is not getting punched. Well, maybe punched in the feels, which is not the same thing as smacked until he buys a goddamn clue. Wu went and checked himself into a psych ward, and there's the number for this ep. For a change, I will buy that one as being thematically appropriate! (Still wish they'd do license plates or embedded in phone numbers or something. But then we watch Haven around these parts and thus think "hunt the easter egg" games are great fun.) I'm also tentatively pleased that it was a voluntary check-in, which implies that they're giving Wu some agency still. Maybe. We hope. It's really hard to tell, given the camera angle implies the rest of this scene is from his POV, how much of what Nick and Hank say in that room really happens as we see it and how much is being filtered into the ongoing hallucination. They go through the rounds of not telling Wu what really happened, explaining away the Aswang aspect, and reassuring him that he's a hero. Aww. Not really. I'm pretty sure at least part of this is real due to Hank's expression of "oh god I fucking hate this," but then we cut back and we see the door's closed and we don't see Nick and Hank in the room beyond it, so it's unclear if he hallucinated his reactions to them or if they came in, tried to get his attention, and failed? Or what. I'm sure they were there at some point, because seeing them with the nurse outside of the room is a good litmus test. I'm just not sure about the passage of time between them coming to see him and Wu experiencing the ongoing hallucination of an Aswang launching itself at his face.
To say that we're not very happy with the conclusion of this ep would… well, let's just say they better fix it soon. No, not everything can be fixed, but taking an episode to make us really care about and get to know a character and then taking him off the board entirely? Is irritating. So I really hope the other writers pick up the many opportunities they've got here. From Hank's imminent common sense smackdown of Nick to Sam coming in and explaining to Wu what really happened, I don't care, take your pick. Rosalee could smack Nick too, if she's recovered enough from her own recent trauma of Monroe's parents. Seriously. There are so many options here, and I'm only picking the ones that involve other characters because this show does so well when it's an ensemble cast. Here, again, would be a great opportunity if Dana had been the one with the mother Aswang, for her to go and deal with this in an OH HELL NO sort of way. So I really, really hope that the writers' Twitter comment about how that's the last we see of Wu for the season is a bunch of trolling, because otherwise I will be VERY SAD.
Next week on Grimm! Hundjagers, presumably from the Verrat, are looking for Adalind and the baby. Renard is Not Happy and needs to get that cell phone surgically implanted I swear. Egyptian mummys! OH MY GOD TELL ME THAT'S ANUBIS. Oh this is gonna be fucking hilarious. Look for lots of ranting and frothing from us. Egyptian gods were Wesen, huh. Someone go tell the SGC about this, I wanna see Daniel Jackson's head explode.