Sunday, August 12, 2012

Not In My Town: Grimm S1E12 Last Grimm Standing

Last Grimm Standing! Also known as the big reveal that Renard is a Prince of the Blood. Whose blood? We have no idea! Isn’t it great.

This is one of my favorite cuts, Hank says “Who in the hell speaks Latin?” and they both turn and look at the Captain’s office. That right there says, if nothing else, that they’re aware the Captain has some odd quirks and hobbies. Cut to our dear Captain cold-reading and translating the Latin inscription in a distinctly European accent, or at least the accent of someone used to speaking Romance languages. In Roiz’s case we know that’s solely French; in Renard’s case, based on new data, we have reason to believe that might be French and Italian at least.  And when his detectives give him a ‘oh really?’ look he brushes it off as ‘Took a bit of Latin back in high school.’ Yes, Renard, and I took a bit of Latin back in high school too, and I certainly don’t remember so much of it 20 years later that I could cold-translate that shit. It’s not indicative of anything beyond the Captain has some strange hobbies, at least to the detectives, but to us that’s indicative that Latin (probably Church Latin) is still common knowledge and common place in the world of the Royals.

No, Renard, no one believes you intended to be a doctor. Or maybe you did, but you were raised to be high prestige even if you (probably) were the spare. So hush. Lying with the truth, is what we call that. It’s sort of a truth, from a certain point of view. So we go through the back and forth of the interview where they tell him what they know, and the Captain… is less Captainly than usual. Not even Princely, with his body hunched and his shoulders up around his ears he looks like a cornered animal. His face is all Troubled Captain, serious, frowning, but steady and calm. His body posture, though, and certain camera angles and the lighting all contribute to make it look like Renard expects something to come get him. Possibly this is symbolic, ish, of one of his deals coming back to bite him in the ass.

But now we come to one of the juicy parts. Renard displays some remarkably precise driving as he runs Leo up against the wall and nearly pins him there with his battlewagon. Then proceeds to lecture him about his little “blood sport.” Right away, there, we know the Captain knows about this, we know that he’s at the very least looking the other way, as long as it doesn’t lead to murders he then has to solve. His posture as he chews Leo out is something I think I’ll call Prince Constable. More of the warrior prince than the regal prince, he’s still holding his head high and proud, but his stance is braced. For what, well, we see that when he slugs Leo with a good solid hit to what looks like the solar plexus. Ow.

“You have no list. There is only my list. In my canton. Under my conditions.” Leo’s still doubled over from the hit so it gives Renard his first opportunity to loom over the lowen, which is noteworthy in and of itself. He’s so tall, usually the camera has to work to get everybody in the frame or keep him from appearing to loom over anyone else. In the rare instances where he comes up against a person who’s similarly tall, he’s still looming. This is the first time we’ve seen him shot in such a way that he’s not looming over the person he’s talking to, which is also a sneaky way of undermining his authority.

Leo complains about having to work with gang-bangers and meth addicts, which exposits to us the kind of people to whose misfortunes and/or conscription Renard is looking the other way. The two most likely options here are that the lowen has him in a position where he has to give the lowen some fighters or the lowen tears up his city anyway (and if that’s the case the lowen doesn’t seem to appreciate his power over Renard until shortly before this episode) or Renard doesn’t care about the gang-bangers and meth addicts. I’m not willing to put money either way, although I’d cautiously be in favor of the first, given the dynamic between the two.   Renard snaps at him about picking one of his ex-cons, interestingly, highlighting the part about Skantos having family. Whether that’s because having family who would miss him and therefore report his absence to the police makes things difficult for Renard or whether that’s him placing a high value on family,  I can’t tell that either.  Leo extols the virtues of this fighter, and refers to Renard getting his “tribute” Tribute, canton? These are all things that tell us that Renard is a feudal lord without actually telling us a damn thing.

Renard, of course, doesn’t give a damn about the money, he wants it shut down before they both get into serious trouble. Leo decides this is the perfect time to assert his power over the other man and, in doing so, calls him Your Highness. Which is when we first learn that he’s a Prince. He could be a Prince who’s next in line to the throne or he could be a Prince in that he’s a son in the line of succession, if not the next in line. Hard to say. Renard only looks annoyed as he waits for Leo to stop posturing, looking over his shoulder at the lowen. Then he draws his gun and smoothly pins Leo against the wall by the shoulder. Of note here: Drawing and quartering is primarily an English punishment for high treason. Dating back to the mid 1300s, true, when England and France among other countries were swapping territory and customs and envoys and relatives like playing cards, but still primarily an English tradition. Renard is a French name, and we’ve heard him speaking French, and if we skip forward a bit we hear him talking about the Revolution, the most recent and likely of which would be the French Revolution. (I’m discounting the American Revolution because, since he lives in the States, that might should come up before now. Possibly not, though.) And yet here we have him referring to the old days and drawing and quartering. It is, however, entirely possible that the Wesen form of royalty, or whatever the Royal families are, they picked up drawing and quartering as a usefully brutal form of punishment.

Anyway. Leo doesn’t take the hint and postures at him some more, suggesting Renard better be careful on how he treats him. Renard doesn’t say anything to that, but lifts his head in a regal sort of a motion, and there’s a twitch to his mouth that suggests mirthless smiling. It’s at this point that he decides Leo has to go. There is, as we learn shortly, protocol for this. But he’s decided Leo needs to be removed from his position, and in true royal fashion he’s going to do it definitively and permanently. Leo walks past and Renard keeps an eye on him over his shoulder, without moving.

Next bit! The Captain comes in, and he’s definitely the captain here. His voice is lighter, his words more relaxed and less clipped. He wants to know about Brian, the second victim, and the person Nick and Hank went to talk to about Dimitri. He hands them the missing person report and leads them to his office as they connect the dots on the murders and the abductions. Note that his hand is in his pocket when he does that, the hand that didn’t pass Nick the folder. He’s hiding something, and now we know what it is, too. They go through the case, split up the tasks, and it’s the perfect opening for Renard to set them on Leo. He even directs Hank to the place where he knows there’s the most evidence on the grounds that Leo is to be handled carefully, as a fellow law enforcement/corrections officer. (In this case, corrections.) It’s a very good plant, he never at any point says outright that Leo is running the thing or that Leo killed them, just that he might know more than he’s saying. Which, since Leo’s connected to both victims and already known to bend the rules, makes sense.  Just to make sure we know he’s up to something, we get a close-up of the Captain with a bit of an edge of Prince before the scene cuts.

Renard and his pet priest! The priest sits in to receive his confession and Renard begins with “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned,” and stops. Now, I have absolutely no Christian background of any denomination and even I know there’s more to it than that. I have no idea if he’s accustomed to making confession when time permits (which can’t be that often) and his stopping there is a sign of ritual or if the priest is guessing. Our money points to the former. “But that’s not why you’re here.” Not a question. And so Renard begins the ritual: all of this has the tone of ritual exchange, their words precise and unhesitating, as though they both know exactly what is customary to say and they’re just waiting for the right cue from the other.

It’s all code. “I have an issue with a fellow parishioner. He has lost respect.” Fellow parishioner = Wesen, and possibly specifically a Wesen in service to royalty, lost respect is Leo’s crime. “So we have one who has strayed.” “I’m afraid so.” Confirming the nature of the crime and possibly the severity of it. “You have made an attempt to return him to the fold?” And this says all kinds of things about Royal-Wesen protocol. That Leo is given a chance, the obligation of the monarch or ruler or administrator of the city to confirm the transgression of the Wesen and make sure that the person is given a chance to redeem him/herself. It’s a very careful and in some ways more forgiving protocol than monarchs have been in the past. It contrasts with what Renard says about the “old days”, when treason could have been and often was punishable by brutal, bloody, and prolonged death without any burden of proof whatsoever. “I have,” Renard says, and linguistically that’s indicative of a couple of different things, the most significant of which is that it’s church linguistics and church grammar. I don’t know if that’s digging into more detail than the scriptwriters put into it, but there you go. It’s also a more formal phrasing of the affirmative. Also, it seems like only one attempt is required, which gives the royals decisive power balanced with the appearance of mercy. If it were a less severe crime, I’d bet on three attempts, just on the basis of ritual alone.

And speaking of ritual. Let’s go back over that again. 1. “So we have one who has strayed.” “I’m afraid so.” 2. “You have made an attempt to return him to the fold?” “I have. But he no longer fears the sword. Here or hereafter.” 3. “Is he beyond redemption?” “Unfortunately.” Three question and answer, three chances for Renard to say, well, maybe I don’t want to do this, maybe he’s not that bad. Three affirmatives. Leo, buddy, you’re doomed. This is all very ritualistic, very precise. There’s a format for sentencing someone to death by church knight. “So, you don’t need my forgiveness.” “No. I need your wrath.” And the only part of this that isn’t a ritual: “When?” “Now.” “Give me a few minutes to get changed.” The tone shift in both of their voices is audible, though Renard’s still holds considerable tension. Concluded by: “As it was before…” “… so shall it be again.”  ”As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end amen amen.” It’s the Gloria Patri (I am told), almost waiting for the in nomine patri.

And finally Leo’s execution. Leo blusters and threatens, but Renard is calm. Not only calm, he’s buttoned up. Hands in his pockets, literally buttoned up, his coat is about as buttoned as we’ve ever seen it, collar turned up. Face and body language closed off. He stands and watches the initial attack, then turns and walks away. His jaw is clenched, tightening at the point where Leo goes down and not letting up much, his face is (pardon the pun) grim; he doesn’t like having to do this to Leo. Leo was, until recently, a good asset. Possibly even a friend although since we haven’t seen Renard have any of those yet it’s hard to tell what Renard’s friendship would look like. But Leo overstepped, and not only overstepped he got careless and splashed his carelessness all over Renard, who cannot allow a subject to treat him so casually. Also of note, he turns his back on the priest-grue. While the priest is in beast form, whatever beast that is. He just walks away, doesn’t run, he is trusting that the priest won’t turn on him. So whatever the priest’s animal is, it’s either controllable or it doesn’t take away the priest’s sense of self to become that animal. The priest knows who his lord is.

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