Monday, September 10, 2012

The Mystery of the Missing Metaplot Grimm S1E08 Game Ogre (extras)

So, now that we are both back from vacation (not that perhaps you could tell) we will deal with the deleted scenes from Game Ogre! There's actually a lot of deleted scenes on the Blu-Ray discs (and possibly the DVDs?) but these are significant in terms of Renard and the metaplot, so we'll throw them in on their own post. For those of you who don't have the Blu-Rays (Adsartha, sadly, being one of them) I've included a summary before the analysis.

We start with Wu giving the line about the blue Cadillac Coupe deVille as Renard brings his phone up to his ear, viewed from the back, focus changing from Wu through the window to Renard. And he says Ты знаешь (находить?) Старка? which the subtitles helpfully translate for us as "You know how to find Stark?" That's Russian, ladies and gentlemen. I'll spare you the rest of the showing off because my Russian isn't quite good enough to copy down the rest, but our dear Prince speaks Russian fluently as well. Which gives him five languages, including the Latin. I'm presuming his Russian is way better than mine because of Sasha being at least moderately fluent.

On the second line, "Do it.", we switch around to outside viewing in. Through the blinds, close enough that the blinds make fuzzy black bars along Renard's face. He's lit half in light and half in shadow, as he often seems to be when he's being both royal and dangerous. The camera stays on him as he says to "Set up a meeting. Just the two of us." and then concludes the call, lowers the phone, and we switch to the back of his head as the camera shifts focus outward to the rest of the precinct. Not quite a finish, switch to a different angle and we're looking in again, he's got his grim face on and turns back into the office.

Short second scene. He's at the burned out car when he gets a phone call, and he's already moving away from the cluster of cops as he pulls out his phone. About halfway away he sees who it is, though we don't, the camera stays back for a wide view until he asks "It's done?" Then we switch angles, close up on his face as he says "Good. Where?" I have enough Russian to know that's accurate, and it's only a couple of words anyway.

The third scene is the longest, and the most interesting. We start with Renard coming down the walkway from a bridge, I'm not sure what it's called. He pauses on the pavement walkway alongside the river and looks up and down, halfway expecting to see someone there but not visibly surprised that there isn't anyone. He pulls out a white kerchief that looks to be silk or some other sheer fabric, shakes it out, and kneels on one knee to lay it flat on the ground. We see it has a red stylized fleur de lis on it. Still on one knee, he pulls out his sidearm and holds it at full extension above his head, finger along the trigger guard, still looking around. He lays it carefully down on the cloth, then stands. Now he is getting impatient, and as he looks around he shouts out "Stark! I don't have all night!"

The Siegbarste comes up from around/behind a post, Renard buttons his coat as he tells Stark "You've threatened the alliance." Hands in his pockets, head high, taking half a step forward. "Are you singlehandedly trying to destroy it?"

The Siegbarste looks at him from beneath his eyebrows/brow ridge, and when the camera pulls back to show the two of them facing each other his posture is straight up shoulders back and hands open. "That's what you came to talk to me about? I thought it was something important."

"You've killed three people in my. city." We don't see Renard's face for this as the camera angle doesn't shift but we see the shadow of the lines around his nose and mouth moving as he speaks, either with emphasis or with scowling.

The Siegbarste points somewhat derisively at the cloth on the ground between them. "So I'm supposed to kneel or something?" and close up on Stark's face. "Sorry. Just never could justify it."

Back to Renard, eyebrows lifted slightly, hard to get a read on the emotion he's trying to project. "After this, no one will side with you."

Back to Stark. The sound shifts from close view to close view, so it seems like this scene made it about halfway through production (maybe past ADR but not to scoring?) before they dropped it. "Give me the detective, and this'll be over. You'll never see me again." Not quite as though he's doing Renard a favor, but his facial expression does not to me indicate concern.

Renard again, looking off to about his 11 o'clock (shallow angle left) before back to Stark, his face only slightly less tense with highbrow fury than it was with the Reaper. "That'll never happen," he tells him.

Stark again. "Then we have nothing to talk about," still unconcerned, just kind of shrugging first with his shoulders and then with a side to side of his head. He turns to go and gets about a step away.

Renard again, not so much calling after him as projecting his voice more. "The Verrat will not protect you." Pronounced as the American, Verrat, not Ferrat as the German. He lifts his head about between 'not' and 'protect.'

Stark turns back and though we can't see their feet he steps close enough that I'd imagine he's almost stepping on the cloth by now. "They never protected me. I protected them." With the second sentence coming quicker than the first.

Back to Renard. We have, in order, slight headtilt and glance to about 1 o'clock, brow furrowing with some sort of derision, slight headshake of you-poor-fool, and a shrug. "That's an interesting perspective. Has it ever occurred to you, you are not the future? Just, an irrelevant part of the past."

Stark, derisive and as talking to a slow child. "I don't care about the future or the past." Renard, as Stark keeps talking; Renard's expression doesn't flicker from where it landed at the end of the last sentence. "They only get in the way" Stark again. "Of what I have to do now."

"You have no loyalty to anyone" and Renard again. "But yourself. No allegience. That will cost you."

Stark again. "You know what I want. Anything that happens after this? It's on you." With the facial shrug of 'hey, I warned you, dude'. And we close on a longer shot of the two of them (and no, he wasn't standing on the cloth, although Renard's right shoe, just the toes, are) as Stark turns and walks away, and Renard just stares after him with his Princely inscrutability.

In retrospect, it's pretty clear why they cut these scenes out of the episode. It's a very Hank-focused ep to start with, and moves back and forth between Hank and Nick's partnership, laying the groundwork for the tension at the end of last season and the beginning of this one. Adding Renard and royals metaplot to that would have given the ep a highly scattershot feel, I suspect.

...that doesn't mean we don't really WISH we'd had this information before, because it casts so much of the original analysis in a new and fascinating light. But let's begin with the new data. 90% of what we're about to re-hash I think you'll all be familiar with by now, based on having had the play-by-play to read through in what I expect is familiar language.

It's incredibly interesting that they choose to use Russian here. We haven't really had any indication that the royal families or the overarching metaplot involves Russia except for this scene, so it's difficult to identify exactly what's going on here. It could just be "hey, Renard's highly educated, we have an actor who speaks three languages, let's toss some Russian in." It's not out of the realm of possibility for Renard to have picked up Russian on a whim, or for some more obscure motivation. Perhaps his mother was Russian. Who knows. I will say that this continues to identify Renard with countries that were known for being divided in their loyalties even after revisionist, jingoistic history got hold of WWII. (France, Switzerland, and Russia, for those of you keeping track. And later this ep, Italy!)

These first two scenes are also interesting in that they give us a sense of what Renard's network must be like outside of Catherine, Adalind, and the human police force. He has the Parisian from Three Coins, he has Leo and the priest-assassin from Last Grimm Standing (had, but still) and he has this unknown person he's speaking Russian to who may or may not even be in Portland. It's not unreasonable to suspect that Renard has a fairly substantial non-hexen, possibly dissident members of the royal families or possibly just Wesen or humans who serve his purposes. He does seem to be rather ecumenical in who he's willing to work with, so far.

The first thing I want to mention about the long scene is that damn flag. You may have seen the murdermap post by now, or the Axis & Allies post. Either way, we keep associating Renard with Florence. That's for... well, a couple reasons. One, that damn flag is the coat of arms of Florence. And two, in Cat and Mouse when Waltz is taunting Renard on the phone? He mentions about how Portland reminds him of Firenze this time of year. Obnoxious bastard, and a throwaway line that in light of this scene probably means more than we thought it did. Now: does it mean Renard's from Florence? Does it mean his section of the family is from Florence? (Some of those paintings in both his condos do look somewhat Italian Renaissance era.) Does it mean that Renard, had he not been a bastard, would have ruled Florence instead of Portland? Or for a different direction, since both times Florence comes up it's in a context that involves Verrat agents, does that mean the Verrat have a stronghold (if not their central stronghold) in Florence? WE DON'T FUCKING KNOW. Isn't it great?

He's obviously very much the Prince throughout this scene, of course. Impatient and cranky and not in the least intimidated by Stark. I suspect that's got a lot to do with the fact that Stark doesn't actively bear Renard any ill-will, and, as this scene illustrates, he's smart enough to realize that he doesn't want to kill a prince of the families and have that tumbling down on his head. The Siegbarste is still enough of an arrogant fucker to try and get Renard to hand Hank over. And this is interesting, too, because this clarifies the extent to which Renard will protect all his men, not just Nick. (The fact that he's using Hank to keep Nick around is a definite benefit, but I suspect Renard would pull out furious Prince face for any of his men so threatened.) Throughout this scene they both project anger, scorn, pride; in a lot of respects this is two incredibly macho men having a dick-measuring contest. Renard knows he can't defeat Stark physically, Stark knows he can't defend against Renard's intelligence and connections.

Luckily I don't think either of them is Sicilian. Ahem.

And then you have this alliance. What alliance? Between whom? It seems fairly clear that there's some kind of alliance to keep up the masquerade between vanilla humans and Wesen/royals/et al (since it's unclear if Grimms or royals are human as yet), in order to prevent the mobs with pitchforks and torches. There are, as people writing about the supernatural have noted for ages, a great deal more humans than there are things that go bump in the night. What's not clear is who this alliance consists of. Is it a Portland-specific alliance? A West Coast based one? The US? Worldwide? Fucked if we have enough data to tell. It's equally interesting and uninformative that Stark worked for the Verrat as an.. enforcer, protector, something of the sort. Siegbarstes are sufficiently rare that this really doesn't tell us much beyond that the killings he did that landed him in jail were probably Verrat-related. And, too, Renard's statement that the Verrat had protected him - an incorrect statement, or a deliberate jab at his opponent's soft spot? Knowing Renard I'd bet on the latter.

Finally, we have Stark throwing his lack of allegiance back in Renard's face. This is shortly before he goes and beats the shit out of Nick, and while it lends new weight to Renard's quiet, contained fury in the hospital with Juliette, I'm not wholly convinced that it was as effective as Stark could have wished. Renard takes his duties very seriously, and takes a great many burdens on himself that normal people wouldn't. But to blatantly throw this in Renard's face, that he can't protect his own? I wonder, and shudder to think, what Renard would have pulled out had Nick not had the gun and the poison.

Needless to say, this puts almost everything related to Renard's behavior in the original episode in an entirely new context. Presumably by the time Roiz started filming this he had read the script for the entire episode (or at least the rough draft) and so had an idea of what Renard knew and when. The first two scenes stand pretty well as initially analyzed; Renard is a cop investigating the murder of three people, two of whom are known and respected among law enforcement. He behaves accordingly.

But then Hank briefs Renard on what they've discovered and who they now suspect has committed the murders and suddenly a number of aspects that puzzled us when we analyzed the scene before are now made clear. The body posture of hands tucked in pockets or under his arms is both concealment and control, and now that we know he knows who Stark is we know what he's concealing. Not only does he know who Stark is, he probably knows a hell of a lot more about him than his detectives do. Hank mentions that Stark demanded to be paid in gold; Renard probably not only knew that, and that Stark was a contract killer, he probably knew why Stark made those particular demands. Whether that was because of tradition or because of it being a Siegbarste thing or because of his association for the Verrat or another reason. In the  world of contract-killing, gold's actually a stupid thing to demand to be paid in. It's not too hard to debase, the value fluctuates wildly over time, and it's fucking heavy. Diamonds and bearer bonds are more traditional, along with the good old bag full of unmarked non-sequential bills. But I digress.

Renard's concealment body language is now much more explained, and so is the Princely attitude. Before, I mentioned that he seemed like the Prince who wanted to hand down a death sentence, but at the time all I had to go on was Roiz's body language and tone of voice. His posture and bearing was that of the Prince rather than the Captain, but we didn't know why, and we weren't entirely sure we were interpreting Roiz's intentions correctly as to his choices of how to use his body. Now, knowing that a minute or two after Hank and Nick leave Renard's office Renard makes a phone call to find Stark and conduct Princely business, it makes a whole hell of a lot more sense. (It's also a relief to know that we're not imagining this or suffering confirmation bias in other analyses; the body language cues were there, we just didn't have the information to back it up at the time.) Renard is pissed off as a police captain that someone is committing murders on law enforcement personnel in his city, as revenge for them doing their job, but as Prince he has to deal with a threat to his people and his authority, and the Prince is livid.

I'm not sure it would have been shot too much different had the subsequent scene not been there in the first place, except for one moment towards the end. As we close the briefing in the Captain's office the camera pulls out to follow Nick and Hank on their way out of the office, then switches focus off of Hank and onto Renard as Hank's shoulder comes to and past the camera. It's the sort of ominous camerawork that indicates Something Shady Is Going On With This Person, and in retrospect maybe we should have caught it. With the added context of the deleted scenes, we definitely know better.

Speaking of things we now know better, this explains the word choice of "He'll pay for what he's done" with Juliette, if not entirely why he said it to Juliette. The part of him that reassures her that she and Nick will have police protection is both the Captain and the Prince, but the part of him that needs to exact justice is all the Prince. The Captain would have Stark arrested, and would have used words like "caught" and "stopped." Prince Renard is more accustomed to a direct and brutal form of justice and thus says that Stark will pay for what he's done. It's probably a good thing that Juliette doesn't know Renard well enough to know this is out of character for him, and is distracted with worry about Nick.

This also puts a new and interesting dimension on Renard's concern for Hank. We don't see Renard this vehement about his orders ever again, at least not as of this writing (post S2E03), and while we do see Renard concerned with the safety and well-being of his men, it's never with this kind of aggressive force. There is finger pointing, chasing, shouting and snapping. There are ultimatums handed down, Hank will not do this. Hank is staying put. At the time it was early enough in the season that we didn't question the characterization; later it seemed odd but possibly not out of keeping with a cop killer, and we'd already explained away a couple discrepancies in his behavior. (And now we know not to do that!) But in the context of the deleted scenes, Renard knows what's likely to happen to Hank if Hank takes on Stark. For all his only semi-comprehensible actions related to Adalind and the potion of whammying later, he values Hank as a good cop and a good member of his precinct, and he's responsible for the safety of his men. As he says. And that means sitting on them if they go after a Siegbarste alone, whether or not they know what they're doing.

Finally, we have the scene with the bullets at the end. For someone who was so worked up about Hank needing to stay away from Stark he's awfully calm about Hank coming back from a fight where he disobeyed a direct order, where he went off half-cocked and on his own, and where he almost got killed. For parents and parental figures, 90% of the time when the object of their responsibility and loyalty comes back from having done something monumentally stupid and dangerous, retroactive fear inspires them to yell, to be upset. Renard is stern but calm. He's more concerned with the bullets they dug out of Stark than with yelling at Hank, and rightly so. He even is implied to put Hank on to the mystery of finding out where those bullets came from, and considering what we later learn about Grimms and royalty there are even more reasons why he might want to know who owns a royal's weapon in his city, who isn't him. Because Stark was affiliated with the Verrat, because of this mysterious alliance, the candidates from Renard's point of view for who killed Stark are widened. For all he knows there's a Verrat agent running around his city who he didn't authorize. Which, given his behavior later with Edgar Waltz, probably makes him very edgy.

And the summation of all that blather is that these scenes put an immensely different spin on Renard's behavior and reactions throughout the episode. Again, we get why they cut this out of the episode; the production staff only have so much time to work with, and something has to go. Given that the Verrat storyline gets considerable play later on down the line, it's not unreasonable that they chose to focus on Hank instead for this episode. As you'll soon see we, too, love Hank and all of his badassery. But there is still so much more to be discovered, interpreted, bent, spindled mutilated, numbered, cataloged, categorized, and described from other points of view. And we can't help but wish that we'd had this data to begin with so we could take into account the full sequence of events, even the ones we didn't see.


  1. Excellent analysis as always. While I liked these deleted scenes and the angle they provided, I'm glad they were cut. Not really for story reasons though. The actor who played Stark just wasn't up to the same level as Sasha Roiz and I felt that he lost some of the intimidation.

  2. Thank you! We certainly enjoy doing this, we're glad other people enjoy it too.

    The problem with measuring other actors against Sasha Roiz is that if you were to hold all their guest stars to the standard, Grimm would probably go bankrupt from the cost of their guest stars alone, let alone the CGI. As for Stark specifically, if they'd left the scenes in the episode would have had a different story. They would have had at least one other reason to make him intimidating, so I'd assume (or at least hope) they would have shot accordingly. Instead they chose to leave Stark enigmatic, almost brutish because of his lack of dialogue, and violent to the point of nearly being fatal to the hero.

    Which isn't to say that you're wrong about him losing some of the intimidation, just that I wonder how they would have made him intimidating by way of the metaplot and overall arc if they'd left those scenes in, rather than leaving it as a one-shot where Hank almost dies.