Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Captain's Log, Supplemental (part 1 of 2)

Because we're completists and also stubborn (or is that redundant?), we're finishing up our Captain logs from season 1 of Grimm by doing all the intervening episodes, the ones that don't involve a great deal of metaplot and may not involve much of our favorite Captain. There's a fair number of these, understandably so since last season was a lot of world-building and establishing what the monster of the week cases look like before diving headfirst into the mythology of the world, as this season seems more inclined to do. We have, as a result, opted to split them into two parts for your reading pleasure! In this part, we have 1x05-07 (Danse Macabre, Three Bad Wolves, Let Your Hair Down), 1x09 (Of Mouse and Man), and 1x11 (Tarantella). Part two will involve the four post-coin episodes, as that's a major time, plot, and character marker.

Someday if we're feeling really masochistic we might go through these for full ep analyses, but honestly they don't do that much to advance the metaplot, and since that's what we like chewing on the most, that's what you're getting.

I will note, before we chew on the few Renard scenes we get in Danse Macabre, that this ep is singular in being the only case (to date) in the which the originating case didn't have Wesen perps, just a primary suspect who happens to be Reinegen. I would love to see more of that, though I'm also fond of Wesen victims/family members turning up, as in Bad Moon Rising, and asking for help. I cannot wait for Wesen to start turning up at the precinct and asking for Nick specifically because word's finally gotten out that he's a Grimm and a cop and not going to kill innocents. Because that will give Renard shitfits as he works out how to cover it up. Look, I never said I was a nice person.

Our very first sight of Renard in this ep is of him watching Hank interrogate the father from the observation room. He's in his royal blues and purples, and his posture is far more that of the Prince than the Captain. Given the high profile nature of the case, it's safe to say that he's anticipating some difficulty with this one, and though I don't know what his take on Reinegen as a whole is, he's probably well aware of their reputation within Wesen society. We have a lot of reflection shots in this scene, too, emphasizing the duality of Renard's role and the line he may have to walk. As it turns out, this is one of the easier cases on his Prince/Captain roles, but neither he nor we know that at the outset. By contrast, Nick's interrogation room has no mirrors. Nothing here but the truth, whereas we have Renard's duality and Hank not yet in on the secret in the room with the one-way mirror. Renard knows things we don't, and for this I would like to direct you all again to the surprised face in the jar on my desk. Renard's hands are also in his pockets through this whole scene, and this despite the fact that we the audience are the only ones seeing him. He's not comfortable with the possible outcomes of this case, then. And the directors or Roiz are presumably cuing our visual memory further that Renard has things to hide, not to mention underscoring what we learned last episode about Renard being a shady and very morally ambiguous character, but that's the Doylist explanation and I like my Watsonian ones to go along. So, not comfortable, probably not comfortable both because his breeding says he should sneer at such low-born Wesen and his training as a cop says that they, too, deserve justice.

The next scene is a fairly standard check-in with the Captain scene (and we're back to the desktop on Renard's desk). I'm sorry to say that the angle on the computer is bad, so I can't read all the desktop icons for you. It's a less-usual establishing shot, but only in that it's a bit further around Renard's shoulder than when we get establishing shots of him looking at his computer while alone in his office; this gives us immediate visual indication, as well as Renard's first words, that he's not alone in the office. We pan around to see that we had a Nick's-eye-view of the desk, more or less, and Renard's "whaddaya got on this" is again very much a slurred whaddaya instead of the crisp enunciation he uses when he's being the Prince. Everybody talking almost overtop of each other underscores the urgency of the case. Shoulders curved around a little more, he's fully in Captain mode, checking in with his men. Some standard morgue humor, and brief updates on Roddy and waiting for lab results. Then, tellingly, Renard mutters about wanting answers before "politics screw things up," which is a nice bit of pointed commentary on his experience with politics both normal human and Royal.

I find it a fascinating commentary on social strata and positions of power, especially in the wake of learning that for all Renard's power he's a bastard and a halfbreed and therefore low-caste within the society he was born to, that we keep cutting back and forth between Roddy being an angry young man and Renard handling the press, talking to his men, etc. From his place of power, no less. (Who wants fic where Renard-the-Prince adopts Roddy-the-Reinegen after his father's death? It's not just me, right?) I'll be even more interested by that editing choice if Roddy keeps turning up, and every time he's gathered more power within his own circle of the Wesen world.

The way this next scene begins, it seems fairly obvious that Renard's escorted the press into his office, probably giving them little to no time to try and lean over his detectives' desks for glimpses of their work. I have a mental image, actually, of Renard sending out the internal memo that if there's stuff his cops don't want the press getting a look at they should plan to have Bejeweled or something up at this particular time. Because I'm a bad person. At any rate, the shot establishes that Renard sets up a nice solid barrier between the press and his detectives by beginning with the physical act of him closing the door, so that he's their focus and his people can focus on doing their jobs without any damn distractions. There are, at a rough count, eight people standing or sitting in the office. Renard is in full Captain mode, delivers a short soundbite of a statement that's difficult to take out of context and easy to condense into an article or a clip for the evening news. (Kitty notes: While a murder at an expensive private school probably doesn't rate the front page after the initial splash, he'll be expected to provide those little sound bites throughout the investigation until press conference duty passes off to the district attorney's office.) This sets him up early on as experienced with handling the press, yet not their enemy; he doesn't antagonize them, gives them a statement and time for questions, and in all respects seems to accept this as a necessary part of his job. It's certainly not his favorite part - most of these press conferences are going to be for far less happy things than the ending of Let Your Hair Down, for example - but if he resents the press rather than the situation that brings them, he does a fairly good job of hiding it. In fact, his behavior during press conferences doesn't seem typical of a (television) police captain at all, more like typical of a lawyer or the public liaison on Criminal Minds. This is someone who has grown up around at least the concept of the press, if not directly a target of it until recently, and who is very aware of how press conferences, publicity, and news spin works. 

Of course, just in case we've forgotten that Renard is a scheming plotter who's got something in mind for Hank and Nick, we then get a nicely creepy couple seconds of him watching Adalind talk Hank into having dinner with her. In his battlewagon, with one hand on the steering wheel indicating that he hasn't been there that long and won't likely stay to watch, and the shot isn't really long enough to clearly establish how rounded his shoulders are, but that's the Prince's calculating look and the Prince's car and the Prince's plot, much to absolutely nobody's surprise.

But back to Renard's office after an aborted attempt at a Blutbad-Reinegen connection! He makes a comment that's only a little snarky about half the students at the private school owning German cars, which is half commentary on the wealth and snobbery (and boy would he know about those) of the private schoolchildren, and half the cop assuming Murphy's Law is in play. Which for once it isn't! It is, however, one of six, and so they've had to narrow it down based on motive and connection to the lead suspect - something that's solid detective work but would be much better backed up with an actual confession or more physical evidence. So it's worth bringing it to the Captain and ensuring that they have his backing, not least because this is one of the rich kids and it'll be a hellish crime to prosecute in court. And it serves as warning to Renard that if they're right, he's going to be spending a lot of time dealing with the press. Mutual respect on both sides of that desk. This is the last we see of him this episode, so let's move on, shall we?

Most of Three Bad Wolves takes place outside of the precinct, and involves a whole lot of Nick trying to cover for Happy the Blutbad, but we have a nice walk-and-talk wherein we see a fraction of Renard's attitude toward cleaning house. He's really unhappy at the notion that one of his cops might be dirty, even someone he doesn't (presumably) come in frequent contact with someone like Orson, but he's not going to protect him, either. I wonder, and this is largely speculation since we don't know much about Renard's upbringing or about the inner machinations of the Families, but I wonder if part of his willingness to let Nick clean house is a distaste for exactly the opposite in his Royal life. He does, as one would expect from a police captain unhappy about a potentially dirty cop, want to be damn sure that they're right. Because being wrong would create massively bad blood between arson investigation and homicide/robbery, which is approximately the last thing Renard needs in his day job. But this is his only scene all episode, and it's almost a perfunctory one.

Let Your Hair Down! In which I spend awhile going oh Renard. Our first scene with him is fairly early on for an ep that's fairly light on the metaplot, an indication more of how serious the procedural aspect of the case will be in this instance. Standing in his office in front of a big flatscreen monitor, out from behind his desk; this is one of the few if not the only time we see this particular piece of tech come out to play. They're running crime scene photos and giving him the update verbally and digitally, which is unusual for a man who prefers hard copy case files most of the time. Maybe they don't have hard copy yet, because they brought this in to Renard so early in the case? Or because the files have to be copied over several different departments, not all of which might be local to the police building. Which would fit, with a case that's pulled in the DEA to investigate the marijuana farm on top of the murder. Like a good cop, Renard's first thought is that the hikers have something to do with it other than being in the wrong place, wrong time. Because it often is that simple, and wouldn't it be nice if. Nick understands exactly how his Captain feels, and there's a moment where Renard almost smiles over the couple running a doggie wash. Both because you find criminals working the strangest day jobs and because yes, all right, that's a very tame front for a pair of potential felons. And he's got a very Socratic method of talking his cops through the case, who would kill a drug dealer in the middle of the woods for a sleeping bag and some food. Which leads everyone to the realization that even if they have a murderer on their hands, it's probably not someone dangerous so much as desperate.

Our next scene comes again in Renard's office. Everyone's on their feet, Renard's pacing and fidgeting some. His hands aren't consistently in his pockets, so he's probably not concealing anything, but he has both hands in as he gives the deadline and takes the right out as he asks how Hank wants to do this. I wonder, a great deal, if Roiz knew about the little girl in the photographs at his condo by this point. Because at this point I can't tell from confirmation bias if I'm imagining Renard being extra protective of a case that involves missing children because he misses his own child, or simply because he's a good Captain and that's his job. I would guess, based on the set design in his office, that Roiz did know something about his immediate family by now, though. And whether it's really there or not it should have been, that sense of Renard's old wounds being opened up too. (Whatever they are. Because we still don't know. That sound you hear is my teeth grinding in frustration.) Nick's letting Hank take the lead on the case as far as talking it out with the Captain, in no small part because Hank's got so much emotional investment in it already. I'm not sure if I buy Renard's deadline, and I'm not sure what makes him so uncomfortable about it. Maybe just the fact that if they're right he'll have kept the details of the news from her family for an extra day, as we see when Hank very carefully dances around giving out any information to Holly's mother. Nobody likes this case; Nick's arms are crossed defensively and Hank's being a little more emphatic and take-charge than usual. Renard really doesn't like Nick saying he's going back out to the crime scene on his own, even though he understands the reasoning. I don't quite know why he doesn't have Nick take Sgt. Wu, who's already aware of what's going on, but I suppose that might be unusual enough to start precinct gossip. Plus if Renard suspects Grimm activity as part of this case, letting Nick be alone makes sense. Even if it's still a dangerous, stupid thing to do. And any hard evidence goes through Renard, he's being really cautious on this one. Probably, yes, because he doesn't want the family hurt by a wrong supposition.

And yet despite all the awful things about this case (and the lack of closure on the poor guy from the doggie wash couple), Renard gets to have one of the good sorts of press conferences. For these he'll go out to the middle of the precinct floor, not just because there's more room and it matters less if the press tries to get a story out of one of his cops, but because getting to make these announcements in front of his men is good for morale. It's an excellent staging choice, but you'll note that he again has his hands in his pockets. I would assume that's not to do with concealing anything as the Prince; in fact Renard is the Captain throughout this episode. Instead, I'd guess that he's concealing a couple other things: a) how hard this case hit him personally and b) how difficult it'll be for Holly to assimilate back into society. Even with a mother who, by the little we see of her, has a strong, positive personality as far as not pushing for more than her daughter can manage to give. (Remember how she dropped her arms and waited for Holly to come to her? Yeah. Someone left half an onion under my desk again.) Also, Renard stands in the observation room with Holly, her mother, and Nick and Hank while Holly IDs her kidnapper. Perhaps it made no sense for him to ride along with Hank when they brought Holly back, but now, for seeing justice done, his presence is very much felt. I think it's also a significant editing choice that the very last shot of the ep has a blurry Renard in the background while Holly's eyes glow Blutbad-red in the foreground. Maybe this wasn't meant to foreshadow Renard as something other than human, but it certainly has that effect in hindsight.

Of Mouse and Man has one single walk-and-talk scene in, it being more metaplot-heavy on the Monroe side of things. Renard's fully Captain again, makes a half-cynical half-resigned comment about the abused girlfriend possibly losing patience and sticking screwdriver through her asshole boyfriend's throat. Alas, no, but a safe guess based on years of police work. And the recommendation to try the junk shop over the personal injury lawyer, which while I'm sure Nick and Hank had the sense to aim for in the first place? That's a good demonstration of Renard influencing the outcome of each episode even in less than a minute's worth of screen time.

I will note that it's painfully clever of them to have a stone carving reading "TEMPUS FUGIT" above Monroe as he wakes up from his beating. Yes. Thank you. That was really necessary, both the tie-in to Monroe's livelihood and the implication that the Nick-and-Monroe team is running out of time, or is a waste of time by his assilants' standards. And I'll also pause to note the contrast between the beating Monroe takes in this ep and the hit out on him in the most recent episode. This first instance is brutal, moblike, and intended as a warning shot. There are three, four people involved at most and they say nothing about what's caused this beating, apart from the Reapers sigil on Monroe's car. Though the interpretation he and Nick come to is probably right, we don't know that for certain. We do know that this fits with the Reapers' overall MO: brutal and not inclined to give or accept explanations. The subsequent hit, overseen by Mia the Royal (look, I'm going to go with it even in the absence of a ring until we get proof to the contrary), though still sloppy, is much more precise. We even get given a reason, or at least the reason Mia's giving her hired thugs, that a Blutbad and a Grimm teaming up is bad for business. It's the same rough explanation we get in Mouse and Man, that Monroe and Nick are "rocking the status quo," which makes me wonder just how much is being left out of that explanation. Regardless, it's a very different, more precise sort of brutality as compared to the Reapers in this episode, contrasting the Royals with the Reapers and highlighting the implication that the Reapers are hired thugs for the Royals.

By contrast, we get much more Renard in Tarantella. Then again, it's clear from the outset that this is a Wesen-related case; even if Renard hasn't heard of a Spinnetod due to their rarity he damn well knows that nothing human does this to a body. Though there are only two scenes, both of them are relatively long and involve him using more of his authority as a police captain to liaise with other jurisdictions for information. It's a nice, subtle way of reminding us-the-audience that not all serial killer cases require the feds to come in with big stompy boots. Sometimes police departments can cooperate with each other! Amazing, this modern technology.

There's a fair bit of morgue humor and shop talk in this first bit of the scene, and there's also no real reason for Renard to stick around when Franco turns up except note the hands going straight into his pockets? Yeah, he's expecting Wesen involvement, and he wants to know what the fuck just turned up in his city that's apparently killing people. For all that the cop jokes run toward the vic not being any great loss to society, however subtly they're making them, they'll all do their jobs and find out who the murderer is. We get a brief reminder that Renard's wealthy, as though the suits didn't already tell us that, from his comment about a lot of people losing money in the stock market. All very standard back-and-forth, what've they got for jilted lovers, angry clients, etc. Places to look. Throughout the walk-and-talk Renard's hands are at his sides, loose, it's only when Franco turns up with news from outside Portland that his left hand goes hidden. Stays hidden even while he's leaning over Nick's desk to look at the Phoenix crime scene photos, speaking of which, despite his height he's somehow managing to retain a certain degree of personal space there. And not loom too badly. Which, since we know from later in the season that Renard is damn well capable of looming when he wants, indicates an awareness of and respect for at least Nick's personal space bubble and probably anyone within the precinct. This is not a place where he throws his weight around and intimidates others into doing his bidding, it's not a place where he needs to because he's earned respect in this sphere of his life. Contrast that against the bastard Prince and, well. A lot of things make a lot more sense in hindsight. As we go on with this scene and Hank reads off the lab report about Spinnetod venom, we get both hands in his pockets and a tie-smoothing gesture, a sure sign that Renard knows more than he's telling. I would bet good money, though we never get any confirmation one way or the other, that with the later-established Japanese contacts the Families have that he does know what a Spinnetod is, and he knows the signs of one. As much confirmation as we're going to get comes when he comments that there could be still more victims, and to see if they can find another match. I am very curious to know what Renard was up to the rest of this episode and how much cover-up he had to engage in because of the ending. Besides, of course, contacting other police departments (and Wesen/Royal contacts therein?) and pulling strings to get his men the information they need.

Which, of course, they do. In Albuquerque! As Renard tells us with a finger in his little black book and how amused am I that he has a little black book? Oh yes. All of the amused. He's also perching on Nick's desk here, making himself deliberately non-loomy, another nice touch. He's practically reporting to Nick as the Grimm here rather than Nick the Grimm reporting to his Captain, which makes me laugh and laugh. So much. Especially because Nick is completely clueless that that's what's going on, all he knows is that he just got enough of a pattern dropped in his lap that he can start digging through the diaries and asking Monroe useful questions now. Renard, by contrast to last scene, keeps his hands visible and indeed crosses them at the wrists, resting on his thigh on the desk. He's being as open and honest as he possibly can with Nick without revealing who and what he is; I'm not sure if that should indicate that he Had A Bad Experience with a Spinnetod awhile back and really wants this one out of his city, or if he just disapproves on principle of three murders every five years that come that close to breaking the Masquerade. Or both! But I'm leaning more toward the latter, just because that would be a massive thorn in his Princely side as well as his Captainly side. (And it's such a pretty side. No marring with thorns.) I find his word choice at the end interesting but mostly indicative of his Royal upbringing, "the ritual isn't complete." And the deceptive ominous voiceover about needing to find out how she picks her victims, because she'll kill again. That one, I think, is mostly there for Doylist reasons to give us a bunch of nice horror movie style shots of random men that our Spinnetod is not, as a matter of fact, going to kill. Because they're all far too nice and normal.

And that's all the Renard we have for you this time out! Next up, Plumed Serpent, Leave it to Beavers, Happily Ever Aftermath, and Big Feet. And then we will have done all the scenes with Renard in season 1, possibly just in time for whatever the hell is happening with the potion this week.

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