Thursday, October 4, 2012

When You're At Home: Sergeant Wu

This is the beginning of an actual series of posts, I know, my god. Grimm focuses a great deal on people's homes and sanctuaries (look, if I have to have bad show puns, I'm picking the one we're not analyzing) and the difference between the two, but a lot of it's very background detail. They put a lot of effort, as we've seen when tearing apart the scenes in Renard's condos, into set details. And such effort shall be rewarded with nitpicky, detail-oriented blog posts! Much to absolutely nobody's surprise.

While I'd like to get one of these out a week, I can't guarantee it - we're saving Nick and Monroe's places for last because we've had so many shots of their places that it's going to be a massive undertaking. This week we begin with Wu, since frankly we have very little information about him aside from his wisecracking ways. He's the sort of cop who hides his horror behind humor and prefers to keep work and personal lives separate. I'm curious to know if that's going to become at least an internal conflict as Nick's Grimm work begins to feature more prominently and, well, knowledgably within the precinct. Since Hank now knows, the next likely candidate to be brought in (from work) is Renard, and we all know how hilarious THAT'S likely to be. Which will leave Wu out in the cold, so I have to assume they're going to do something there eventually.

At any rate! We begin near the end of Island of Dreams, as Nick brings Wu home after a long day of wacky blood magic cookies and hallucinations. Nick and Wu are sitting on the couch, Wu in off-duty clothes for I think the first time. Black jeans, black t-shirt, black or navy flannel bathrobe. The couch is dark, I'd guess some kind of a hunter green or black, it's hard to tell in the low light. At first it looks shiny, like pleather, probably not real leather, or not intended as such unless it was a curb find/secondhand buy. Once we get a couple more shots it's obviously clothe of some kind and that was just a trick of the lighting. A two person couch, indicating that Wu doesn't do a lot of entertaining, it's about the right size for him to curl up on and sleep. Or the right size to be a Wu-sized sofa bed, since we never actually see his bedroom. It's also a much smaller apartment/house than we've seen anyone else have, reflecting his lower income as a sergeant rather than a detective, police captain with old money, or independent artisan like Monroe. The lighting is low but warm, and the lamps at either end of the couch don't match. One is a little taller, a bronze or wood finish, and the other is a little squarer with a gold finish. The blanket over the back looks like a Pendleton knockoff, both a nod to the area and a nod to Wu's income again. The whole apartment very much looks like something that he's cobbled together out of odds and ends, but they're his odds and ends in a way that suits him.

This isn't very surprising (though I am bit impressed that the writers took some actual note of a person's probable income level) and in fact suits the person we know so far. The one, slightly higher lamp is on a small back table, there's an end table in front of it with a picture, a stack of three books, all of them hardcover, and what I'd guess to be a tea mug rather than coffee, for no reason other than Wu strikes me as the kind of person to have tea as a comfort beverage. Or possibly it's just water! Also a box of kleenex and a picture that I'm itching to get a good look at. Behind, the curtains are what appears to be a very dark red, and he's got, poor guy, the standard craptastic apartment blinds. As the camera flips to Nick, we get a look at a couple of posters which look to be horror movie, possibly vintage (one might be noir instead), and behind Nick a stack of old film reels. Like what we saw in Aunt Marie's trailer, only I would bet you dollars to donuts that these are all old horror or noir movies. Now I really can't wait to see if they bring Wu in on the secret, because he would be the genre-savvy one and YES THAT WOULD BE SO AWESOME. Please, writers? Soon? Below the reels are what look like hatboxes but I think they're actually more canisters for reels. Wu, where the hell is your projector. Above the reels we've got a wall-mounted cabinet/set of shelves, one of which is filled with paperbacks. Which I would also bet are trashy pulp of some kind. I think his projector's lurking up on the top shelf but this is a bad angle to tell. As they do a close pan on Nick we can see some more books, old hardcovers, that look like the props team might have repurposed from Renard's condo, honestly. Some kind of a box on the end table behind Nick, old and metal, but I'm not sure what it's for.

Once we zoom out to get a good look at Wu opening up his couch cushion to eat it, we see that the shelving isn't wall mounted but is instead a massive concoction of shelves mixed with cabinets. I want one. For my crafts storage. If I had to guess I'd say there's more film buff equipment in the cabinets, we can see a few DVDs here and there on the shelves, and the old books behind Nick turn from a few into most of a shelf. Not, I will add, perfectly stacked and arranged, some of the piles are trying to fall onto each other. I think that's probably a sound system above the paperbacks shelf, but again, too damn dark to tell for sure. There's a knick-nack that looks to me like a freaking dove up and to the left on the shelving unit, I have no idea what that's about. (Kitty: Blade Runner reference? A: Ooh, possibly! I like that theory.) The coffee table is pretty standard, newspaper folded up on it. A couple other items on it that again, it's too dark to make out clearly but I'm guessing wallet/phone/keys. We can also see some kind of geometric patterned area rug under the coffee table and couch, and god that apartment with all the hardwood floors is gorgeous even if it IS tiny. Do want. As they pan a little right, I can tell that this storage/shelving thingie goes on for-EVER, my god. I want to open up all those cabinets and confirm my suspicions about what he's keeping in there. I also want to know what the fuck is up on the top shelf that has two glowing lenses that look like eyes. Are those cameras? Whatever it is, it creeps me out. A whole bunch of stuff on that top shelf, actually, and no obvious stepstool or ladder or other way for Wu to get at it, which makes me wonder a) where such a thing is and b) if I'm right about that being a projector top left, why the hell doesn't he have a ladder or something immediately obvious? I mean, the obvious answer is that I'm wrong, but if he needs that much vertical space to store all his film buff shit, then I want to know how he GETS to half of it. I have 7.5' bookshelves, I'm slightly taller than Reggie Lee, and there is NO way I would put anything I needed to get to on top of my bookshelves.

Then we get more of a pull-back with Wu square in the middle of the shot, and YAY MORE DATA. The posters are for 3 Calls to Murder and Turkish Sunrise, both of which look at least like noir if not like horror/noir scifi. Neither of them are real movies on IMDB, I know, I checked, you're welcome. More newspaper on the shelf under the coffee table, possibly some magazines or books, that looks like a bit of a taller stack than just newspapers would warrant. Laptop on top of the coffee table, laptop bag leaning up against the end table next to Wu. More books and magazines/newspapers on the shelf below THAT table, too. We can see some kind of a dining room (?) area off to Wu's right, or at least there's a chair up in the corner and a still life of some fruit above on the wall, so I'm assuming that's a food room. (What? Stop looking at me like that.) And then we see that yes, there's a couple mismatched chairs, not armchairs but probably secondhand reasonably comfy office chairs. From waiting rooms or something, not the fun spinny kind. Left one metal and green cushions, right one wood and burgundy cushions.

Overall impressions from this brief glimpse which I have now nitpicked to death: Wu's a film buff, probably horror/noir/old scifi. He likes his home warm but dark, almost Old World, he has a pretty decent sense of style. I'd live there, let me put it that way. For someone with not much money he's managed to put together an eclectic but carefully chosen selection of furniture, and though he doesn't entertain much he does leave his living room set up to seat four people, so he probably has a few friends over at a time. Probably for movie nights. He's living alone, because the mess is insufficient to two people, we've never heard of a roommate or girlfriend as emergency contact, and frankly I'm not sure two people could share that sized space very happily. It might end in a bloodbath. Ahem. He's quite neat, whether by habit or because work keeps him from being home long enough to make a mess I can't say for certain though I'd guess little of both. Going back to the relative income levels, I wonder if this isn't also intended to be a reflection on what our favorite Sergeant places value on - not space, but getting to collect assorted favorite items. Like old movies.

Moving along to Love Sick, then! We start out with a close shot of Wu on hands and knees eating the carpet. Not like that. In the "that's really not supposed to enter your digestive tract" sense. It kind of looks to me like that's carpet that he bought for the express purposes of eating? But we'll take a closer look as we get more shots of the apartment as as whole. Next, as we pan up, we see that he has a framed reproduction of this on his wall next to the front door. WU YOU CLOSET STEAMPUNK AFICIONADO YOU. If I didn't think he was supposed to be the audience identification point for crazy geeks like us before, I do now! Halfway solid lock on the door, not the greatest, but then again most people aren't stupid enough to break into a cop's apartment. Unless they're fellow cops looking to save you from the evil blood magic cookies, sorry about that Wu. Below the poster on a side table (again, nice pretty dark woods) are three photos! Yay! Looks like a baby picture, probably a niece or nephew since I don't think Wu has quite the right sense of humor to have his own baby pictures up. A young couple, presumably sibling and sibling-in-law who are the baby's parents, quite obviously the man isn't Wu. And then a group shot that we can't see in any detail but looks like the kind of semi-silly staged family shot at holidays of some sort. Maybe a birthday. So we know he has family, and we know he feels strongly enough about them to have photos prominently displayed, but he does NOT talk about them at work. Another lamp that still doesn't match either of the others we've seen, but manages to fit in overall. Some pile of papers, probably mail, hidden from view by the edge of the chair back. Off to the right, a coat hook wall mounted thing with, as far as we see right now, just Wu's coat with a big fuzzy collar hung up. And not on the hook closest to the door, either, Doylistically that's probably because it looks better in the shot that way, Watsonian explanation... I'm not sure. Maybe the sleeve kept catching in the door as he shut it, though that only makes sense if he doesn't shut the door all the way behind him when standing BEHIND IT to hang up his coat. I don't know, it's a bit odd. There's a chair with a nice briefcase settled onto it oh hey, I know that chair, it's in my basement storage unit. It's from Ikea! Probably quite comfortable for someone his height/weight, it always felt a little like it was going to tip over when I sat in it. (Suddenly I have the urge to go make sure it's still there. Only I saw it last week, which is LONG after this was filmed. Ahem. I'm not punchy at ALL why do you ask.) I'm no longer certain about the briefcase assertion, now that I know how tall the chair back actually is, but okay, we'll see. What looks like a digital camera but turns out to be the Wii-mote is resting on the arm of the chair and yes, those arms are wide enough for that to be at that angle. No, I'm not going to get over Wu having the same damn chair as I do anytime soon.

We can also see, as we pan down to a slightly zoomed-out version of the original shot, that the wall with all the storage shelving and cabinets is on the same wall as his apartment door. Which puts the couch, where he seems to normally sit, facing the door. GOOD cop reflexes. I mean, I'd argue those are people reflexes in general, but I think my sample size skews to people who really hate sitting with their backs to the door. And now we get to pan around, yes, the chairs facing the couch are still there and pretty much haven't moved. There's some kind of a bag on the floor, which to me looks like a camera bag, one of the old school hard leather ones, but it's entirely possible he's repurposed it for carrying lunch and/or odds and ends of things to work. A bike in the corner, good Portlander, probably bikes to work. I don't see a helmet, but that doesn't mean it's not blocked from view. The Ikea chair (I think the thing I thought was a briefcase is actually some kind of a head rest, which makes sense as far back as that thing leans) in front of a pretty good sized flatscreen TV, which probably took him awhile to save up for unless Wu's bad with his credit. A Wii. Another noir movie poster, Last Call For Revenge, which is still not a real movie title. (Though every time there's popped up something kind of close to it. I strongly suspect this is by way of reminding us that we're Not In Kansas anymore.) More lamps, there is no ceiling lighting in this place which is actually a little bit unusual at least in my rental experience, there's always been at least an entrance light that comes with the apartment. And a fucking cat scratching post in the foreground right, to which I say WU WHERE IS YOUR CAT. More to the point, how do you keep your uniform so clean of cat hair? Is it a black cat? I have to assume that if there is a cat, it's been in hiding both of the times we've seen his place, since they were somewhat unusual circumstances. And now I want fic about the cat treating him like a stranger as long as he's under the remnants of the blood cookies. Internet, get on that for me.

I also used to have that three-lamp turning/rotating thing, only the threads got stripped and it attempted to fall over and kill me in bed, which was the point at which I decided it was time to get rid of it. I will endeavor not to read too much into this on anything other than income levels? But I'm deeply amused.

Judging by the placement of that rug, it was either put there for eating purposes or bought for eating purposes. Everything else in this apartment is neatly squared up, put in its place, and the rug Wu's eating is slightly crooked from the rest of that arrangement. It draws our eye to the wrongness of it, but it's also a good indication that that's not where the rug originally was. If it was anywhere, I'd bet on squared up behind the chair in front of the TV. A very slightly better shot of the top of the shelving area as everyone bursts in, I can see a globe (?) and some brass vase or candlestick type things and I think one of the things on a middle shelf is some kind of old radio? Even super slowed down all I'm getting is something old and mechanical, the buttons look wrong for a radio but maybe. Getting a clear shot on this is pretty tough. Oh, and his apartment number is 16. This may be relevant in episodes yet to come, so I take note of it here! Yes, that is a dove up on the top shelf and it looks, um, now that I'm semi-fixated on similarities, awfully close to a dove candle the boy and I got at our wedding. Um. Hang on, I think I need to go check for cameras from the Grimm props department. We get a nice closeup on those photos as Rosalee pours the antidote into the nasal mister torture device, and oh, hey, casual photo of interracial marriage, I approve. So, yes, that's probably Wu's sister or other close female relative and her child, and that's definitely a family photo of a bunch of people on a couch. Fairly casual, actually.

For a couple seconds, nothing new, just the storage and the couch, and then oh hey look, that's a new room, the one I thought was the dining room but we don't have enough details yet to say for sure. With... I think that's a forest scene, only somewhat creepy? There aren't any lights on in that room, though there IS another lamp and what looks like a sideboard table, since there's some other knick-nack-y things sticking up on that wall. A door that leads off somewhere but is currently closed, probably either bedroom or bathroom, and I'm beginning to take it back about this apartment being small, it just has a lot of small rooms. Also, I think I take it back, that's a rabbit perch. Or a cat-scratching post repurposed for a rabbit perch? Only I didn't think rabbits climbed, but there's a mottled brown lump and what looks like narrower, taller ears than you get on most cats. I dunno, maybe it IS a cat and it's in I-don't-give-a-shit mode. Or maybe Wu has a pet rabbit, which would be so adorable I can't even. Ooh, another new room! Off to our left, a desk and a chair and another landscape-looking picture. This time the lamp has a red shade! Yay! As they give Wu the antidote we see yet another doorway past the desk area leading off to the... kitchen, I would guess, since this one's open. Finally we get a pullback and yes, that's a dining room with several chairs around it that seem to more or less match the green chair in the living room, at least for color. I'm going to take a moment to admire the body control necessary for Lee to keep his back arched like that for awhile, though since I have this slowed to quarter speed it feels longer than it was.

Pullback shot, that red mug doesn't appear to have gone anywhere since last episode, which could be a mis-set or could be a case of Wu has some very strong habits. Or a lot of matching mugs. No better shot of the photo on the end table, though on the other end table we can see there's a few more piles of unknown Stuff. With a better perspective on that storage shelving it doesn't look as high as I previously thought, but I think Wu would still need some kind of stepstool to get to the top shelf. Oh! And now we can see that the lighting in Island of Dreams really was that dim, and the couch is a nice shade of blue. Not even navy. It reminds me of my in-laws' couch, actually. Yeah, I know. The more I look at whatever it is on top of that scratching post cushion, the more that looks like a rabbit. And given the direction Wu bolts in I'm going to go with the door beyond the dining room is a closet, more likely. Since a bathroom should be off the bedroom, and he's bolting around the corner instead of through the dining room.

Ooh, we get a nice shot of Nick against the storage shelving! Sadly, since the camera's focused on him, we can't read the titles on those paperback spines. Damn. Working left to right, top shelf: a box of some kind, something that I can't identify, red and purple paperbacks both of which look like classic SFF covers just by the font, a big old film reel (I'm not familiar enough to guess the size/details on it, feel free to jump in!), an old handheld camcorder, two bronze-ish candlesticks, a pillar candle, and something in back of Nick's head. Nick, you make a lousy window. Oh, that's a metronome. One of the old ones that looks suspiciously like it was stolen from the W13 prop room, thanks for that, guys. We interrupt this nitpicky frame-by-frame to yell at Hank not to go in there and then... okay. To the left of where I started from last time, that IS a dove shaped candle though not identical to mine, the one in Wu's place has its tail curved up, that's marginally reassuring. I'll take what I can get at this point. And a record player, awww, so I bet some of those cabinets are hiding vinyl. Wu, WHAT decade are you living in? Because I don't think it's this one, except for that Wii. To the left of THAT is some kind of statue that looks like of like a mini-replica of a terracotta soldier, actually. And then below on that same section of shelving is I think a more modern stereo system. What's odd is that I'm not spotting any speakers, though again, those cabinets could be hiding a lot of stuff. I still have no idea what the big round thing on a stand that's not a globe next to the giant film reel up top is, though. And it's the thing that was reflecting in Island of Dreams and making it look like there were eyes there.

We get a very blurry series of motion shots of the right hand side of the storage, sadly. Even slowed down I can't tell you much except that there's a pretty black six-drawer thing that might hold tapes or other small odds and ends. AND NOW FINALLY I HAVE LAYOUT. I'm so irritated that in the last five seconds of what we've seen of Wu's apartment I get a better view of it than in everything leading up, though this does tell us some interesting things about the choices they made in shooting it the first time. All very close shots, designed to make the place feel small and cramped, whereas once Wu's no longer under control of the blood cookies, we get a pulled back shot that shows us how untrue that is. And books EVERYWHERE. This is a shot looking from, mm, I'd say about the far corner where the coffee table and storage shelving unit live. The thing I thought was a desk with a red lamp on it turns out to be another set of shelves with more books and pictures, at least a couple, and I think that must be a set of encyclopedias on the bottom shelf that we can just see peeking out. Off in the corner, down toward the door from where the TV and that damn chair are, we've got a laptop case? Or some kind of briefcase shaped thing. And a very nice little desk which is not, I'm happy to say, at all the same as the one I'm typing at. Corkboard above with what are presumably notes to self, receipts, all the little odds and ends of things Wu needs to attend to. It's neither markedly full nor markedly empty, and it's not painfully neat the way other areas of the apartment are. This is clearly one of the places Wu spends the most time, as evidenced by the open container of Chinese takeout on the desk. Also some papers and a nice little hutch for storing what I assume are envelopes, notecards, post-its, etc. ANOTHER lamp on the desk, fucking hell, that's... nine. I think. Just in the rooms we've SEEN. I didn't keep nearly that many lamps in the living area when I didn't have overhead lights, and he's even got most of them on at any given point, the only ones off are the desk lamp and one by the (closet?) door in the dining room. Partly I'm sure that's filming purposes, but my god, man. Anyway! Assorted paperwork and other unidentifiable objects on top of the desk, on top of the hutch there's two things I can't identify and one wooden Newton's cradle. Yes, I can identify that on a blurry copy at this distance. Yes, I am that much of a geek.

I still want to know what the hell is up with that scratching post. That looks more like a cat than a rabbit now that I've got a different angle on it, with one of those dangly feathered cat toys on a stick stuck in next to it. But I have no idea what's on the floor directly below. I'd assume another cat toy, but frankly it looks like a facehugger. Wu? That's a terrible idea. Please don't raise facehuggers. The back of the apartment is still something of a mystery, but given that the doorway Wu comes through doesn't have a door on it I'd assume it's just to a hallway. Not sure where the kitchen would be - maybe off to the right on the hallway, and it's a galley? I think that would just barely fit in the space between the dining room wall and where that doorway starts. Then a closed door immediately to the left off that hallway, which could be just about anything, from closet to bathroom to bedroom.

From this, we can assert a few things. This is not nearly as small an apartment as it looked initially, but it's still smaller than anyone's except possibly Hank's, at least of the places we've seen. Based on what little exterior indicators we have of Wu's apartment I would say it's in a less upscale neighborhood than other homes, which is not to say that it's in a low-income place at all. Most of the places we've seen skew toward ostentatious displays of wealth, or at least a clear indication of DINK in Nick and Juliette's case. (Or insurance money/inheritance from Rhinebeck, also possible.) Regardless, based on the eclectic interior decorating I would say Wu doesn't give a shit about matchy-match Stepford style. He values comfort and things he likes and that look good together, and while he may have had help doing that, I'd bet on 90% of it being intuitive. He has an older aesthetic, though not exactly an Old World one, but that flatscreen TV and Wii look terribly out of place with the rest of the apartment. Which is probably why that part of the apartment tends to be in standalone shots. And he's a film/noir/horror geek, probably with a side of SFF thrown in there. Can I just keep casting votes for Wu the genre savvy human in the know? Soon? Anything else I could say would just be repetitious at this point, but I'm deeply intrigued as to how they'll continue bringing this out into Wu's character within the precinct.


  1. Seriously, the stuff you two see in this show just amazes me.

    1. That's the politest way of saying we're raving detail-oriented fangirls I've seen yet!

      But thank you. We like paying attention to these things.

  2. Vintage movie posters? Bike? Record player? Pet rabbit? Furniture that doesn't match? Wu is clearly a hipster!

  3. I have something new for you.
    In 5th season ep 18, Sgt Wu had a Turkish Sunrise book near his bed under night lamp. Maybe not a movie, but... a book?
    Whaddaya think?

    Pardon my english, buddy.