Saturday, January 18, 2014

Another Such Victory Grimm S3E11 The Good Soldier

Previously, on Grimm! Well... nothing, apparently, relevant to this episode. We start instead with a quote that sparks a debate between us at Murderboarding over whether this particular phrasing is Biblical or the original Hammurabi, thereby cementing us as overeducated for this show forever. The point, whichever the original text, is justice. Or possibly vengeance. On certain shows, this episode being one of them, I get the two mixed up.

We will also, now that we've established ourselves as paying fine attention to detail, note that this episode contains at least one fairly graphic portrayal and some discussion of self-harm, so if you're triggered by such things this would be a good episode to skip. You're not missing much in terms of the Royal plot, little more in terms of the Monrosalee. If you like, you can skip down till you see a picture of the Monrosalee and start there, which may be the first time we've ever used the pictures in that particular context. Usually they're just there to break up the endless walls of text. Huh.

All right. Everyone with the relevant triggers not reading now? Good, because it's all front-loaded, so we start in a car with a distressed-looking woman in the middle of some kind of fit. Rage or panic, it's not immediately clear, though it looks maybe closer to panic? She looks at a building she's not sure of, we see it's the VFW, a veteran's hall or club, and then she rolls up her sleeve and gets out the knife and we all know what's coming. Just so we don't forget it, though, we have a bit of shaky cam as we zoom in close on the knife and her face. I have several problems with this scene, starting with the fact that was including the cutting really necessary at that graphic level? Couldn't we just see her rolling her sleeve down over the scars, or the scars peeking out over the top of the sleeve? Did focusing in on the cutting tell us anything the actress's performance hadn't (I don't think so) or is the director/script-writer that unsure of the actress's ability to convey distress? Or does this have significance further down the line, because I will accept vengeance-fueled blood magic as a reason for all this close up almost ghoulish focus. Except it doesn't, so I don't. While the scene establishes one of the main characters of the episode, the cutting I find to be an unnecessary addition, especially upsetting to potential members of the audience.

Right. Inside the VFW facility there's a guy Holy shit it's Charlie Francis! Ahem. There's a guy, using all kinds of hypermasculine dude and possibly a little drunk body language, legs sprawled and semi-combative talking with his hands gestures included. Plus we can infer that's not his first beer. To complete the picture he's telling a story about how he starred in a porn film once, I mean, about how he was selling home security systems and this one woman answered a service call in her bathrobe. No info though on whether she was hitting on him or whether he was early and surprised her and is re-telling the story the way he thinks it played out, because he's one of those types. Realistically, I'd say either is possible; in the context of the rest of this episode, I'd say the latter and this is meant to imply that this is a guy we shouldn't be too concerned with when he ends up dead at the hands of some Wesen. His friend isn't concerned, probably think's he's bragging, and goes off to the gent's. Meanwhile we lead in with the woman coming in boots first, just to make us look at her like a threat. Threats come in boots first. Traumatized women come in with hunched shoulders in jackets and a frontal shot so we can see them look around the room in fear. Not that a character can't be both, and often are, but it's a question of what we're supposed to see first, the threat or the trauma. She sits down, we'll note the sits because she's moving carefully, in the chair opposite to him, triggering a fit of tie straightening and avoiding looking at her. So, yeah, this guy's an asshole. Especially with the pretending not to know her. Not that she'll let him get away with that. The first part of this is pretty good! Well acted, good tight dialogue even if the pacing is a beat or so longer than it needs to be. And then we're back to the open wounds and the cutting, which is still more dramatic and gory than it needs to be. Customarily the gore in Grimm is limited to Wesen matters, not something as real-world as self-harm, and it's hard to sell the focus on it as something necessary. This is also the point at which I realized it would be more emotionally applicable as the climax to a leadup in the episode, but as the introduction? I realize this is meant to establish the gravity of what happened, but viewers aren't that unobservant and the actress is doing a good job of portraying upset and traumatized without needing to go into fake blood and makeup scars. There's half a dozen different ways just off the top of my head that they could have reinforced this guy's bad guy nature: draw the story out a couple more lines to make it clear that he doesn't care about consent, have him lean across the table and treat the woman more roughly, for two starters. There's also half a dozen ways they could have established a Clue for Our Heroes to find later on that didn't involve the napkin. This feels overblown and unnecessary. So, okay, it feels overblown and unnecessary to not!Charlie Francis, too, he'll get the hell out of there if she won't. And we're out to...

Monrosalee! Which is a massive tone shift, though I suppose it works in the beginning because we present conflict followed by the day to day. In previous episodes this would have been done by cutting to Nick and Juliette, but now we have Monrosalee as well! Or possibly instead, given the recent events in Nick and Juliette's relationship. There's some witty banter, some adorable looks exchanged, lots of lovely little comments reinforcing the specific nature of the characters and the relationship such as Monroe referring to his watch maintenance tools, Rosalee mentioning Mrs. Wurstner (Bud's wife! Hi Bud! Even only by mention!) and it's actually fairly well integrated. And then, because looking for something in television always leads to finding something unrelated but significant from the plot and usually something hidden, dun dun dunnnn! Letter from Rosalee's mom! I'm not sure about the timing of all of this family drama taking place within two episodes, given what we're seeing of Monroe's parents showing up next episode, but I will accept the initial communications coming so close together, it's a good and un-crowded pace for that. We will now have some info dump couched in explaining/confirming things to Monroe (who already looks worried enough that he must have some general knowledge, but lacks specifics): This is the first time she's heard from her mother in seven years, this weekend is the anniversary of her father's death, and (unspoken but apparent) Rosalee is very apprehensive about her reception in the family. We can tell this because, rather than defensive, she's becoming sad and withdrawn, implying guilt. Monroe takes all this in and opts to look on the positive side that her mother is reaching out to her, meaning she wants to see her. He's still clearly worried, and Rosalee asks him to come with her because she's equally clearly uncertain about the whole thing. I also love that we skipped right over the usually schmaltzy part of the dialogue where the one person expresses unease and worry and the other person repeats a couple variations of the I'm always there for you, and then the first person says what would I ever do without you, and then the Hallmark channel logo appears... thank you for not doing that. Instead we get logistics, and the reassurance and love through the performances of the actors.

Hilariously, the audio that overcuts this is ranting about how "she" is in Portland dammit. Not entirely appropriate considering Rosalee was the one who moved away but, okay, sure, we'll go with it? And now for a complete change of mood! Just in case we didn't know this guy was a douchebag with no self control, he's still drinking. Something amber-colored in a glass, now, shirt cuffs rolled up, all the standard signs. He's on the phone with someone yelling about how she's back, she's pissed, still standard, complete with the woman in question standing outside his house shouting at him. I'm not sure I buy either that line as something she's likely to say or that part of the scene as being at all useful; again with the overblown and dramatic. We're going to see a lot of heavy-handedness in this episode, I fear. On the other hand, having her outside or having him see something outside does get him out of the house, which we'll find later is useful. He throws her off of his property, there's a bit of a confrontation, oh look, he's getting his gun. Yeah, he's just racking up the douchebag points like a kid scarfing Halloween candy. The camera does an Evil Dead zoom onto the front door as he comes out of it, implying that something's coming at his face and giving him a nice dutch angle because, yeah, this guy's a threat. But she's gone, and so's her car. So he lowers the gun, goes back inside, only to find footsteps. Oops. Breaking glass, he'll Weaver on throughout the house until we see the Significantly Broken Medal Case and he gets attacked by, well, that's definitely a manticore. For the five of you who haven't googled this by now, a manticore is an actual mythological creature that, okay, pretty much looks like that if you strip out the humanoid aspect. Lion body, tail of a scorpion. Bat or dragon wings, too, usually. Sometimes a human face if it's supposed to interact with the story characters. They're not known for being nice, though again depending on the story they are known for being fair. Brutally fair. Anyway, so, that guy's dead. No one is sorry. Roll credits!

Bring on the cops! Sitrep from Wu, it turns out Hank knows of McCabe Security, referring to them as rent-a-cops for the rich. Heh. When the guy didn't show up to work the company sent someone to check up on him, found him dead. Fairly straightforward. The conclusion as to the cause of death is indeterminate but it looks like stabbing rather than projectile and I'm summarizing here in more clinical language because, um, that's how I roll? They also find the guy's medal box and we find out that Hank's father was infantry. Huh! Though that explains a bit. At any rate, whoever killed Ron Hurd, the douchebag in question, also took his war medals. It turns out that he and the person the company sent to check up on him were in Iraq together, but only Hurd was a soldier; the other guy was a defense contractor, so we have at least three groups all of whom are to some degree networked together: the defense company, the security company, and the battalion. The witness tells Nick and Hank that Hurd was a good man, but that's also the kind of thing you tell the cops when as far as you know or are willing to admit the guy has committed no provable crimes. No security system in the home, he didn't touch or move the body, and chances are he's telling the truth about that unless he's Wesen too. So, Nick and Hank come to the obvious conclusion that Hurd let his killer in the house, though possibly not on purpose. How Nick gets the lines about the killer thought Hurd didn't deserve the medals and was military himself, rather than Hank? Yeah, I don't know about that. Nick has no military connections and apart from the cops, no connections to any kind of similar organization. That's my biggest nitpick with this scene, though, and he does miss the secondary (inaccurate for the ep, but given what Hank just coughed up a logical theory) that it could've been someone related to a veteran. Either living or dead, since the more common TV trope for military eps of this sort is that a group left a man behind. The rest of it plays out pretty standard. Security system guy calls back to base to find out that "Frankie," presumably the woman in question, is in town, and everyone should watch their backs.

Monrosalee get all the domestic scenes this episode. Which actually is a good thing, it shows us how comfortable they've become living together, and that's kind of necessary if they're going to accelerate this at the pace they intend. First coffee! And then the difficult questions. Has she talked to her Mom? Yes, and they're on for tonight! That right there comes out calm and chipper enough that Monroe should be suspicious, or at least I would be, Monroe probably wouldn't. And he gives a barrage of questions and support which causes Rosalee to admit that she emailed her mother rather than call. But it's still so far so good! Which probably means nothing outside of dinner logistics was addressed. They have to be there by 5.30, "they" eat early, and now Monroe knows this is more than just Rosalee's mother. The sister's going to be there. Interestingly, Monroe seems to have heard more about the sister Dietta than the mother, or at least he's heard enough to have that 'aw crap' expression. Here we have some more relationship building between the two of them and some more character information, which is to say that Dietta came home to take care of the mother (no indication whether or not the mother needed it per se) while Rosalee was having her problems. Which, since we already know about them and in fact had a refresher course last episode, all we need to hear is what she imagines her sister's interpretation of them to be: frolicking up and down the coast. Which is good, it tells us something about the sisterly antagonism without overloading us with details we already knew. Rosalee's reactions also tell us something useful, in that whatever happens between her and her sister she's trying not to be bitchy and vengeful more for Monroe's sake, or perhaps because she wants to be the serene and wise person she thinks Monroe sees her as. Everyone takes a second and then Monroe brings up the host gift because when in doubt, fall back on ritual and tradition! Bottles of wine are good traditions. Even if Rosalee can't resist one last dig.

Data-collecting at the precinct. Not the kind Ron Hurd did for the Army. In point of fact, he was in PsyOps, did HUMINT, was an E6, and here we pause to inquire as to how the FUCK a guy with that personality got to be an E6 with that MOS. What the actual fuck, you guys. Okay, so granted he could be much, much different when he's in a vast-majority-male environment, some of his assholery could have been failing to adjust to civilian life, but since all we have to go on is the couple minutes of screentime he got: the fuck. Okay, for those of you who are staring at the terminology wondering what the hell we're talking about, this is a guy who supposedly got into people's heads and got information out of them for a living. And the biggest problem we have with this is that a guy who has a preconceived idea of how the world works and not only tries to make it conform to his idea, but also is a massive jerkwad about doing so? Not the best guy to get people to open up and tell him things. So, what the hell. He must have behaved differently when he was in the military, possibly some of this is related to war trauma as well as inability to compensate for a different environment? Because otherwise I got nothing. The upshot of this whole scene involves pulling credit card receipts and phone records and thus it's off to the VFW and Jim McCabe! Yay. I will grant, at least, that the fact that he's drinking at the VFW instead of any more civilian bar is a good indicator that Hurd didn't adapt to civilian life very well. Still and nonetheless, that makes him no less of an asshole.

This will be punctuated by the witness who found Hurd's body coming home, finding Frankie in his living room with his wife, and a lot of tight Dutch angles as he enters, just in case we were in any doubt about him being a jackass or a potential threat. Or under threat, as the case may be. I will note now that a great deal of the cinematography and directing this episode is reminiscent of an unpolished Barba, and checking Green's prior credits this is probably the first thing he's done for TV and most of the rest are shorts. I can't entirely blame him for falling back on someone else's style while he learns, it's just a little confusing because frankly I did have to doublecheck the directing credits. The dialogue wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the cutting being brought up again. And either the actress isn't very good or they're encouraging her to way, way oversell this. Which is irritating. (Looking at her past credits, I'm betting on the latter.) Look, I promise, your audience is not stupid. Not this stupid, anyway. Also the other guy's overselling, too, and his wife was a little too plastic chipper and in conclusion please stop asking your actors to oversell. I promise they know their jobs better than you do. Let 'em do it. And if we took out the cutting bits, which also, by the way, make zero goddamn psychological sense, most cutters hide what they're doing out of shame and we have no buildup from shame to rage to confrontation with Frankie, which we couldn't reasonably ask for in a single ep anyway, so just take that out, guys. Seriously. But if we took them out, the dig about sex with your wife would have worked much, much better here. It's not like anyone doesn't know what's going on, and it would be less of an oversell then. Frankie leaves after yelling about being in his face, wanting him to call the cops so that she can tell her story and maybe get justice. Notably, this is not then followed by a scene of Second Veteran and/or his wife getting deaded, which is a pretty strong hint that Frankie's not our killer. Well, that and the fact that it'd be too simple at barely a quarter of the way into the episode.

From trauma to, um. Tango? The VFW post is hopping, and I almost mean that literally but I can't actually tell if they're doing the Lindy Hop. (A: They're not. Or at least not modern Lindy, which tends to be more athletic. Actually, most of the extras look like they're almost doing a foxtrot. Dammit, I was hoping for West Coast Swing, because duh. At least one couple is doing nothing other than swaying in place and shifting their weight side to side.) Dancing, in other words. It's a dance class! And I have no idea who's been watching Marilyn Hotchkiss but almost everything about the first ten seconds of this scene reminds me of that movie so hard I have to stop myself looking around for a tiny nebbishy Robert Carlyle. Ahem. I'm not even kidding, everything from the exuberant lady greeting them/hitting on them at the door to the stunned mullet expressions as they face the stage and the dance students. Sadly, Nick and Hank aren't here to partner up and dance, much to the disappointment of several chinhandsing fanfolk. That's another thing I wonder, was that a sly wink to the fanfiction writing audience who do tend to, um. Partner up the male characters and set them dancing? Anyway. They're looking for someone who worked there last night, and she's in the back. Much to everyone's the dance class lady's deep disappointment. The staffer's initial reaction is "God, what did Ronnie do now," which is somewhat telling of his character. As though we needed any more clues he was an asshole. They get the rundown of events from her, we get an interesting rundown of his tab that does not in any way equal $35 unless dinner and drinks are really discounted (which admittedly is possible, I guess), and a description of the cocktail napkin with blood on it left behind at the table when everyone had finished surling at each other. Now, this cutting is at this point clearly meant to leave our heroes a Clue, but. Um. A bloody cocktail napkin? Really? And they couldn't have made this deductive leap from "angry woman came to the VFW and scared Ron Hurd off"? I am still not convinced that the cutting has to be in here at all, let alone as heavy-handed as it is. Subtlety: it's a thing. We finish getting the precis on the previous night, the VFW doesn't have a security camera system at all which I would argue is less than smart, but also not unrealistic. On the one hand, no, it's not like anyone's going to steal anything, and on the other hand it's not impossible that fights might get started due to inter-branch rivalries, old grudges, past trauma causing heightened sensitivities and strong reactions, etc. And having security cameras around would at least help identify what happened for the authorities. And on the other other hand, maybe that's not what the people here want. See also: not unrealistic. Funding might also be an issue. Anyway, we close up with a focus on the bloody napkin, which I still think is the least subtle clue since Scooby Doo. Fortunately this isn't that episode. That was Twelve Angry Fuchsbau.

This cut, pun not intended, doesn't make much sense thematically, but it's definitely the next story chunk for Monrosalee, so we'll go with it. They've been sitting in the car in the driveway for awhile, by the fidgeting and Monroe's wary please-don't-bite-my-head-off question. Plus they've had somewhere between four and six hours of travel time, depending on if Rosalee took the scenic route to be even more avoidant, to get her even more nervous and worked up. Oh honey. Nice banter again, Monroe's typical dry humor fixes a lot and his pep talks… sort of fix more, in that it gets Rosalee up and moving. I don't think he quite expected her to react quite that vehemently, but when you've been steeling yourself to something this scary for a few days, sudden, almost violent action is often the only way to get momentum going. Which is something that at least Bree Turner knows, I don't know whose idea that was but it comes across clearly. It also only gets her to within an inch of ringing the doorbell, but that's what Monroe's for. Just in case we - well, we don't, but she does - need the reassurance that they're in this together. In all ways. Aww. Rosalee's mother looks more relieved than antagonistic, maybe a little nervous, but not outwardly awful. Dietta is much more upfront about her dislike, wariness, and general pissiness about the situation. Mrs. Calvert, as she keeps talking, seems like either genuinely a nice person compensating for Dietta's antagonism or highly passive-aggressive, and it's difficult to tell which it is without having more background information about the family and the circumstances under which Rosalee left. Which we will come to later!

For right now, we cut over to McCabe Security, where presumably McCabe himself is staring at the screen full of her service record. She was an E3, also in PsyOps, is this whole thing meant as a ribbing of Norberto Barba's past? Because if so, oh you guys. Really? (Though at least he might know from the kind of people you get in PsyOps and/or the subculture aspects to be found there, so I have some vague hopes that he guided parts of the writing this ep.) (Look, it's on his Wiki page and in a couple of interviews, it's easy to find if you bother to look. This shouldn't be news.) She did PR, honorable discharge, so at least whatever complaints were filed they didn't come back on her in that way. Joined shortly after high school, but being in PsyOps means she was suited for that work in some way. Beyond the stereotypes associated with being female in the military, I mean. So, yes, that's McCabe wondering what the fuck, I have already taken a dislike to his voice before we ever see his face, and Hank and Nick are here for their interview! McCabe is being really helpful. By helpful we mean loading them down with all of Ron's paperwork to go through. It's the kind of helpful that isn't, and is rapidly followed by a lie. Two lies, as he denies that the phone call last night was about anything other than work, no he doesn't know about the confrontation at the bar, he's seated at his desk, secure in his power and knowledge and there's nothing for you to see here, gentlemen, move along until you've gone through all that paperwork and come up with nothing. He's not a bad liar, either; one of the better ones we've seen on the show recently, as befitting his status as presumably ex-PsyOps as well. Hank will proceed to do some detecting while Nick occupies McCabe's attention. Why look! It's a photo of four guys in military uniform, that'd be Troy and Ron and a fourth guy who moved down to Phoenix to open his own security firm a few years ago. Uh-huh. Either he was feeling guilty or he wanted to get a bigger piece of the pie. Oh, our third lie! Which is the worst of them, a fraction too startled and his voice goes a bit wobbly, and Hank and Nick immediately pick up on it. They'll leave him be, but they'll take a copy of that photo with them. Via smartphone. I love the smartphone age.

All right, so that gives us that Hurd was the only actual military-at-the-time guy involved in this boy's club, and the other were there as private contractors. So already we know they're corrupt in some way because private contract security firms from Iraq or Afghanistan do not show up in fiction these days unless they're playing the bad guy. I mean, I'm sure they do, but the exceptions are much fewer than the instances where it's played straight. The name of the security firm is Artemis, leading us to facedesk the poor wood into smithereens, because Artemis is definitely who you pray to out of the Greeks for justice when you're a rape victim. That's a nice attempt at symbolism that's in really the wrong place, guys. And then most of those guys went into private security back at home, indicating a strong inability to adapt. Oh, and Robert Hammond is dead back in Phoenix, not working his own crew. Same MO. Who's got the jar.

Adalind does! In Vienna. It's full of Pech-tin. (What. Whaaaaat.) No, today we do not have belly jelly, today we have Adalind in a cafe-bar-restaurant type thing having some hot beverage and doing lawyer work. And being followed by the ineptest sekrit revolutionary ever, Meisner. Hi Meisner! You're so big and glowery over there you look like Sabretooth. You know, I'd actually accept this as a thing if Meisner were the obvious tail and Sebastien was sitting two tables behind her being all innocuous and sweet-looking and doing the actual tailing. At least, that's how I'd do it. Sadly, Meisner is the only tail tonight, and I'm sure he could be more obvious about following her but he'd have to go over and loom directly at her table. I can't tell whether that's because Meisner is Meisner or because of the general overall heavy-handedness here. Adalind isn't the most subtle shade on the sample card either, because staring right at the guy following you is a great way to make it known that you know. On the other hand, sometimes you want them to know that you know what they know. You know? This is not one of those times. She looks back quickly because oh shit she's being followed, which is almost as quickly followed by oh shit, labor pains? Baby kicking? Something unpleasant going on in there. Which seems to subside or at least, she gets control over her external reactions to the pain, just in time for the cup to slide away from her. Baby doesn't want that coffee. I don't remember teke being a part of the original Hexenbiest package, does anyone else? Meisner is intrigued! Meisner will telegraph that he is intrigued by leaning in from across the bar! Meisner, go back to the fucking Academy. Adalind is even less subtle and somehow no one else notices or at least reacts loudly to the cup flying back to her hand as she tests out her new fun teke powers. She does look fairly pleased with herself though. Hey, if I could successfully manage to master Summon Cup of Hot Cocoa I'd be pleased with myself too! Uh, except for the part where baby doesn't like that. More cramps, because that's about what this looks like, cramps or contractions or something else more towards the lower end of the uterus. No one seems to notice the woman in distress and almost screaming, though since there's no actual loud scream there before the lights start going I guess I will accept that. Certainly once the lights start blowing no one's going to notice her hunching back over the table and looking a bit sheepish. Adalind, stop drinking whatever that was you were drinking. It makes baby cranky.

After the break we're back at McCabe, and the witness from the crime scene is talking to McCabe about this thing he can't do. Keep silent, apparently, about what happened. McCabe can totally keep quiet, he doesn't seem to feel that he even did anything that needs confessing, or at least his conscience isn't pricked at all by her reappearance. Oh crap, Troy told his wife. Well, now he really is going to get killed, either by the vengeance-happy manticore or by McCabe himself in the interests of keeping whatever he wants to hide under wraps. Standard conversation is standard, and the conflict is not resolved by the end of the scene, nor is anything really established or advanced. At most we have the one guilty conscience, at least on screen, which is bog standard for this trope.

Which is why it's weird that this comes in the middle of both of the Vienna scenes. It makes everything seem choppy, either rushed or out of place, and is generally poor pacing at best. Anyway, we're back at the hotel and Adalind going back to her room followed by Meisner stepping out of the shadows and reporting in to Renard. At least he waited until she was inside the room to do it. Poor Meisner is very earnest and serious about reporting in, whereas Renard is... leonine might be the best word I can come up with. Licking his whiskers, while we're on cat metaphors. Very laid back and settled and giving no fucks for whether this new development means good things or bad for Adalind. He's mildly concerned about the pain if only because it may signify distress on the part of the child, but other than that it's business as usual until he hears Adalind's getting her powers back. Then we're almost back to All Shall Love Me And Despair Renard, or at the very least the ruthless player who is prepared to turn this to his advantage any way he can. By contrast, the other interesting thing about this scene is that Meisner seems mildly freaked out by the display of Hexen powers, which goes along with none of the conspirators being Wesen or other than human that we can tell. So, what are they, then? What are they doing there, why do they care about any of this, and how did they gain access to this world? Questions abound, and I'd be a lot more comfortable with this if I had faith that they came with answers.

We do get a nice bit of switching from Renard the princely conspirator to Renard the police captain here, something we haven't seen quite as much of this season. Because he has been remarkably forthcoming. Right up until Adalind and her witch-baby entered the picture, at which point he quite justifiably clammed up and ran away from discussing his problems with anyone. As much as I want to shake him for not trying to use this as an emotional wedge to make friends and closer allies out of the scoobies, it's perfectly in keeping with his character not to do it, or to weigh the possibility of succeeding against the consequences of either fucking it up or the scoobies taking precipitous action on his behalf and deciding the risks weren't worth it. At any rate, there's nothing to suggest this is a Wesen case so far, it's purely the Captain and his detectives, Renard did the polite round of bureaucratic phone calls and has further information for them. Yes, the stab wound matches. Oh, and there was poison, which is utterly unsurprising to us but new information to them. A little long to leave the poison bit for my liking, but they've got a lot to cram into this ep. Hi Harper! Even by brief mention. I bet she won't have inconclusive tox results, when she sends them in. There's a few we're-all-knowledgeable-here looks exchanged that suggest the suspicion of Wesen involvement without outright stating it before they get any more data, which is either actor or director, I'm betting, and well done on that front. 'cause you know Renard's running interference for Nick to be interrogating all these Wesen in rooms that should nominally be hooked up for recording. A lot of interference. At any rate, they do some batting the case around like a ball of yarn, to return to the cat metaphors, there's no reason for one to be killing the others that they know of, emphasis on, so Renard has the next best suggestion! Go talk to the CO. Which makes me wonder about his own military knowledge and/or experience, though he does seem to run the precinct in a fairly militant manner. Certainly he expects a military level of precision.

And from military precision we go to decidedly fuzzy and flailing around! Dinner doesn't seem to be starting off awkward, which is to say that the most emotionally obvious of them, Monroe, shows no signs of tension as he appreciates Mama Calvert's cooking. And she responds by inviting him to call her in the familiar, and I flail about some myself because Gloria? Now we have two Glorias to be confused by? Both of them rather sweet maternal types, too, one significantly snarkier than the other, though. Haven's Gloria, I mean, for those of you who don't read up on both shows. Anyway. Lest we be confused into thinking that this is a friendly meet-the-boyfriend dinner, let's have Dietta take the last steak! And Monroe resist the temptation, and then thanking Gloria for doing a vegetarian option for him, so that we know a) Rosalee's Mom likes Monroe or at least Rosalee enough to make accommodations and b) that there's still quite a bit of underlying discomfort. At least they manage a topic change without much trouble! Besides, Monroe can go on about clocks quite genially for some time, as we all well know. Gloria seems pleased and intrigued, Dietta has to wonder out loud what admittedly a lot of fanfolk have been wondering to themselves; yes, as it turns out, Monroe gets people sending watches and clocks to him from all around the world, indicating that his reputation is such that yes, he can make a pretty damn good living at that. This also provides Rosalee with an opportunity to show how proud she is of her boyfriend, both with what she says and her tone as well as saying it in front of her mother and disapproving sister. Who will continue to disapprove by, well, being blatantly racist. Rosalee's got the lampshade for that one, and we have a series of reaction shots, no one looks terribly pleased with this. Even Dietta looks like she's not sure she should have done that. SO. New topic, what does Dietta do for a living? False teeth, evidently. That's not symbolic at all. Oh, but she doesn't leave it at that, she takes this opening to launch into the expected/dreaded snide remarks in Rosalee's direction about not being there for the family when their father died, and off the ladies go! Poor Monroe keeps trying to move to a less volatile topic but they've got the bit in their, um, teeth now and it's actually almost refreshing to have this be open aggression rather than the kind of sniping passive-aggressive verbal sparring we tend to get. Dietta is pissed about Rosalee not showing up to the funeral, about her not coming home to be with family, about her (as far as Dietta knows) spending all her time partying instead of living up to her filial responsibilities. Rosalee is pissed because she spent seven years on every street in Hell between her addiction and what was apparently a less than lucrative larceny career. She might also be restraining herself for their mother's sake, being more aware of their mother's feelings after her long absence than Dietta is, since Dietta has had the opportunity to take their mother's love for granted. Certainly she doesn't seem too concerned with upsetting their mother. And all the pushing gets the revelation that Rosalee was in jail for shoplifting, she didn't find out about the funeral until after she got out of prison. And by then no one was speaking to her. Dietta doesn't consider this reason or apology enough, though given her anger or belligerence it's easy to see why Rosalee hasn't opened up that dialogue or given what her sister considers to be an adequate apology. Doing that would mean opening communication channels again and Rosalee's having a hard enough time with that now, let alone with the full force of Dietta's grief and Rosalee's own emotional turbulence connected with drug use and toxic relationships? Yeah, no. That was not going to happen, that apology that Dietta seems to feel she and their mother were owed. Which of course does not mean that Rosalee doesn't feel terrible about what happened or regret it, and after one last outburst she flees in tears. Thanks, Dietta. Happy now? (She doesn't look it, she actually looks surprised. Oh well.)

Monroe, because he is a good and a sweet Monroe and everyone should have one, goes after her. And tries to tell her that it's okay, not that it's okay in the sense that everyone's happy, but it's okay in the sense that now it's out there and maybe some healing can begin. GOOD Monroe. Can have cookies. Many of them. This also says some interesting things about Monroe's family history which I wonder if they'll be followed up on in the next episode, but until then we have Rosalee finishing her freakout and then more running out of energy than calming down, and also pointing out that while they picked up the pieces, as she says, after their father died, she was the only one there after Freddy died. We all remember that one, don't we? And since Freddy seemed to have picked up where their father left off, they should at least have had some idea what he was into and/or what would have been necessary. Though none of this explains the Geier shaped potato. Anyway. Monroe reminds her that she and her mother and sister are still family, and with that comes a lot of pain along with the love, especially when everyone involved (with the possible exception of Gloria) has made a few spectacularly bad choices along the way. And when everyone's calmer he does ask, possibly to drag her mind away from her family, what she shoplifted. Which was, of course, a watch. Leaving Monroe to respond in typical Monroe fashion "ooh, what kind?" and then more laughter and more hugging and everything is all right again. Okay, not everything all right, but at least some of the damage is out there in the open, most of the family-related history and secrets have now been revealed, and the healing can indeed begin.

Secrets being out isn't always a good thing. It kind of depends on what they are, and how long you've been keeping them. For example, I'm pretty sure that's the look of a wife deciding whether or not she's going to divorce her husband and not coming up with any good answers. Until Troy admits that he was a coward and wanted to confess at the outset and probably he was jeered into participating in the gang rape by "aren't you a man" type comments, if his characterization here is anything to go by. Ah, the military. Land of really fucked up gendered behavior. And the wife has just decided that no, in fact, there will not be a divorce or a confession or an anything. It's impossible to say why, because we're not given enough time on her characterization, but it could be anything from not wanting to lose his income at the most base level to not wanting to admit that her husband could be this kind of monster, and if she destroys all the evidence and makes him shut up again the genie will go back in the bottle. Sorry, lady. It doesn't work that way. I'd mutter something about staying together for the kids except we've seen no indication that there are kids, so, whatever. The point of this scene is that they're about to get murdered, though I appreciate the attention to detail that ripping up a confession doesn't do a lot of good. Shredders don't even always work. Burning, flushing down the toilet, these are things that work. He gets as far as laying it in the fireplace before Betsy gets killed! And then as far as almost dialling 911 before he gets killed. Well, someone's cleaning house, and at this point I'm definitely betting on McCabe because this is a precision hit, this isn't she was in the way. Which means someone who knows that she knows, which means McCabe because we didn't have any indication there was someone hanging around dropping some eaves before they got killed. So we have at least two manticores! The plot congeals.

The familial plot doesn't so much congeal as wobble like chunky parfait around the Calvert family like Rosalee's composure. Which is somewhat improved for a few minutes standing outside curled up under Monroe's arm. I really, really appreciate the extent to which the writers and actors have moved this relationship along in a fashion that doesn't make the proposal coming up next ep seem so rushed. Somewhat rushed still, maybe, but they've been through a lot in the last year and a bit, so it's not unreasonable to say they know each other pretty well at this point. It also goes a long way to explaining why Monroe and Nick aren't bosom buddies anymore, above and beyond Hank being in on the trailer work at this point: it's natural for friendships to change over time, and for them to become somewhat more distant when the initiating crisis that brought them together has passed. It also makes for some really awkward plots where they're trying to fit everyone in without reusing things they've already done, and guys, I'd like it a lot better if there were more of these B plots and a lot more metaplot, which would necessarily bring Rosalee in, over time. At any rate. Rosalee feels up to making a second attempt at going inside, just in time for Gloria to come out on the porch with a sad-hopeful-maternal look on. That'd be Monroe's cue to bugger the hell off and let them have their moment in private, then! Which makes it a perfect time for Dietta to sneak around behind Monroe, startle him into woge, and give him the shovel talk. Dietta, you either took advantage of that or planned it out with your mother, didn't you. Well, this family just got a lot more interesting. Also we now know that Rosalee's the baby sister at least to Dietta, no telling if she was the middle or the youngest. I'd guess the youngest, by everyone's reactions, but I don't think we got birth order when she came in to deal with the shop. Monroe is duly disturbed, though there's an element of "Well! Got that out of the way, then!" to it, too. I'm just pleased that someone finally remembered that foxes are predators too.

Hey, speaking of predators, let's figure out who's predating what here. Hank's set up the video chat with Colonel Desai, whose name I had to look up because I would have sworn he said DeSade at first. Thematically, um, appropriate? Since a lot of DeSade's pornography was centered around the misuse of authority and horrible things happening to traumatized young women. Still not something I would immediately leap to as far as using it goes. No, apparently I'm the only one who heard that, moving on! (A: I can't help it if your biases are large and obvious.) (K: So were Donatien's. *ba-dum ching*) (A: Bad Kitty. Go to his room.) Video chat with the guy's CO. Who is apparently at Walter Reed with terminal cancer. He does look like a guy with terminal cancer, he looks a bit like death warmed over. And he knew the contractors, didn't think much of them, calls them cowboys and says they committed all kinds of basically bully-crimes when they were in Iraq. They also negotiated a contract with the government that immunized them from prosecution so, yay? That's not hyperbole, either. A lot of private security contractors had negotiated immunity with various government organizations, much to the deep displeasure of those who had to live with them. Eventually Artemis, and I'm still cringing over that name because why, got kicked out of Iraq in the winter of 2010. Oh, and a specialist Frankie Gonzales reported Staff Sgt. Hurd and the other Artemis guys (no word on whether it was limited to the guys in the photo, which is an important and distinct detail, although we may assume that it was for the sake of compact storytelling) for gang rape. He then reported it to his superiors, who did, wait for it! Fuckall. Desai filed a restriction, Hurd was transferred, and no one was held accountable. As far as he knows Gonzales is presently in South Carolina, though we all know differently, and oh he'll never forget that the attack took place on November 11th 2010. And do you know why he'll never forget it? BECAUSE THAT IS MOTHERFUCKING VETERAN'S DAY. That's not even a national holiday, folks, and I do not see any damn excuse for leaving it out, that is a day of remembrance for war veterans and soldiers around the globe in at least two thirds of the nations which fought in World War I. Okay, most of them. Some of those nations don't exist anymore, and others don't celebrate it as a national thing. Still and nonetheless, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month is a thing, and given the extent to which the soldier and military aspect has been played up in this episode, leaving it out leaves a big gaping hole where veterans acknowledging an international fucking military day of remembrance should be. I'll stop frothing now. It's a thing. No, wait, one more thing, they keep hammering on this being four years ago guys November of 2013 was three months ago. Do your fucking math. It's three years and three months, assuming we're running more or less in realtime, writers can't do math is supposed to be a joke not a truism. Anyway, this is the explanation for the strange blood pattern on the napkin, which does not explain why the napkin had to be there in the first place, and Col. Desai pleads out on the basis of chemo. Which, as we see as the camera pulls back, is a blatant fucking lie. Oh look, he's in a hotel room in Portland. Drinking.

With that entirely misleading and frustrating Skype call out of the way, thanks Colonel, you and Clay should never get together ever (go read Losers if you haven't; or watch it, and then you can cringe right along with us over colonels who should not be allowed in proximity) we cut back to figuring out Frankie's background. Which is far less cleancut than her rapists'; she was an E3 public relations specialist, which come to think of it does a good job implying or maybe implicating Hurd as the ringleader or at least an instigator to the incident itself. Though it's not likely he was her commanding officer, he was clearly higher ranked than she was and turning him down, if he made prior advances, probably goaded him in the ego. Because he was that kind of a guy. She was honorably discharged in 2012 and appears to have done a falling through the cracks number. Tried to get some amount of help, gone through rehab, left rehab, had a lot of misdemeanors. Is, essentially, where Rosalee was prior to getting clean, come to think of it, though hopefully for different reasons. The fact that it took this long to click means your parallels are a bit weak, guys. Or insufficiently taken advantage of and developed, depending on intent. We'll leave aside the psyops thing, who's running what kind of psyop, because talking about it makes my head hurt. Frankie being in Phoenix around the time of Hammond's murder hurts the boys' heads. A double murder of Troy and Betsy Dodge means that poor Wu doesn't get a thank-you. Again. They're being awful hard on him this season in the small niceties, I assume because they're trying to avoid giving away the homeworld, but I wouldn't be surprised if that were part of the payoff when he finally gets brought in on the Wesen world. Yes, yes, the MO's the same, they're both very dead, they hypothesize that Frankie's their killer for lack of any better suspects. Hank has a phone call! Nick has a detecting. Once Wu speaks English instead of Latin taxonomy terms, we learn much to nobody's surprise that it's closest to scorpion venom and I question why we're not finding this out at least an act prior to this. And Troy's partial confession that Nick grabbed out is going to turn into a puzzle game.

Down at the trailer! Where Nick's called Juliette in for help dealing with scorpion venom, reading the books, etc. Because he's finally admitted how much help she can be with the research aspects of this, at least. Good Nick! Can has cookie. He'll put together his toy surprise while Juliette starts reading from the journals. I will still twitch over the lack of white cotton gloves, but at least she's not eating over them. Hank and Nick, I'm looking at you and your ketchup packets. We have a Trask? Trasque? which has a horse's head but sharklike teeth by this admittedly bad drawing, a stinging tail presumably for last-ditch defense, solitary, loves the singing of maidens. Yeah no. Shnabeltiermörder, which has some kind of duck-beak and in fact the name translates as Beak-animal-assassin. Um. That is the funkiest looking assassin-for-hire type I have ever seen and we saw the freaking Nuckalavee. It looks like an evil Marsh-wiggle. Okay, whatever, neither of those are the right ones, so with our third attempt (drink!) we land on the Manticore. Which is about the same as we know from mythology, with a date! Sort of. We like dates. Given the ease with which she's reading it, I'm going with it being in English rather than Portuguese (you can pick up salient information from Portuguese if you speak Spanish or, really, any of the other Romance languages, it's just tricky) and thus we've got the 1622 conquest of Ormuz. Not highly important other than that it opening up English trade with the Persian Gulf, and we've been lacking British involvement both historical and modern for awhile. Pliny the Elder! There's no real reason for this to be in here other than explaining how far back the Manticores go, the only thing we come up with out of this is that they have no fear of death (which probably means little to no fear of a Grimm) and in conclusion, yay. Not something Hank's looking forward to dealing with, and Nick's sitting there working his jaw looking disturbed. The way you do when you're reading a confession of gang rape while your girlfriend reads out about a Wesen species and possibly he's wishing she weren't here right now. God knows I'd feel guilty about that. They then proceed to leap to the most obvious conclusion that she's their Manticore and about to go kill McCabe. Yeah? And? I'm not seeing a problem here oh fine, you're cops, you're supposed to uphold the law instead of tacitly permitting vigilantism, go on and do your thing. I still get to sit here and grumble about it.

Before we cut to commercial we get one jump scare of McCabe in his car and Frankie slamming her arm down scars first on the windshield, because rule of three (three appearances of the scars as a thing) says so and because they're going to get the most mileage out of this makeup they can. I guess. I give up on this tremendous oversell of trauma except to point out that literally a dozen other procedurals convey "this person has been severely abused and raped" without going to this extent. After the break we're still subjected to extra drama just to be very clear, no one is still mentioning Veteran's/Remembrance/Armistice Day... you know, it's not even that it's unlikely. It's entirely possibly that there was a shindig for soldiers, people got drunk, and a horrible thing happened. It's just that no one's talking about it, and every time someone says November 11th now I twitch. Also, not that she's thinking this clearly, but all he really has to do at this point is accelerate his car right over her and so much for justice. Though he seems to be going for the option that involves bullets. No one in here is displaying conspicuous intelligence. Again. Fortunately it's time for the cops to show up and calm everything right down, and the gun goes back in the glovebox. Hopefully that's his appropriately licensed gun, because as a security contractor it's reasonable for him to have one, and she is a clear and present threat so no one would even question that he had his hand on a gun. He's also wisely staying in the car while Nick approaches slowly, with caution and hands in the air, telegraphing every move so she doesn't do anything rash, and repeating his commands. Good Nick. And Frankie complies. Good Frankie. Let's not make this any more painful than it has to be.

Now that they have her in the box maybe they can figure out what happened, yes? No? Not so much, she's still insisting she didn't kill anyone, and something about the lighting or the makeup or both agrees with her. Because either or both are working to give her a softer, less aggressive look than she's had previously. Her tone is also much calmer, much less confrontational now that we're not seeing her dealing with her attackers, which has been her only interaction up to this point. She still insists that all she wanted was for them to confess, to admit what they did and that it happened, and that she didn't know any of these people were dead. Or at least not the most recent murders. Since they're not getting anywhere Nick pulls out the Grimm card in the least aggressive manner we've seen him use in a while. Again, showing restraint to the rape victim and also showing some unevenness of character development, given that we've seen him be incredibly insensitive about this in some of the prior episodes. I'd complain more but I'm all in favor of the Nick who is sensitive to even his suspect's triggers. She doesn't react to him accusing her of being a Manticore, so at least this isn't another case like Krampus and she's not doubting Nick's sanity right now. The only problem is, she's not a Manticore. She's a Steinadler. And now Nick has egg and a very shocked look all over his face. And she's as confused as they are that it was a Manticore that killed them. Which means someone else knew she was there. Her CO! Oh Colonel. What the hell have you done.

Speak of the Colonel and he shall appear! On the phone with Frankie, who despite whatever she might want does not, in fact, want her CO to be taking justice into his own hands, and probably wanted them to face real justice. You know, going through a court of law and all that. Apparently she either hasn't studied the statistics on rape prosecution or is hoping like hell she'll be the exception. I highlight this mostly because Grimm has been pretty good about being aware of the statistics in rape and domestic violence cases, prior to this ep. On the other hand, this kind of aggressive in-your-face-I-am-right-and-the-law-backs-me-up is in keeping with what little we know of Steinadlers, so sure. I can kinda see it. At any rate, she either hasn't called to check in on Desai before or her voice gives her away, because he immediately guesses that she's with the police. We get the standard spiel, well-delivered, about how he failed in his duty, failed her and himself, and should've done this awhile ago. But now he's got no freedom to lose, because terminal lung cancer is a bitch, and therefore he's taking advantage of this to clean up this little problem. It keeps him talking long enough for them to triangulate him to the VFW, which we could've guessed even from the closeups they're giving us, and Frankie looks like she's not at all sure she's done the right thing. Renard, looming in the background, looks like he agrees with her. Or at least like he agrees with our overall assessment of "eh, there isn't really a problem with what this guy's doing, but I guess I'm a cop and ought to pretend to care about the letter of the law."

Time for the final confrontation! Which is totally staged, totally planned, and the Colonel is rather a mastermind. He makes an offer which nobody except McCabe maybe takes as genuine for the supposed last copy (ha. ha. very ha.) of the restricted complaint filed the day after Frankie's rape. Yeah, McCabe's basically a sociopath. Yeah, he did kill the Dodges to keep Troy from talking. Fortunately this means that he thinks the Colonel is lesser, and underestimates him, and fight! You know the saying about old age and treachery beating youth and enthusiasm? Well, there's not quite a young option here, but there is a more experienced option, and all Desai has to do is stall until the cops get there. He doesn't have to win. He doesn't even want to win. And remember, there aren't any cameras to prove anything about this fight later. Just whatever they can reconstruct based on the damage to the poor VFW. Also we might stop giggling someday over the cotton batts the actors had to have attached to their asses for CGI purposes but that day is not today. Tomorrow's not looking so good either. (The CGI itself is fine! Just the mechanics of it will never not be funny.) Desai, I'm betting, either has a little countdown in his head or heard the cruiser pull up outside, because of the timing on his de-woge and knifing McCabe's tail. Did I mention mastermind? Because damn. I'd love to know what the long-term damage is on that, we're not even touching the weird bio aspect of having a tail that size on account of the bad jokes write themselves. And McCabe is not going to back away, not even with Desai just standing there looking harmless with his hands out to the side to show just how unarmed he is. You sneaky fucker. Yes, they can and will arrest McCabe for what they saw him do to Desai, Desai will die with a smile on his lips, Nick looks mostly resigned. Like you do.

Wrapping up loose ends at the precinct! The boys gave Frankie Troy's confession, which is all she ever wanted. Or at least all she's admitting to wanting in front of the cops. Acknowledgement that what they did to her was wrong from one of them is at least a start at closure, though. Testifying for the DA might or might not be like closure. I do note that Hank, as the larger and therefore more physically imposing of the two, is the one sitting, which is a nice touch. Nick looms, inasmuch as Giuntoli is capable of looming. And we namedrop the episode again really you guys? Did we have to? I wouldn't have minded so much if they hadn't kicked in the snare drum and the Generic Military Music over top of it. Sigh, you guys. It was good for a bit, and then it closed out really heavy-handed.

Next week! Monroe's parents. Monroe proposes! Viktor, Adalind, Chirpy, and Stefania are all back. Oh god Monroe's father looks like the most melodramatic angry Blutbad ever. Someone please tell me that's just a bad edit.


  1. Except it's not the first time she's heard from her mother in seven years, because her mom called her in "Over My Dead Body" to tell her about Aunt Lois's stroke. I wish they could keep their back story straight. (And what about that letter about her Dad's death in "Natural Born Wesen" that was dated 1984?)

    1. Oy. Also, did they ever explain why Rosalee's mother and sister didn't come to Portland when her brother died?