Saturday, January 11, 2014

Dirty Little Secrets Dirty Little Lies Grimm S3E10 Eyes of the Beholder

Previously on Grimm: Hank made sad faces at Zuri, nobody was enamored of that choppy cutting or what it implied, Juliette's friend Alicia showed up and attempted to explain to them about abnormality, everyone facepalmed but thought maybe they'd get through this without anyone shrieking about DON'T DO THAT.

This week: we were wrong. Oh, so very wrong. Wrong like wrong things. And not only was this ep bad, the bits of it that didn't involve Hank and Zuri (and even large parts of those) were so poorly written that we're giving up on our vows (granted, mostly made to ourselves) not to armchair quarterback and we're going to go through this fucker and explain how to make it not suck so much. Because we are nothing if not gluttons for punishment, and because we understand that the actors sometimes need a break (though I flatly deny that Claire Coffee needs a break, what she needs is some good meaty scenes. plural. besides the one last episode), and that contracts are weird, we'll even try and keep most of our personal biases out of it. Which is to say, no Royals plotline (at least not directly), very little Renard screentime, and lots of relying on the guest stars - who were perfectly capable of carrying better writing than they were given. You may, of course, be wondering why we're doing this now, and the answer is that we've been extremely patient and tolerant for this entire season. (And also if you think this was sudden you missed our evisceration of the fishmen ep and of the failing miserably at conspiracy plotting in the holiday two-parter.) We have lost our patience. This is enough time that new writers should know what they're doing, a mostly-new staff should be cohering and should be able to fix the problems created by an outsider, and none of that is happening.

I also want to note, since the writers were talking about it last night on Twitter, that please, please do not mistake "staying until fuck knows when on a Friday night" with "devotion to the job." Nobody gets smarter at the end of a long workweek by staying later. For every one actually brilliant idea you get, there are at least nine others that were only brilliant because you were fucking exhausted. Making your writers' room culture the kind that brags about staying late is a sign of a bad culture. It is possible to make a network show where everyone goes home at 4 or 5 every day. It is possible to make a good network show where this happens. If you follow some of the same people we do on Twitter, you probably saw some old hand showrunners ranting about this very fact around the holidays. And while we're on writers' rooms, this was not just filler, this was one of the non-staff assignments that went to someone who's been at best mediocre both of his previous outings (Natural Born Wesen and Cold Blooded) and can we just get rid of him already? Please? Fuckssake.

Yeah, we're not feeling very gentle or nice. We are, as ever, astonished by the ability of the cast and crew to take incredibly bad writing and make it stand up at all on screen, but when one of the first things you speculate on is how much of the acting involved channeling annoyance about the bad writing into the characters, well. There is a Problem with this ep, and it ain't them. Honestly, 90% of the problems with this ep can be defined as, I don't think this writer sees the characters the same way the writers' room does, and definitely doesn't see them the way fandom does. Normally I wouldn't have a problem with that - I'm all for increasing the contradictions and nuance in a way that makes sense - but emphasis on makes sense. Also emphasis, because we're still us, on the competence porn aspect. Would Nick be dumb enough to tell Juliette her friend is Wesen while they're all out to lunch? Proooobably. Would Juliette be dumb enough to do everything that came afterward? Not by the way she's acted this entire season. Does that mean she can't struggle with essentially the same thing this episode? Hell no. She can totally struggle with it. I will note, before we dive in, that our fixes may not be your fixes, and you may not have had any problems with this ep. Great. Right now we're really not up for attempting to squee over much of anything except the acting, because this theme of bad writing:good acting is getting really, really old. We are, however, happy to discuss alternate fixes for this ep in comments.

So let's get started breaking this thing down. Title card! Is Merchant of Venice and completely neglected. Actually, the entire ep title is neglected. They could've run with a lot of themes here, from eye-gore (not Igor, he puts the eyes back in) to dropping in what exactly it is Wesen see when they look at a Grimm while woged out (since they were hammering on Nick's Inner Darkness please imagine this with happy pink swirly font, I'm lazy) to explaining how Wesen still don't have a I mean really. (You can thank tumblr for the name on that one.) First scene! Some cute bonding time, some excellent nudging and reminders about not going back to Joe, I appreciate the nod to them having met in college. It gives Juliette and Alicia a good grounding for having become the kind of friends that no, you maybe don't talk to every day or go out for drinks with once a week, but when the shit hits the fan and you need someone to run to, you've got someone who's seen you do really stupid shit. The awkward bits about the bad guys Juliette's dated, okay, sure, that's much on Alicia's mind right now. Nick being a fucking MORON and deciding the right time to tell Juliette about Alicia being Wesen? While it drives a lot of embarrassment squick for the end of this scene, it's totally in character for Nick to do that. Doubly so if he's as stressed out with work as Juliette implies. And we set up Joe still stalking Alicia but not making a move yet, so this scene can actually stay as-is! It makes good setup.

Diner scene! Again, not bad overall. The kids are cute, we're immediately at the facepalming at the rashness of teenagers and/or remembering it fondly and swearing at the screen that they better not fucking die. In no small part, admittedly, to hoping that Grimm will not fuck up its interracial couple and kill either the black kid or the girl. We still remember the egregious fridging which took place in The Other Side, oh yes we do. Some nice guns set on the mantel that never go off, one in the boss at the diner which I'll let slide and one in the fact that Jared's a pretty good artist which I will not. But we'll get to that. He goes out the door with the promise of some unsupervised time at his girlfriend's house which is a gun that does go off, and they do a good job setting him up as the unwilling bystander who doesn't want to get involved, knows all the risks of getting involved, but can't stand back and watch a man be beaten to death either. Man. Wesen. Whatever the fuck. Okay, sure, this sets up the rest of the ep, we'll facepalm over the stupidity of having another specifically-jaguar-based Wesen type once we get to the spice shop, all in all, the teaser's pretty good! Sets up the conflicts, puts a fair number of guns on the mantel, and tells us what our overall themes should be.

Roll credits, while we ponder the nature of the difference between "should be" and "are." Short version of the credits. Standard procedural open is standard, the only thing I would add to this is that Hank or Wu or someone should notice the placemat. Hank, probably, since he's the only one we see in the diner. Which helps move the Chekhov's Artist bit along and marks Hank out as being good at his job, something that we could use a little more of in this ep. Not just good at emotionally compromising himself, but good at his damn job. No, instead we get the tearful freaked out phone call that confirms to Joy that Jared saw them and they saw him. I see no point to the cut over to the villains in the car being villainous, you can safely take that out and either add in Hank detecting things or some bits down at the precinct. Cutting over is basically telling the audience that we're too stupid to see the later kidnapping coming and thus we must have it foreshadowed. Yeah, um, no, guys. I am not in this for a show that talks down to its audience.

On we go to the first scene of pure awful. I will accept Juliette wandering around awkwardly not sure how to handle things. I will accept her even starting to flail around the edges of trying to explain that she knows Alicia's a Wesen and it's okay. What I have a huge, HUGE problem with is the heretofore emotionally intelligent Juliette being unable to read her longtime friend's mood, realizing it's not the time, and reassuring her that no matter what happens she's welcome to stay as long as she wants. I mean, the actors are pulling this off remarkably well, but I don't buy this. I don't buy not seeing Juliette actually agonizing over it or asking anyone for help before she goes to Alicia, I don't buy her not trying to plan out a course of action instead of just winging it. I buy the emotional content, basically, but not the logistical element, which makes no goddamn sense. If we had to have this scene, we should've had Juliette trying to stammer around it and then backing down at the last second. Honestly, this feels like a writer who recognizes that the conflict on Grimm is driven by the revelation of secrets without in any respect taking the characters into account. He's attempting to use conflict driven by revelation, but what he's really accomplished is conflict via nobody listening to each other. Which is a whole other kettle of fish. You can reveal things by the end of the ep without actually making it about how Juliette grabbed the Idiot Ball from her boyfriend and ran off with it I promise. Revelations driving conflict doesn't have to mean conflict of this sort, either, which frankly in a two-ep arc we're not invested enough in for it to have the emotional whammy it otherwise would. And they could've filled out the rest of this scene and worked on the conflict between friends some more by addressing any of the many many many problems inherent in leaving an abusive relationship without Juliette grabbing the Wesen side and running off with it before doing her goddamn research which she is known for doing. See also: the entire arc where she talked to Rosalee and Monroe and took slow steps learning about the Wesen world. If they wanted to imply that Alicia is such a good friend that Juliette assumes she'll know better, that's nowhere in the writing either. Alicia reacts with no assumption of either vital-secret level trust or good intentions on Juliette's part, and two eps isn't long enough to really establish this kind of mismatch in trust/intimacy levels and have it really pay off. They're trying so hard to sell subtleties and nuances both in the acting and the directing that just aren't in the writing, and it shows.

Back to the police precinct, where everyone has a more than vague idea of how to talk to each other. Though this contrast also points up the fact that it's all easier when there's a clear hierarchy and externally imposed system of protocols here. Nick and Hank reading Renard in on the case, also updating the viewers in case someone had to take an ill timed potty break, everything is pretty much cop standard. There's a mention of gang task force which we don't see, but that's not necessarily a bad thing given that the episode is about full up on people to begin with. Wu comes in with car details, including a side complaint about the red-light speed-trap program which is nice atmospheric filler, and explains the photo he has of Jared fleeing the scene in his big sister's car. I will also give the writer(s) credit for giving Zuri a somewhat gender-neutral first name (I would have bought Taylor over Tyler, though) that could belong to her brother as well. And then I will take it away again because that was clearly a bait and switch to get Nick and Hank expecting someone else when they go to her apartment. Really? Even if they didn't have an ID on the poor kid, they'd've had to go to her apartment anyway to tell her that her car had been stolen, which would put her and Hank on less antagonistic footing to begin with and also set Hank up for coping with how much in the middle of this she is. Because the conclusion of their relationship, okay, no, I'm getting ahead of myself. The apartment number shit is getting out of hand, though. Guys. License plates. ID numbers. Bank account numbers? No? No.

We get the awkward reveal at the apartment which is in-character awkward, rather than writing awkward. It goes about as well as one could reasonably expect, and all we'd get if we started this in the Captain's office would be a couple conversations reduced to one or two sentences and placed earlier. Seriously, it would not have harmed episode pacing much to have them know one scene earlier. Also the family thing provides us with a derringer that never goes off, because what the hell does that have to do with her family or her father, him being the only family member we don't meet of any significance. Anything? No, nothing. It's extraneous dialogue to prolong the awkwardness. Really, this whole conversation is at least two or four lines longer than it needs to be, though they at least don't imply that they suspect her in any wrong-doing, because they have no reason to. The explanation doesn't come nearly as soon as it could, and of course once Jared shows up and realizes the police are there, he bolts. And the chase begins! This, too, is a scene that's half-awkward half-decent, but given the context of the rest of the episode I'm going to pull it apart anyway. The running is reasonable, Zuri's defense of her brother is reasonable, and even Nick and Hank's attitudes are mostly reasonable: Jared was seen fleeing a murder scene and now he's fleeing the police, that at least merits taking him in as a material witness. The primary problem with all of this is that it could have been solved or at least mitigated by not drawing out the dialogue about the case to begin with. The secondary problem is that they seem to want to use it to telegraph where Nick's Inner Dark Darkness ends up and they're not doing a very good job of it.

Back at the precinct, we learn about Zuri and Jared's father who's doing hard time for murder, but they still don't have a connection between him and the vic, and now it's time to deal with Hank's connection to the not-quite-suspect. Being as the only thing directly involved at this point is her car and her brother, maybe, there isn't any cause to pull Hank from the case, no. And they don't have any physical evidence to tie Jared to the crime scene either, so it's time to find out what he saw. All standard, all at least competent and reasonably efficient transition from apprehension to interrogation. The problem with this, though, is that it is standard and, again, if we'd moved the address of Hank's connection to the potential witness up to the scene with the Captain, we would have been able to cut this scene out and give more time and thus weight to any of the other plots going on in this episode. I'll give them that this isn't the kind of thing you figure out either when you're new to writing procedure, when you're looking at it as you're doing it (it's the kind of thing you figure out when you look back, if you have time to, and go "oh, crap, this could go here and the rest of it doesn't need to be there") but it's still fucking up their pacing. Anyway. Back to interrogation, which is a more integral part of the episode. Jared knows that snitches get stitches. Jared isn't telling a damn thing, though he's also a bad liar either on purpose or because he's just a bad liar and a generally decent kid. The actor's also doing a good job of showing the stress of trying to control yourself when you're freaked the fuck out. Nick plays the part of bad cop, though it's more in attitude than anything else, Hank plays the part of good cop, they get nothing. And here's where that sketch gun could have gone off, if they'd taken about thirty seconds out of the diner episode to have Hank notice the art. Even if it was only to have Joy hurriedly put it away, that's enough to connect the art to someone important to Joy, Joy to the kid once he coughs up that he's her boyfriend, and hey presto! You have a witness who's a sketch artist. But then I guess you don't get the later scene with sympathetic!paternal!Renard, so, what. Six and one half dozen? Fire the gun or leave it off the mantel, guys. You do not have enough room in these episodes to go faffing about all over the place. Afterwards we get Snitches Get Stitches part 2, and the only new information we get in this scene is that the family is close and familiar with gangs and how they and the police operate. I'd put this at middling importance for inclusion; it's nice that it didn't cram the encounter at the apartment too full of crap, but there's also not enough meat here to warrant having it be a whole separate scene, not even as a way to develop Nick or Hank's characterization. Russell does a good job of showing Hank's concern for and interest in Zuri, but it's all up to the actor here and there's nothing in the writing that presses it. So. Interrupting phone call with the news that the witness is awake, and over to the hospital!

We'll call this scene Snitches Get Stitches Part 3. Okay, I bitch, but it is the kind of thing that gets repeated even in more experienced procedurals, so call it more of bitching about the constraints of the genre; having a witness suddenly come over all cooperative is just plain weird, so you get endless refrains of "I didn't see anything, I'm not talking to you." Instead, though, of the usual round and round Nick will proceed to wallow around in his Inner Dark Darkness by graphically describing (as graphically as you can on an allegedly family show) her boyfriend's injuries. Nick, bad cop is just a saying, you know? You don't actually have to be an asshole to the assault victim who almost died. The sad thing is, this would even serve some purpose if at any point in this dialogue Hank did anything other than stand there like a stunned mullet. Having Nick descend into the darker side of Sears Grimms works much, much better when you have people calling him on his shit. We all remember how intense the scene with Renard snapping his head off was, yes? Let's have some of that from Hank, with the tone of concerned friend rather than pissed off Captain/Wesen. Because yes, in that dialogue, Renard was speaking as Wesen. Here, Hank should be speaking as a Good Cop. We don't hear shit out of him. We get a terrified victim, Nick getting a good line at first when he says he's just looking for the actual murderers and then, in a staggering display of asshole cop attitude, threatening to Grimm her ass until she talks, and a panicked, tearful confession from the victim. Let's all take a second to appreciate how wrong that is. Now that we've taken a second, let's also mention that if this is about Nick's Inner Dark Darkness, they're abruptly going way too heavy-handed with this. Guys, your pacing fucking sucks, and there's absolutely no need for this scene to go as far as it does. Hank hauls Nick up, vic woges out, vic freaks out, Nick actually tries to be reassuring and fails at it. Maybe even with some I don't know what's happening to me angst as he and Hank walk out? I mean, Nick's not the most self-aware character ever, but there's a point at which he should start questioning where the line is, again courtesy of that come-to-Jesus speech of Renard's, and he's way, WAY over it now. Speaking of conflicts that could be furthered by revelation I'm just saying.

Seventh Street Savages is at least a name they can run with, so it's off to the experts in all things Wesen. I'm of two minds on this; on the one hand they are the foremost (as far as Nick knows) experts in Wesen society that Nick and Hank know about, and on the other hand, does
anyone but us remember that Renard sanctioned a street fighting ring back in season one? Run by the Lowen guy? No? The writers certainly haven't, this would have been a phenomenal time to bring that back if only for a short scene or two, but nobody seems to remember that that was a thing. This also raises the utterly bizarre question of, okay, if one victim is Wesen, they don't tell Renard, but if a suspect is Wesen, they do? That makes only marginal sense. Okay, anyway, back to the Monrosalee, which is cute and necessary to the overarching plot of the season, but not necessarily to this episode. We'll have to wait till the rest of the episodes come out to decide whether or not this fits in with their pacing. Monroe doesn't know much about gangs, and he half-questions their assumption that because one member's Wesen all of them are Wesen, though not hard enough in my opinion. Then again Portland seems to be half full of Wesen, so it might still be a safe assumption. Monroe provides us with one viewpoint of gangs, the outsider and slightly judgemental one. Rosalee provides us with another! Still somewhat outsider but with much closer of a view. She knows the gang, she knows they're all Jaguareti, which makes no fucking sense. Why not just bring back the Balam? Why do you have to make them something else? Is this an ethnic thing, you don't want to make a non-Latino Balam and you don't want to create the impression that all Latinos are gang members? Because the latter has been pretty thoroughly disproven by both Latino legend focused episodes, and the former is fucking moronic at best when something like 75% of the prior Wesen have been Caucasian no matter what their animal. No, you know, I'm not even getting into what that reasoning says about the mindset behind this. Making a whole new Wesen species instead of using any of the half-dozen already inclined to violence (K: This is where Aunt Marie's Book of Lore comes in handy! Lowen, Klaustreich, any-schlange, Coyotl, Geier, Rissfleisch, Schakal) that we've seen so far is cluttered and idiotic. We're never going to see Jaguareti again either, are we. Okay, anyway, speaking of things we thought we'd never see again, Rosalee's drug habit comes into the mix as she explains to them a thing about Wesen gangs. With calm and repetition of how that was years ago appropriate to the character; it suits Rosalee's steadiness but also her underlying insecurities. Monroe interrupts to worry at Rosalee, which is adorable, he's trying not to be judgemental but drug-buying worries him! But no, she was clean by then, even if she clearly still knew people who were actively using. I also wonder whether or not the Wesen drug Z should have been namechecked here, for added atmosphere, but that's the kind of quibble that we'll never know because figuring out if there's room for it requires rewriting the whole damn episode. And now we put a giant honking gun on the mantel that had better go off at some point later in the season, which is that one Wesen gang is encroaching on another's territory. Monroe makes a bad decapitation joke, as he's prone to do when he's nervous, and Nick and Hank run off to follow the gang warfare lead, leaving Monroe and Rosalee to reaffirm the fact that they love each other and their shady pasts don't change a thing about their relationship now. Aww.

From one happy couple to half of another, okay, I'll buy the transition. I'm not sure how much I buy her not having access to even a clunker of a car, but it's a small quibble in the scheme of things. And talking to someone on her phone on her way home is a good way to hopefully ensure that nobody approaches. I would note that this is another place that Chekhov's Sketch Artist could've gone off, because if the kids know how the neighborhood and the gangs in it work, then Jared should be worried about his girlfriend right now. So even if he doesn't end up sketching out the bad guys for the cops in interrogation, he could've drawn them up, taken a photo of the drawings, and texted them to Joy so she knows who to look out for. No? No. That'll just be a gun that misfires, then. It would enhance the intelligence of the teenagers, make the gun go off, and not actually change a damn thing about this scene because Joy is, like most people, not trained to respond to violence with fighting for her life. And everything about her's indicated that she's more afraid than inclined to fight back. No, all this does is emphasize their closeness, emphasize Zuri as a maternal figure who chooses what battles she's fighting, and makes us swear again along the lines of "you fuckers better not kill them." For that matter, it doesn't even have to change anything about this next scene, because the only person who might know the faces of her attackers as being part of the rival gang would be Joy. Is it the best solution to Chekhov's sketch artist? No, probably not, but at least it would have happened. My frustration, let me show you it.

The next scene is even pretty good! They could've done with more wary formality and less boy-with-a-crush awkwardness, I think, but that's as much down to personal interpretation of Hank as anything. And he redeems his awkward by being The Best in response to Zuri's badassery. The contrivance of her leaving the apartment door open while taking out the trash makes me twitch a little; in a possibly-bad neighborhood I don't know as that's plausible, but it removes the other contrivance of fumbling at the door while the bad guys close in, so six of one there. Standard chase scene is standard, they could've cut a few seconds out of it by cutting to Zuri and Jared already at the bottom with the gang members halfway down, but sure. On a quick acting note, I adore the abrupt high pitched "it's locked" from Jared, which is a good way of reminding us that he's still a kid. His voice hasn't even settled yet. I don't know if that was deliberate or not, but it's a really good bit of nuance that, sadly, is lacking in the writing. Generally I question how long these chase/hiding scenes have to be to get the point across, but I think in this case it's because the pacing across the rest of the ep is so bad that everything feels off-kilter and wrong. Taken in a microcosm it's not actually bad.

Speaking of pacing, somewhere in here prior to Renard's office, possibly as a tension-ramping device in the chase scene, we should have gone back to Juliette, and put that whole scene with Monroe and Rosalee earlier, because now it's been nearly 15 minutes of episode time without anything on that side. It's not that it's wrong to assume the audience can keep track, but it is wrong for building the emotional parallels and nuances that they seem to have been aiming for. I think I would've put it right after Hank's callout, or failing that right after Joy got kidnapped. Either of these would have left us hanging on the tension of that and thus carried some of the same tension to Juliette freaking out over her friend being Wesen. (And note that we are trying very hard not to rewrite the entire episode in a different order and with added scenes and so on and so forth, but this one was just egregiously awful.) Instead, we get Renard being paternal at Jared. Which would again, go better if we had Rosalee prior to it to remind us of certain things in metaplot that they didn't use; we'll get to that in a moment. Then we could have cut to Renard on the reminder of the bigger picture, with all his impending fatherhood issues, and it would have at least carried thematic resonance. As it is, we and the cast have to sort of cram that in sideways to this scene that looks like it's come out of the principal's office and is completely stock procedural. With the weird added bit of it looking like a conspiracy because conspiracy shit goes down all the time in Renard's office this season. But it's not. And more guns on the mantel that better go off later this season about informing Seattle PD and gangs encroaching and inter-city rivalries.

We get to see Monroe playing the cello, which is something that sort of is calming. Silas Weir Mitchell is doing a remarkably good job of faking it; the only thing I would add to that is left-hand vibrato. And the only reason I can say these things is because I'm a strings nerd. Be glad that this is the rip it apart episode, otherwise I'd have a massive tangent about all the shiny cello solos he's talking about especially that Rimsky-Korsakov okay I'll be good. As much as I enjoy this bit, it doesn't have to be quite as long as it is for the point to come across that they're still a good, solid, adorable couple who haven't been shaken much if at all by the spice shop visit earlier. And this is a scene I would massively rewrite. While Rosalee and Juliette have been bonding a lot this season, there's an older bond with Monroe that she could pull on for this, and I would argue should. Both in the Watsonian sense where Juliette approaches the unknown from a scientific perspective and she wants more data (a woman after our own hearts, in other words) and in the Doylist sense where explaining two Wesens' perspectives on the struggle with identity would be really handy right now. So, include Monroe in this! Also because he's had very little screen time lately and he'd do well with it. Actually, you know what, I think this writer just doesn't fucking know how to write more than two active participants in a scene. Which is fucking pathetic, but thinking back over the places where a scene would have been better served by three or more active participants? There's a lot of them, and it's always two people talking, with one person standing around doing not a fucking thing. Anyway. The scene proper would have been much better served with Monroe's perspective, would have added yet another s1 callback which they seem to be enjoying dropping this season, and could have allowed Rosalee's backstory to unsnarl a little. Namely, we've never had any clear indication of why she ran off and did drugs and generally was a juvenile delinquent for awhile, but it's always been halfway implied that it was due to her family, possibly due to their involvement with the Resistance. They could have brought that in as one of the aspects to Rosalee's fear of acknowledging her heritage, could have brought Monroe in for parts of what Rosalee said with an emphasis on not wanting to hurt other people and being a predator. (Let us not forget that foxes are predators, you guys, even if the show seems to've.) Doing so would have allowed Rosalee to take on the role of alternate viewpoint into the Wesen metaplot, as she has been all season, and if this scene had been placed prior to the one in Renard's office, would have allowed us to make the connection to his impending fatherhood without standing on our heads and gazing in a mirror. It could also have gone a long ways toward emphasizing the decapitare aspects of the Grimms that they're playing up this season while not being quite so on-the-nose about it. And, finally, it would have made great foreshadowing for Rosalee's parents showing up. Did they manage to pull any of these things out? No. No they did not.

Safehouse scene is decent. A little prolonged, maybe, but it makes for some cute buildup and rapport with Wu. The handholding is completely unnecessary and feels like it came out of the same tropes that made the end of this ep seem like Hank Griffin, Romantic Hero instead of Hank Griffin, Lonely Cop Who Likes Women Who Can Beat Him Up. Ditto the lingering glances. I'm sure these are meant to show the kind of attraction that forms when two people are thrown into danger together but no. Just no. They're playing them off as well as they can, but there's not enough buildup to this moment, basically, and that might be as much actor's schedule fucking with any gradual introduction of Zuri they'd intended as anything, but it still grates. We cut over again to the gangers who feel the need to be all villainous and this one I'll allow. If I'm cutting the first scene where they're all villainous in the car, I'll let this one stick around, largely because it gives us the tension-ramp of yes, she's alive, yes, they mean to use her as bait. Which is possibly the most clever thing anyone does in this episode.

On the one hand I'm kind of fond of the bait-and-switch of Grand Theft Auto whatever number we're on at this point instead of real-life screaming sirens and shouting kid in danger. On the other, I think this writer should have bait-and-switch taken away from him until he learns to write a solid ep without that device. And on the gripping hand, I'm kind of dubious that Hank would be so monumentally stupid as to pick a game with that kind of background noise at a time like this. Surely there's some swords and sorcery type thing they could play instead that wouldn't send Zuri running out in an unnecessary panic? Sigh. I will say, though, that Zuri and Jared's relationship is probably the best part of the episode, in our not at all humble opinion, and that it helps that she's his big sister, not a single mom. It avoids some potentially-unpleasant tropes about the black community, and it puts Hank in the position of being an older male role model who isn't necessarily a replacement father figure. It does set up a potential age/power differential between Hank and Zuri I'm not sure I'm fond of, though given that she could rip his throat out with her teeth, that's somewhat more mitigated than it would be otherwise. You know, if this ends up going anywhere. I'm still side-eying everyone over the end of the ep. Hank should know better than to let a 17-year-old order any amount and kind of food he likes, especially that former, but it gives us a nice visual gag later on. Pronating, is the exercise Hank's forgetting. This would be a good place for the gun with their dad to go off as more than bonding! No? No. Though it sounds like they're using "temper" as a euphemism for "Wesen-inherited predatory traits." Which would be more interesting if we'd had any foreshadowing in the episode rather than anteshadowing at the end. I don't feel like Zuri's challenging Hank enough on his good cop protecting a woman he's interested in routine, which is clearly at least part of what this is, and while I'm kind of annoyed at Hank for his poor decision-making I suspect it's fairly consistent with his generally lousy judgement in romantic relationships. For which we do have supporting canonical evidence.

Hey, speaking of lousy judgement in relationships (albeit not the romantic one), back to Juliette and Nick for your second dose of embarrassment squick. Juliette conveys to Nick what Rosalee told her, and let me tell you, the disappointment I felt when I realized that the Rosalee-Juliette scene came after Juliette blurted everything out at Alicia and not before? You could power Portland for a week with it. There remains no purpose to Juliette, this time aided and abetted by Nick, coughing up all of her newly acquired Wesen knowledge and for the love of tiny kittens, why would you tell your friend that your boyfriend is a Grimm? Nick, why would you let her? Then again, Nick hasn't been the smartest about revealing his Grimmness to anyone lately, so, um. No, there is no point to Nick being in this scene at all except to make it more embarrassing for all involved and more distressing for Alicia. All that needs to happen is for Juliette and Alicia to be talking calmly (and for Juliette not to be completely disregarding Rosalee's instructions my fucking god), they could even be talking about the apartment and, once again, dealing with any of the myriad problems that come with leaving an abusive relationship! Nick comes in towards the end, talking about a stressful day at work, then Klaustreich attack! And how awesome would that be, for Alicia to see Juliette helping her in the worst of situations, confronting her abusive husband in both human and woge'd form, and not batting a lash at the whole by the way my husband's a psychotic alley cat thing. Possibly even with a line or two about how friendship comes first, chicks before dicks, no? No, we have to sit through two damn scenes of Juliette being inexplicably clumsy at emotions, where up to this point she's always been intuitive and one of the wiser members of the cast. Let's move on to Juliette beating the snot out of the Klaustreich, where even Nick got knocked out by a lucky hit to the head (which is its own kind of awkward presumably related to the writer's inability to maintain more than two active characters at once, but compared to the rest of this episode barely worth mentioning) but she's wielding frying pans and glass vases with aplomb. The only thing I have to say about the combat scene is that it works better if you cup your hands as you're slamming them against your enemy's head and aim for the ears. That's for you guys' information more than it is a nitpick, it's not as far as I can tell common knowledge. Joe freaks out upon learning Nick is a Grimm, adding one more instance to the pile of evidence that Wesen can mainly only see Grimm when they're woge'd, and suddenly he's not the meanest thing in the room. Nick's "it's not me you have to worry about" should mean the police, but considering Joe was on the ground being kicked by the women he was roughing up just a second ago, it's hilarious and possibly means Alicia and Juliette. (It does continue to beg the question of how the hell Juliette learned to kick nearly as much ass as a Grimm, but even with the fucking credits sequence we're apparently the only ones who remember her abnormally good shooting from s1.) Even more hilarious and a surprisingly well-placed piece of dialogue is Joe saying he didn't mean to hurt her, as per standard, and Juliette immediately coming up with "Yeah you did, you son of a bitch." I like that, it's good in her character and it's something that needs saying over, and over. Abusers, active abusers still perpetrating violence, do mean the hell out of every piece of physical, mental, or emotional violence they perpetrate. Saying "I'm sorry" afterwards does not fix anything. We don't get to hear if Nick's threat to Joe is as a cop or as a Grimm, though it doesn't really matter either way, and we do get to have Alicia speak her words on her own, saying that she never wants to see him again. Go Alicia! Nick hauls Joe's sorry ass off, leaving the girls to have their little talk. Which would work a lot better if it didn't come as the conclusion to two unnecessarily painful conversations and more as just the hugging, sobbing, and a couple sentences worth of affirmation of friendship. As it is it almost sounds like they're both apologizing for something, which neither of them and especially Alicia shouldn't have to do.

Over to the A plot, because it is very much clearly over to the A plot, Hank, Jared, and Zuri are concluding breakfast with some peaceful dialogue to contrast with what's about to happen. Starting with Jared stealing Hank's phone, okay, that I can buy since he's more borrow-stealing it than actively running off with it off the scene, and he just wants some alone time to talk to his girlfriend. Unfortunately said girlfriend is being held hostage by the gang. They get through all of her script before she deviates enough to sound the alarm, because poor Joy is not used to this kind of violence this up close and personal, even if she's aware of it in her neighborhood. Oh noes! And back to domestic peaceful breakfast, which contains some interesting background on Hank and relationships that, okay, might be two sentences too long? But if they're going to continue with this Zuri-maybe-romance arc, it's at least good background to have. It sets Hank up as having an idea of what a good, solid relationship is, but unable to achieve it for himself for any of several possible reasons. We interrupt this relationship discussion for... Hank's phone! Which is not where he left it. From there it's a quick, boilerplate series of beats to checking the bathroom, discovering Jared's gone, checking the last number dialed, and getting the girlfriend's address. Again, slightly longer than I would maybe like given the number of other changes we're making to the episode in our heads, but not bad.

Over at the girlfriend's house Jared has grabbed the Idiot Ball with both hands and breaks down the door with it, promptly getting collared by the gang for his pains. I can't argue that this is out of character, I can only facepalm. At this point he's even scared enough to woge a bit, though, which provides some of that ante-shadowing I mentioned earlier. He couldn't have done that in interrogation? I think at least part of this is a desire on the part of the writer to shake up the formula a bit, but you know, some parts of the formula do not need to be shaken up. Or at least if they do, could you at least manage to smooth it down better? Please? A little? Just giving Jared some alone time in interrogation or while driving away from the scene of the murder in which to woge his eyes would have been nice. Except no. The cops pull up, Hank tells Zuri to stay in the car and for once we don't get the argument about I'm-coming-with-you-it's-my-[something]. The gang continues to interrogate Jared, who thankfully is only wogeing when Joy's face is turned away from him. Unfortunately, and I'm not sure whose decision this was, we don't get any sense that this is a conscious decision on his part rather than narrative coincidence. Having it be a conscious decision would have been a nifty piece of character development, but there's no sense of that. No, instead we have a cheesy line from one of the gangers that's meant to be nasty, but, really? No. (K: I watch Sons of Anarchy. Really no.) And instead it only pisses Jared off enough to get up and tackle the ganger. Am I supposed to buy that fear and a little pain is the only thing that kept him down this long? I guess I am. Especially since he doesn't look injured at all. He does, however, de-woge before his girlfriend sees.

Oh, yay, the cops are getting shot at. That's smart. We get some dismay from Hank and some Grimm hearing from Nick as he makes his perception roll for the gangers reloading their... wait revolvers? Fucking seriously? I'm assuming that's both so Nick can hear the more complicated process of reloading and to give our heroes time to take them down, but why the hell are gangers using six shooters? Why the fuck are they so stupid as to blow their whole load at once? Why am I even asking these questions? Hank goes around and takes the one guy, Nick goes through the door and takes the other one, the last ganger left alive starts to panic, Jared and Joy go running out the back. Like you do when you've just been kidnapped and nearly killed by a gang. He gets her over the wall first, which is both chivalric and in character and neatly gets her out of the way of any leftover wogeing he or his sister might do. But then we get the other guy with the gun, a more standard gun this time held sideways in the universal I'm-an-idiot-ganger pose. Big sister to the rescue! With that poorly-controlled leftover woge, which apparently includes throat-ripping. No wonder she was fussing at Jared about staying in control. Jared gives no fucks for the lives of idiot gangers, Jared is over the wall and sheltering his girlfriend from the sound of his sister ripping a guy's throat out with her teeth. Like you do. There's not much to this scene that can be fixed, really, without fixing the entirety of the premise of Grimm, it's just that after the entire episode that led up to it it feels rather over the top. Oh, no, wait, here's the part that needs fixing. The part where Hank comes up and his first reaction to his girlfriend ripping out some guy's throat with her teeth is "it's not her fault she had no choice." Um. Hank? Sweetie? I know you're cool with the Wesen thing and have a crush on her and all, but ripping someone's throat out with your teeth is a choice. I can't say that it's a bad choice, but it's still a choice. Hell, she had the surprise, she could have just knocked the guy out and sat on him. Also, why the fuck is Hank approaching the pissed off cat-Wesen like he's going to comfort her? Even when she de-woges she doesn't seem too much in need of comforting. Surprised that Hank isn't freaking out and that his partner's a Grimm, yes. But not terribly bothered. I'm not sure how I would fix this, but it's definitely not what I would have expected out of Hank. I think I would expect more of his usual calm steadiness and staying where he is and letting everyone settle down around him than I would this frantic reassuring of everyone. If the whole ep had been tightened up enough that we had time for it, this would be a good place for calm steadiness and demonstrating the complexity of this kind of coverup work, possibly with a line reference to things Renard's been teaching Nick, Hank, or both off-camera. Not even because I desperately want more Renard in this ep, but because this is the kind of thing that comes naturally to him and really not so much to Nick or Hank, and we could use a little more buildup this season with Renard as the one guiding them through shark-infested political waters.

Back to the apartment! For more awkward. Both in-character and plotwise because Hank is holding a fucking sketchpad you couldn't have fired that gun earlier? Seriously? Argh. Zuri is still coming to grips with the fact that Hank is, okay, I'll use the Grimmverse term, Kehrseite-schlichkennen, though apparently that vocab is not necessarily universal? (Assuming Alicia's blank look wasn't the blank look of deny-everything reflex, which who the fuck knows, it's not like those were well-written enough to be unambiguous.) And we have a second instance of Hank coming on a little too strong, though this time she's less thrown by it than the first. It's not you, Hank, it's her. This, too, is a scene in which I find very few nits to pick. It feels a little bit like a middle of a story, but it could also be a conclusion of a very wobbly-paced arc of Hank's love interest in his physical therapist. Certainly the music wants it to be an ending. But since it's the end of the episode, it's allowed. I'm just not sure, if this is the middle of the Hank's romance arc, that they should have put this scene here and not right before a final Juliette-Alicia scene, because that would make a fine punctuation on the end of the episode.

Next week on Grimm! Hopefully a lot of conspiracy and witch-baby to make up for the mediocre filler of this ep and, well. Much of the rest of this season. Maybe even competent conspiracy? I'll get the booze. (K: I'll get the Royal jelly. What? Whaaaat? Stop looking at me like that.) (A: That is not going on anyone's biscuits unless they're being tossed.)

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