Saturday, November 15, 2014

We're All Mad Here Grimm S4E04 Dyin' on a Prayer

Previouslies cover don't/tell Wu, Chavez and her weird group, Elizabeth being kickass, Adalind being fucking stupid about eating random food from strangers. Quote includes… the Book of Job? Considering the origins of golems I'd go for Genesis, but okay, fine, whatever. Nobody expects you fuckers to have done your research at this point even with one source for it right there in your cast. Oy vey.

Yes, we did, yes, we are, yes, we've stopped giving a shit. We pick up right where we left off with people in fighting? death? masks, and the potions class in the spice shop, which remains the most interesting side-plot they've got going. What this scene is doing is establishing all the shit that Adalind's gone through in the past few seasons without being too much of a rehash. Yes. Keep doing that if you need to remind people. Also WHICH of these MANY options makes poor baby Diana more valuable? All of the above? Because fuck's sake I want answers. Not that I expect them. Nor does anyone expect the brick through the window, which turns out to be some Wesen group or another that disapproves of mixed-Wesen marriages. (Elizabeth clearly doesn't, she slept with a human, produced a child, and is apparently fine with all of this.) Because of course there's at least one group to which we can say "oh THOSE assholes." Cue Monroe and Rosalee freaking out in the direction of what they'd normally do, and Elizabeth providing the calm cool head. I see where Renard gets it from.

That does not look like enough stir fry for two people and a Grimm, especially one who eats like Trubel does, but okay, whatever. The point is not the adorable domesticity, the point is that she left without saying anything, took all her stuff but the black knight pendant, and has freaked her foster not-parents out. Meanwhile the potionsmaking continues, Monroe attempts a Scarborough Fair joke that falls entirely flat, be nice, Elizabeth. But the point is, he wants them to get their honeymoon, whenever this is over. Monroe, you're on a weekly genre TV show on network, you're never getting that lucky. But it's cute that you're trying.

It's time for the plot of the week! We cringe in anticipation. A boy is being sent to bed and admonished not to play his video game, yes, it's very cute, we see the adorable domesticity no doubt about to be threatened by the danger of the week. Which is apparently the father. Oh fun, one of those. We hold out hope for about two lines of dialogue that this is just an unpleasant/sad drunk but, no, it's the nakedly violent kind, so, yeah, we're doing that this week. Because we .... there was a lack of victims who are so blatantly evil we don't give a shit if they die? Viktor wasn't enough of a mustache-twirler here? I am deeply, truly underwhelmed. Domestic violence is scary and brutal as per the camera angles and the standard dialogue, I'm not sure whether I'm more annoyed because so many people seem to be going to the same damn well these days, or because of all the people who are going to be triggered by this, or because it's so perfunctorily done. I think that last part, we're not given anything to round these people out as characters, we're just presented with Loving Mother, Rascally But Obedient Son, Abusive Husband Who Is So Over The Top We Must Have Caught Him At Peak Escalation. And of all the things to do this with, guys, domestic abuse doesn't exist in a vacuum. There are individualities and nuances and why am I even bothering. I sort of appreciate that the wife clearly has left her abusive husband and is ... what, beating him with a fire poker? Not to much effect since he's apparently a very durable Wesen, what is that face, Siegbarste? And then gets into the car and somehow does not run the fucker over. Seriously, two-ton weapon. Especially with him screaming about killing people. If you're going to portray a domestic violence scene with as much sensitivity as a Robert Rodriguez movie, you could at least take it into full on pulp territory. After the credits we rejoin the family oh god room 404? We're doing this again? Okay, we get a bit of characterization here, and also some intimacy that looks like, what, new boyfriend? Oh god, no, brother, ew, I feel gross. Nebbishy brother, which proceeds to be infinite cause for twitching when the fact of being a rabbi is revealed; that's not a common trait that I've found in rabbis, anyway. Also I'm already having issues with this when okay, yes, the guy looks Jewish, I hadn't actually expected that they'd cast that way, but the mother on whose behalf the golem will no doubt be called looks like fucking Merida. She's actually made some of her acting career off of being Irish-American, and yes, there are Irish Jews, small in number but a considerably old settlement, but the hell do these two look like siblings. The hell do these two act like siblings, at least here. The hell is this selling me on anything. I kept waiting for the line about adoptions to happen. It kept not happening.

We are not going near certain code phrases that are in group only and the hell do you get to use that, because if we do we will be here all night fulfilling a stereotype, and no one wants that.

Trubel, sweetie, I appreciate what you think you were trying to do here, but it looked an awful lot like I'm running and taking as much information from the trailer as possible. Particularly since it hasn't been that long that she's been off the streets; old habits are likely to kick in and in theory Nick should know that. Hence the freaking out and going to the trailer. She also hasn't learned not to startle a cop. On the upside, she learned to communicate! I appreciate for once a character taking the time to come to the conclusion that telling someone else about fucked up shit is a good plan, since as far as Trubel knew this wasn't extremely time-sensitive. This is still not giving me any faith in the assorted groups they're juggling in the writers' room. It is a nice bit of quiet acting moments, where Nick's getting to be the worried overprotective big brother and Trubel just wants her newfound people not to get hurt on her account. Sorry, kid, but that's one of the things you accept when you accept ties to the rest of the world: someone might get hurt. Nick makes a lot of good points about how Trubel just taking off and running will make them track her down and assume she might've told someone, or might be protecting someone in ways not conducive to whatever this group's end goals are. I'm struggling not to quote Last Unicorn here, you guys. Anyway, the correct solution is to come home, pretend he knows nothing (shouldn't be hard for Nick) and deal with this with some backup. Nick, you're growing up! That's so adorable.

Monroe is going off on historical tangents about the Wolfsangel because that's what he does when he needs to feel in control of shit again. At least they're being consistent? In some things? Annoyingly he's also all but quoting the wikipedia article. No, I'm not joking. From forestry markers to Nazi symbols (really? You picked this episode to introduce this into the subplot? REALLY?) to Rosalee putting a stop to this, at least for a bit, to oh hey, Elizabeth's done. With the part that requires their assistance. I'm not even sure what they think the whole attempting to kick her out of the spice shop is going to do, the Hexenbiest has established her territory, the fuck does she care if it was yours first. Pretty sure the one-eyed thing on woge is meant to be a reference to something or another, but what that might be I do not know. Witchery in general? Plus there seems to be an ongoing tendency for the greater the apparent rot, the more powerful the Hexen/Zauber. Which is… interesting. And may say some things about progressive delving into darker and darker zaubertranks. Or, y'know, they could've just decided to fuck around with the CGI. WHO KNOWS. Not us, anymore. I know what I want it to mean.

Now, I have never summoned a golem. I have some knowledge of how folklore says we summon a golem, but I never have felt a need. But I do not think this is, traditionally, how a golem is made. I'm just saying. For those of you who really don't know what we're talking about, according to medieval Jewish folklore, a golem is made of clay and then a shem is put into its mouth, bringing it to life. To return it to clay, remove or destroy the words. Pretty simple. And I'm not seeing any little clay men being built here. I will accept that there may be other mysticisms related to קַבָּלָה‎ going on here, especially that we may not have heard about, being as for the deeply traditional, we women shouldn't know the mysticisms, but I'm still pretty sure this is not how you make a golem. It is, however, very Jewish. Aggressively, and painfully mishmashedly and weirdly inaccurately at points Jewish, but very Jewish nonetheless. I think anyone familiar with anything Jewish recognizes the culture of what's going on here. It could possibly be more culturally Jewish but you'd have to have Mel Brooks and Billy Crystal bickering on screen while some yente who looks suspiciously like Carol Kane alternately threatens to beat them to death with a spoon or marry them off to someone else's daughters. You think I'm kidding but I'm not. The religious practices and the details thereof.... no, we're not going there. Okay we'll go there a little, but not as much as we can because believe you me we could double the length of this text pointing out all the ways this is a bad rabbi and a bad Jew. The pronunciation is also a little bit off, though I think that's a function of trying to imbue a language the actor likely only knows as liturgical with emotion, which is damn hard if you're used to something else. (Try speaking Latin with emotion, if you were ever a practicing Catholic.) And I can't decide if the… okay, the traditional way the names of G-d go in reciting something like this, in most cases, is Adonai Eloheinu, not Elohim. Either someone got subtle about making sure it wasn't actual holy writ (in which case thank you) or someone tripped into it. I'll… honestly take either at this point.

Well, it's time for abusive fuckwit to get murderated. He will achieve this by being so drunk that he doesn't notice what's going on until he's way too late, not that there was a chance of escape in the first place. And I guess we're hitting up The Thing instead of anything more traditional Jewish? Sigh, you guys. Next morning at the crime scene what we've got a whole lot of bad jokes and updates from Wu. I'm going to facepalm over it being from a red clay soil because that's actually not common in Prague but when the fuck ever did they pay attention to such detail in favor of making bad genre jokes. Hank brings up Russian mob, Wu continues to bring the snark, we have an upset brother, I guess we know who the next vic is. Siiiiigh. It is weird enough to trip the Wesen sensors, which means we have to have the required conversation about whether or not they're bringing Trubel in on it. Not that we don't all know what the answer is.

So, okay, now we're back at the hospital with the Siblings of Questionable Taste and, it turns out, even more questionable sense because Ben (wait, with that golem? Really? We're going there?) is attempting to issue directives to the abused woman. Because that's such a fucking useful thing to do. Admittedly it is a typically overprotective male figure thing to do, so I can see why the overwhelmingly male-filled writers room thought this would be a good thing, and yet no. Oop, hey, now we're getting into something interesting, apparently Sarah can see the Wesen face when her ex-husband woges. That's new. So either a) that was a full stage II human-visible woge or b) Sarah and her family are Grimms, making her brother Ben the Grimm, and you see where I'm going with this. Fortunately the show doesn't, or at least doesn't bring up the issue more blatantly. I'm going to go with it was a stage II woge and ignore all the tweeting. Young David seems most interested in this but nothing comes of it yet, and hey, it's the detectives! Here to talk about the murder, not that they're saying that in front of the kid, who gets squirreled outside with Teresa. This is, in fact, one of the better scenes in this entire episodes, some good, natural sounding bonding between Teresa and the kid, nothing too heavy handed, nothing too condescending towards the kid.

I guess a yard is pretty hard to contain as an active crime scene, because Ben is going to come wandering up to the crime scene, scoop up some clay, and look duly horrified. One assumes, because he is in this to be a Good Jew, if a rather dumb one, he intends to go confess. In the meantime Nick and Teresa are going to dig around the trailer for mysterious clay-drowning Wesen. Trubel sounds like she thinks there should be more Grimms… why, again? Sigh. Oh, hello, Hank. No, there's more than just Wesen, thank you for not bringing up La Llorona, I'm only doing it because watching Kitty hide behind the couch is funny. Stop the presses, the rabbi wants to confess. Rabbi? Yes. Rabbi. Apparently this is a real synagogue in Portland, so that much is okay, but it's empty? Entirely? Okay, folks, Judaism is a tribal culture, tribal religion, they would be circling the wagons. The summoning itself would never have been done in isolation, and it wouldn't have even come close to being the first step. The first step is a bunch of the community getting together and all menacing the asshole together. They play up the isolation as a facet of the abuse while ignoring the culture they're pulling from. And then. AND THEN. Ten years you're a rabbi and you were so stuck in your precious קַבָּלָה‎ learnings that you failed to think about the human concerns if you succeeded in creating a golem? You should be ashamed. More ashamed. Triply ashamed for the fact that קַבָּלָה‎ study requires extensive grounding in Torah study. That part's for the writers, though. And stop handling the should-be-sheepskin scroll with bare hands. (That's actual ritual protocol, not just our usual shrieking; there should be a silver Yad.) And why are you not wearing a prayer shawl, just a kippah? We go on to have the requisite infodump, okay, so far they've got the Golem of Prague story about right, Hank I love you and your random learnings. And then we skew waaaay off into the speculative portion of our speculative fiction, somehow Rebbe Ben got hold of it and believes he did it and… no, sorry, here's where I tap out of the Jewishness aspect. It's not that it's not believable, it's that the way it's framed is wrong. I can't even explain what it should be, just that that's not… how a Jew thinks about praying in anger. There's not enough resignation there. There's also not enough people there, I'm going to keep harping on about this, any time you have a synagogue with a rabbi doing something this momentous which could involve the community this much, you should have a bunch of elders in the community there. And yet no. And then on top of that he has no conception of how the rest of the world views him and his beliefs, which believe you me no. Oh for fuck's sake you guys no. Antisemitism is too alive and well yes, even in Portland, do not make me go and get news articles because I will, for him not to sigh and try a different line of explanation, and not only that but you really expect me to believe that the leader of a historically persecuted group, talking about an event in which we were terrified of being killed or exiled (again), would just… fling all of this out to a couple of cops. I mean I guess maybe in defense of his family, but this is just hitting all the wrong notes.

Sigh. Okay, so the clay pot residue matches. Nick and Hank will have a moment of how the fuck is this our lives and what the fuck is the DA going to do with this, and oh hey Renard will have his whole couple minutes of screentime! I guess in TV-land you spend one day in the hospital for each gunshot wound, particularly when a jumper cable snake is involved. Aww, cute little speech, the Captain's back, will no one rid him of this troublesome paperwork? Well, it'll take a golem to rid the Jewish… Irish… confused ethnicity family of the troublesome brother-in-law. This continues to be infinitely stock abusive assholes, which evidently runs in the family, and David can still see the monsters. I really want to know if the poor kid is a Grimm or if they're just going full woge at him because they know nobody'll believe a kid. Judging by their lack of response to his eyes, I'm guessing the latter, making them even bigger assholes! Yay! Fortunately calling the police will make him back the fuck off for once, I guess not knowing about response times and knowing his name's out there makes him disinclined to commit further violence.

The boys will head out to take that call, which means Wu can go visit his Captain and be awkward. At least he doesn't like narcing on the boys, especially Nick, but that doesn't mean this isn't going to result in a massive clusterfuck. I'm tentatively impressed that this might turn into a proper throughline of character arc and stuff! Considering how much shit they've dropped the ball on over the seasons. Regardless, the trouble of Trubel and her being a homicide suspect that Nick is now protecting is now in Renard's lap. Because that's exactly the kind of simple, easy problem he wanted to solve his first day back from the hospital.

We get the bog standard witness interview, punctuated only by David being adorable and asking for Teresa to come sit with him, because she's the first person he's met in an age who understands. Oh kid. Ben is not even trying not to be obvious about his overprotective big brother issues (which still don't always read as fraternal), nor about needing to go with them because golem. SIGH.

Oh god we're back in the castle again. Apparently we're doing the endless flight of stairs up the tower, which hearkens to all sorts of myths and stories, too much to pick any one reference. Wait, no, I have a reference, and it starts with Adalind eating strange food without so much as questioning it. And now going straight into her talking out loud too much, complaining, and getting faces on the wall for her trouble. Literally, faces popping out of the wall in stone and talking at her. Rumplestiltsziegler tells her now you've done it and not to listen to them, and keeps running the hell away, which is the only sensible thing to do when you're confronted by a Labyrinth-induced bad acid trip. Or you could find a goblin who knows the way to tell them all to shut up, either one. Sadly, the only remotely goblin-like person here just booked it the hell out of dodge, so we're left with talking faces in at least English, French, is that German I'm hearing in the background there? And then they all start crying, and now we really are in Alice in Wonderland with the tears and the drowning and this is what happens when you trust a stranger in the alps, Adalind. I seriously have no idea what the fuck is going on here.

Ooh, it's our favorite scene in the whole thing! Next morning at the spice shop, where everything looks way too normal and we knew already that that had to be Elizabeth-as-Adalind. But it makes a great scene because Silas Weir Mitchell plays the gullible for all he's worth while everyone is deeply, deeply enjoying themselves. I think this is the most fun I've seen the regular cast have with a scene most of the season. Monroe is in fact incredibly creeped out, Adalind!Elizabeth has an enormous amount of snark and a truly wicked sense of humor, and Rosalee is the best. As ever. No, thank god, Nick does not have to sleep with a polyjuiced Maman Renard, that would be so deeply uncomfortable I do not have words for it why the fuck is everyone writing this off like it's normal. It's not even the I'm pretending it's normal so it becomes less traumatic, it's just… flat. Like nobody gives a shit about nonconsensual sex anymore. In short I hate you all fix it. No, they're still missing an ingredient, which is doubtless going to have to come from Nick or Juliette, and might be blood. Enjoy.

Adalind will… swim. And try not to drown. I genuinely have no idea, besides requisite amount of screentime in Claire Coffee's contract, why this was all dragged out as long as it was. Particularly with no resolution except her being dragged under. Speaking of, it's time for the brother-in-law to go ahead and die now that his truck's stuck in the golem-slick. Our Heroes will, of course, not get to him in time, because he is an Actually Bad Person Who Deserves To Die. Blah blah everyone starts flailing about looking for answers, Ben points out the golem's supposed to be a guardian not a mercenary, yes well if you know the story of Prague you know it was destroyed for being too dangerous. This is such bad everything. Ben will need the scroll to get rid of it, dude, you were supposed to put the shem in it to start with oh I fucking give up. They've decided that they need a controlled iteration of David feeling like he's in danger for him to react to without getting anyone else killed, which is the dumbest fucking idea ever what the fuck are you all thinking. Hank, you at LEAST I expect better from. This is not how you treat a child. I'm going to give you to the local social workers and let them smack sense into you oh my god. You idiots. Trubel shows up to provide support, the others head to the temple for a shem that's going to be put into the golem I'm going to be over here. Weeping into my cider. Okay, for one thing you don't put the keys in the car to turn it off, as it were. For two, there is a long fucking tradition of writing, accurate writing, being of huge importance and power in Judaism. Why would you give writing to a being you want to get rid of? I just. It takes what was the grounding for the whole damn legend and inverts it in a way that makes it completely untrue to the source.

Let's start this increasingly depressing and messy ending with a happy scene of domesticity as, well, basically what Trubel's doing is teaching him how to fight like she does under the guise of playing with action figures. I can't actually say I disapprove. They will now be interrupted by a phone call in which Nick presumably updates Trubel and Trubel, she of the massive childhood trust issues does not immediately say what the fuck are you doing no stop that's an asinine idea. I have no idea why. Possibly he didn't tell her the entire plan. He told her some of it because she's blatantly lying to the mother, but apparently not all. Our Dubious Heroes return, armed with knowledge and terrible ideas and they should feel terrible. I can't argue much against not telling the mother, except for the fact that no one is telling the child because ... because what, he won't get afraid and screw up the entire thing? I have a thing to tell you about children, most of them are incredibly emotionally labile and are perfectly capable of conjuring up the feeling of being threatened even having been told that they are going to be threatened. Are they going to tell the kid he's going to be threatened? No, no they are not. Instead, okay, first they are going to separate the kid from his mother, his main source of stability in his life. Which, all right, Teresa's going with him so he's got a more immediate source of stability, that's not as bad, plus you don't exactly want to tell the mother that someone else is murdered in short order with the kid right there in the room. And yes, going out to talk to Uncle Ben (no, not that Uncle Ben) is a reasonable excuse. Teresa gives him his action figure back. ... You know, actually, I almost wish they'd done more with the action figure as talisman as golem I'm going to get sidetracked on that. Never mind. The point being Uncle Ben is going to start off with the "you know I would never do anything to hurt you" which immediately gets the kid's guard up. I mean seriously. Who, child or adult, hears that and thinks "oh, well everything's fine then." Really? After all the kid's been through you're going to open with that and not something like "So, your Uncle Ben is a moron." Which, apart from being funnier, keeps the focus on Uncle Ben and not on the kid and why am I even bothering. Oh, oh, but the best part happens when Uncle Ben doesn't even explain what the fuck is going on. And instead Nick completely lays into him. From a nice guy and authority figure, i.e. cop, and not all cops are good authority figures to all people but to this kid he was, to instantly hostile, aggressive, angry adult, with absolutely no explanation, surrounded by and in a place previously considered safe. Because, after living in a household with an abusive, angry adult once, the kid hasn't been through enough trust issues. Apparently not because the approach to "make David feel threatened" isn't "explain to David what's going on and then cause a visceral reaction with his permission." No, it's "scare the shit out of an already traumatized kid."

Uncle Ben, I hope you realize that you are compounding what a bad thing you've done. You are a bad Rabbi and you should feel bad. Mama Sarah would like to know what the fuck they think they are doing to her child and goes tears ass on out of the house despite Hank's not really his best efforts. Hank, you know what a bad thing you've done, go to your room. Oh look, it's a golem. Let's all take ineffectual whacks at the golem, because that will calm everything right down. Nick attempts to take on the golem! Not so much. Teresa does, in fact, push the kid out of the way, possibly onto his bad arm, ouch, but David at least seems to interpret her actions the way she intended. I think? It's hard to tell what with all the incoherent screaming. The golem, not so much. The golem is now fixing on her as the aggressor and preparing to drown her in mud. Which means, hilariously, that the kid grabs the only weapon he knows, the action figure (and not the shem, so apparently we are doing the action figure thing? this is not how you unsummon a golem, guys) and goes after the golem telling it to leave his friend the fuck alone. Without the swearing. David's a better kid than I am. Thus attacked, the golem ... dissipates back into mud. Are we going to have an explanation for why the magic didn't work the way the Rabbi and all his קַבָּלָה‎ learnings said it would? No, no we are not. Are we going to have anything remotely resembling a moment where everything is explained to poor David, who's been through a lot of shit and has been traumatized to hell and back and, what, is this supposed to be some sort of therapy? He couldn't stop his dad when he was a monster but here's a monster he was able to fight and defeat? That would be great except Nick yelling at him is exactly like the opposite of therapy. Yes, let's reinforce the fucking idea that people can be nice one moment and you can trust them right up until they start screaming at you, that'll be good for David. Let's also present the kid with even more traumatic events that have no explanation, and for good measure let's not explain why Uncle Ben is acting so fucking weird around him. That'll be great for him, I don't think. Neither did anyone else writing this scene. Also everyone else managed to write golem episodes involving the proper arrangement of writings to clay figures.

Instead of having a proper denouement to this where they attempt to reestablish trust and, I don't know, apologize for being complete fuckups? They proceed to take us over to the next metaplot point. Teresa will update Juliette, who thinks that any kind of proof of the power of prayer might be worth proclaiming, sure, but who's going to believe it? And the quiet domestic situation is going to be interrupted by the potions trio, who have come to announce that they have a solution, but the solution is dependent on Juliette. Of course. Who's been expressing doubt that Nick getting his Grimm powers back is a good thing, who's not sure what she wants out of their life together anymore, I need to go bang my head into a wall. At least they're asking her this time before they do potions with her body parts.

Next week, Bud's inability to keep a secret has of course paid off with everyone wanting to kill Nick now that he doesn't have superpowers anymore. I… yeah, I can't type that with a straight face. Because that many of them are dumb enough to try killing a cop, even if he's not a Grimm? You're all fucking morons and you so deserve whatever you get. And whatever the process for re-Grimming him is, it sounds like it's hard enough on Juliette that everyone questions whether or not she should do it. Whether that's going to put strain on her specifically and maybe be fatal, or on their relationship and maybe end  with her walking out on him, who the fuck knows. My facepalm knows few bounds.

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