Friday, October 31, 2014

REVIEW: 'Grimm' - Nick and Adalind Learn How Connected They Are While Trubel Helps an Investigation in 'Octopus Head'

NBC's Grimm - Episode 4.02 "Octopus Head"

As Nick and Hank turn their attention to a string of attacks where victims are left without their memories, Nick weighs whether or not he should regain his Grimm abilities. Trubel joins the investigation and puts herself in harms way. In Vienna, Adalind is being held captive and learns that she is more connected than ever to Nick. Meanwhile, Renard continues to fight for his life as a mysterious visitor arrives to help him.

At the start of its fourth season, Grimm is favoring plot over emotional character arcs. Last season came to a surprising conclusion when Nick's Grimm powers were taken away from him. For the past few years, his abilities have been one of the biggest defining traits of who he is as a person. Unlike other grimms in the world, he has approached the job with some sense of moral obligation and duty because of his steady job as a police detective. That balance has been very tricky for him to pull off - especially as the narrative continues to expand around him. These powers were handed down to him. He did not choose this lifestyle. Taking the powers away from him should awaken a dialogue within Nick on whether or not he would actually want them back.

And yet, that seems like the furthest thing from the creative team's minds at the moment. They know Nick as a grimm. They did this grand twist in order to maintain the audience's interest over the summer months. When they came back for the fourth season, they've basically made the decision that Nick will be forced into become a grimm again. Unless he wants to be painfully linked to Adalind for the rest of his live? But it's not a character-based decision. Nick goes to his job and acts like nothing is particularly off in this world now that he can no longer see Wesen.

Trubel is the team's eyes into the Wesen world. She was a fine addition to the cast in the second half of last season. And she continues to be used interestingly in the first two episodes of this season. And yet, her presence gives the show an excuse to still be chasing after and dealing with various Wesen every week. Creature design has become a staple of the show. It's one of the things that makes Grimm distinct. Keeping Trubel around allows them to still be able to show Wesen voge. This is a world that will always cause trouble for our main characters. But it also could have been really interesting if Nick was dealing with crimes committed by Wesen while being unable to see them. That could have been a strong motivation for him to realize he needs his powers back. This is a world that will keep on existing and he is at his best in interacting with this world while a grimm.

But the plot keeps on going ahead unwilling to stop in order to create these character moments. The Octopus Head guy is on a mission stealing the memories of people working on a top secret program for the government. That Wesen has to be one of the weaker bits of creature design and special effects work on the show. More importantly though, the show never presented the audience with a reason why we should be invested in this monster-of-the-week two-parter. We never know what the numbers he is trying to steal are actually about. In last week's premiere, we saw him operating from the very beginning and it wasn't until late in the hour until Nick and Hank were even aware of his presence in Portland. This story wants to have strong plot momentum and yet I found it lacking in a lot of ways. It was never truly engaging until he was stealing the memories of Trubel. First of all, she was horrible following him. Also, how were Nick and Hank able to go from 65th street where the house was, back to the hotel and then back to the house in the time that it took Octopus Head to tie Trubel up and fail to retrieve the memories of either her or the man he was after? A strong twist would have been him being successful in wiping Trubel's memory clean. That would have made the whole story justifiable while also giving Nick a motivation to regain his grimm abilities.

That did not occur however. Everyone turned out to be just fine by hour's end - including Captain Renard who has shown dead in the concluding moments of the premiere as one big fake out. Ultimately the plot is telling us that the status quo needs to be changed. And yet, the emotional character connections are severely lacking.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Octopus Head" was written by David Greenwalt & Jim Kouf and directed by Terrence O'Hara.
  • It's very weird that Louise Lombard is playing Renard's mother. There's only a three year age difference between the actors. She is a Hexenbiest though and there is the throwaway line of her having some work done. I'm just hoping more supernatural forces are at play that will help explain it.
  • Adalind has returned to Vienna and Viktor has promptly thrown her into the dungeon. It's a strong character beat that she is doing everything she has done in an attempt to be with her daughter again. And yet, how long is she going to stay in that cell? It doesn't seem like she'll be able to do much down there.
  • Juliette claims that Nick is torn on whether he wants to become a grimm again. That feels like her thrusting her feelings onto the situation. It's the kind of emotional beat I want but it doesn't lend itself to some kind of bigger discussion.
  • Seriously though, Wu just needs to be let in on the big secret already. He'll become vastly more interesting once he does. Seeing him connecting all the pieces just feels like a waste of time.
  • This hasn't been a very busy first two episodes for Monroe and Rosalee. That needs to change.