‘Grimm’ Review: “Red Menace”
After a relatively short winter break, 'Grimm' is back to bust some wesen heads. Though there's nothing all that cliffhangery from the last episode of 2013, which was Christmas-themed, the show still has some dangling plot threads to deal with, like Adalind's pregnancy.
The episode opens with the quote "To kill Koschei the Deathless, first you must find his soul, which is hidden in an egg, in a duck in a lead chest buried beneath an oak tree." We then see a jogger in red running to a cover of Sam The Sham and The Pharoahs' "Little Red Riding Hood," which gives it an echo of the show's pilot (though that episode opened with The Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)." Just then Nick jogs by (perhaps it's just hat tip). Juliette gets a call from her friend Alicia whose husband Joe beats her. Juliette wants Alicia to come and stay with her and Nick, and Alicia agrees. Nick comes home and though he's been jogging isn't sweaty.
In Vienna, Adalind has coffee with Renard and she's curious why there's a camera in her room. Renard says it's because of her pregnancy, and plan to sell the Royal on the black market. He then suggests she pick a side, specifically his. Back in Portland a young woman is praying that God will kill her when a Boris Mishkin -- whose eyes glow green -- cures her, while another a man gets an address and has plans to pay Boris back. Boris is at a bar getting a young woman drunk (even though he's sitting next to his wife Olga) and is being toasted, and he wants everyone to celebrate, but when he goes to the bathroom he's assaulted by the man seeking revenge, but his Wesen powers send the assassin out a window, and the assassin's got a wound that looks fatal.
The assassin stumbles into his apartment trying to make a phone call, but passes out. Juliette calls Alicia, but there's no answer, but just then Alicia pulls up. Nick and Juliette offer her comfort as she cries, and then she reveals herself to be a wesen. Hank goes through physical therapy with his beautiful physical therapist, and when he tries to ask her out, he's shot down. After this, a cook finds a body in a freezer. Renard is back in Portland at the station, and he and Nick check in. Renard suggests that the two pose a great threat to the Royals when Hank comes in to tell them about the body. It's at the restaurant that Boris was at, and it seems that the assassin killed the stiff for his outfit. But they also find evidence of the struggle that Boris went through. Nick and Hank try and get information about what happened last night, but the restaurant owner says they were closed for a private event. They find security footage and see that the assassin was crafty, and know that the target was Boris. They also note that Boris obviously has a wife and caries on with other women. The assassin hasn't died yet, and finally gets to make a phone call as he's covered in sores. He knows he's going to die, and tells the person on the phone that he loves them. It appears the person on the phone is Boris' wife Olga, but it's certain that she too is a wesen.
Nick, Hank and Renard show up at Boris' place where Boris is in the middle of a healing, and Nick can see his Wesen powers. Olga warns Boris not to tell the police anything, but Renard speaks Russian. Boris reveals that he has wounds on his body, that sometimes his powers don't work, that some think he's a demon and that men get jealous because women fall for him for his powers. Renard gives Boris his card and asks him to call if anything else happens. While they're leaving, Renard reveals what kind of wesen Boris might be, a Koschei, and notes that the healing power often increases the libido. Then a housekeeper finds the assassin's body looking pretty gnarly.
Back at the camper, Nick, Hank and Monroe look through some mostly-destroyed Russian files to find some information about Boris. It turns out that Rasputin was a Koschei like Boris, and it turns out they're not only hard to kill, but can also transfer sickness to attackers. Nick and Hank then get a call about a body. Renard calls his Russian contacts who reveal that Boris used to be an assassin. Nick, Hank and Wu check over the body, and find the assassin's uniform and pre-paid cell phone, though his accomplice already ditched their burner. It turns out the assassin wasn't dead, and stands up and grabs Hank, which causes the three to have to be checked for radiation exposure.The radiation experts then have to check the Russian restaurant, which is hot with contamination. Back at the station Nick and Hank check in with Renard and they exchange information, and plot to bring in Boris. The assassin is in the hospital and is visited by a woman, and he warns that she'll be killed as well.
Juliette finishes surgery on a cat when Alicia shows up suggesting her husband Joe should be neutered. Nick, Hank and Monroe grill Boris and put their cards on the table. Boris says he didn't know who the attacker was, and that he's trying to do good work. He also reveals that he thinks he'll die soon. They decide to let him go. Hank then gets a call that the assassin is awake, while someone puts something dangerous looking inside some vodka. The assassin reveals that Boris killed his father, and that someone in the house wants revenge. Boris comes home to say that they'll be leaving soon, and then grabs the housekeepers for something scandalous. He chases her up the stairs with the vodka in hand while his wife waits downstairs, her eyes changing color.
Boris drinks some vodka, with the housekeeper forcing him to drink some more. She reveals herself to be the poisoner because Boris killed her father (while he was getting her a present) and her brother, the assassin. Boris says he's not the same man as she grabs some scissors, while Nick, Hank and Renard show up at the house. The wife stalls, but then slashes the throat of the housekeeper as Boris stumbles down to heal her. Boris saves the housekeeper's life, but dies in the process. Nick comes home and finds Alicia and Juliette in the kitchen when Juliette gets a call from Joe. Guess what? Joe's wesen, and waiting outside.
Though the show has struggled a little to keep it's slightly larger cast busy, it's also making some smart decision in terms of not bringing in players if they're not needed. I'm happy that Bree Turner's Rosalee was made a series regular, and think that the heart and soul of the show belongs to Monroe, but Turner wasn't missed tonight, and Silas Weir Mitchell's Monroe added very little (though he had a moment). But that's good as it also shows that Renard's character is starting to come into his own. His role is still nebulous, but definitely more interesting than when he was just a possible bad guy.
They've also seemingly (going by the preview for next week) set up Juliette with an interesting subplot, and what this season has done for characters who were mostly getting leftovers is amazing. Last season Renard and Juliette were the least interesting elements of the show, while in season three they've both had great character moments. In fact, now it's almost a juggling act as Hank's second banana status is less interesting (we'll see what they do with that possible love interest), and Wu is still Wu. We like Reggie Lee, perhaps his role is simply as the ringer, though we hope the actor gets an episode or two later this year.
More than that, this was a good "monster of the week" episode because it showed someone at the center of the drama who was conflicted. There were no black and whites, and it suggests a more interesting wesen world than when the antagonist is a snake-like creature, or something equally ugly. This showed that the wesen world is just as complicated and sloppy as our own, and when Rasputin was brought in to the mix it felt much more natural than the first season's attempt at evoking Hitler. Perhaps that's why the start of this episode paid homage to the pilot. 'Grimm' has now hit its stride, and is developing into something kind of great, so perhaps this is the creative rebirth now that it feels comfortable on the NBC schedule. Now, perhaps, they can do what they want.