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Thursday, January 29, 2015

GRIMM Faces a "Tribunal"

Article first published as GRIMM Review Season 4 Episode 10 Tribunal on Seat42F.

GRIMM -- "Tribunal" Episode 410
“Tribunal” is the episode of NBC’s GRIMM I’ve been waiting for all through this lackluster fall run. It’s a full-on mythology hour, no case-of-the-week, as everyone scrambles to find Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) before the racist Wesenrein can execute him. Thankfully, the ancient group is all about ritual, so our heroes have a bit of time, though, as always happens on television shows, Monroe is not located until the last possible second.

That last sentence may sound a little snarky, but it’s true! Just once, I’d like to see someone rescued with plenty of time to spare, though I guess waiting until everything is down to the wire creates more tension. And since quite literally everyone else does it, I can’t blame Grimm for the same.

As “Tribunal” begins, there are many leads being pursued towards Monroe, but none solid enough to act upon. Later in the episode, the entire group comes together and gets to use their various strengths. Even Bud (Danny Bruno), while not under direct protection, finds a backbone and stands up for his friends! It’s more of an ensemble effort than most adventures, and as I’ve said in the past, this is definitely the path towards making GRIMM a must-watch series. There must be a variety of personalities, each contributing, and each being interesting on their own.

It’s extremely impressive when Nick (David Giuntoli), Hank (Russell Hornsby), Renard (Sasha Roiz), Wu (Reggie Lee), Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch), and Rosalee (Bree Turner) all march into battle together. Badges cast aside, this is a group united by a far more important mission than just upholding the law. What’s more, everyone can contribute; none are dead weight or weaklings that must be protected. When the fight breaks out at the court, Nick is able to stay with the larger group of captured foes while the others give chase on their own through the woods. That’s progress in the structure of the show, and a welcome development.

I don’t know why everyone is OK with Juliette participating, though. Obviously, her now being a Hexenbiest gives her the strength to hold her own, which we get to see in spectacular fashion in “Tribunal.” Except, no one knows she is one yet. Why doesn’t Nick try to convince her to stay behind, or at least ask her to stand by his side instead of chasing the fleeing suspects. Sure, that’s been done before, but it’s not unreasonable for Nick to be a little more cautious with her until he learns about her power.

Speaking of, briefly, NBC presents an absolutely awful preview for next week’s episode, making it seem like Nick would kill Juliette just because she’s a Hexenbiest. That may be the stated job of a Grimm, but when has Nick ever followed that? It’s just stupid, no fan of the show will be fooled, and the network should be ashamed for putting out such a blatantly misleading ad.

The newest member of the Grimm band is Wu, who, after a little training with Bud, goes along on the big takedown. I do think Wu is acting like too much a part of the group too quick, with no one going out of their way to make him feel emotionally included, even after the danger is past and someone should be reaching out. But I’d rather see that than for Wu to remain an outsider, so when he raises a champagne toast and acts too familiar with Monroe and Rosalee, I’m able to forgive it.

At the end, Hank and Nick providing armed escort for Monroe and Rosalee is a humorous touch that makes the episode work. The heavy stuff is past, and now we need to smile a little. It’s a good pivot at the conclusion, and brings the overall-wonderful episode around to a satisfying closure.

GRIMM airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

BACKSTROM Has a "Dragon" On Its Back

Article first published as BACKSTROM Review on Seat42F.

FOX’s new series BACKSTROM is from the mind of Hart Hanson, creator of Bones and The Finder. Even if you did not know this going into the pilot, “Dragon Slayer,” it would be easy to see the similarities to those other shows because of a near-copy of tone and format. As a fan of Hanson, I’m interested to watch BACKSTROM. But as someone completely burned out with the formulaic police procedural, I’m sad he didn’t expand his premise a bit more from the beaten path.

Rainn Wilson (The Office) stars as Everett Backstrom, a colorful man in the vein of The Finder’s Walter Sherman. Rather than withdraw from society, though, Backstrom lives right in the middle of things, unfeeling towards those he offends. His attitude gets him demoted to traffic duty for five years, but as BACKSTROM begins, he is back in a position he likes, serving in Portland’s newly created Special Crimes Unit.

Backstrom is surrounded by a team of very capable professionals. There’s veteran detective John Almond (Dennis Haysbert, 24, The United), fresh-faced and eager Nicole Gravely (Genevieve Angelson, House of Lies), button-pushing consultant Peter Niedermayer (Kristoffer Polaha, Life Unexpected, Ringer), and muscle Frank Moto (Page Kennedy, Blue Mountain State, Weeds). Along with the attractive French civilian support officer, Nadia Paquet (Beatrice Rosen, Cuts, The Dark Knight), whom Backstrom “befriends” under his doctor’s (Rizwan Manji, Outsourced, The Wolf of Wall Street) orders, they make up his Bones-esque ensemble of colorful supporting players.

The reason I still watch Bones (though I’m quite behind on it) is because, despite how predictable and repetitive it is, there’s a very entertaining group who get excellent lines and entertaining subplots on a regular basis. BACKSTROM has a similar cast, many familiar faces oozing with talent and humor. The question is, how much of each hour will be spent on the boring old plot-of-the-week and how much will be fun? The balance is incredibly important to make the series worth watching, though it would certainly behoove Hanson to ditch the weekly-solve format as soon as possible, unlikely as it may seem that he would do so.

Because every modern cop drama must include the lead’s family, and Backstrom is not the type to have family and friends around (though we do get a forced-in story about his abusive father in “Dragon Slayer” to further shape the character), Backstrom regularly interacts with Valentine (Thomas Dekker, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles). Valentine operates in the illegal underworld, son of a stripper, a transvestite in his own right. It takes a very strong personality to compete with Backstrom, and Valentine fits the bill. Plus, going by looks alone, I suspect he may secretly be Backstrom’s son, though one or both might not know it yet.

I probably don’t need to tell you about the main plot of “Dragon Slayer,” though doing so won’t spoil it for you. A body is discovered in an apparent suicide case, which is quickly ruled a homicide. The person you first suspect isn’t guilty, and through a serious of brilliant leaps by our above-average investigators, Backstrom is able to personally collar the culprit. This will likely be repeated in most episodes.

Overall, I like BACKSTROM; I really do. It has a terrific cast and is written by the man I believe is the current master of the genre. No one makes this type of show better than Hanson. But after a decade of watching his material, and seeing much of the same on the broadcast networks (most of which I don’t watch), I may finally be reaching my fill of it, as I noticed my attention drifting several times in the first episode alone. I’m hopeful the era of this type of show is near the end, ratings to the contrary, and the program can spin itself off into something better. Otherwise, BACKSTROM is yet another entry in an over- crowded field that feels wholly unoriginal.

BACKSTROM premieres Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.

Monday, January 26, 2015

SLEEPY HOLLOW Paints an Inferior Portrait

Article originally written for Seat42F.

The title of this week’s SLEEPY HOLLOW installment on FOX, “Pittura Infamante,” refers to a particular style of painting, which is seen in this episode. An evil killer from the past is trapped in such a portrait, but soon starts trying to get out, killing innocents in the process. It’s up to Ichabod (Tom Mison) and Katrina (Katia Winter) to interrupt their date and stop him.

As far as cases-of-the-week go, “Pittura Infamante” is a good one. It’s tied to Katrina’s past and an old friend, Abigail Adams (Michelle Trachtenberg, Gossip Girl, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and it unfolds in such a way to allow a couple of main characters to work through their feelings. It’s a bit exciting, and there are a couple of unexpected twists, as well as a trip inside the painting itself. Though, I still contend that our heroes know way too many famous people.

I worry, though, that FOX is going to ask SLEEPY HOLLOW to make more of this type of episode, given recent comments to the press about how the show has become “too serialized.” I disagree completely, arguing it hasn’t become serialized enough. I’m fine with a rare episode like “Pittura Infamante” because it serves a purpose. But if every week were like this one, I would be highly disappointed, feeling the show is better when it’s concentrating on its larger arcs. If I wanted crime solvers, I’d turn on one of a hundred other programs currently airing.

I don’t mean to use this week’s review as a platform to push my particular viewpoint, but it and the show exemplify a large issue. There is a major schism in the viewing audience. There are certainly a large number of people who enjoy self-contained hours, being able to drop in and out of a series at will, as evidenced by high ratings on such programs as Bones and NCIS. But there are also plenty, especially young people, who consume gripping series in large chunks and want a more intelligent, engaging story. Unfortunately, the financial model currently leans towards the former group, but I feel the future has to be in the latter, and hope there’s some sort of shift in the near future.

Back to SLEEPY HOLLOW specifically, though, this plot does allow Ichabod and Katrina to try to find a way to work together and relate to one another again. I am not a fan of their relationship, hoping it goes away sooner rather than later, but from Ichabod’s perspective, he wants to fix his marriage, and that’s laudable. Katrina needs help adjusting to the present, as Ichabod has, if they are going to be able to work. “Pittura Infamante” shows a path combining the two eras, and it allows them to actually feel on more solid footing than they ever have on the show.

Elsewhere, Captain Irving (Orlando Jones) returns to the police station and is immediately jailed. Abbie (Nicole Beharie) wonders if her friend is back, or if this is another Brooks situation, a dead man controlled by a demon. SLEEPY HOLLOW is keeping its cards close to its chest on this one, as they should, giving us more questions than answers thus far. Either way has some interesting possibilities, and I like that Irving’s family is finally acknowledged again, even though they are of little importance.

Usually, SLEEPY HOLLOW’s biggest strength is in its interactions between Ichabod and Abbie. There is precious little of that this week, but it does show each can stand on their own. They don’t need each other all the time. Not that they should be separated long, but it can work on occasion.

Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood) also gets a few scenes, and provides comic relief in “Pittura Infamante.” The corpse she has to dig bullets out of is super gross, but it allows Greenwood to show what she can bring to the table, which sadly has not been demonstrated all that often. Jenny doesn’t have to be central to SLEEPY HOLLOW on a regular basis. But she should appear a bit more if this is how they’re going to use her.

As I said, “Pittura Infamante” is a solid example of a case-of-the-week, and it does tie into some larger stories. Because it luxuriates in some of the characters, exploring new aspects of their personalities and doing it well, I think it’s a good episode. It’s not what I want every week, but for now, it satisfies.

SLEEPY HOLLOW airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

ARROW "Left" Me Excited

Article first published as ARROW Review Season 3 Episode 10 Left Behind on Seat42F.

Arrow 3x10 Left Behind
The CW’s ARROW comes back from a nail-biting cliffhanger this week with “Left Behind.” Several days after Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) deadly battle, his team has heard nothing of his fate and struggle to accept the possibility he might not be coming back. They valiantly try to continue the good fight in his name, but they may not be up to the task without their leader.

Oliver is the glue that holds Team Arrow together. Personally, I think it would be really cool for ARROW to kill off Oliver, something that happens in comic books, an alter ego dying and another picking up the mantle, but I don’t believe has ever happened to a central superhero on a television series. Yes, Black Canary is killed and replaced, but not being a main or titular character, it’s not the same thing. It’s not that I don’t like Amell or Oliver; it would just be a very bold, unexpected move that would signal to the viewers that this series means business.

Instead, because Oliver is made to be the glue, things cannot function without him. Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), once she stops denying the most likely scenario, quits the team, and tells Ray (Brandon Routh) that she won’t be helping him fight crime, either. Diggle (David Ramsey) tries to wear the green hood, but he is not that skilled with a bow and finds it easier to return to his plain clothes and gun. Roy (Colton Hayes) is the only one that seems to be doing well, but he can’t go it alone.

An answer to Team Arrow’s problem could be Laurel (Katie Cassidy), who dons the Black Canary outfit for the first time at the end of “Left Behind.” She has a strong enough personality to be a leader, though there’s no guarantee the existing members would take orders from a semi-outsider. Plus, she’s been acting a little reckless, so she may not make the best decisions for them.

So Team Arrow is left in a holding, or disintegrating, pattern until Oliver can return. He’s alive, of course, Malcolm Merlyn’s (John Barrowman) evidence to the contrary, though Malcolm can be forgiven for believing as he does. Maseo (Karl Yune) rescues Oliver from the cliff because, as we see in flashback, Oliver risks his neck to save Maseo’s wife, Tatsu (Rila Fukushima). Thus, it will only be a matter of time, and perhaps some physical therapy, before Oliver resumes his role as protector of the city.

That time can’t come soon enough. The bad guy in “Left Behind” is Brick (Vinnie Jones), a returning foe who is able to gain the upper hand here. He isn’t someone to be trifled with, and now that he knows the heroes are vulnerable, he’ll probably be breaking quite a few more laws than previously. If he is to be stopped, either Team Arrow needs to pull itself together or Oliver needs to get back on the job.

Thea (Willa Holland) doesn’t know that Oliver is dead, but since he’s really still alive, I guess that doesn’t put her at a disadvantage. She’s worried because she hasn’t heard from him, but despite the fact that she’s the one who sends Malcolm to investigate in the first place, Malcolm doesn’t share what he finds with her. So Thea still doesn’t know Oliver is The Arrow or that he went into a fight to the death on her behalf.

What is Malcolm’s game? Why doesn’t he tell Thea the truth about Oliver? Is he worried that the truth will make Thea think more highly of her brother, thus bleeding away some of the influence Malcolm has over her? Or does he want to draw out Thea’s distress so she comes to rely more on him as a shoulder to cry on? And is he sincere about wanting to be a father, or does he have some dark purpose for Thea?

These questions and more will surely be answered in upcoming installments of ARROW. If there’s one thing you can say about the show, it’s not boring (except some of the flashback parts). It’s also usually well crafted, with mysteries eventually being solved and elements playing into one another. If it were a little bolder, it would be nearly perfect.

ARROW airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on the CW.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Article first published as TV Review: 'American Horror Story: Freak Show' - 'Curtain Call' on Blogcritics.

The fourth season of FX’s American Horror Story, subtitled Freak Show, concluded this week with “Curtain Call.” Perhaps the most satisfying season finale of the show yet, capping a season which, in my opinion, tied with the first for best of the series, it gave almost everyone who deserved it a happy ending. Mixing tears and joy in moving pathos, “Curtain Call” is the ending fans deserve.

Right away this year, American Horror Story: Freak Show made us care about the freaks. It is the people outside of the carnival that are the problem. Those with the deformities are the persecuted, and the ones to root for. The story tears down prejudice among those who watch, building sympathy for the outcasts. This continues right on through to the end.

As “Curtain Call” opens, the freak show has been sold to Dandy (Finn Wittrock), the biggest beast of the year. But the freaks, who have suffered enough, don’t put up with his gruff for long. They quit, prompting him to go on a killing spree and murder almost every performer left. Thankfully, four survive long enough to punish Dandy.

Wittrock’s performance in American Horror Story: Freak Show is nothing short of amazing. Even as he dramatically dies, drowning in Houdini’s water escape tank, we see the pain and anger in his eyes. He feels misunderstood, miscast in life. The more he tries to carve out his place and hone his talents, the worse he does. He’s deeply damaged, far from emotionless, desperate to find acceptance. He does horrific things, though, and like a diseased dog, the most merciful thing is to put him down, which our heroes do.

One might think that being slain by a madman is not a happy ending, and I mentioned in the opening that the ending is satisfying. “Curtain Call” toys with an afterlife, though, a specific fulfillment of the wishes of those who died. The freaks who are killed, and not just in the season finale, are reunited in an eternal caravan, performing nightly for packed houses. It may not be the ideal existence for most of us, nor even what many of them thought they wanted in life, but it’s what these people end up valuing most, enhanced by perfect circumstances and surrounded by beloved family.

Even Elsa (Jessica Lange) gets to go there, despite her sins. She achieves the Hollywood fame she desires, and finds it’s far less than she wishes for. As she gets bigger and bigger, she feels less and less at home, missing the family she built. In the end, she commits suicide on Halloween, letting us glimpse terrific guest stars Wes Bentley and John Carroll Lynch again, and ends up at the heavenly fair, rather than roaming with the cursed troupe. It’s a reward for the good she does before she does wrong. Ethel’s (Kathy Bates) gentle scolding that Elsa was not a good friend, boss, or cook but that she was born to perform is the perfect emotional chord, reuniting the oldest of friends in a tear-worthy scene that, as usual, proves what a considerable talent Lange is.

Speaking of Ethel, Bates is killed off far too early in American Horror Story: Freak Show. I miss her the moment she leaves, and while we do see her twice more, it only makes me wish for more of her. Angela Bassett’s Desiree, who survives, is also less featured than I’d like. I hope that, if Lange does step down or back in season five, a regrettable circumstance for sure, Bassett and Bates rise to take her place. They have earned a showcase like the one Lange has been getting these past few years.

The quartet that make it through “Curtain Call” intact are Desiree, Jimmy (Evan Peters), and Dot and Bette (Sarah Paulson). All end up happily married with children, having gotten away with the multiple murders they justly committed. My only small complaint about this is that it feels extremely familiar to have Paulson and Peters’ players achieve their bright futures, the two actors among the small number in past seasons who have similar conclusions. That’s likely because they keep getting cast in certain types of roles, the ones that naturally survive, but it still feels a tad bit like a repeat.

In the end, I’m left amazed by the tale told and the characters created. So many impressive performances, so many fascinating guest stars, and so many terrific twists. The plot feels more substantial than in the past couple of seasons, and the emotions run deeper. While half of the main characters sit out the finale (not unusual for this franchise), there are enough supporting characters appearing to keep it feeling full. “Curtain Call” is a great culmination of what builds up, and I cannot think of a better way to wind the various threads together.

American Horror Story has been renewed for a fifth season, which will feature as-of-yet unannounced new cast, setting, and subtitle.

Friday, January 23, 2015

JUSTIFIED On "Right" Track For Finale

Article first published as TV Review: 'Justified' - 'Fate's Right Hand' on Blogcritics.

Justified begins its final season on FX this week with “Fate’s Right Hand.” Picking up just after last season ended, Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) is sticking around Kentucky just long enough to take down his old frenemy, Boyd (Walton Goggins), then he’ll be off to Florida, where his baby daughter lives. There are thirteen episodes to play out before that can happen, though, so obviously the story won’t zip along, even if it starts out in an exciting manner.

J2The Raylan / Boyd relationship is the linchpin of Justified. They aren’t always together; in fact, they spend much more time in their own arcs than crossing paths. But keeping Boyd, who is only a recurring character in the first season, around is a brilliant move. Every time the pair come together, it’s explosive magic, and it certainly feels like this final season will give us more of that than ever, since taking down Boyd is the focus of Raylan’s final story.

This dynamic is served nearly right away in “Fate’s Right Hand.” Boyd is intent on robbing a bank and suspects Raylan of watching him. To combat this, Boyd dangles Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman) out as a distraction to Raylan and the marshal takes the bait. It’s a very smart move on Boyd’s part, knowing Raylan isn’t supposed to go near Dewey and knowing Raylan won’t be able to resist doing so anyway. It doesn’t take Raylan long to realize he’s been played, but it’s just enough for Boyd to get away with his dastardly deed. It’s this deep understanding of one another that makes the game between them so intense, and while I root for Raylan to win in the end, I’m glad it won’t be easy on him because it’ll be an entertaining ride.

J1Stuck in the middle of the duo is Ava (Joelle Carter). She is done with Boyd, but is being pressured by Raylan to pretend that’s not the case so she can feed information to law enforcement. Art (Nick Searcy) tells Raylan he would have never have approved such an arrangement, and I’m inclined to agree with Raylan’s former boss. It’s true Ava is in a position where she can help, but there are too many messy emotions involved to trust her, or to trust Raylan’s judgment concerning her. In fact, in this premiere, she tries to play both sides, searching for a middle ground, before being told that’s not an option. It’s a risky move to allow this to carry on, and it is likely to not end well for one or more of the involved parties. Though, I’m heartened that Raylan is wise enough to seek advice from Art, even when he doesn’t have to listen to it.

I talk about messy outcomes, and there’s one teased at in “Fate’s Right Hand” as Boyd, having just killed Dewey, sits and stares as Ava as she sleeps. Does he suspect her of turning on him? He’s smart, and he knows her better than most people. And if Boyd does know that Ava is double-crossing him, does he still love her enough to spare her life? Or will he use her as a pawn in the continuing match? We know Boyd caring about someone does not preclude him for murdering that person. She’s in deep.

I didn’t mean to toss out Dewey’s death as a mere mention, as it is vitally important to Justified. Dewey is a long-standing, recurring player. Justified is full of such people, bringing in excellent actors and helping them create memorable roles, but Dewey is one who has really stuck because he fits so well in the setting. He’s been in a LOT of episodes. “Fate’s Right Hand” does off him a bit earlier than I’d have preferred, but it does it in a cool way.

J3Dewey leaves prison and still feels trapped. The life he used to enjoy is gone, and try as he might, he can’t get it back. He has no one to turn to, Boyd betraying him easily enough because he senses how unstable Dewey is. That’s because Dewey knows Raylan is in pursuit and he won’t find a moment’s rest. There can be no happy ending for Dewey, and he’s done enough bad things that one doesn’t really want him to get one, anyway. But the way things come together, culminating in the moment Boyd pulls the trigger, fits wonderfully with the show and the character, especially after giving Dewey deserved focus throughout the hour. Plus, it informs Boyd’s stare towards Ava, and chills viewers to the bone.

“Fate’s Right Hand” is an excellent installment of Justified, although I expect no less for the series which has yet to deliver a bad season. Justified is done with such a specific tone and style, unlike anything else currently airing, and adding to that the weight of the approaching conclusion, felt often throughout this episode, it all just clicks into something spectacular. This hour also makes good use of all of its cast, including Tim (Jacob Pitts) and Rachel (Erica Tazel), who are often under-used. These next twelve episodes should be something very much worth watching.

Justified airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FX.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

"Wesenrein" Conquer GRIMM

Article first published as GRIMM Review Season 4 Episode 9 Wesenrein on Seat42F.

GRIMM -- "Wesenrein" Episode 409 -- Pictured: (l-r) David Giuntoli as Nick Burkhardt, Russell Hornsby as Hank Griffin -- (Photo by: Scott Green/NBC)

When NBC’s GRIMM took its holiday hiatus, there were a few pretty important cliffhangers left dangling. This week’s return, “Wesenrein,” picks up right where the previous installment left off. Wu (Reggie Lee) is finally getting the truth because it is the only way to save his sanity. Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) is shocked to find she’s now a Hexenbiest. But both of those things take a backseat because Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) has been kidnapped by the titular Wesenrein, a Nazi-like hate group, who intend to punish him for his “sins,” such as marrying a different Wesen species than himself and befriending the enemy of almost all Wesen, a Grimm.

I like “Wesenrein” but I don’t love it, and here’s why. Wu being let in on the Wesen secrets has been stretched out far too long, and then is glossed over too quickly. Having the revelations halted because of an emergency is an understandable plot device. Yet, from Wu’s perspective, as he is not friends with Monroe and doesn’t know about the situation, he should be pushing back more, not least of which because police procedure is being ignored and he’s a good cop. Nick (David Giuntoli) and Hank (Russell Hornsby) tell him they’ll explain more later, but he has no reason to believe them, given how they frequently brush him off. He deserves better and should be demanding it.

There are many interesting ways GRIMM could go now that Wu is brought onto the team. He brings a fresh viewpoint, and the series should be using him to remind us of the wonder of the world that hooked many a fan in the first place. What I fear is that his part won’t expand, and he’ll still just be used as a tool by the main characters, such as when he is sent to guard a person of interest this week. Wu has been wasted enough; it’s time to give him something worthwhile.

I’m less upset about Juliette’s story being placed on the backburner. Monroe is her friend, so of course she’s concerned and wants to be there for Monroe’s distraught wife, Rosalee (Bree Turner). She has something that is deeply upsetting her, but she’s willing to be there for those that need her first because her issue really isn’t quite as important. I assume the show will deal with this next week, which would be fine, as long as they don’t string it out like they have a few other arcs.

I never for a second believed Rosalee was dead because it didn’t make sense for the story, though that was a cool dream sequence. It’s disappointing that it doesn’t even come close to authentic deception, though. Other shows have managed to be unpredictable, and having Juliette accidentally kill Rosalee would have been an earth-shattering event. As much as I’d hate to lose Rosalee, and I think it would mean losing Juliette, too, because she could never come back from that, it would have been really satisfying to see GRIMM take such a big risk. Sadly, it’s this unwillingness to ever do something so shocking that holds GRIMM back from its potential and makes it distinctly inferior to peers such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The meat of the episode, though, is Monroe being a captive of a truly horrific people. It’s impossible to ignore the similarities between this group and Nazi Germany, both in attitude and symbolic style. I feel like GRIMM makes these people too cartoonishly evil, but the terror Monroe feels, and that the viewers feel for him, is authentic and raw. Though I wish for a less straight-forward set up, the stakes are real and tension is built excellently.

Monroe will survive this, of course, but I’m hoping there’s lasting damage. Again, I don’t expect it because the writers almost always play it too safe, but in an event such as this, Monroe should wind up mutilated, emotionally if not physically. There’re few situations worse he could be in. Until Nick can locate and slay the baddies, Monroe doesn’t know he’s going to make it out. I feel that from Mitchell this week, which is why I like “Wesenrein,” despite its flaws.

GRIMM airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.