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Sunday, May 10, 2015

"Headache" from GRIMM Subsiding

Article originally written for Seat4F.

This week’s episode of GRIMM on NBC, titled “Headache,” actually picks up right where last week leaves off, finally following a serial story! Nick (David Giuntoli), Hank (Russell Hornsby), and Wu (Reggie Lee) continue to investigate the grisly murders, and the evidence leads them to Captain Renard (Sasha Roiz). Is Jack the Ripper after their boss?

It’s pretty obvious early in “Headache” that Jack is Captain Renard, or rather, he is inside Renard. To GRIMM’s credit, though, Nick suspects as much by a quarter of the way through the hour and voices the theory, not drawing out a twist that’s already been given away. It’s nice to be able to give the show and its story credit after being so disappointed in it for so many months.

The better part to this plot is that Jack gets inside Renard when he is dead, a thread from the very beginning of the season, and has been growing in power and influence since, eventually hoping to replace Renard. This explains Renard’s arc throughout the year; his strange visions and behavior. It’s a nice pay-off for a long simmer, and while it should have been reached much sooner, I’m not disappointed by the way it plays out now.

Roiz is the star of “Headache.” The actor wonderfully embodies the maniac serial killer, differentiating him fully from the police chief. The dual role is something most actors long for, but few do it as well as this one, transforming body, voice, and mannerisms into a vastly different part. Watching him is the highlight of the episode for me.

Far less satisfying is the other story in “Headache.” Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) takes up with Kenneth (Nico Evers-Swindell), sexually now as well as just helping him with evil schemes. Together, they kill Nick’s mother and gain custody of Adalind’s (Claire Coffee) baby.

The plot itself isn’t terrible. Juliette’s complete behavior change has been explained by the Hexenbieste inside of her, which apparently is more destructive and dominant than a normal Hexenbieste. It’s no surprise, then, that she would help Nick’s enemy or take the child. 
What’s unforgiveable is Juliette’s involvement in killing Kelly Burkhardt. This spells the end of Nick and Juliette as a couple forever, methinks. Nick’s utter grief at the close of “Headache” is very moving, and it’s far too deep for him to overlook. Even though Kenneth is the one who actually kills her, Juliette deserves punishment for her involvement. At this point, assuming Nick finds out Juliette is complicit, he might even kill his former fiancé. The homicide would be justifiable.

It’s a fascinating story to take so much away from Nick in this manner. In a way, Juliette dies the moment she becomes a Hexenbieste, and he’s just trying to save a relationship that is already over. The version of Juliette that lives now is a totally different person, and even if they can restore her, there’s no telling if she’d get her old personality back or if Nick would be able to forgive her. Certainly, that would take years, at minimum. I’m sad because I think there could have been some interesting possibilities for the couple that will remain unexplored, but this is a pretty cool direction to take GRIMM in.

The worst part by far of “Headache,” though, and what dampens this part of the story is that Kelly’s death happens off-screen. I assume that is because the actress was unavailable, as we only see her from

afar and hear her fighting. Still, if GRIMM couldn’t get her, they shouldn’t do this story now, or find another way to bring the baby pack into the picture, or cast an actress with more free time in the first place, considering the vital part she plays in the series. I know availability isn’t always known in advance, but to have such an important character meet their fate like this just plain sucks. This is more unforgiveable than the rotating royals, another pet peeve of mine, and no head-in-a-box (no matter how high quality it is) makes up for it.

Still, even with that huge complaint, which is not something that can just be overlooked, “Headache” is the best episode of GRIMM in a very long time, building upon last week’s improvements. I can only assume at this point that next week’s season finale will be equally well done. The test is if the show will maintain the momentum into next year, or if, like last fall, it will fall back into rote procedural, ruining an at-times solid series.

GRIMM’s season finale airs next Friday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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