Sunday, February 12, 2012

Grimm, Season 1, Episode 11: Tarantella

"Instantly the priestess changed into a monstrous goblin-spider and the warrior found himself caught fast in her web”
I don’t recognise this quote from a fairy tale per se – but aren’t spider-goblins east Asian mythology? Interesting to leave Germanic monsters; but then spidery based monsters are not uncommon so it could be anything.

A previously on Grimm! This episode begins with a previously? Have we ever had that before? Given the lack of meta-plot, have we ever needed it before? Could it be? Could it be we have actual meta incoming?

So we begin at an art viewing with a skeevy fox-man who doesn’t take the not-even-slightly subtle “no” for an answer and keeps pursuing a woman – eventually cumulating in trying to rape her, going all foxy in the process. She responds by going all spidery and kills him – I’ll give her a big thumbs up and a bit of cheering for that one, personally.

In the process she did lose a finger however – and after the killing she did seem extremely upset about it. Remorse or trauma?

Of course Nick and Hank are called to the crime scene to find the desiccated body that’s apparently missing a rolex and the finger spider-lady lost. And in classic spidery fashion, the body’s squishy bits have been melted and then sucked up again – uckies, uckies, uckies.

Fingers have finger prints, which are traced to more murders 5 years ago showing more desiccated bodies and more stolen jewellery and a quick trip to the Grimm library shows spider women who eat people (it also talks of Japanese Grimms, so I suppose this is the East-Asian connection or as close as we’re going to get).

But she’s moved on – and now is dressing to the nines to seduce another guy in a restaurant, go back to a hotel and then she eats – and this time there’s no self-defence. But flip again and spider woman is a family woman with a loving husband and a daughter. Awww, such a sweet scene for a man eating spider monster.

And back to Eddie, the Grimmopedia who, among being funny and snarky and making vegetarian sausage reveals there are Vesen old folks homes – now, I wish this were a sign that we’re going to see more of the greater Vesen community, how different Vesen interact, their systems of society et al, since we’ve seen none of them at all. But I rather think it’s more an insert with no backing so we can interview Charlotte, the elderly spider-death-woman (a Spinatod)!

And we learn more about Spinatods. They age very rapidly – unless they eat 3 men every 5 years. Without it they age and die – in their 20s. And they’re consumed by a biological urge to kill – even though they don’t want to do it – to save their lives. Oh and they’re magpies and like shiny objects.

Which helps them track down the Spinatod through the watch, following a path which, frankly, makes animate beaver people seem believable. Don’t you know all schools have an illicit rolex trade going on? But they’ve found her – but her finger has regrown! Damn, that puts a spanner in the works. But don’t worry, they find an actual finger print, have an exposition discussion with hubby and manage to save some guy from her clutches and arrest her. It’s a decent chase scene at least Presumably the whole missing/regrown finger issue will be explained away in court… somehow. Of course in prison – whether police holding cell or after this very very odd trial – she quickly ages.

 Oh and that meta I hoped for? Yeah, don’t get excited. The fridge repairman who was a beaver (an Eisbiber) creature who ran away from the scary Grimm has spread the word and now we have BEAVER KIDS EGGING HIS HOUSE! To this horror, Nick responds by running outside with a gun. A gun? Seriously? Is this not ever-so-slightly an over-reaction?

Nick is sad to be the monster under the bed, but, as Eddie points out, Grimms have been trying to wipe out most Vesen (we have a name for the monsters!) for centuries so what does he expect? I mean, really do you politely approach the potential killing machine and quietly check if he fits the stereotype or just stay away? Eddie, of course, brings the sense and snark. This leads to Nick going to the beaver folks house and menacing them to stop Vesen coming to his house. Aaaand that’s it. Meta-plot over. Yes, it's best that I don't describe my reaction here. Where is the meta-plot!?

I’m pleased that we’re going back to the nuanced representations of the early Grimm monsters – monsters that were more than just monsters and somewhat more sympathetic. But I feel that it wasn’t addressed very well or as deeply as it could have been. After all the tragedy of it – of such a premature death, of being forced to hunt and kill people and then feel guilty for it afterwards was never explored. And what about the daughter? Will she grow up and face death in, what, less than 10 years or have to start murdering herself? There was a lot here, a lot of heavy, in depth grey areas that could have been explored and weren’t.

Of course, the spidery menace has to be a woman. Spider villains are always always always women. It is known, it’s a rule. It being Grimm, of course, women serve 2 roles: victims to be saved by the big strong mens and occasionally monsters to put down. Sometimes we see some orbital love interest of one of the men who are victims or monsters, but that’s about it. In fact, the few female monsters probably count as a step up considering the amount of helpless victims there have been. We have exactly 2 recurring “characters” who are women – Juliette, who doesn’t even show every episode and we still know next to nothing about and the pathologist and it shows how much we’re scraping the base of this barrel that I call the pathologist a recurring character.