Sunday, May 6, 2012

Grimm: Season 1, Episode 20: Happily Ever Aftermath

“And they lived happily ever after.”

We begin with Mr. Adacoff – facing arrest for fraud and embezzlement, shooting himself. One of the men defrauded, Arthur seems rather perturbed – especially since his wife, Lucinda, doesn’t realise their money isn’t secure and is spending it. Everything he had was in Adacoff’s hands and he turns to his friend, Spencer, for advice. He goes to his wife’s step-mother for money but she’s far from receptive (not that I can entirely blame her).

Spencer is most displeased with the step-mother and regards the money she has as being owed to Lucinda since the step-mother married Henry, Lucinda’s rich father. As Lucinda’s godfather, he is determined to help her.

That night, the step-mother is attacked by a monster under her bed which then chases her, screams at her and the scream both shatters glass, causes her to bleed from her eyeballs and fall off her upper balcony. Of course, the bleeding eyes could be from the site of the awful costume and the throwing herself of the balcony could be the actress declaring “no, I refuse to be part of a show that thinks third rate Hallowe’en costumes make for good monsters”. Ok, I normally reserve the snark for the end, but really, early Doctor Who episodes had better quality monster costumes

One of the step-mother’s daughters, Tiffany goes to the house to check on her and finds the body – time for Nick, Hank and Wu to race into action. Clearly not an accident – claw marks and exploded eyeballs after all as well as the massive amounts of shattered glass. Interviewing Tiffany and Taylor (the other sister) they’re quick to point the finger at Arthur.

At Arthurs they talk to him, Lucinda and Spencer – who is a Murcielago, a bat Wesen. They agree to come to the precinct but want a few minutes alone first – because leaving your prime suspects alone to make sure they’ve got their stories straight is such a great idea.

After much questioning and police rambling it seems the money all goes to the step-sisters, none of it to Lucinda. Which seems odd – except Lucinda decides to go visit Tiffany alone – and she’s a Murcielago as well – and not a happy one.

Nick and Eddie do some research and find some info on the Murcielago (as a nice aside, we also see that these creatures also have different names in different languages – so all the German Wesen is not because they all have origins in Germany, but that Nick’s research and Eddie do) and the way to fight one is to use a kind of siren – which Nick has in his collection of weapons. It’s a new toy and yes, they love it – these 2 are such fun when they’re together

Nick naturally goes looking for Spencer – and Arthur and Lucinda direct him to Tiffany’s house where spencer has just arrived in time to see Tiffany’s body, killed by Lucinda of course. Nick finds Spencer and arrests him.

We do have a great moment in the interview room though  - Spencer says he knows who Nick is and Nick knows who he is so there’s no need for games – except Hank is in the room and knows nothing, though he quickly backtracks in response to Nick’s eye-flicks (damn, sooo close. That was really well done). He confesses, naturally, to the murders to protect Lucinda. Hank asks how he did it… which is awkward so he tells the truth – he can make high pitched screams that kill people. Hank is… dubious. When he leaves he can tell Nick the truth - Lucinda has no conscience and she is only controlled by getting what she wants – and she’s the one behind the deaths.

Hank gets the same idea by checking the will showing that Taylor is the only thing that stops Lucinda inheriting – when a high pitched scream rocks the police station – Spencer has escaped by screaming and shattering the windows of the interrogation room.

Everyone to Taylor’s house to play rescuer – Nick, Hank and Eddie (with the siren) driving Lucinda out into Spencer’s arms who screams her to almost death… not quite enough since she bites him and rips out his throat.

Nick, meanwhile, is dreaming about his dead parents and what he learned about them. Some angsty conversation with Juliette about his parents and his aunt and Juliette offers to do some research about their deaths. Because the police detective needs the vet to do his investigating. She gets in touch with the detective who handled the case of his parents death and asked him to contact Nick

He does and tells Nick that a year after his parents’ death, the case was reclassified as a murder, there were 4 suspects, 3 of whom were Schakahl thieves seen (and are dead) and the last Akira Kimora who we haven’t seen yet.

It’s a staple in fairy tales, but the evil, greedy, grasping step mother is a trope that is so overdone. And it rather ignores the sense of entitlement that is well covered here – Lucinda is owed the money? Why? She hasn’t earned it – she’s owed the money for having the good luck to have a rich father – and then trust her husband and her husband’s investor to lose her money? Why is Lucinda more entitled to said money than Henry’s wife? Why is Henry’s wife not entitled to the money? And the step-mother’s motives (Lucinda and her husband have been together a year but not invited her to visit – they’re hardly close) for not wanting to be a rescue bank reasonable, albeit harsh? The bitter step-sisters and cruel step-mother being mean to the beautiful, pure sister is tired, shaming and full of entitlement and blame.

And Spencer describes Lucinda as “Arthur’s responsibility” (as she was Spencer’s after Henry died) and that he shouldn’t “let” her run off alone. The paternalism, the control and the infantilisation and comodifying of Lucinda is extreme. The sad thing is, Lucinda’s murderous behaviour is presented as the reason for such control – but the language used isn’t “other people have to be kept safe” but that the menfolk are responsible for the woman.

And we have another black man on Grimm! Serving and sacrificing for the white woman. It’s moments like this that makes erasure not seem so bad. Of course Hank remains but is, again, a barrier to investigation not an asset

We do have a brief but pointed comment about class - the wealth and political connections of the step-sisters makes them untouchable without an extremely strong case. It didn’t need belabouring the message about the privilege of power and connection was clear and nicely inserted.

Now to Lucinda. Lucinda is a murderer because she has no conscience - this is the common and simplistic description of a sociopath or psychopath. Now, sociopathy has a really bad reputation - and like most mental illnesses, a very unfair one. The vast majority of sociopaths aren't dangerous but the media has largely painted them as a defacto villain (one of the reasons why "psychopathy" isn't particularly well used now because the term has become almost synonymous with "vicious serial killer". To clarify and repeat - the majority of sociopaths are not violent - but it's a reputation that dogs them especially since old fashioned legal definitions of what might be considered violent, criminal insanity often include the term "psychopath".