Sunday, March 9, 2014

Grimm, Season 3, Episode 14: Mommy Dearest

“I am going off to a house
And entering it like a snake…
I will devour their babies
And make their hearts ache.”

Well that sounds cheery.

Apparently Adalind and Meisner aren’t in Austria any more, they’re in the Swiss Alps. And Adalind is giving birth to her evil royal monster baby. And Meisner can cope with many things, all kinds of monsters and angry royal families – but midwife he ain’t. He tells her to breath though, all TV tells you to tell pregnant women to breath. Presumably they forget if you don’t. It doesn’t help that her telekinesis throws things at him. The baby is born and Adalind woges – a hexenbiest again. Meisner tells Renard about Adalind’s new baby girl and Renard has a little happy smile. But Meisner’s going to have to camp for a while since the cabin is unreachable by car – and Adalind is hardly up to hiking.

When Adalind is asleep, Meisner covers her with a blanket and brushes her hair – which coils around his hand, the creepy baby watching him with creepy purple eyes. Did I mention creepy?

In Portland we have a happy couple including one very pregnant lady going to bed. Outside a monstrous thing – like Gollum with better self-esteem – crawls up a tree to her upstairs window, nudges open the sash and stick a super-long tongue inside. It creeps under the covers, into the bed and stabs into the woman’s pregnant stomach. She, rather understandably, screams. She pulls it off her and tries to crawl off the bed but the creature crawls inside to attack again. She manages to slash the creature’s tongue with a shard of poverty, driving it off, as a passing neighbour hears her screams and rushes to help.

She calls the police which is picked up by Wu and his partner (I don’t know whether to envy or pity Wu’s partner for all the snark he must endure) – and they rush into action especially since the pregnant woman, Dana, is Wu’s friend. They arrive and try to help Dana while the EMTs arrive, she manages to gasp “Aswang” (a Filipino vampire/were-wolf-like creature that eats foetuses). Wu is also there to hold her husband, Sam back and offer what comfort he can.

Wu greets Nick and Hank and they realise Wu knows the family – Wu’s a little off because Sam and Dana came to Portland at his recommendation. At the scene they see the obvious blood trail out the window, the tree the creature climbed – and the claw marks on the windowsill. The neighbour who rushed to help describes a “ticking” sound.

At the hospital it turns out the foetus is ok – but most of the amniotic fluid has been drained; but she will be fine and replace it. The doctor describes the wound and that it was surprisingly careful to do as little damage as possible – but beyond stem cell research has no idea what amniotic fluid would be for. They question Sam with Wu’s help but don’t get anything relevant; wu is clearly upset and they agree to keep him informed.

Hank goes to Nick and Juliette’s for dinner and she can’t tell anything from the claw marks – but the claws suggest Wesen and if it’s Wesen how do they keep Wu informed? Basically… lies.

When Sam is alone he calls home to Manila, to his brother to say “she is in Portland”. And he’s worried about Dana, though his brother thinks it’s inevitable and there’s nothing he can do. Sam woges – into the same kind of creature as attacked Dana – and asks his brother to find out where she is staying. She is presumably the attacker.

That night Wu dreams about being told about the Aswang as a child by his grandmother, then has a nightmare of one breaking through his window. Could this be the episode Wu is let in on the big secret? The next day he goes to see his cousin (who works in a restaurant) to double check the Aswang stories they were told with additional reminder that Aswang used a drug derived from a plant on their victims. Wu thinks whoever attacked Dana was playing a sick Aswang joke but doesn’t look so sure.

Hank and Nick go to see Dana, the doctor confirming she was drugged with valerian which also explains her spotty memory – which means she has little useful to add. But Wu seizes on the plant being used to drug her. In fact, Wu even comes close to telling Nick and Hank that a supernatural creature attacked Dana, but, of course he stops before saying something so ridiculous.

Instead Wu goes to see Sam (who has just got the location of “her” from his brother) and Sam is awfully twitchy when Wu asks about Valerian and is in too much of a hurry to hear his thoughts on the Aswang. Sam goes to the motel to see… his mother. She claims she wants a family reunion but adds that if he doesn’t help her, she dies within a month. The Aswang tradition is that the eldest son gives up their firstborn child so their mother can have a longer life – this is not a tradition Sam is eager to follow. He gives her a plane ticket and demands she returns to Manila or he’ll call the police. He leaves with her crying as she watches him go before she woges and tears the ticket in half.

Wu sees Dana at the hospital and is surprised Sam isn’t there since he said that was where he was going. He reassures Dana who is scared of going home and being safe. When Sam arrives, Wu is clearly growing very suspicious of the man and tension flares between them

To Grimm Trailer! Hank, Monroe, Nick and Rosalie (urging Nick to skip ahead to the “and I cut off his head” part, which amused me immensely. All Grimm stories end the same). They learn of the Aswang and a woman who was sold as a bride so her child could be sacrificed to prolong a life. It adds that the foetus must be a blood relative to the Aswang, the use of valerian root and a reference to the ticking sound.

Hank wants to tell Wu – but no-one else agrees, especially since Aswang are particularly unpleasant, maybe it’s better to start with a nicer Wesen. But Hank has been there, thinking he was losing his mind; hearing the truth isn’t the problem, seeing it and being unable to explain it is. He’s overruled by the others who don’t want to drag him into it

Back at the police station they tell Wu they’re looking for relatives and Wu tells them that Sam’s mother is in Portland. And Wu is troubled, he finally has to tell them about his suspicions of the Sam – and the Aswang myth; he thinks Sam is preying on Dana and making it seem supernatural. As he leaves, hank feels he has to say something – but Nick doesn’t follow. Hank gives him some vague reassurance about trusting his instincts.

Wu (whose first name is Drew – have we ever heard it before?) takes to staring at Dana’s house in paranoia. Dana prepares for bed – and Sam’s mother pulls up in a taxi. She goes behind a tree – then starts climbing up it, seen by Wu.

Hank and Nick search her hotel room (let in by the desk clerk) and find the ripped up ticket and find a jar of valerian root.

At Dana’s house, Sam’s mother knocks him down the stairs. She then goes into Dana’s room in human form to pretend to play nurse at Sam’s insistence. She soothes Dana to sleep – then woges. But downstairs Wu looks in the windows to investigate and finds Sam unconscious. He breaks in and checks on Sam – but then hears the ticking of the Aswang. He runs upstairs – and sees the Aswang over Dana. She leaps on him.

Hank and Nick arrive, Hank calling for paramedics for Sam (Hank is always the practical one). Nick runs up stairs and shoots the Aswang in the head, just as it’s about to seriously harm Wu. Wu has a little freak out in the corner as the dead Aswang transforms into Sam’s mother again. Nick works with Wu to slowly calm him down but he’s very very very badly freaked out and just keeps muttering “it wasn’t her” over and over.

The next day it seems Wu has checked himself into a mental hospital. Everyone’s all nice and smiley and they tell Wu he’s a hero for protecting Sam and Dana – and that his mother has a history of violent behaviour.

They’re still keeping the secret?

As they leave, Wu sees an Aswang attack him – a hallucination?

Ok, I am disappointed – only because I thought “mommy dearest” meant we were going to see Kelly again. Awesome character

There’s a horrible emotional situation – your mother or your child. Normally I’m against raiding foreign cultures for spare woo-woo and Grimm has had a habit of it – but in this case not only did they include a Filipino family but in part used it to develop one of their main cast members as well. While the family could have been instead as a kind of “justification” for the woo-woo, Wu has always been there and sorely in need of some development. There was also a fair amount of research into the legends rather than the standard “let’s take a werewolf and call it a wendigo” approach that we so often see. Which worked – but I don’t think their own family members being the threat, the man’s own mother, did so much even if it did create and powerful emotional conflict.

I loved that Hank was pushing for Wu to be told – because he is the human who has been where Wu is. More than the others who are part of the world, he knows what it’s like to see glimpses of it and not understand it – and how that not knowing causes him to doubt himself. It’s an interesting dilemma as to how much you pull someone into a supernatural world that is so risky and how much the risk is leaving them ignorant; but I think we can clearly say in Wu’s case it’s the latter. It’s not the first time the supernatural has touched him and now it’s very close and personal. Of course, explaining with words and no demonstrations isn’t easy – and you are inherently in a position of revealing other people’s secrets.

But when Wu checked into a mental hospital? Yes, that’s the time to tell him – past time. Seriously, how can they justify this? This goes to the very core of Hank’s criticism – better to know the choice than to check yourself in for treatment you don’t need. Yes, it’s dangerous, yes, keeping it from him would have been preferable – but the ship has sailed. He now knows. The only choice now is to see him risk his life and health and career OR step in and tell the truth. And the longer they wait the more horrendous it will be.