A Wesen freedom fighter seeks refuge in Portland, but it looks like he’s guilty of murder. Nick must choose whether to help him or turn him in.
Grimm Review, Season 1, Episode 18: “Cat and Mouse”
Written by Jose Molina
Directed by Felix Alcala
Airs Fridays at 9pm EST on NBC
Ever since “Three Coins in a Fuchsbau” revealed Hitler as not only a very bad person, but a Wesen (and not the nice meek, mousy kind – more the kind with sharp teeth and a surly attitude), I’ve been impatiently waiting for that revelation to be worked into the plot. This episode, my hunch is proved correct.
The angle which lets us into the inner workings of Wesen politics is the flight of a crusading journalist Ian Harmon (Neil Hopkins faking a Brit accent for extra authenticity) from a contract killer Hundjager (Sebastian Roché taking a break from shapeshifter duties on Fringe). Harmon seeks refuge with Rosalee, who calls in Nick (via Monroe, who is not thrilled to discover Harmon and his new girlfriend have history), which nicely sets up an opportunity for some exposition, as Harmon has to explain exactly who he’s on the run from and why.
Here’s where the writers have to play their cards carefully. Too much information and the audience will have to struggle to keep up, not enough and we’ll be confused. They also have to give us a picture of Wesen society that fits the overall feel of the show. They don’t disappoint. True to their medieval, Mittel-European roots, the Wesen are governed by seven Royal Houses (seven is a very Grimm number, cropping up as it does in many of the tales). Although the link isn’t made explicit, it also isn’t too much of a stretch to guess that Captain Renard, who wears tailored suits and an expression of pained nobility, is a member of this Wesen aristocracy. But that’s only part of the story. The Wesen also have political factions, the most odious of which is the Veratt and – guess what? – the Veratt believe in racial purity and summary executions. Just like the National Socialists did.
It’s a neat plot package. The ills of the human world can be placed squarely at the feet of the Veratt, who are constantly trying to worm their way into positions of power. Suddenly Nick’s job as a Grimm becomes not so much a bumped-up pest controller (which is where the Wesen-of-the-week shows seemed to be leading us) and more a force against Evil, which is really what we want him to be.
The bigger picture works splendidly and if I have quibbles they aren’t to do with this. They’re to do with the introduction of the Hundjager to the already full-to-bursting Wesen bestiary. We already have Blutbards and Klaustreichs and Skalengecks and Schakals – all capable of lunching on your insides should the mood take them. Do we really need another Wesen to take on hitman duties? And what happened to the Reapers? They went after Nick and Aunt Marie – aren’t they capable of taking out a fugitive Fuchsbau like Harmon?
This is what I mean about confusing the audience – sometimes less is more. And one final point – in the interests of making the Hundjagers scary enough (and differentiating them from the host of competing scary-Wesens) we’re treated to the tidbit of information that this Wesen is so brutal, it bites its way out of its mother’s womb. In which case what female Hundjager in her right mind is ever going to want to get pregnant? Sounds like the perfect contraceptive to me…