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Grimm, Ep. 3.16, “The Show Must Go On” a fun, though defanged, world-builder

Grimm, Ep. 3.16, “The Show Must Go On” a fun, though defanged, world-builder

Grimm S03E16 promo image

Grimm, Season 3, Episode 16: “The Show Must Go On”
Written by Marc Gaffen & Kyle McVey
Directed by Paul A. Kaufman
Airs Fridays at 9pm EST on NBC

This week, on Grimm: Monroe and Rosalee stage an intervention, Adalind continues her flight, and Wu’s back on duty

Grimm continues its recent streak of entertaining, thoughtful episodes with “The Show Must Go On”, a mostly standalone episode that explores a new corner of the Wesen world, the sideshow. Adalind continues her flight from the clutches of Prince Viktor, who is improving as an antagonist but needs a slight tweak up into cackling villain mode to become truly memorable, and talk resumes of the coming Monroe/Rosalee wedding, but for the most part, this week’s episode explores the seedy underbelly of On-Demand woging.

The notion that Wesen can be psychologically harmed by continual woging is interesting and fits in nicely with their usual non-woged states. Wesen physiology and the history of Wesen evolution are intriguing mysteries lurking around the edges of the show and having details like this meted out in a natural, unforced way does a lot to keep the audience engaged. Is the woge state an unnatural one for Wesen, hence its eventual potential for harm? Did Wesen originate as humans who evolved to be compatible with various friendly bacteria that prompt differing woge states and abilities, not dissimilar to the virulent woge-ish prompting Grausen?

A major success of the series is that it can prompt these questions without feeling beholden to them. Its fairy tale tone and setting gives viewers an immediate reference point and willingness to buy in to unexplained phenomena and its main characters are not overly inquisitive in nature, so it feels natural to leave many questions about the Wesen world unexplored. When these do come up however, often prompted by the more scientifically-inclined Juliette, Monroe and Rosalee have answers and give them simply, demystifying the entire process and keeping the audience from clamoring for more- too much information could quickly ruin the magic and making sure these aspects of Wesen history feel relatable, rather than secretive or tantalizing, keeps viewers from feeling like they’re missing a piece of the Grimm puzzle.

Grimm S03E16 promo imageWhile the carnival is fun and features likable actors and neat returning Wesen, there are a few issues. The tonal shift upon Rosalee’s audition at the carnival is palpable and effective, but comes out of nowhere. Had this theme of exploitation and dread been present from the first scenes, it would have given the episode an interesting, unsettling undercurrent. Instead it feels like business as usual, until Rosalee becomes involved. Bree Turner handles these scenes well, making the objectification and mistreatment of Rosalee by the ringleader disquieting without ever letting her feel victimized. But as soon as Rosalee’s out of the equation, and the rest of the performers take out the ringleader, there’s no implication that they’ll get out of this seedy business. There’s no sense that they should- it’s fine for the audience to ogle them, just not Rosalee; this tonal disconnect is jarring and undercuts the apparent message of the middle section of the episode.

The reveal of the Blutbad’s innocence in the initial crime is also a disappointment, simplifying and tidying this potentially murky situation. It’s an easy out and one this reviewer would have thought the Grimm writers would’ve been better than to take. With Nick’s moral shifts over the course of the season, from Boy Scout last year to executioner this year (in “One Night Stand” and, presumably by proxy, “Twelve Days of Krampus”), the question of what to do with a Wesen who has attacked out of sickness, rather than malice, seems right up Grimm’s current alley. Apparently not. We’ll see how much the show, and the characters’, morality continues to shift as we approach the end of what has been a comparatively strong and consistent season. Perhaps things aren’t headed to as dark a place as the start of the season implied.

Kate Kulzick