Grimm season 2 episode 8 review: The Other Side

Review Frances Roberts 22 Oct 2012 - 07:16

Grimm dabbles with some dark themes in this week's so-so episode of the fantasy drama. Here's Frances' review...

This review contains spoilers

2.8 The Other Side

Eugenics. Dissociative Personality Disorder. Genocide. If Grimm wasn’t so steadfastly shallow, things could have taken a really dark turn this week.

Not that Grimm’s a stranger to darkness - its episodes are chocka with gory murders and the black arts - but it’s all rendered with such a glossy sheen and untroubled belief in good and bad, it only ever skims the surface of the world it’s created. The show’s version of evil is easily identifiable and easily bested, and whenever the really difficult questions come up, Grimm leaves them largely unprobed.

Take Nick’s ancestors for instance. From one perspective - theirs - they’re heroes, but from another - the Wesen’s - they’re monsters. Perhaps it’s because Thanksgiving is approaching with all its concomitant colonial guilt, but this week’s story of the peace-loving Galapagos Wesen being wiped out by a Victorian Grimm opened an interesting ethical can of worms, but one that the show’s unlikely to explore to any satisfaction.

Similar was the story of Pierce Huggins, whose mother had performed some genetic jiggery-pokery in a bid to breed out some of their ancestors’ pushover qualities. By splicing in a dash of cut-throat Löwen to her unborn turtle-baby’s gene mix, the hope was to make him tougher, but instead he became a Jekyll and Hyde victim to his other murderous self.

It was a potentially meaty development for the world of Grimm, and begged questions about how far personality traits are determined by species, and what the various combinations of Wesen genes (we’ve seen plenty of intermingled couples throughout the show’s run, not least Rosalee and Monroe) could potentially produce.

The story of Portland’s very own half-blood prince, Sean Renard, and his half-Wesen heritage ran parallel to that of poor Pierce, and the existence of both hybrid boys raises tantalising questions about Grimm’s central mythology. Are we going to see those questions explored, contextualised, or even given a second thought though? Based on previous form, it seems unlikely, which is what can often make Grimm such a frustrating watch, and further convinces that inside it is a really great series if only it demonstrated a firmer grasp on the mystical world it’s created.

Leaving frustrations aside, this week saw the welcome return of new series regular Claire Coffee as Adalind, who was engaging in some weapons-grade flirtation with Captain Renard’s brother Eric (24 and True Blood’s James Frain) in his Viennese CGI castle.

Oddly, in a call-back to Monroe and Rosalee’s mutual appreciation society a couple of weeks ago, Adalind and Eric’s second scene was scored by Austrian zither music. If Grimm is ever cancelled, at least we fans now know what our equivalent of sending the Veronica Mars Bar or the Chuck Subway Sandwich to the network will be: Austrian er, zithers…

While Nick and Hank were dealing with academic decathletes being offed with the regularity and drama of trains departing a station, Captain Renard was battling some very disturbing urges vis-à-vis Juliette. That magical gloop he imbibed a few weeks ago must have worn off by now, as sneaking in to watch Juliette shower and lamping innocent bystanders won’t have struck anyone as particularly pure of heart. Seeking a potion-based solution to his obsession with Juliette, Renard came a callin’ in Monroe and Rosalee’s spice shop, knitting another tantalising connection between Grimm’s main players.

The Other Side also introduced us to clumsy intern Ryan (Michael Grant Terry, formerly of Bones), who says he’s been enthusiastically following Nick and Hank’s progress since the season one premiere. So far, Ryan’s purpose seems to be to provide comic relief, but wouldn’t it be great if Grimm surprised us and turned out to be a player in all this Royal family/Reaper rigmarole? Fingers crossed.

Read Frances’ review of last week’s episode, The Bottle Imp, here.

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