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‘Grimm’ Review: ‘El Cucuy’

GRIMM -- "El Cucuy" Episode 305 -- Pictured: David Giuntoli as Nick Burkhardt -- (Photo by: Scott Green/NBC)

After an unwelcome week off from Grimm adventures and Wesen shenanigans, Grimm is back with “El Cucuy.” Similar to the previous episode “One Night Stand,” the show goes all procedural on us and opens with a crime in progress. Namely, a young convenience store clerk being assaulted by two masked robbers.

To emphasize what horrible human beings the robbers are, they tear their masks off as they drive away laughing. The scene jumps to a news broadcast about the robbery before jumping to the anguished cries for justice by the young man’s mother. The scene then shifts again—following the moon—to a room where the clawed hand of a clearly angry creature watches the news and wrecks the upholstery of the chair in which it sits. All I can think is, “Do they make Wesen scratching posts?”

Back at Casa Grimm, an anxious Juliette is pacing back and forth in front of that ominous email from the mysterious M.  Nick returns and finds her in nervous girlfriend mode and professes his lack of secrets. Of course, he has one more. In a fantastic use of the show’s mythology, Nick spills the beans about his mother being alive, saving his life, and also being a Grimm. For a show that moves from week to week in a procedural/freak of the week hybrid format, Grimm still knows exactly how to develop the back story and highlight previous moments for new viewers while also adding more depth to its mythos. These scenes were also great for showing why Nick and Juliette fit together the way they do. I know she’s gotten a lot of stick from fellow Grimmsters, but the character—especially this season—is so much more than a damsel in distress.

Diverting from Portland from a moment, Adalind is getting an ultra sound in Austria. The doctor hears two heartbeats and quickly explains it away, but I think we all know there’s some Wesen weirdness is going on. Sebastian, meanwhile, is on Adalind’s trail. Much later on, we see that Renard is privy to what’s going on, but the Royal baby storyline is still working at a slow burn.

Back in Portland, yet another convenience store is being robbed by those masked guys from the start of the episode. A little old lady and a few other folks make it out before they get there, but the two men make quite a mess. Laughing as they race back to their car, the robbers finally get their comeuppance. And it’s a rather messy comeuppance at that. The clawed creature—also from earlier—seems to have found its target and proceeds to shred one of the robbers. Plenty of scary noises and blood splatter follow. The other guy tries to get away, but the mystery creature quickly dispatches with him too. Even though it’s pretty nasty, I don’t feel even a little bad for those guys. They were jerks.

That said, even if jerks are getting dismembered, it’s still kind of a crime. So, Nick and Hank are there to see what’s going on. After talking to the crime’s sole witness, Nick checks out the robbers’ car, which gives away the fact that the dead guys were responsible for the robbery moments ago. Said robbery is their next crime scene; once they arrive we get to enjoy Reggie Lee expertly sling some snark as Sergeant Wu. After watching the surveillance tapes in the back, our intrepid representatives of the Portland PD compile a list of possible witnesses—including Mrs. Garcia, the aforementioned little old lady, and a guy who suggests a tough guy in their neighborhood who fights dogs.

Meanwhile, Juliette is back at Casa Grimm doing a little detective work of her own; she’s runs the IP address from Nick’s mom’s email message. This drive to be useful shows that Juliette isn’t the clueless amnesiac she was last season.  I, for one, couldn’t be happier about it. Bitsie Tulloch is really taking hold of every scene they give her this season, and the ones here are no different. Later, after Nick gets home from questioning he witnesses, an overly caffeinated Juliette spills the beans about her play at being Nancy Drew. Nick’s mom is smack dab in the middle of Slovenia. Juliette and Nick brainstorm what might be going on, but they’re only left with the assumption that his mom is heading to Greece.

The next morning, things are hopping at the precinct. Hank found out the man with the dogs—Ray Bolton—had connections to the two men slaughtered following their robbery. Nick and Hank find their way to Bolton’s place of residence, where he proceeds to be a complete ass.  When the police declare they’re taking his dogs to be tested, he woges and reveals to Nick that he’s a Höllentier. Despite realizing he’s a Grimm and already knowing he’s a cop, Bolton attacks Nick. Of course, Nick makes quick work of the guy and he’s taken in with the dogs. I must say, Bolton is one of several one shot characters this week I find insufferable. Another, David Florez, is a marine with PTSD who antagonizes the police throughout the episode.

Monrosalee provide a welcome break from the annoying day players. Because Monroe is busy working out, Rosalee answers the phone to find her boyfriend’s mother on the other side. This, although mostly irrelevant to the episode’s storyline, is incredibly welcome. Cute scenes are sometimes needed to balance out the throat slashing ones. Monroe’s mom seems thrown by Rosalee being on the line. I’m pretty sure this scene is setting up what’s to come for our favorite Wesen couple. The break is all too brief, unfortunately, as we return to the precinct with Nick and Hank interrogating Bolton. There’s a lot of back and forth, but Bolton’s claims about his dogs being innocent prove true. Bolton, however, remains insufferable.

Fortunately, one of my new favorite “the gang is all here” scenes follows. Nick, Juliette, Hank, Monroe, and Rosalee are all gathered at Monrosalee’s place. They’re passing around delicious food and crime scenes photos. Not a single one is fazed by the gore. Instead, they pass around artichokes and tabouleh and narrow down the possible suspects. Juliette nixes dogs altogether and Monroe asserts it couldn’t be another Blutbad. If these dinner parties become a regular shtick, I wouldn’t be mad. I love the way the characters interact and how normal the weirdness seems when they’re passing around a plate.

Elsewhere in Portland, a small busload of people is let out. The camera follows a woman, who nervously walks alone in the dark. Following after her from the bus were a Latino man and a bald guy. While the former startles her a little, he ends up wandering away. Baldie, however, lingers and proceeds to attack her. He doesn’t have much chance though. The mystery Wesen proceeds to shred the guy.  Nick and Hank are soon on the scene. They quickly realize this means Bolton is innocent, at least of these crimes. They talk to the dead guy’s potential victim, who explains what happened as best she can—including the episode’s first mention of El Cucuy.  Before Nick can return home to ask Juliette about El Cucuy, Florez harasses him and Hank. There’s a vibe at this point in the episode that suggests this guy might be the vigilante Wesen. Either way, he’s getting very tiresome, very quickly.

As they get ready for bed—Nick finally made it back home, clearly—he asks Juliette about El Cucuy. She proceeds to explain its origin as the Spanish boogeyman. The two fall asleep with plans to visit Juliette’s friend Pilar, who tells them of her experiences with El Cucuy. She explains how the cries of women in anguish can call El Cucuy, who will appear and take vengeance on the evil men that have necessitated it being summoned.  With this information available, Nick and Juliette head to the trailer, but they don’t find anything.  This scene does provide some pretty fun bonding between our hero and his girlfriend, who is really getting into this whole Grimm thing.

Back at the precinct, Nick, Hank, and Renard try to figure out what’s going on. When footage from the bus shows Mrs. Garcia was there with the third victim, Nick and Hank head to her place to pick her up for questioning.  Meanwhile, Florez—who had been attacked by Bolton earlier in the day—dons his dress blues and goes after the shady Höllentier. I don’t really feel much sympathy towards Florez’s character, but I’m still sort of relieved that Nick and Hank save the guy. When they take him back the car, they see that Mrs. Garcia is no longer there. Cue blood curdling screams. That seemingly harmless old lady? She’s El Cucuy and Bolton is dead. Unable to prove anything, the Portland police can do little but let her go. The episode ends with a purse snatcher going after her when’s walking home and her gleefully taking pursuit.

I have to say, I wouldn’t be mad if El Cucuy made a comeback in a later episode.  Her identity was a genuine shock when I first watched the episode, especially since I felt the writers were telegraphing the creature’s identity as Florez from a mile away. The episode also made great use of Bitsie Tulloch. Of the show’s main cast, her character has probably faced the sharpest barbs from fans, but this episode showed why Juliette is such a great character. That said, I’m hoping we get more character building moments for the other characters again soon. Rosalee is in dire need of fleshing out still and I’m still curious about Nick’s death state, which wasn’t touched on at all this week.  I understand the importance of developing characters within the framework of a single episode narrative, but I’d much rather have my request fulfilled than deal with characters like Florez and Bolton again.

Kenneth Lane
An occasionally ridiculous human being who will talk your ear off if you let him, recently earned his Master of Arts in English. While figuring out what he’s doing next, he’s dealing with his self diagnosed pop culture hoarding problem.

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