‘Grimm’ Review: ‘Trial by Fire’


A lot has happened since the fourth season of Grimm started last October. There have been Grimm repowering sex rituals and Wesen hate crimes, among other shenanigans, but I’m not sure the insanity of those occurrences will prepare you for the sheer visual force of the #BIESTFIGHT (their hashtag, not mine) that wraps up this episode. However, before we can get to that victory of choreography, special effects, and writing, we have a Wesen of the Week arsonist to handle. The episode isn’t called “Trial by Fire” for nothing.

So… about that arsonist. The episode opens with a couple of teenagers destined for an early demise goofing off on their job. They’re unaware that Gideon Emery, the guy who played Deucalion on Teen Wolf a couple of seasons back, is parading around in his underwear on the building’s bottom floor. Emery’s playing a guy named Damien Barso here. Barso is an Excandesco. These Wesen essentially have the ability to “Flame On!” like the Human Torch. It makes sense, then, that he would be strutting around mostly naked. Barso sets the place on fire, but the two kids are too busy making out in the boss’s empty office to notice until it’s too late. Flambéed teenagers, anyone?

Back at Nick and Juliette’s place, our hero and his lady love are still coping with that whole dead Manticore in their living room thing. Although she was totally badass and determined during her fight and when Nick got home, Juliette’s still a little squeamish. Although Juliette doesn’t want to know how Nick disposed of the body, she does want to know what Nick will do when Adalind finds out he’s a Grimm again. He essentially says he’ll off her, which is fair, considering she really deserves it. I can’t help but think his “One less Hexenbiest” line hits a little too close to home for Juliette though.

The next morning, Nick and Hank arrive at the scene of Barso’s crime. The investigators who arrived before them do all that “this is what happened” business, which includes explaining how the fire acted liked it had a mind of its own. Funny that, huh? Outside, the two detectives talk to John Harrison about his business. His annoying son Andy also cuts in. There’s a lot of sadness over the two dead kids, but Nick still thinks John probably hired someone to burn the place down. Back at the precinct, he and Hank do some research and find that the business filed for bankruptcy and had a fairly recent insurance policy tacked on. Definitely sounds sketchy to me. So sketchy, in fact, that the sheer stupidity of the act makes the older Harrison less suspect. They agree to look into the business’s lawyer, when Wu offers up his own suggestion for the case: talk to Peter Orson, the Bauerschwein arson investigator who murdered Monroe’s best Blutbad buddy Hap way back in the first season.

Meanwhile, in the Captain’s office, Renard is talking to his guy Sam about the whereabouts of Kelly and his daughter Diana. We find out she sold the car she was driving and that’s about it. There something not quite right about this guy, but Renard seems to trust him. To be fair, Renard isn’t the most trustworthy himself, though I feel like he’s really trying. Speaking of untrustworthy, Nick and Hank arrive at the prison to talk to Orson.  As much as I’ve wanted the show to revisit characters from old cases, this guy was never who I had in mind. Nonetheless, the show works him into this week’s case pretty organically, which is all you can ask for sometimes. We get some cool flashbacks and reflections on how much Nick has changed in the years since he helped put Orson away for murder. We also get sass from Orson when he’s asked for help. Although he might be useful on this case, I still think he’d be even more useful as bacon. Just saying.

Nick brushes off the sass and pushes forward with his agenda to get Orson’s help in collaring the arsonist.  They begrudgingly agree to pull him out of jail for this case and pretty soon their back in Renard’s office catching up on the case. My favorite thing about this sequence is how Orson finds out Hank and Renard know about the Wesen world. It’s another great nod to how much this show has developed since its early days. While Hank escorts Orson to comb over the details of his old case files on Barso, Nick and Wu head to the trailer where they figure out exactly what kind of creature they’re dealing with. The Excandesco entry in the Grimm diaries dates back to the time of the New Testament, wherein Peter and Paul anguish over their Christian brethren being tortured by a flame monster. Although they figure out what the arsonist is, there’s no clear way to stop him.

It’s a shame too, because Barso meets up with the Harrison family’s lawyer moments later. Yep, he was in on the arson. He informs Barso of what happened and his need to cover his tracks. One quickly begins to think while watching that not all lawyers are blessed with great intellect, because I think you, fellow viewer, and I can guess what happens next. Uh huh. Barso uses his crazy fire powers to cook the lawyer with a not so friendly hand to the throat. There’s screaming. There’s burn blisters. There’s Barso dramatically walking away while the car behind him explodes a little. You’ve got the whole shebang.

At the precinct, Orson’s ranting about the way every arsonist has a signature, including one particular pyro who used schnapps to get the fire going. When they’re talking about Barso’s mystery accelerant, Nick arrives just in time to share a picture of the Excandesco in full woge. It gets the ball rolling and they soon realize he produces it himself. Orson takes it a little further, noting the small amounts of phosphorus in most humans, which is clearly enhanced in your average Excandesco. They soon realize they will have to hit up Rosalee’s spice shop to find ingredients to cope with the excessive phosphorus. Nick, realizing what a horrible idea taking Orson to the shop might be, calls ahead and finds out Monroe is out. Nick and company then head down to prepare the concoction that could help them stop Barso.

While this week’s case has eclipsed that promised #BIESTFIGHT so far, we finally get our first visit with Adalind (and Viktor). She’s really eager to get to Juliette, but Viktor has more sneaky “diplomatic” means of handling things. Cue Sam. Yep, I knew Renard’s agent was suspect. I don’t know about you, but I hope he finds Kelly, just like he insists he will. I kind of want to watch Kelly beat his ass. Sadly, like with Orson, I don’t see any ass beatings for him in this episode. Speaking of Orson, he arrives at Rosalee’s shop with Nick. Rosalee is gung ho to help when Monroe arrives and the band-aid that poorly covers his feelings over Hap’s death is torn right off by seeing Orson in front of him. It gets pretty heated—no pun intended—with Orson gloating over the news of Angelina’s death and Monroe coming incredibly close to tear his little piggy face off. Nick almost leaves, but Rosalee stops him and proceeds to lay into her husband about the way Wesen treat other Wesen. Bree Turner kills this part. Although some of her judgments are pretty harsh, Rosalee isn’t wrong. At the same time, I get where Monroe is coming from. Orson murdered his friend and that’s not something you can just ignore. He ends up leaving in a huff, while Rosalee commits to stopping the arsonist.

Monroe’s anger doesn’t last for long though. He comes back after Rosalee has called out all of the ingredients and Nick and company have brought them to be mixed. However, before they can get going on their fireproof concoction, Nick gets the call about the dead lawyer. They leave and Monrosalee reconcile. It’s a nice little moment, even though I think both of them have justification for how they felt beforehand. Sadly, the scene shifts and we’re at the Harrisons’ home. While the dad, John, is a little pushy, his son Andy is insufferable. One is out of touch and the other is whiny, which makes them hard to root for. Still, I like John. He means well. Like Monrosalee, father and son have a fight which ends with Andy storming out. Once outside, he gets a call from Barso, who is at the scene of the murder he just committed watching the cops handle the situation. Yeah, he’s not a psychopath at all. Barso insists they talk, but Andy gets sassy and hangs up. That doesn’t seem like the smartest thing to do in this situation, but maybe that’s just me. Also, is anyone else totally unsurprised that this guy hired an arsonist after how he’s acted this whole episode? Not me.

Down below, Wu is yet again guiding Nick and Hank through a crime scene. We get a close up of the lawyer’s charred corpse and find out, thanks to Wu, that he had represented a younger Barso on a case many years before. Orson identifies Barso off of a picture from that case and then, looking up, spots him watching them. Before anything can come of it, the villain slips away. Nick and company soon realize Barso is wiping out anyone who can pin him to the accidental murders and assume his next target is John. Which proves to be true, but not for the “he hired the bad guy” reason they think. Nope. Barso gives John a call claiming to be an arson investigator and ropes him into coming down to his business. When Andy arrives home, his dad has already left and they have an awkward phone conversation that involves the son wanting to tell his dad in person what a horrible human being he is. I guess I’d want to do the same.

John arrives and Barso quickly gives up his cover, setting his hand ablaze and giving John ample reason wet himself. Andy prepares to meet up with his dad at the family store, but Nick arrives with Hank and Orson and all the pieces fall into place. Barso’s exposed and Andy confesses, but that doesn’t mean much with our half naked human fireball holding John hostage. Before the four men can head down to the store, Monrosalee give Nick a call about the fire proof goop they concocted to handle Barso. They all leave to face him. When they arrive at the store, Monrosalee pull out the water guns. You read that right. This week’s weapon of choice is a good old fashioned Super Soaker. Andy throws a fit about how silly that is because Barso is a killer and then says he’s going to go inside to get his dad. That Andy isn’t a particularly bright bulb.

Inside, Barso parades around in his underwear and taunts John. Now, I’m sure fans would prefer to see more Shirtless Rage from Renard or Nick lose a layer or two, but you’ll have to settle for this. Sorry, guys! To make things weirder, Orson pretends to be a cop and heads inside to distract Barso while Nick and Hank go to save the elder Harrison. It’s incredibly tense between the two Wesen, despite the fact Barso is in his briefs the entire time. Somehow, he’s still menacing. Once they free him, they lead Barso outside where he woges and the gang proceeds to douse him with their Excandesco extinguishing goop. Unable to set himself ablaze, he ends up exploding. Can’t say I feel bad for the guy. Later, when trying to explain what happened for a police report, Nick offers spontaneous combustion. Wu, proving how valuable he is yet again, suggests homemade bomb. Hell, it’s Portland. Maybe spontaneous combustion wouldn’t be so weird? Monroe and Orson also come to a begrudging understanding before the latter is shipped back off to prison. My favorite part of this case though? Nick putting one of those water guns inside the trailer’s weapon’s cabinet.

While the arson case creeps towards its conclusion, we get our first real tease of the impending #BIESTFIGHT when Juliette gets home and Adalind is there waiting for her in her car. After, we get Adalind knocking on the door. I really wish I understood what she was thinking, but to be fair, she doesn’t know Juliette is a Hexenbiest. Yet.  Adalind breaks in and taunts Juliette about depowering Nick and sleeping with him. Juliette retaliates with stuff about how Adalind will never get her daughter back. The war of words escalates and pretty soon that #BIESTFIGHT we were promised is in full swing. Adalind woges and flings a vase at Juliette, who freezes it and directs right back at her. Juliette throws Schade left and right, though Adalind gets her far share of blows in. It’s an incredibly exciting fight sequence, especially the part where Juliette telekinetically pulls all the knives out of the block in the kitchen and flings them at Adalind. They just miss. The horrified look on Adalind’s face after the beating she recieves is something I’ve been looking forward to seeing for a while now. I’m hoping this is just round one of the #BIESTFIGHT though. Juliette is more powerful, but less experienced. Adalind could be even more dangerous now that the element of surprise is off the table.

Speaking of surprises? Nick gets home a little while later to his once again battle damaged home. Unlike last week though, Juliette doesn’t cover up what happened. Sure, she’s just as snarky and blunt as when she handled the Manticore, but this time, there’s no cover up. It’s incredibly tense and awkward, but it only becomes more so when she woges and Nick flinches. His shocked face is the last thing you see, which only makes the five week hiatus that much more painful.

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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