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‘Grimm’ Review: ‘Star-Crossed’

GRIMM -- "Star Crossed" Episode 509 -- Pictured: (l-r) Reggie Lee as Sgt. Wu, David Giuntoli as Nick Burkhardt, Russell Hornsby as Hank Griffin -- (Photo by: Scott Green/NBC)

The title “Star-Crossed” might make you think Grimm’s offering the Friday before Valentine’s Day is for the lover in you, but it’s not.  Although there are some moments, it’s just the slightest whiff of romance in the air this week, as Nick has to bring down a ritualistic serial killer while the folks over at Hadrian’s Wall work to find one of Black Claw’s nastiest agents. Who has time for love when homeless people are being crucified and Wesen social justice activists are being assassinated? Not our heroes, that’s for sure.

Before we dive into all of that though, the episode opens on Nick and Adalind. Remember how there’s a door in Nick’s new place that leads to secret tunnels and another locked door way at the other end? Well, Nick is on a mission to get that door open and Adalind is here to discourage him for his safety.  Their banter is easy and doesn’t feel forced. She doesn’t want something bad to happen and he wants to make sure they have an escape route in case something does. Nick works up a major sweat, but no amount of hammer banging or attempted wheel turning will get the door open.

While Nick and Adalind fudge around with the tunnel and the door, Trubel is back at the Hadrian’s Wall base identifying a mysterious figure on surveillance footage. The figure is a man linked to multiple terrorist actions used to cover up assassinations on the behalf of Black Claw. She’s concerned and passes that concern along to Meisner and Eve. Equally concerning to Meisner is finding out where Nick and the rest of his associates stand regarding the working Hadrian’s Wall is doing. That’s fair, I suppose. Based on the list of nightmares visited upon people when the mysterious assassin has visited their towns, they’ll need all the help they can get. Through the magic of television, Trubel appears at the Fortress of Grimmitude moments later and interrupts Nick’s failed door opening attempts to play Auntie to little Kelly and prod Nick about Meisner’s concerns and the Black Claw assassin.

Elsewhere, a man is dragging a wooden cross into what looks like an empty barn. Before you start asking questions about whether or not this is some weird Portland version of Crossfit, I can confirm this is involved with that aforementioned ritualistic serial killer. A mouthy gentleman appears to be digging a hole for the cross, but when he asks for money, a Wesen comes out of the shadows and rushes him. As far as Wesen of the Week capers go, I’m a little more disarmed than usual. The anonymous quality of the victim and his murderer deprives us of the ability to connect with the characters yet heightens the initial feeling of alarm. It’s just visceral. The next morning, we find out there’s a nasty drought in Portland. Some surveyors are checking out the farm where the abandoned barn is located and they head inside to find the corner of the property, only to find a man crucified instead. He’s been gored in the side and has fragments of a mirror in his eye sockets. It’s as gruesome as you’d expect. Of course, the surveyors call 911.

Meanwhile, things seem hunky dory with Monroe and Rosalee at the spice shop. That is until the phone rings and Rosalee finds out it’s the man from her past in Seattle on the other end of the line. She’s not happy and tells him, in no uncertain terms, to never call her again. Monroe grabs the phone and proceeds to throw in some choice words too, but the guy hangs up. I doubt that’s the last we’ll be hearing from him though. Nick shows up at the front door moments later. I guess “awkward timing” is on his list of Grimm powers. He makes the Hadrian’s Wall pitch, but Monroe and Rosalee are confused as to what officially helping them might mean. Nick seems surprisingly open, but Eve’s involvement makes Rosalee and Monroe protective of Nick and even more hesitant themselves. Before they can push the conversation fuller, Nick gets a call from Hank about the body in the barn. They all agree that they need to find out more about Hadrian’s Wall and then he leaves.

With creepy potential stalkers and personality swapped exes in the mix, someone has to keep the fires of real love burning. Apparently, that someone is Renard, who we find in bed with Rachel while they watch his finished campaign ad on television. Although I found their romance inevitable, I’m still unsure about her intentions. Renard is all shirtless, no rage here, so he’s rather pliable in her company.  Although she works for the Dixon campaign, it almost seems like she’s pushing for Renard to assume greater authority himself. If something happens to Dixon, who’s to say Renard wouldn’t take up his own campaign for mayor?

While we’re busy dwelling on politics and semi-nudity, Nick and Hank meet Wu at the barn where the body is still hanging on the cross. Nick notices a ring of the victim’s own blood encircling the base of the cross and Hank spots an upside down triangle carved into the back of the cross. If you think that sounds like the recipe for a ritualistic sacrifice, a trip back to the precinct and what looks like a Wikipedia surrogate confirms it. Wu comes in with information about the victim, but it’s pretty basic stuff about a homeless drifter. So far, nothing suggests a motive beyond the ritual being performed. Before they can continue on with digging into the case, Nick drops the Hadrian’s Wall bomb on Hank and Wu. As with Monrosalee, Hank and Wu are both hesitant due to the absence of information they have about the organization.  I don’t blame any of them. “Shady” is a good word to describe them, even if they are at war with Black Claw.

Since they can’t make any decisions yet, they all split up to find out more about the case. Sadly, when our heroes depart, they’re unaware that this case is about to get even messier. Yep, another unsuspecting professional—this time a realtor showing a property—stumbles upon another crucifixion.  At the precinct, Nick and Hank are questioning a friend of the first victim about the last time he saw him. He mentions the job he was doing—the one that got the guy killed at the start of the episode—but doesn’t have much else to offer. Wu calls in the newly found body and they find another ancient symbol for water. Sounds like time to check out some required reading in the basement of the spice shop.

While Nick and Hank hit the books, the Hadrian’s Wall gang are hitting Black Claw. Trubel and Meisner take out most of them, but Eve managed to restrain herself and they take a prisoner. Hey, we all have our own ways of finding information. In the spice shop basement, Nick and Hank get a lesson in ancient Wesen rain rituals from Monroe and Rosalee. Considering the drought and the water symbols, it all starts making sense. Apparently, the ceremony is one performed by an ox-like Wesen called a Fuilcré, which also makes sense, considering how the victims are gored to death. However, Monroe explains that the ritual died out because Grimms would kill entire families involved in its practice. He then whips out one of the books, containing images of the runes associated with the ritual as well as some of the history. Unfortunately, it’s in written in what Monroe calls “middle Irish.” However, they have Rosalee, who, to even her husband’s surprise, translates with little effort. I enjoyed the hell out of seeing her drop knowledge on the guys. The book indicates that seven of these murders must take place to complete the ritual. Nick, as savvy as ever, realizes the wood used to make the crosses is very particular and would have to be ordered in a great amount, so it looks like a tour of the lumberyards of Portland is in order.

However, before they can start looking about, they need to do some preliminary work at the precinct. They confirm that the second victim was also homeless, which certainly sets up a pattern of easy access victims. Wu pops up moments later with information about a suspicious lumber order and away they go. At the lumberyard, a bearded gentleman named Duncan explains how he would never give away customer information over the phone, but knowing that they are, in fact, cops, he opens his records and gives them a name: “Mark Holloway.” They end up at the Holloway farm, where they meet a young man named Jonathan who explains that Mark is his dad. When they meet Mark, he explains how the particular lumber in the measurement they’re looking for had been stolen. While that seems rather suspect, Mark doesn’t help his case when he woges after seeing a picture of the crime scene. You guessed it; he’s a Fuilcré. He charges at Nick after realizing he’s a Grimm, but our hero does a leg sweep and Mark goes flying. While he certainly seems questionable, no procedural worth its salt reveals its mystery killer halfway through the episode. There’s something more going on here.

Nick and Hank arrest Mark; back at the precinct, Mark is all denials. He only lunged at Nick because he assumed Nick was going to kill him. Hank hits Mark pretty hard with a motive, which gets Mark talking a little bit more. Apparently, a man named Donald showed up at his farm pitching a return to Wesen tradition. I’m not sure his words were “Make Wesen Great Again,” but they could have been, if you catch my drift. Mark wasn’t interested in a return to the old ways and threw away the propaganda the man gave him. Pushing further, Nick shows him the symbol of Black Claw and he instantly recognizes it from the flier. Nick and Hank take this information to Renard, who brings some necessary practicality to the situation. There’s no way they’re going to convict the man without physical evidence. On top of that, they don’t know if the two victims they’re dealing with are the first two or the last of the seven sacrifices. I guess the afterglow from the morning has worn off. Ritualistic serial killers can do that to a guy.

Back at Nick’s place, he and Adalind are talking about the case. He doesn’t say much, but she pretty quickly realizes he’s talking about a Fuilcré ritual. When Nick asks her how she knows, the discussion escalates. She explains that Fuilcré religion heavily involved the stars. The plow isn’t just some arbitrary thing, but the shape of the constellation we call Ursa Major or the Big Dipper, but called the Plough in the Irish region that the ritual is spawned from. As with Rosalee earlier, Adalind gets to flex her intellectual muscles and provides incredibly valuable information. Nick realizes that the arrangement of where the bodies are found likely take the shape of the constellation, he doesn’t, however, know where Adalind gets her knowledge of Wesen rituals from. “Homeschooling,” she says.

While these sacrificial murders are taking place, the guys over at Hadrian’s Wall are interrogating the Black Claw agent they captured earlier. He’s not very cooperative with Meisner or Trubel, but Eve steps up to the task quite capably. Because he won’t talk, Eve uses her powers to seal his mouth shut, followed by blinding and deafening him in the same way. It’s a gruesome act of torture and the others seem like they would pull out a bag of popcorn to watch if they could. As disturbing as the whole scenario is, it definitely amps up what Eve can do. She’s not messing around. After giving the guy a little time to wallow in his thoughts, Eve returns and restores his ability to hear, see, and speak. He’s more than ready to spill his guts after this. He can’t identify the dangerous Black Claw agent they’re looking for by name and doesn’t even know he’s in Portland, but he does know he acts as a courier and makes whatever they want done happen. In this case, he’s delivering to Petrovich, the Black Claw leader who popped up a few episodes ago. Meisner and Trubel soon depart to let Eve extract any further information that might be of use.

While everything else was going on, the killer claimed a third victim. This clears Mark for the crimes, but it also potentially gives the gang a way to predict and prevent the remaining sacrifices. They had to the spice shop, where they use an overlay of the Big Dipper and a map marked with the sites of the murders so far to figure things out. It takes a bit, but Rosalee ends up providing the reference point necessary to pinpoint the locations of the other four murders. They quickly call in police in the region with notices of “ritualistic serial killer.”

Once Mark is free, he comes home to find out his son Jonathan is at that Donald guy’s extremist Wesen rally. I’m not going to lie; the social and political parallels of this rally to what’s going on in the real world are unnerving. Also unnerving? Duncan, the guy that Nick and Hank met at the lumberyard, is at this event. Monroe also makes a surprise appearance, though he’s clearly spying on them. Mark, incredibly displeased with his son, tries to drag him out of the horde, but he’s followed by two obvious unfriendlies.

At the precinct, Nick and company start taking calls from local police, none of them bearing good news. Three more bodies are found at the locations. Meanwhile, Monroe calls in with intel from his Wesen hate group spy mission. The leader’s name is Donald Jones, but that’s all Monroe can provide before Mark and Jonathan are outside and followed by those other two gentlemen. While Mark tries to reason with his son, Jonathan won’t listen.  The two men try to prevent Mark from retrieving his son a second time and Jonathon just watches as they beat up his father. Monroe busts it up, but all I can say is I hope Mark kicks that kid out of his house.

With all of the calls coming in, the final location—the cemetery is murder free—at least momentarily. The killer is preparing his final sacrifice, a wailing old man, to finish the cycle. Nick and company cut it close, but they open fire on the Fuilcré as he cries out “Occultatum libera!” When he hits the ground, it’s neither of the Holloways, but Duncan from the lumberyard. It’s a bit Shyamalan by way of Grimm, but it works. He recites the passage about blood flowing like water and then he’s kaput. Poor Mark was clearly being framed by the guy. When Nick and Hank get back to their car to reflect, it begins to rain. The drought is over and Nick will have none of Hank even suggesting the possibility of a successful Fuilcré rain ritual. I don’t blame him. While that case is over, there are at least four or five dangling threads left to tug at after this week. Is it Friday yet?

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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