This Week on TV, Apr. 1, 2017

Spoiler Alert!

A fairly interesting week, this was. On the one hand, we said our final good-bye to Grimm, and the finale… well, it could have used some refining, but they certainly ripped our hearts out. Arrow delivered the best episode they’ve had in a few seasons. As for Once Upon a Time, well…

Last week I said they kept buying one more week of my patience, and last week’s episode was fairly well done. However, that week of patience apparently ended before I got to this week’s episode. I have to say, I am simply tired of it. Perhaps I am jumping ship right when it could be critically improving, but I’ve had that hope before and been let down. I am calling it.

I am officially dropping Once Upon a Time from my weekly lineup. I may still follow the show, but not every week, and certainly without further commentary.

Arrow

5.18 “Disbanded”

It has finally happened.

Arrow has, at long last, achieved the high level of quality that we saw in the first two seasons. So says Merlin. 😛

It would have been a whole lot better if we hadn’t had to wade through another two seasons and some change to get there, but I will take what I can get! 🙂

From the beginning of the show, Ollie has had ties to the Bratva, and he has used them. That relationship has been strained at times, but it is in this episode that it breaks. The bond between Ollie and Anatoly is finally, utterly, irreversibly… severed.

So, of course, the flashback tells the story of their last days in Russia. After defeating Gregor and Kovar – though the latter is still alive, unbeknownst to the two of them, courtesy of Malcolm Merlyn – Ollie intends to take everything he has gained and learned and go home, to save his city. He intends to return to the island, Lian Yu, so he can be rescued and handily explain away the last five years of his life to everyone. He has two days left before his departure, though, and Anatoly hopes to persuade him to stay.

Can’t really blame Anatoly on that. After Gregor’s corruption and the miniature war with Kovar, Anatoly has just taken over a bruised and broken Bratva, with all the demands of rebuilding coming down on his shoulders, and Ollie is the strongest ally he has left. So, he shows Ollie what he wants to do with the Bratva: he wants to take them back to their roots, to help people. They steal medicine for a number of children suffering from tuberculosis, saving their lives. Anatoly’s hope was that this might convince Ollie to stay and help him, but Ollie is firm: each of them needs to save their own home. Anatoly regrets that, fearing what he might become as head of the Russian mafia without Ollie to support him, but he respects his friend’s wishes. So they spend their last night together getting terribly drunk.

Heh. Comrades. Always good for getting drunk together, or whatever equivalent of that you prefer. 🙂

Back in the present, things are not going nearly so well.

Ollie has been so utterly broken by Chase that he disbands the team. He shuts it all down, locks everything up, tells them to stand down for good. Naturally, and fortunately, they do not listen, because he does not run their lives, and even if he did… well, he’s not thinking clearly right now. Either way, they have no obligation to do as he says.

Chase, of course, is strutting around, and makes it clear to Ollie that he still isn’t done. He’s tortured and broken Ollie, but there’s more still to come. But Ollie already knew that. He simply gave up on himself and decided to take all the darkness onto his own soul. That’s why he disbanded the team, to protect their souls from the act of killing Adrian Chase. Ollie can’t do it himself, of course, Chase has seen to that. But as Ollie is at his lowest point, he calls on an old darkness: the Bratva. He summons Anatoly to Star City, to send a small army after Chase, and do so while he’s still playing the part of DA and doesn’t have his weaponry at hand.

The cost of this is high indeed. In exchange for ensuring Chase’s death, the Bratva will have a foothold in Star City. It starts with stealing medicine, but not to help people as they did before. This time, they’re knocking over a business that was barely hanging on, stealing diabetes medication, which is when they run afoul of Team Arrow, now consisting of Digs, Dinah, Curtis, and Rene. The two groups part peacefully, but everyone on both sides is furious.

It turns out, in the five years since Ollie departed Russia, Anatoly’s position as head of the Bratva has not gone as he once hoped. He has become a worse version of himself, and his footing is unsteady. He hopes to make his position more certain with a new drug, one even worse than heroin, and which is made by combining two medicines. Ollie’s retirement from the hood and return to the Bratva are just the break Anatoly needs, and if he fails, it could cost him everything. So, he is most determined to see this through.

The Bratva and Team Arrow collide a second time when Digs, determined to save Ollie from this terrible mistake, intervenes to prevent them from killing Chase. Anatoly is furious at the interference, the Team is furious at what Ollie’s doing, and Ollie is furious that they aren’t backing down. He’s tried to end the crusade he began, he’s broken up with Susan – never liked her, but still a heart-rending decision – and he’s brought in the Bratva to end Chase, and all of this to try and protect the souls of his teammates. He’s trying to think of them, having given up on himself, but they won’t give up on him.

Last episode saw Ollie sink to his lowest. This episode is about the long fight to get back up.It takes at least three arguments with Digs, but Ollie finally gets that little, defiant spark of light back. He gets up, and starts fighting again, starting with stopping the mess he just made with the Bratva. The Team stops the robbery in progress, involving the rescue of a number of hostages, and it’s tragic to see the bond between Ollie and Anatoly break.

Anatoly once wanted the Bratva to serve the people as they once did. Instead, he became a typical gangster, stealing medicine to create terrible drugs, holding hostages and ordering their deaths. The two men stand against each other now, brotherhood broken. Ollie refuses to kill him, setting off the alarm instead so the Bratva have to retreat, but the damage is done. Former allies are now enemies, and the Bratva will remember this grudge.

Meanwhile, Felicity has doggedly pursued Chase’s trail with the help of Helix. If Ollie and the Bratva can’t kill Chase, she intends to do something about it herself. Helix is able to find footage of Chase taking off his Prometheus mask, but he’s using a state-of-the-art scrambler to hide his face in such situations. They try undoing the scrambling, but they need the actual device. Fortunately, Curtis managed to steal it right off Chase in the midst of fighting off the Bratva. So now they simply need another piece of technology from the company that made the scrambler, which they steal while the Team is dealing with the Bratva. With that, they’re able to unveil Chase to the entire world. He’s outed.

Having been put in protective custody after the Bratva attack, Chase could have been arrested by the very same marshals were were guarding him. Unfortunately, he’s a deadly, dangerous individual who kills the both of them and escapes before the SCPD arrives, whistling a merry little song as he vanishes into the city.

All in all, this was an emotional, complex, action-packed episode, and it got Ollie back on his feet. He might not be wearing green again yet, but he’s back in the game, with a small, capable, trustworthy team behind him, and his enemy is exposed. Very well done.

Grimm

6.13 “The End”

You know, as much as I’ve enjoyed Grimm ever since I got into it, I have to say… I’m a bit on the fence about the ending. Endings are very difficult to get exactly right, ya know? Vampire Diaries managed to absolutely nail theirs, as did White Collar. By comparison, Grimm could have done a little better. Where the former two had fun rides with satisfying conclusions, Grimm had a fun ride and a somewhat lackluster conclusion.

They’ve always had some trouble tying things off, I notice. Most of the background features and the overarching plots just sort of fade away, like the Reapers, the Royals, the Resistance, Black Claw, Hadrian’s Wall, even the simple presence of the wesen community and the existence of other Grimms, it all fades away in time. Lots of loose threads, like they didn’t know how to really end any of it. That’s what I thought of by the end of this episode: they didn’t know how to end it.

Fresh off the heels of last episode putting a knife in our gut with the deaths of Hank and Wu, Nick awakes in the precinct, alone except for all the dead bodies of his friends and fellow officers. He tries to revive Hank and Wu with the healing stick, but it doesn’t do anything. At first, I thought it’s because they were dead, perhaps beyond the stick’s power, but something else seems to be happening as the episode progresses. For the moment, though, Nick is simply left helpless, until Trubel arrives on the horrific scene.

As modern weaponry has failed, the two Grimms can only hope that they can cut the Destroyer’s head off. They update Adalind and Renard, who tell Nick what Diana said about the Destroyer wanting Kelly too, as if Nick needs even more motivation to kill this thing. He sends Trubel out to the cabin to protect them – there’s an understandably tense moment between Trubel and Renard – in case it goes there before he gets there, and heads to the spice shop.

There, Eve, Monroe, an Rosalee have concocted a potion based on a scrap of passage referring to how the Destroyer can only be defeated by the power of one’s blood. They put together a potion which turns the mixed blood of wesen, Grimm, and hexenbiest into a poison unlike any other, but this does involve going out to Adalind, the only hexenbiest they have left. That’s when Nick shows up, sharing the bad news about Hank and Wu. Everyone wants to see the Destroyer dead for that.

Nick goes to grab the elephant gun and ammunition, hoping to coat the bullets with the poison potion as a delivery system, like they did way back when with the ogre. Monroe and Rosalee are already out the door, but the Destroyer comes crashing in before Nick and Eve depart. Nick is once again helpless, and this time the Destroyer doesn’t just kill… he turns the blade in Eve’s own hand and has her plunge it into her own abdomen. Eve dies in Nick’s arms, whispering, “No regrets.” And the Destroyer vanishes again, leaving Nick alive again, screaming as a loved one dies, trying to heal her with the stick, which refuses to work.

Now, I could buy thinking it a coincidence when the Destroyer stormed the precinct while Nick happened to be there, but crashing into the spice shop, also while he is there? That told me the Destroyer was following him. And the stick not working told me something was up with it. So when Nick joined the rest of the gang at the cabin, it was no surprise when Diana came up and told them the Destroyer was coming, and the stick was telling him where Nick was.

What was surprising was Diana’s calm, after she spent the last episode in a terrified panic about the Destroyer’s approach. I’ll ascribe that to some kind of mental mojo the Destroyer used to make her calm and compliant, but they failed to explain it themselves.

The Destroyer arrives to claim the stick, Diana, and Kelly – also still no explanation why he wanted Kelly – and kills everyone else. Renard stands between the Destroyer and his daughter, and pays the price. Monroe splashes the poison onto the Destroyer’s face, and it’s the first time we see it hurting, in pain, but then it heals within moments. They put up a fight, but it’s next to useless. Adalind is killed. Rosalee is killed. Monroe is killed. Trubel is killed. And Nick… is broken.

After every terrifying thing they’ve explored on Grimm, they found one more human weakness for monsters to exploit, and it’s arguably the single most universal devastating of them all: loss.

Nick has just lost his entire family all within minutes of each other. Diana and Kelly are all he has left, and he won’t let the Destroyer take them. He also knows that the Destroyer can’t kill him so long as he has the stick. So, however out-gunned Nick may be, he will fight.

…until the Destroyer (how does it suddenly know English?!) makes him an offer. He killed Nick’s family in order to put Nick in this exact position, at his weakest and most vulnerable moment. The Destroyer revives Trubel, and offers the same for the rest of them, if he surrenders the stick. It’s not the possibility of losing but the possibility of having them all back which finally breaks Nick. He is ready to hand the stick over, to fully restore the Destroyer’s staff.

Fortunately, when Nick is at his lowest, he is not alone. In his darkest hour, there is still a light, and that light is called “family.” That is what they do. When we are at our lowest, family steps in, no matter how much… trouble they are. 😉

Trubel seizes the stick and runs off, Nick in hot pursuit. They fight, two Grimms, comrades, relatives, teacher and student, one trying to take back what was stolen from him, the other trying to save the world, and save her friend from himself. If there is anyone that can stop a Grimm, it’s a another Grimm.

But the stick burns Trubel’s hand as she’s running, and Nick proves to be the stronger, taking it back to the Destroyer.

Now, the sky seems to be doing all sorts of funny things while this is happening. It was night, and then it became day when the Destroyer revived Trubel, and now it goes gray again and it’s like the sky itself, the heavens themselves, are crying out against what Nick is doing. He hears the voices before he sees them, telling him to stop, that he must not do this, that he must not “betray what we are.” And there they are, two more members of his family standing in his way: his mother and his Aunt Marie.

The two women who made him the man he is bar his way, and explain that he can still fight. They can still win, by the power of their blood. It’s not a mystical poison, it’s the blood of their bond, the power of their family. All the strength they have as Grimms comes from their ancestors, and so they are never truly fighting alone.

His will restored, Nick goes back to the Destroyer to fight, not surrender, with Trubel, his mother, and his aunt by his side. The four of them, four Grimms, and four of the strongest Grimms of all, fight him together, absolutely waling on him, each taking powerful blows, each delivering powerful blows in return, taking him apart, taking the staff, and shoving it straight through his heart.

Modern weaponry didn’t work. Magic poison didn’t work. But four sets of flesh and steel worked to kill the Destroyer. …ok, right, whatever. It was a good fight, though a bit quick and surprisingly easy after all the difficulty involved in fighting that thing. Whatever, fight’s over, and Kelly and Marie give a little more exposition before disappearing.

The stick joins back with the staff it came from, now in Nick’s hands, as Trubel comments with surprise how just the two of them won the day. Nick is a little surprised that she didn’t see the other two with them, though Diana, still eerily calm as she stands over her family’s corpses, comments on how there were other Grimms fighting with them.

Nick is just hoping to use the entire staff to bring his family back, when the Destroyer’s body crumbles to ash, which rises and swirls to form a familiar portal, pulling the staff, and a stubborn Nick, through.

…back to the moment where he and Eve first returned from the Destroyer’s world. No explanation provided, it just happens that way. And in this version of things, the Destroyer is dead and everyone else is still alive. It’s all very “just because,” though if I were in Nick’s place, I might just hang the explanation and hug everyone too.

Final moments of the show: they pull a Harry Potter on us and fast forward twenty years, to a trailer in the woods, where sits a grown Kelly Burkhart, writing down the story his father told him about the Destroyer. Diana enters (anyone else notice that fashion in twenty years seems to be exactly the same as it is today?) telling her little brother to hurry up, they got wesen to kill, mentioning “Mom and Dad” and “the triplets,” no doubt referring to Monroe and Rosalee’s first batch of kids. They arm up with the staff – yes, let’s take the semi-divine object of great power and just leave it in the trailer to take out on wesen-killing missions, that seems perfectly safe, right? – and head out, though Diana takes a moment to close the Grimm book with her telekinesis.

The End.

…hmmm.

I’m sorry, am I the only one who found it a little wishy-washy? They rip our hearts out just to put it back with a wiggle of their eyebrows. They don’t explain a thing that’s happening with the dead coming back and the Destroyer’s rampage now never happening. They don’t explain how simple fists and blades did any damage to the Destroyer when nothing else worked. They don’t explain the Grimms, they don’t explain the stick or staff, they don’t explain a lot of things. They just drag us through an emotional whirlwind and leave it at that. No great meaning, no great change to the world. Well, they say there was a change to the world, but they don’t say how it was changed. Things still seem much the same twenty years later, with the next generation carrying on the same work. So what’s changed? Did they use the godlike power of the staff to topple the Royals? Did they restore the wesen council? Did they somehow create a prosperous partnership between wesen, human, and Grimm communities? What? What happened? What did they do? What’s the point of all this?

…you know, lacking all of that, I’m just going to say Grimm is a good, fun, thrilling, enjoyable show that tells a story about embracing the strength of our ancestors while laying aside the ancestral hatred, to forge peace and equality between long-standing enemies, and coming together as family. It merely stumbles a bit with the ending is all.

Overall, I’m leaving the show with 9 stars out of 10 and a grade of A-Minus.

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