Grimm recap: “Trial by Fire”

Conflict is at the heart of every drama and Grimm is a show that works best when its characters struggle moves beyond the “I’m going to punch a monster this week” and digs into more historical and personal territory. It also helps to have a good fight, because Grimm is still about punching some monsters. This week’s episode gives us all that and more and has some fun with a character over which I was beginning to despair. Let’s recap shall we?

The cold open begins with a hot lava monster and two naughty kids just trying to have some fun in the back room of a canoe store with some booze. That never goes well as far as television or movies are concerned. The lava monster, who is now dressed only in his undies, puts a flaming hand to the breaker box cutting all the power in the weirdest way possible. And what do the kids do? Nothing, because they are stupid and everyone knows that all that teen sexiness is dangerous and will get you killed by hot lava monsters.

GRIMM -- "Trial by Fire" Episode 413 -- Pictured: Gideon Emery as Damien Beller -- (Photo by: Scott Green/NBC)
GRIMM — “Trial by Fire” Episode 413 — Pictured: Gideon Emery as Damien Beller — (Photo by: Scott Green/NBC)

Meanwhile, Juliette asks Nick how he disposed of the dude that got murdered in the house last week and he just shrugs her off, which is pretty par for the course. It’s quickly becoming their version of “how was your day?” While Juliette does have a legitimate claim to self defense as last week’s critter, the Manticore, was trying to kill her. This all goes down with a surprising lack concern on Juliette’s part. Of course, she does have a lot on her mind, what with being a Hexenbeast who can’t tell Nick because she’s Juliette and doesn’t get to be smart or savvy (though she thankfully gets to be tough later on).

And then we cut back to the kids who realize they are in it pretty deep and they accidentally end up barbecuing themselves when they try to escape.

How’s all that for a cold open?

The crime scene is Harrison & Sons, an outfitter of canoes and hippie sporting gear, and it’s quickly established that the fire “had a mind of it’s own,” by a cute, indifferent arson investigator. Nick and Hank go to the precinct look at their computers for a minute and pick up a phone or two and they discover there was a $5 million policy taken out on the business as well as a recent bankruptcy filing, leading the detectives to the first place they would have gone anyway. They get the whole backstory from a friendly, seeming obsequious lawyer type named Charles Laney, who we know is up to no good because he’s a lawyer.

Cut to the complicated, unnecessary and often stupid “I Want My Baby” subplot with handsome black detective talking to Captain Renard about tracking down Nick’s mom who is on the lam with Adalind’s baby who is magic. While I like all these things in general, this stuff has been going on far too long and paying off not at all.

So, Nick and Hank discover that there is a pattern to the arsons and learn that there is one cop, Lt. Orson, who was hot on the trail of a suspect and just missed him by inches. Oh yeah, Orson is in jail for being involved in one crazy episode a long time ago. The detectives spring him to help with the investigation, because Orson seems nice enough and he was a cop and the rules are pretty loose in a city like Portland.

At the airstream library in the woods, the boys discover just what the Hot Lava Man is: Excandesco, an angry fire dude from a race of creatures that were responsible for the burning of Rome in Nero’s time. Pretty cool.

At this point it’s revealed that the lawyer commissioned the arson and is telling the Hot Lava dude to straighten out his game because two kids died and, while that’s tragic, getting caught can really crimp a guy’s style. By now we know that the Lava Man is a hot head (get it?) and really likes to start things on fire — like lawyer’s heads, which he does in a spectacular fashion.

While the lawyer was getting his head torched, the cops have been having fun figuring out what the heck the fire guy is and how can he be stopped, because, unlike other other Wesen, Nick can’t just punch him because he is a ball of flaming hot lava! But Orson, being smart (just not smart enough to not be the only cop who ever got arrested for killing someone) figures out a way to deal with the arsonist, but first…

… we have to go back to the boring subplot that just won’t die. Handsome black cop (who is a traitor to Capt. Renard, BTW) delivers the goods about Nick’s-Mom-with-Adelind’s-baby to Renard’s evil cousin Wesley from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, AKA Viktor with a K, so you know he’s bad news. We find out that Adalind still wants her baby (duh!) and Nick’s mom is still on the lam and Viktor wants everyone to chill for a minute because this is clearly going nowhere. Again.

Back at Rosalee’s herb shop, the kids are getting the Lava Man repellant together with the help of Rosalee, who is one of my favorite characters because she can get things done, as she does here. Of course, things can’t be all smooth sailing because Monroe — who is not supposed to be there! — comes in and immediately starts snarling and getting all uppity with Orson because A) Ancient Wesen feud and B) “Dude, you killed Hap!” (Season One: Orson killed Hap and Rolf (great names) who were Monroe’s girlfriend’s brothers! Who technically deserved it, because Monroe’s old lady killed Orson’s brothers. I love when the show doubles back like that and pours on the absurd juice.)

When the show is good, we get all these conflicts in play like: Wesen v. Wesen, Monroe v. Orson, and Monroe v. Himself, because as much as Monroe is always trying to reject the gnarlier points of being a Blutbaden, there is no amount of vegetarianism and clock tinkering or Rosalee that is going to erase his blood. It’s great when the show gets this right and it’s what makes Monroe one of the things that keeps the show ticking (get it?).

GRIMM -- "Trial by Fire" Episode 413 -- Pictured: (l-r) Silas Weir Mitchell as Monroe, Bree Turner as Rosalee Calvert -- (Photo by: Scott Green/NBC)
GRIMM — “Trial by Fire” Episode 413 — Pictured: (l-r) Silas Weir Mitchell as Monroe, Bree Turner as Rosalee Calvert — (Photo by: Scott Green/NBC)

Rosalee, of course, because we love Rosalee, straightens the boys out and Monroe takes off in a huff (also fun). The team gets back to the business of making the anti-Lava Dude concoction. Monroe rather quickly and sheepishly returns, because he is trying to get over his anger issues and also because of Rosalee (did I mention we love Rosalee?) and the team. Sitting by yourself at the edge of the playground is no fun.

We now return to the Son half of Harrison & Sons, who admits to hiring the arsonist because the business was failing and “the internet is wiping us out.” Which would probably be true in any city but Portland, because Portlanders are way cooler than buying their kayaks online and, besides, the shipping on that stuff is murder.

Meanwhile, another barbecue scene has been discovered and we are treated to a great bit of SFX in the charred head of one Charles Laney Esq. I do love the casual gross-outs peppered throughout this show — it often picks up the slack when the rest of the story is weak. Anyway, turns out that Laney has been using Lava Man for quite some time and finally got burned (Ha!).

Lava Man, posing as “Lt. Johnson,” has lured Mr. Harrison to the shop while the Detectives pick up Harrison Jr. who immediately confesses to them! The kid tells the detectives about “Lt. Johnson,” and of course there is no “Lt. Johnson,” because the name Johnson is totally obvious and stupid. We quickly realize that “Lt. Johnson” is pretty cocky because he shows Mr. Harrison the fusebox and his flaming hand, and basically lays out the whole plot down since Mr. Harrison is going to die, because Lava Man is so good at his job he accidentally kills kids.

The detectives race to the scene, as do Monroe and Rosalee with the secret formula for defeating the Lava Man. The Detectives arrive in time. They needn’t have hurried though, because Lava Man loves monologuing as much as he loves duct-taping dudes to chairs and stripping to his undies and posing a bunch (he’s a weird villain).

Monroe pops the trunk of the car and reveals the secret weapon that is going to take down Lava man – SUPER SOAKERS! This is met with much more skepticism than I was expecting.

Orson steps up, takes Nick’s badge and goes in to confront “the one that got away.” Lava Man gets all cocky and basically dares Orson to cuff him ’cause those babies will just melt right off.

While Orson keeps the chatty, cocky Lava Man busy, Hank sneaks in and cuts Mr. Harrison loose (which should have taken a LOT longer considering the amount of tape). Just as Lava Man gives Orson the Jim Morrison wiggle which means he’s going flame on, Orson tells him that the kid confessed. Then, Hank yells that they freed old man Harrison and the killer just sort of runs outside in his undies to check if they aren’t just pulling a “Lt. Johnson” on him or something, where he runs into…

…the whole gang with their SUPER SOAKERS! at the ready. Lava Man, being cocky, does the wiggle and is immediately doused by the crew as he tries to flame on but ends up covered in Rosalee’s magic anti-barbecue sauce. This short circuits the killer’s Lava Power and he straight up EXPLODES! Which is pretty awesome. And surprising.

The detectives now have a problem in that their suspect is in a bunch of pieces, which makes for great television but super sketchy police reports. Wu (one of my favorite characters) recently indoctrinated into the world of Monsters and Grimms is now totally on board with fabricating evidence and suggests the old “winky, winky, nudge, nudge, we can totally lie and say dude had a bomb” — which, of course, they have to do, because there is no such thing as Lava Men, Grimms, or Wesen.

GRIMM -- "Trial by Fire" Episode 413 -- Pictured: (l-r) David Giuntoli as Nick Burkhardt, Reggie Lee as Sgt. Wu -- (Photo by: Scott Green/NBC)
GRIMM — “Trial by Fire” Episode 413 — Pictured: (l-r) David Giuntoli as Nick Burkhardt, Reggie Lee as Sgt. Wu — (Photo by: Scott Green/NBC)

The boys return Lt. Orson to jail with a friendly “stay out of trouble,” and Nick adds the SUPER SOAKER! to his arsenal of scary medieval weapons. Fun!

But we’re not done yet because we have to return to the Useless “I Want My Baby” subplot again, except this time it pays off!

Adalind gets all in Juliette’s face because Adalind wants her baby, and thinks Juliette is still the doormat she used to be (up until last week when Juliette finally warmed up to the fact that she is a hideous Hexenbeast with some serious mojo). But Adalind the clueless starts in on Juliette, trash talking Nick and mocking Juliette, and Juliette is all “Hell ho!” and then they both Woge (pronounced Vogue), and then everything goes flying through the air, including the ladies.

The two commence to totally mop the floor with each other until Juliette pulls the coup de grace move and magically flings an ENTIRE BLOCK OF KNIVES over her shoulder missing Adalind by a hair. Finally, Juliette brings the “Is that all you got?” line and Adalind, now thoroughly freaked out and sensing her own imminent demise flees. Fast.

Up to this point, Juliette has been one of my least favorite characters. She’s shallow, frail, mostly useless except for drinking glasses of wine, or bitching about how she just wants everything to be normal. In short, she hasn’t been much in the way of Ride or Die for Nick or anyone else. While there have been hints that she could be more it wasn’t until tonight that she got to throw down and it was great. Not only was the fight massive but the way she surveys the aftermath of the battle – a completely torn up house – and looks pleased with herself, I finally feel like we are on the right path.

Of course Nick comes home to find Juliette chilling with a glass of wine, a look of smug satisfaction on her face. Nick, assuming that Adalind roughed Juliette up, goes ballistic, but Juliette clears things up by admitting she is a Hexenbeast and that she just kicked Adalind’s sorry ass. Nick is shocked….

…The End.

All in all, a pretty solid episode where a crime was solved, a fight broke out, some characters were developed and Juliette finally got her day to do something useful and badass. The useless “I Want My Baby Back” subplot remains, but at least tonight it went somewhere other than a fake castle in “Europe.”

New episodes of Grimm return Friday, March 20, on NBC.