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Grimm – Recap: Kisses Down Low

Recap and review of Grimm – Season 2 Episode 20 – Kiss of the Muse:

While I feel relatively confident that “Kiss of the Muse” won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, the episode actually ended up being my favorite of Grimm‘s second season so far. The best episodes are always the ones that tie the case of the week into the broader, season-long narrative, and I can’t think of many cases in the entire run of the show that have bound the procedural aspects of the show to the serialized storytelling this well. Ever since the amnesia storyline was introduced at the start of the season, the entire narrative has been building to the moment where Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) would not only remember Nick (David Giuntoli), but also remember what he told her in Aunt Marie’s trailer on the night where their relationship went to pot.

Credit: NBC

Credit: NBC

The series has done an excellent job of doling out information in increments — a memory here, a feeling there. Some might say that they’ve probably been taking too leisurely an approach to Juliette’s recovery, but I feel this ultimately has worked out splendidly, as it’s made Juliette a much more likable character than she’s ever been at any point in the series. This isn’t to say that she was unlikable before, so much as she had the tendency to simply be an annoying character that didn’t mean all that much to the show beyond being Nick’s girlfriend. Yet her desire to recover the memories she lost, and to win Nick back have made her immediately compelling, in her own right. And her recovery of the memory in which Nick reveals to her his heritage as a Grimm, along with her subsequent choice to believe him this time, by way of making up for failing him with her doubt the last time, is one of the most satisfying resolutions a character arc has had on this series. Yet even without this character-centric focus, “Kiss of the Muse” remains eminently engrossing, thanks to one of the more unique wesen in recent memory.

Credit: NBC

Credit: NBC

When famed author Evan Childs is murdered at a book signing by Anton Cole, the jealous ex-boyfriend of Childs’ current squeeze, Zoe Sedgwick (Nora Zehetner), Nick and Hank (Russell Hornsby) investigate, after having heard shots coming from the bookstore while at a diner across the street. Nick arrives just in time to stop Anton Cole from murdering Sedgwick in a fit of jealous rage, giving chase to the suspect, who turns out to be a Luisant-PĂȘcheur, an otter-like Wesen with the ability to swim underwater for long periods of time. Nick is unable to apprehend the suspect, who escapes by jumping into the river overlooking the bookstore, leaving him to question Sedgwick about the killing. Sedgwick plays coy about her charms, stating that men have a tendency to fall for her quite easily, becoming taken with her to the point that borders on fanatical obsession. Nick and Hank are amused by the suspect’s seeming lack of modesty, until Sedgwick kisses Nick’s hand by way of thanking him for saving her — the kiss sets off a chain of events that makes for one of the more interesting cases of the season.

Credit: NBC

Credit: NBC

In the aftermath of the kiss, Nick becomes an entirely different person. After following up with Sedgwick at her home, he finds himself overcome with desire, kissing her passionately — at which point, he discovers that she’s a Wesen herself. Sedgwick looks vaguely like a Na’vi from Avatar in her Wesen form, and she becomes immediately unnerved by Nick having discovered who/what she is, as she recognizes that he’s a Grimm. Not that Nick particularly seems to care, as he seems totally on-board with taking their little hookup to the next level. However, when a startled Sedgwick asks him to leave, he complies, and it’s just as well, since he has a dinner with Juliette to get to, having blown off dinner with Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell). Juliette wants to talk to Nick about the things she’s beginning to remember — and also to apologize for how things have been between them. But Nick is barely present at the dinner with Juliette, as Sedgwick has her hooks in him. Juliette’s emotional, heartfelt apology falls on deaf ears, and Nick excuses himself after an awkward pause, stunning Juliette.

Credit: NBC

Credit: NBC

Things get worse at home, as Nick flips out at Monroe for “grilling” him about how things went with Juliette, telling his Blutbad friend that he needs to start thinking about getting a life of his own. Nobody recognizes what’s wrong with Nick, and this is one of many occasions in which having Hank in on Nick’s secret comes in handy. Hank confiscates a drawing Nick made of Sedgwick in her Wesen form, and takes it to Monroe and Rosalee (Bree Turner), who are every bit as stumped as he is. But Hank takes things a step further, showing the drawing to Capt. Renard (Sasha Roiz), a decision that leads to an “all hands on deck” storyline that’s genuinely exhilarating, as everyone is united in their singular focus on saving Nick from whatever Sedgwick is.

Credit: NBC

Credit: NBC

Hank, Rosalee and Monroe search through the books in Aunt Marie’s trailer and discover that Sedgwick is a “Musai”, a muse-like Wesen whose kiss secretes a substance with psychotropic properties. It’s known to be “as euphoric and addictive as any narcotic known to man”, and eventually leads to “madness, destruction and death.” In one of the more amusing moments of the episode, Monroe reads the German translation in the book that reveals a rift between famed post-Impressionist painters Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh, who were embroiled in a feud over a Musai, who is speculated to have influenced not only Van Gogh’s greatest works, but also the madness which resulted in the painter cutting off his left ear — and later committing suicide. Unfortunately, the cure for Nick’s ailment isn’t anything that exists on Rosalee’s shelf. In a more overtly fairytale-esque twist than this show has usually adopted in recent weeks, only true love can break a Musai’s hold on her subject.

Credit: NBC

Credit: NBC

Luckily, Juliette is on-board to help. After receiving the key to Aunt Marie’s trailer from Monroe, she returns to the site of the place where Nick told her his secret, and as she struggles to remember, the memories come flooding back. Nick had confessed to being a Grimm, and she hadn’t believed him. Juliette rushes to Rosalee’s shop and confesses everything she knows to Monroe and Rosalee, unaware that they’re Wesen. Juliette asserts that she failed Nick by doubting him, and that she wants to help in any way she can. This development couldn’t have happened at a more opportune time, as Anton Cole has re-entered the picture, right as Nick is at the height of his obsession-influenced jackassery. Hank and Renard discover that Cole and Childs are hardly the first artists Sedgwick has poisoned with her kiss, revealing a whole laundry list of exes driven to madness by their “love” for the Musai. But Nick doesn’t really seem to care, rushing over to Sedgwick’s house to pick up where they left off. However, Cole is already there, and the resulting fight sees Sedgwick ordering Nick to kill her ex-boyfriend, reasoning that they won’t be able to be together until he does. Nick nearly goes through with it, but backup arrives just in time to stop Nick from doing the deed.

Credit: NBC

Credit: NBC

At the police station, Sedgwick continues to play coy, declaring that her actions aren’t her fault — as a Musai, she can’t help it if men are compulsively attracted to her. She has no control over the effects of her kiss, or what it does to men. She was simply “born this way”. However, Hank isn’t buying it, as she never exactly tries to discourage the obsessive advances of her paramours. Renard isn’t sold on it either, believing that Sedgwick has far more sinister intentions. Of course, while all of this is happening, Nick has already reached the next phase of the spell — murderous madness. The spell often causes the afflicted party to make a drawing of the crime he intends to commit, and when Hank finds a sketch of Cole bleeding to death in his cell, it becomes apparent what Nick intends to do. Thankfully, before Nick can murder the suspect in cold blood, Juliette arrives on the scene. She places her hands on Nick’s face, and the effect is immediate. For the first time in nearly the entire hour-long episode, the real Nick Burkhardt is back. Better still, Nick and Juliette seem to have resolved much of the issues impeding their full reconciliation, as Juliette now knows Nick’s secret, and has chosen to believe him. It’s an act of love that’s far more convincing than an actual kiss would have been, and it brings their story full-circle from the start of the season, in many ways. It’s a very satisfying resolution to the story arc (and bonus points for Renard preventing Cole from picking up Nick’s fallen gun — “Seriously?”).

Credit: NBC

Credit: NBC

Speaking of Renard, his role is hardly finished, as he returns to the interrogation room where Sedgwick is being held. He tells her that he’s going to let her walk, under the condition that she leaves Portland and never even thinks about coming back. If she does return, he promises she’ll see the side of him that “doesn’t wear a badge”: Renard reveals his half-Zauberbiest form to her in a wonderfully horrific exclamation point on what had, up to that point, already been among the more exciting episodes since the midseason return. I can’t be the only one who thinks Renard is awesome, right? He’s probably the most badass character on the show, whereas before he had simply been its most mysterious. Renard still has an ambiguous, mysterious aura about him, but this is one of those situations where a mysterious character isn’t diminished, in terms of interest, by the eventual revelation of who/what he is, as it might have been on a lesser genre series. This was a terrific way to end the episode, I thought.

“Kiss of the Muse” really delivered the goods, becoming one of my favorite episodes in the run of the series, by the time it was over. I know that’s not an opinion many people will share, given that there are episodes that probably told a better story, or did a better job blending procedural investigation with serialized storytelling and mythology, but this episode was simply among the most compulsively engaging installments this season. I’d love to see Nora Zehetner come back someday as Zoe Sedgwick, as I feel there’s room for her within the ensemble, and within the mythology of this world. Grimm has really earned its third season with the high level of quality that’s been in evidence since the midseason premiere, following up on a first half that kept the momentum from its freshman year.

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