Nick and company root out the surprising relationship between two tree-based Wesen
This week’s episode highlights the friendship of the Grimm men — arguably the show’s strongest selling point — as they uncover a heretofore unknown quirk of the Wesen canon.
First, let’s cover the fallout from Eve’s dramatic mirror encounter last week. Diana announces that it was actually something that’s going to happen “in the other place, through the hole in the mirror.” Everybody’s freaked, and they decide to use the buddy system henceforth when looking in mirrors.
Monroe makes it awkward by wondering if the mirror demon is after both Nick and Eve because they’re “deeply connected.” As she’s a stronger woman than I, Adalind restrains herself from grabbing him by the scruff to hiss, “You come into my home, where my children and I live with the Portland cop voted most likely to be mistaken for a Disney prince, and spew this nonsense while I’m in earshot?”
At the spice shop, Eve is shocked to see the formerly broken hand mirror in one piece and even more shocked that her blood, which by now should be dry and flaky, drips wetly off of it. She tells Monrosalee that the only way to handle this is to travel to the “other place.” This wouldn’t be my first impulse, but you do you, Eve. Presumably, her travel plans will be explored in an upcoming episode.
Nick and Adalind, meanwhile, have covered the bathroom mirror with a black cloth, and they peel back one corner so Nick can shave. They nervously debate whether the mirror demon’s will be frightened or undeterred by his Grimm status until Adalind cracks and says, “You know, I kind of like you with the stubble.” Hear, hear! Nick quickly agrees, and they beat it out of the bathroom.
Now, to the crime of the week. Wu summons Hank and Nick to the forest, where a man is insisting that his friend was killed by a monster. Luckily for Ralph, he’s talking to the three cops in Portland who’ll take him seriously, and he leads them to the crime scene in the woods.
Ralph explains that his friend went to collect a deer he’d shot, and Ralph arrived in time to witness a leaf and moss-covered tree… man… thing punch one of its vines right through his buddy’s chest before disappearing with the body. Having seen these men in action, drinking and driving and joking about French kissing cousins, I feel comfortable stating that the real tragedy here is the deer.
Nick and Hank decide that either Ralph’s a murderer with a great imagination, or his friend woged and freaked him out. Then Wu comes through with research showing three other disappearances in that area in the last five years. Also, the medical report showed Ralph’s clothes had large amounts of chlorophyll on them, the same amount usually found in a giant sequoia-sized tree. “Doesn’t exactly sound Wesen,” Wu says. Awww, look how far he’s come since season 1!
At this point, they call in the big guns, a.k.a. Monrosalee and their library, to see if Edward Branchyhands might be real. Hank finds a drawing of the Japanese kinoshimobe, a humanoid tree whose victims are “lost to the thicket for eternity.” As there’s no description of its unwoged state, they wonder if the tree shape is just how it looks.
Rosalee suggests that the kinoshimobe’s actions are defensible in a stand-your-ground way, and Monroe agrees: “It’s like if somebody went to your house, broke in, shot your dog, ate your cat, fished in your aquarium, set your kitchen on fire, and peed in your bed. It would have the same kind of effect.”
And then we get to see the kinoshimobe reacting to a similar situation when a waste disposal truck pulls up and the driver starts dumping toxic sludge into a pristine part of the woods. As it drains, she plops into lawn chair and starts smoking and tossing trash onto the ground. Before you can say, “Hey, respect nature,” the kinoshimobe’s vines have pierced her throat and dragged her away.
NEXT: Some bad guys are easier to root for than others
You’re probably starting to figure out what’s going on, and so are the police, who realize that everyone who disappeared in this part of the forest has a record for some kind of environmental degradation. (Ralph and his friend, for example, were poaching deer from their vehicle using spotlights. I’m sure there’s a proper term for that, but I don’t wanna know what it is, other than pathetic.)
Wondering if they’ve discovered an eco-avenger Wesen, the law enforcement trio head back to the forest. “You couldn’t ask for a prettier place to get brutally murdered,” says Wu, clearly workshopping entries for his “daily inspirations” calendar.
He’s not wrong. Nick spots a hawk circling overhead, Wu watches a deer gambol off, and Hank enjoys playful squirrels. Then Nick stumbles across a huge, ominous-looking tree but is called away when Wu spots the waste truck and the overturned, bloody lawn chair.
The men gag at the stench from the waste, which is funny when you consider how easily the waste truck driver fell asleep next to this bog of eternal stench. “I hope it’s not as bad for us at it smells,” Hank chokes out.
A map of the recent disappearances reveals a circular perimeter, and sure enough, in the middle is the huge, scary tree. It gives all three men the creeps, particularly when they discover its bloody roots and the face of a screaming man etched into its bark.
When the cops head to the spice shop to report their findings, Rosalee nonchalantly mentions that the jubokko tree survives on human blood, like that’s NBD. Also, the faces in the bark match the faces of the missing people, so that’s not upsetting at all.
Since the jubokko is huge and rooted to the ground, Nick and Hank start to wonder if the kinoshimobe acts as a pizza delivery guy of sorts, and they decide to set a trap using fake toxic sludge. Naturally, Rosalee has just the thing. She grabs a book with the edges lined in pointy teeth, which is how all books should be bound from now on, and explains that she and her brother used to make a relatively harmless goop that gives scaly Wesen a skin rash. They did this to mess with her neighbor, a Skalengeck that ate her best friend’s Chihuahua. (“Our childhoods were very different,” Wu deadpans.)
Since Ralph shooting the kinoshimobe didn’t stop it, everybody grabs his favorite bladed weapon from the Grimm trunk, including Monroe, who’s reluctant to hunt a creature that’s just defending its territory. The police argue that it’s, you know, killing people, but Monroe (and probably a portion of the audience) doesn’t feel much sympathy for polluters, poachers, and the like.
Nevertheless, they commence pouring the sludge all over the ground as our favorite Blutbad waxes poetic: “I think I shall never see, a poem as lovely as a blood-sucking jubokko tree.” He also suggests that the faces are caused by pareidolia, which can trick sleep-deprived brains into seeing faces in inanimate objects. “I sleep like a baby, and that tree right there is full of faces,” Wu insists.
NEXT: That forest Wesen ought to leaf Rosalee alone
By nightfall, the sludge hasn’t attracted the kinoshimobe, so they ask Rosalee to deliver some turpentine. It’s nasty stuff but not permanently toxic, which relieves the conflicted Monroe. “I have to live with myself, which is already challenging as it is.”
Unfortunately, Rosalee’s car hits a rock on her way through a rough part of the forest and leaks a long trail of oil, and when she parks, the kinoshimobe’s waiting for her. Good thing she’s on the phone with her man at the time because when she screams and runs, he knows to look for her.
The men find her near the jubokko — but so does the kinoshimobe. Nick tries to explain that he’s a Grimm, but the kinoshimobe shoots what I assume is a large wood splinter at him, then unleashes its vines at all of them. Everybody starts frantically hacking at the tendrils until Nick sinks his axe into its chest, causing the kinoshimobe to ooze green goo and release them all. It staggers and falls, and the jubokko’s trunk splits open to drag the body inside. Once the jubokko closes back up, the kinoshimobe’s face appears on the bark.
Now that his wife’s been threatened, Monroe’s ready to chop the jubokko down for firewood, but Nick says they’ve done all they can do. The kinoshimobe’s dead, and they can’t arrest a tree, so everyone cheerfully shrugs and turns to go.
But once they’re in their cars, the kinoshimobe’s bark face opens its eyes and watches them leave. Edward Branchyhands lives on to protect the forest from ecological threats (you go, Ed) and people with accidentally leaky cars (ummm, that’s less cool)!
At the spice shop, the whole group excitedly helps Nick write a brand new entry in the Grimm lore detailing the previously undiscovered symbiotic relationship between the tree man and the blood tree. Next step? Submit it for publication in the highly competitive, peer-reviewed Grimm Monthly.
At this point, Monroe suggest that the jubokko collected the kinoshimobe to protect it from them, which means it could still be alive. This thought unsettles everyone enough that Wu decides to carry a machete with him to bed. (This is not a euphemism.)
Tucked in for the night, Monroe says they should avoid future dangerous excursions while Rosalee’s pregnant. “We’ll probably have to cut back a little after the kids are born, too” she replies. Then they notice that the knots in their pine ceiling look a liiiiiitle bit like a face. Monroe hesitates before turning off the light, and they agree that this calls for a coat or two of paint.
All in all, this was a fun episode! In some ways, the villains were more sympathetic than their victims, which always produces interesting tension. Plus, Nick was able to contribute to the collected Grimm knowledge, and, as always, the chemistry between this excellent cast was off the charts. We also saw a bit of forward momentum on the ancient calendar/mirror demon story front, plus a pinch of love triangle angst, which I have to believe is setting us up for the final story lines still to come. Four more episodes, folks!
- Fellow fans of horror and Bruce Campbell, did you immediately flash to Evil Dead 2 when the vines started twining around the hunter’s ankles?
- Minimal Renard again this week. (Boooo!) His Russian contact Dasha inquires after Diana’s parentage and isn’t surprised that her mother’s a Hexenbiest. “Are you still together?” she asks, and Renard understates, “It was complicated.” Dasha’s bigger question is why these ancient symbols appear in a tunnel in Oregon. She strongly encourages Renard to figure this ish out. “I fear nothing… until now,” she says. DUN!
- In the battle of creepy faces on trees, who wore it better, the jubokko or the Weirwoods?