By J. Keith Haney
For the third time in as many weeks, we once again start out at the Grimm Cave AKA Aunt Marie’s trailer. Nick is checking out the armoury closet with a thoughtful eye. There’s plenty of medieval weaponry for the next Renaissance Fair that blows into town, but his eyes fall on a spiked club that looks like a big brother to a Louisville Slugger, festooned with slightly blunt metal spikes.
Later, out in the woods, Nick goes on a little hike with a backpack slung across his shoulder. He crosses a log bridge and stops, apparently looking for something. That something finds him with a growl and a football tackle that takes him to the ground. Nick rolls over, gets on top of his attacker, and grumbles, “I told you to meet me, not eat me.”
As you no doubt have guessed, it was Monroe doing the tackling. Apparently, he’s helping Nick with a little Grimm basic training, as he is the one to point out that they’re “not playing paintball out here.” Nick needs to be ready for anything if he wants his Grimm skills sharp. Speech over, he adds, “Now, can you get off me, please? I’m finding this a little…awkward.”
After Nick obliges him, he helps Monroe to his feet. Monroe advises Nick to use more wolfsbane if he doesn’t want to be smelled out. He then goes into one of his standard geekouts at the weaponry Nick has in his pack. Nick explains that since his ancestors used this stuff, he needs to learn how to, as well. Monroe counters, “Dude…you have a gun.” Nick points out, “I can’t shoot everybody.” He then recounts how he used pepper spray on a Skallengeck the other day…with no effect. Monroe tells him that the kid probably enjoyed it and then asks how Nick is going to explain the extra gear to Hank. Nick glosses over it and shows him how the crossbow works, showing off a bolt of Hellebore extract (which acts as a tranquiliser), then a second, more lethal bolt of hemlock. Monroe points out that those were specifically designed to stop Bludbaden as he works the action on the crossbow.
Nick decides to do some target practice with the crossbow. Monroe unhelpfully says, “Slooowly squeeeeze the -”
Nick impatiently reminds him, “I know how to shoot,” before proving it by vaporising his paintball target on the first shot. He then proceeds to use the heavy bat (the “Cannonbo”, Monroe calls it) on the second target, which he gives a heavy Mickey-Mantle whack. Monroe’s remarks are to the point: “Dude…out of the park.”
Later that night, under a bridge of Highway 99 East, an SUV pulls up to meet a man standing under it. The side of the SUV reads, “Grosszahn Construction.” The old man who gets out of the car morphs into an Eisbiber. The man notes the Eisbiber’s lateness, for which the beaver man apologises. At the question of if he’s got the money, the little beaver screws up his courage and tells the man (calling him “Sal”) that he’s not going to pay. Sal calls him reckless and stupid, but the beaver man tells him that he’s going to the District Attorney – not something you announce to the loan shark you owe money to if you want to walk away. Sal doesn’t take it well: “You seem like a man who likes to bury himself in his work. Let me see if I can’t help you do that.” Then his face morphs into what can only be called a troll’s: big, ugly, and with pointed ears that would make a Vulcan’s look curved. He punches the beaver man in the gut and drags him off somewhere.
Elsewhere on the nearby construction site, a young man is telling someone on his cell that he’ll be at the party; he’s just wrapping up. He happens to catch a glimpse of Sal concluding his business, shoving Beaver Man’s head into a wet cement block.
The kid calls it in to 911, giving the location of the site. Beaver Man dies just after that info is passed on. The kid panics while the operator is asking for his name and runs into the rebar, which makes some unfortunate noise. He signs off his phone and looks for some sign of Sal. There’s nothing to see all, of a sudden…bad. Oh, wait, there’s Sal standing close by the kid…even worse.
Turns out the kid is an Eisbiber, himself, who runs through the construction yard with Sal giving chase. The kid’s intimate knowledge of the layout gives him an advantage in evading Sal. He makes a speedy getaway in his truck, leaving a huffing, puffing Sal behind him. Sal runs back into the yard, no doubt to cover his tracks.
At a private residence, a very familiar face who got a semi-friendly visit from Nick not so long ago is asleep in front of his TV when he hears the distinctive sound of breaking glass downstairs. He’s spooked enough to grab a poker from his nearby fireplace, but calm enough not to act rashly, quietly opening the door to the garage. He snaps on the stairway light, keeping close to the light coming in from outside with his poker at the ready. Our panicked witness pops up behind him, both of them morph into their Eisbiber faces, and they both have a few minutes of mutual panic. Our homeowner finally gives our witness a name: “Arnold! What are you doing here?” Arnold makes the understatement of the decade by saying, “I saw something terrible.” When prompted as to what, he can’t say it out loud. The fear is just in him too deep.
The Portland PD is out in force the next morning at the construction site, with Nick and Hank doing the investigating. Wu confirms that they did have a witness courtesy of the 911 call. The wallet on the vic belongs to a Robert Grosszahn, although he adds, “Not that the picture helps much”. Then he shows Nick and Hank why in the form of the aftermath of Robert’s late-night cement bath. Robert has been taken out of the block, but he’s past the point of it doing him any good. Hank exclaims, “Whoa, now that’s some old-school mob stuff.” If you only knew how old-school….
Nick calls in for an ID on the phone of the witness who called 911 and then Hank adds that Robert Grosshahn was apparently a major player in local construction work. They check his truck out. They find his smartphone and Hank suggests that they check his calendar on it. It has one entry: “S.B. 9:30.” Nick gets the callback on the phone ID: “Arnold Rossarat.” He also gets an address. Nick and Hank go to check it out.
Arnold’s home address is a lonely trailer in the middle of nowhere (which seems to be everywhere not within the Portland city limits around here). It is starting to rain (a pretty frequent occurrence for that part of the world). It doesn’t look like he’s home, Hank notes. Nick knocks at the door, anyway. Nobody there, but the door’s unlocked. Hank tells Nick that they’re on solid legal ground as far as exigent circumstances, seeing as it’s a missing witness to a murder.
They go inside and the play is crawling with whirligigs of all varieties: model planes, birds, and other things hanging from strings. Hank thinks it’s weird. Nick pulls down a photo from the wall, showing Arnold with our homeowner and Bud the refrigerator repairman, showing off a prize trout. He recognises both of them as the Eisbibers he braced to leave him alone.
Later at the house, Nick is still hard at work at his desk when Juliette comes up behind him. She asks who “Eisbiber” is and Nick just explains that it refers to a possible witness. Then Juliette proposes that they invite Monroe over for dinner…ZOIKS! Well, to be fair, Nick did sit at the same table as Adalind a few weeks back and didn’t kill her in the process. Surely, this can’t be THAT much harder.
Then again, considering Nick’s sputtering, maybe it is. Juliette is insistent, considering the whole saving-her-life thing. Nick tries arguing her out of it, but she insists on him asking Monroe himself. If it falls through, she’ll think of something else – “a picnic, maybe.” C’mon, Nick! You knew that this had to be coming, sooner or later…or have you been hitting your aunt’s books too hard to think straight? He finally concedes that “it’s worth a try…I guess.” She gives him a kiss.
The conversation he has with Monroe later is even less encouraging. Monroe asks, “So, what would you have us do?” Nick comes up with the un-novel idea of having Monroe say that he’s sick. Monroe points out that this excuse is good for one night, only, and then they’re right back to where they started. Nick has a whole of host of problems with Juliette having them for dinner, from the story of how they first met to the fact that Nick is now fighting monsters that only he can see. Monroe concedes that they are going to “have to bend the truth about some things.” Nick points out that there is not one aspect of their relationship that they could actually talk about. Monroe admits that he has a point before adding, “She’s a really good cook, isn’t she?” Nick admonishes him to stop thinking about food for a second and then tells him that they need to come up with a simple story that they can stick to. When asked about what they would say, Monroe puts in, “Well, in my experience, the best lies are sort of the truth.”
Later, at Grosszahn Construction, Nick and Hank are interviewing the late Robert’s secretary for details. She has worked with him for ten years and is having trouble believing that he’s dead and gone. She emphasises that everybody at the company felt like he was a father to them. She mentions a battle with the planning commission and, when Nick prompts her, she elaborates that inspections, permits and code compliance were part of his daily grind. Nick mentions the entry in the cell phone and she says that she knew nothing about it. She scheduled all his meetings and she knows nothing about the initials, “S.B.”. Then they catch a break: It turns out that Robert’s main opponent on the planning commission was a Mr. Butrell.
As the name plate on his office door attests, that would be Salvatore Butrell, Building Inspector. Butrell receives Nick and Hank cordially and expresses remorse on Robert’s death. Neither cop looks like he buys it. Hank asks how well they knew each other and Butrell is evasive. He gets even more evasive when Nick asks about 9:30 on the previous night, mentioning a poker night at the Trip Trap Club on Chauncy. When Hank asks for anyone who can vouch for him, Butrell says, “Only six or so…I hope you don’t need any more than that.”
Nick isn’t buying the smooth act one bit, even if he is returning the man’s smile. Butrell, to his credit, picks up on their suspicion. Hank asks about the contention on the bridge project and Nick mentions Robert’s cell appointment. That’s when he catches Butrell’s morph…Sheesh, he’s even uglier in daylight. Nick really needs to learn how to hide his reactions, because I’m fairly sure that Butrell caught that, too. Then Butrell feeds Nick and Hank a line about a meeting at 9:30 that very morning…but that the victim never got back to him. He casually says, “Maybe he put it in his phone wrong.” Bullshit…if you think that you’re going to throw a cop’s scent off with that nonsense, you are dreaming.
One of Butrell’s lackeys breaks in to announce a meeting with Johnson Construction. Butrell replies, “Tell them I’ll be down there in a few…Wait a minute, tell these detectives where I was last night.” The lackey answers with the poker night alibi and even puts in if they need to know how much money they lost to him for. Nick knows that he’s just found his suspect. So does Hank, who answers, “That’s okay…We’re done for now. Thank you for your time.” The tone all-but-whispers, “I’ll be back.”
After Nick and Hank leave, Butrell calls in his other lackey and tells the one still with him to wait. He then announces that they have a problem. He made Nick as a Grimm. Do I even need to say that these boys are trolls, too? Nick starts using their likeness on his balls for target practice out in the woods a little later. Yeah, he’s worried about this one going bad.
Nick stops by to see Bud at his repair shop. Bud greets him amiably and offers him the hospitality of the house. After dealing with the man’s toadying for a minute, Nick tells him that they are trying to track Arnold. Bud doesn’t know anything about Arnold’s whereabouts, as he hasn’t seen him in weeks. Then Nick asks about the troll boys he saw, complete with one of his sketches. Bud is repulsed at the sight, but tells Nick that the beastie is a Heshtashen, a creature that has a real thing for bridges to the point of taking a cut in a traditional extortion racket that no Eisbiber likes. He also mentions how Arnold was working for Robert on the bridge and most of the construction firms in town are Eisbiber. Bud may have a line on where Arnold could be and proposes an elaborate contact scheme, in case he is right. Nick has a simpler solution: Call him on his cell.
Nick and Juliette are putting the final touches on their dinner when they hear a knock at the door. It’s Monroe, of course. He has shown up with one of his regular bouquets. Juliette says that he didn’t have to go to that much trouble. Monroe counters, “Yes, I did.” These boys would have flunked every high school play audition that exists with the stilted conversation that passes for pleasantries after that. Juliette is picking up on this, fellas. She gracefully ignores the awkwardness (for now) mentions the vegan salmon that she’s cooked up, and then goes off to put the flowers in water. Time to come up with a better script while she’s out of the room…WHAT?! They’re fist-bumping each other because they think that they clinched it?! IDIOTS!
They recount Monroe’s contribution to the Stark case via the busted watch and Monroe admits that he’s helped Nick out a few times, here and there. When it comes time to recount how they met, they go back over the nauseatingly bad Pilot episode, which Juliette remembers only too well. I personally have been trying to forget that one for its bad plotting, but never mind. Onward….
They claim that Monroe was able to help Nick solve the case through noticing the type of the boots on the postman. Juliette thinks that it’s amazing that, based on a pair of boots, they could figure out where the guy lived. Then Monroe nearly blows it when he recounts how he helped Nick find the cabin. Scratch that…They DID blow it right then. Their supposedly simple script gets tangled up in a hurry. Then their explanations for everything start to remind me of an old song I knew as a kid: “There’s a wart on a frog on a log on a hole in the middle of the C.” Juliette calls them on it…uh oh. Monroe attempts a recovery by asking for the recipe of the vegan salmon…right now, “just to be safe.” To quote from minor 1990s action/adventure writer, Jack Drake, “Marvelous. Superb. Impeccable. A totally brain-dead performance on the part of all those concerned.”
Bud has his own awkward meeting with his buddy, Arnold’s refuge-provider, who goes by the name of ‘John’. Bud quickly cuts through the bull (Monroe and Nick should have come to him for practice), and tells him flat-out that Nick told him about Arnold and his involvement in Robert’s murder. Oh, and John only made the fact that he’s hiding Robert as obvious to Bud as hanging out a neon sign, with all the moves he’s been making to cover up the basement level. Bud finally persuades John to take him to Arnold.
Arnold is not thrilled about Bud seeing him there, but Bud adamantly presses his case that Arnold needs to come forward. Arnold is terrified of what the Heshleshen might do to him if he does. Bud then plays his trump card: Nick. Unfortunately, Arnold is just as scared of Grimms, apparently, and boldly proclaims that no one can make him leave. John points out that, as this is HIS house, yes, he can. But Arnold points out that the Heshleshen are liable to take it out on all the local Eisbiber, if he comes forward. John admits that he has a point, and that they need to take this to the Lodge and put it to a vote. Arnold moans, “I just want it to all go away.” Bud says his wisest words yet: “Sometimes, it doesn’t go away…until you make it go away.”
The Heshleshen are in deep discussions of their own at the Trip Trap Club. As Butrell notes, “This situation could turn into a big problem…for all of us.” One of the two lackeys suggest that they blow town until the coast is clear…that is, the lackeys blow town while Butrell stays and waits for the heat to cool off. At a guess, I don’t think this guy is making Employee of the Month. Besides, Burtrell is determined to kill Nick, once and for all. The lackey is unconvinced, wondering if it’s even possible. In disagreement with this, Butrell decides to call in the Reapers of the Grimm. He mentions his great-uncle, Mamoose, who got the honour of becoming one after taking a Grimm’s head in Copenhagen. The lackeys are even more nervous about that than they were about the Grimm who is the apparent problem. To them, this is clearly a bad idea that is going to have some major blowback.
Nick is asking Juliette after the dinner of what she thought about Monroe…Oh, this ought to be a doozy. She finally says, “Well, Monroe is definitely one of the stranger people I have ever met, but he did save my life and I think that I love him.” Whew!
Nick asks, in a joking tone, “Should I be jealous?”
“Maybe,” Juliette teases back.
Nick’s phone goes off. It’s Bud, telling him to be at the old power plant tomorrow night at 9:00, saying that he will deliver Arnold. Bud trips over the proper address for his local Grimm: “Mr. Burkhart, Detective Burkhart.” Nick finally has to tell him, “‘Nick’ is fine.”
The scene suddenly shifts to Mannheim, Germany, in front of a retro German lodge. Europop music is playing on the jukebox when a man walks into a darkened bar towards a back table. An elderly man is sitting at it, still looking like he could kick the shit of guys half his age. He tells the young guy in German, “Want to go back to Portland?” Ah…these would be the Reapers that Butrell is calling in.
The young man understandably asks about Captain Renard. The old killer says, “He may be on the lookout for one Reaper….” Then, after gesturing to another man near the bar, he adds, “But not two.” Oh, you dummy. If Nick or Monroe doesn’t kill you, Renard will.
It’s the next night. Nick is at the power plant, apparently the last to arrive. There’s already a passel of vehicles already there. He scans the area with his pocket flash…and gives Bud the scare of his life when he pulls his Glock on him. Bud reasonably takes it in stride, explaining, “You’ve got to be ready. You’ve got to face that every day, but I don’t.” Bud gives Nick the rundown on what kind of a case they need to make. He then adds, “Well, I don’t want to tell you what to say, but I guess I already have.”
After a night flight touches down, Butrell gets a call at the club. A vaguely reptilian voice says, “You called for us…and we’re here.”
Butrell is obviously shocked: “Already?”
“We need to meet,” the voice continues. “Don’t keep us waiting.”
As Butrell writes down the details, one can’t but think that this meeting will be anything but friendly.
Back at the ranch – excuse me, the Lodge – the case is being made by a middle-aged Eisbiber that if the Eisbiber just live by their customs, nobody gets hurt by the Heshleshen, no matter how much they hate the overall arrangement. A young woman contradicts the guy’s point by pointing out that a) they are getting hurt, anyway, and b) they’ve the constant fear to prove it. It’s time to stand up. Then Bud brings out Nick, giving him a beautiful introduction that uses his full name of ‘Nicholas’. Bud could have been a court herald in another life.
Nick follows that up with a pretty rousing speech about how things can get better if they just take the leap of faith. The arguments then become about fear over becoming a message versus threatening the Heshleshen with losing their heads…not what Nick was after in either case. The vote is called for…and the nays have it.
Then the spokesman asks that Nick not take a head to prove a point…which he wouldn’t do, anyway.
Bud apologises to Nick afterwards, saying that bravery is not in an Eisbiber’s nature. Nick points out that Bud still came to Nick’s house after finding out what he was, fixed his door lock, brought a pie and a quilt, “and that took guts.” He concludes with: “I figured, if you could do it, so could they. Thanks for trying.”
Butrell’s meeting at an abandoned warehouse goes even worse. Getting out of his eye-catching vehicle, he calls out, “Anybody here? I’m here.” Yes, we noticed the luxury car with the lights that you just stepped out of, Captain Obvious. He makes his introductions to the Reaper in front of him. Two seconds later, the Reaper behind him gives him a kidney punch and wraps a clear bag around his head. One punch to the face later, they drop him like a pile of used garbage on the floor.
Bud is berating John about the meeting the next morning: “We failed. We had our chance and we blew it.” Bud finally understands what it was like to see the world through Nick’s eyes. Arnold is listening from the stairwell as Bud says, “For the first time in my life, I’m ashamed to be an Eisbiber.”
Butrell is getting a rude wake-up call in the form of the Reapers finally pulling the bag off his bloodied face, their scythes out and ready to do business. The front man from the previous night says, “We have questions.” Butrell talks up his great-uncle Mamoose, at that stage. Neither Reaper looks impressed.
Captain Renard is getting an update on the case. Hank is telling him that Butrell has a solid alibi with three guys…oh, and the witness is still in the wind. Renard wonders if the witness is still alive and Nick speculates that he’s just too terrified to come forward. Renard scoffs at that, pointing out that the witness was not too terrified to dial up 911 in the first place. He wants more people on this or, “otherwise, we’ll lose this case.”
Nick spots Bud and John by the door. Telling Hank that he’ll be right there, he goes to talk to them. Arnold finally steps out behind them, ready to testify, however reluctantly.
Meanwhile, Butrell is being worked over like a heavy bag and his face is beginning to resemble a severely tenderized side of beef. The Reapers are convinced that Butrell may be one of Nick’s Wessen contacts and Butrell is doing his best to convince them otherwise. “I’m telling you the truth,” this would-be big shot sputters. “Why else would I call you?”
His Reaper interrogator simply says, “That’s what we are going to find out.” PUNCH!
They then give him an ultimatum: “Deliver us the Grimm or die.” He gives them the rundown on Nick and his cop status. The spokes-Reaper wonders if Butrell is suggesting that they walk to the police station and ask for Nick by name, so that they can cut his head off. Then Butrell’s cell goes off, Portland PD on the ID. Spokes-Reaper sees this and asks, “If he is not your friend, then why is he calling you?”
Nick has called to ask Butrell to come downtown to answer a few more questions (I’m guessing one of them won’t be: “Why did you lie to me in the first place?”). The spokes-Reaper puts a switchblade to Butrell’s neck to encourage him to tell Nick the correct answer. Butrell tries playing hardball and then finally lays his cards on the table about each of them knowing what they are (Thankfully, as a veteran of wiretap evasion, he doesn’t say what they both are out loud). He proposes a face-to-face: the Trip Trap Club in ten minutes. After the Reaper rings off, Butrell says, “Well, we better hurry, guys. Be a shame if he got there and we wasn’t there to greet him.”
Credit to Nick’s intelligence – he brought Hank and, apparently, half the department, just in case. Butrell comes out with a bloodied face. Nick asked what happened and Butrell says, “Family reunion.” Hank formally Mirandises him as he slaps on the cuffs. The Reapers are watching from a couple of cars down the way. Target acquired….
Arnold wastes no time picking Butrell out of the lineup. Hank encourages him to take his time, to be sure. Arnold doesn’t hesitate: “I’m sure. That’s him.” Afterwards, Nick tells him, Bud and John that Arnold did great. Butrell is locked up and awaiting arraignment. All’s well that ends well, apparently…but just to be sure, Nick is going to drive him back to the Lodge to make sure he stays safe. Bad timing, considering the Reapers that are right on their heels. Sure enough, the Reapers follow Nick and the Eisbiber’s mini-convoy as soon as they pull out.
By the time, they reach the Lodge, night has fallen and a light rain is falling with it. Bud makes the Reapers by the fact that the same headlights have been in his rear view mirror for the last ten minutes. They call Nick’s cell to give him the head’s-up. As soon as they pull in, Nick tells everyone to get inside as he grabs his pack. Then, with a little persuasion (They want to keep proving their new-found bravery by doing actions that are clearly suicide-by-Reaper), he tells them to get into the Lodge while he deals with the Reapers himself.
The Glock is out and scanning the old massive turbines for targets. He hears the scythes just a second before the Reapers storm out into the open. They get him on a squeeze play, knocking away his Glock. He pulls his club out of his pack and goes blunt object for blade against them. He gives a good account of himself that would have made his late Aunt Marie proud. Then one of the Reapers gets too close to his partner with the scythe as Nick ducks the swipe. The partner’s head falls and the doofus that did it takes the time to morph into something ugly and scaly. While he’s growling his head off, Nick grabs his crossbow and gives the surviving Reaper the hemlock bolt in the neck. He’s out in about five seconds after that. Then and only then does Nick relax and breathe a sigh of relief.
Monroe is enjoying a quiet evening playing his cello when Nick calls, much to his annoyance. Nick quietly gives Monroe his location – the Bull Run Dam – and tells him to bring a shovel. When Monroe gets there, he takes one look at the bodies and is impressed: “Dude…you took out two Reapers.”
As Monroe is looking over the scythes, Nick asks, “They’re just going to keep coming for me until I’m dead, aren’t they?”
Monroe says, “Uh, yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s how it works.”
“I think I need to send them a message.”
“I think you do too. And you know what? When it comes to sending these guys messages, two heads are better than one.” Monroe then uses one of the scythes to slice off the other head.
Butrell is sitting in his cage when Nick comes by for a visit. “Surprised to see me?” Nick practically purrs.
“No,” Burrell admits.
“I met your friends.”
“Ah, you know how it is: They got angry, kind of lost their heads.”
Butrell pales a little at this bit of news/threat and Nick walks out.
Juliette meets him at the front porch step and Nick wonders what else is wrong. She just says that there are so many. Apparently, the entire Eisbiber community has been leaving them gifts all day long. Fresh pies, fresh fruit, fresh preserves, fresh everything. Juliette asks, “What did you do?” Nick answers, “Just…my job.” Yeah. Both of them.
Meanwhile, in Mannheim, the old killer in the bar is enjoying his beer when he gets a very special delivery by air mail. There’s a little note on top of the Styrofoam packing inside: “Next time, send your best.” Even that old killer blanches when he sees what’s inside: two heads that the previous owners obviously didn’t know how to use in life, packed in dry ice. The fear on his face as he looks around in alarm and swallows hard is delicious to drink up. Somewhere in Hell, Don Corleone is smiling in approval.
While this episode lacks the revelations of more recent weeks, it is an important turning point for Nick. He has just gained a whole new community of allies in the Eisbibers, who probably know every safe house in Portland and can make one in about two hours if asked. Moreover, by sending the heads back to the Reapers, he has just made a declaration of his place in the world that he inherited from his aunt. He has just as good as said that there’s a new sheriff in town who will not take kindly to nonsense.
Of course, the flip side of that coin is that Nick has just set himself up to be a potential rival to Renard, whether he meant it to be that way or not (and I’m voting for “not”). Our Prince of the City is only as powerful as his own ability with arms and politics allows him to be. Nick is winning over hearts and minds in a way that directly interferes with Renard’s ability to control Portland. I mean, who would you follow: the cynical royal descendant who sees everybody as expendable chess pieces or the cop who will defend your life just because it’s the right thing to do? While Renard is regarding Nick as a potential enforcer, it’s not really a problem at this time. But it is going to be…bank on it.
C’mon guys, only three episodes left. Throw us another bone, here.