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Grimm battles "Tarantella"

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Written by : published Sunday 12th February 2012

"Tarantella" is the latest episode of NBC's Grimm. The cops think a serial killer is on the loose after discovering a mummified body, on which acid was used to liquefy the organs, and then they were sucked out through the belly. Ick! Nick (David Giuntoli) suspects this is the work of more than just an average human, and he's right. He learns of a spider species that must kill three victims every give years in order to avoid aging really fast. The trail leads him to a suburban housewife (Amy Acker, Angel, Dollhouse) who is much more than she appears to be.

Amy Acker's presence is a must on sci-fi fantasy shows, second only to Summer Glau. It is not surprising that Grimm recruits her, too. Though it is too bad that she is stopped so quickly and tossed in jail, doomed to never be seen again. Even should the show find some reason to bring the character back, an older actress will likely be called upon to play her, given the encounter that Nick and Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) have with another of her species, who doesn't kill. It's a waste, then, to use such a talented actress in the genre in such a bit role.

However, there should be little regret on Acker's part to being regulated to a single episode. After all, Grimm is not exactly at the top of its game. The focus of the series so far has been police procedural with a slight twist. While this formula does appeal to some viewers, it does not do so, on its own, for many of Acker's fans, who are used to much more intelligent television. Acker is better used in stories that take more than an hour to play out, and by not repeating on Grimm, it leaves her open to better jobs.

Grimm's biggest mistake is going for the procedural path. Many other shows on the air currently do the same, only better. Instead, Grimm should be focusing on its characters. Why hasn't Nick told Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) his secret yet? Why drag it out over so many episodes? What are Captain Renard's (Sasha Roiz) goals? Why hasn't Renard revealed to Nick that he knows what's really going on? Wouldn't that make their police work more effective? These are the interesting plots that should be explored, rather than spend such a major focus on the case of the week junk.

Nick's character is poorly fleshed out. He wants to hold on to his normal life, or so he says, yet he fully delves into this new line of work as a Grimm, too. It's a flawed attempt at compartmentalization. Yet, it would be so much easier to manage his time if he told Juliette about his activities. It would be understandable if Nick was afraid to tell her, for fear of losing her, or her having a very negative reaction. But these things are mentioned, at best, with almost no time spent looking at the feelings of the characters involved. There is much wasted opportunity here.

Even worse, in "Tarantella," Nick threatens some peaceful creatures that have been watching his house. Their curiosity is understandable, given that they have never encountered a Grimm before. But rather than help them to know him, so they aren't scared, and stop bothering him, Nick threatens and intimidates. Perhaps he is worried for Juliette's safety and wants to keep those types away from her, but again, this isn't really explored. And Nick should know better than to run off people who could be helpful. Surely, through his interactions with Monroe, Nick has learned it is good to make friends with the supernatural? Not only that, but what is these peaceful types have less peaceful friends, and, feeling scared, send those baddies to deal with Nick?

All of that aside, "Tarantella" is mostly a fine, stand alone story. Acker is great as the suburban mom who kills because she has to. The clues are laid out fairly realistically, other than the stretch involving the watch, and how it ends up in police hands. Nick's hunt for the killer plays out with excitement.

The only serious complaint about this particular case-of-the-week plot is that Nick totally ignores the fact that the killer's daughter is also a spider creature, and will soon be killing, too. There is no conversation to deal with the girl, nor is any attempt made to stop her before she acts. In this ending, it kind of ruins a lot of what "Tarantella" does right, spoiling the one story in the episode that works.

Perhaps Grimm will get its act together, perhaps not. Grimm airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.

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About the author JeromeWetzelTV


Jerome Wetzel is a huge fan of stories, in both books and television. He writes TV reviews and fiction. He currently posts articles for TheTVKing, Seat42F, and BlogCritics, as well as his own personal blog, as well as writing fiction. His website is www.jeromewetzel.com Follow him on twitter @JeromeWetzelTV

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