'Grimm' Season 3 Episode 14 Recap: 'Mommy Dearest'
A brilliant writer once remarked that a writer’s job is to put a character in a tree and throw rocks at him. The events of this episode are the tree for Sgt. Wu, and Hank and Nick throw the rocks once he’s high up from level ground, way up in the clouds where the air is thin and the mind plays tricks. “Mommy Dearest” concentrates on Grimm’s least used and least developed secondary character--Sgt. Wu. For two and a half seasons the character quipped in the grimmest circumstances. He quipped in lighter scenes. He quipped in any scene. It was great. Every secondary character deserves a spotlight to emerge as more than a walking quip, especially when you can put him in a tree and throw rocks at him. A tree sets off the madness that will overwhelm Wu by episode’s end, actually.
“Mommy Dearest” tells the story of a tradition in Philippine culture in which a son’s first-born is sacrificed for the sake of extending the life of his mother. The episode has three mothers in total. Adalind delivered her baby in the teaser. Wu’s close friend from childhood is a mother-to-be, while her husband and in-laws are Aswang, gaunt, demonic wesen which use their long forked tongue to suck amniotic fluid from pregnant women's bellies in order to have a longer life. Wu knew the story from a childhood fairy tale. His grandmother used to tell him and his cousins the scary story of the creature with the long, black tongue. Like all terrifying stories told to children, it lingered into his adult life. The strange circumstances of the crime scene in his friend’s bedroom lead his mind to strange theories; a mistrust of his friend’s husband encourages an other-worldly explanation for an unexplainable assault. Wu’s left alone with his theories. Hank and Nick don’t make an effort to ease his mind. Well, they do, but it’s half-assed and useless.
The first two seasons, and half of the third, established Wu as committed. He’s committed to his job. He’s dutiful. He’s incredibly fast and quick-witted, quipping at anything that moves or does not move. The writers brought Wu into a scene for levity. The story of the show reduced his importance with each episode. Hank’s involvement in cases was useless until Nick told him the truth about the other side of Portland. Wu can’t matter in cases or in any stories, unless he gets puffy funny face. The viewer catches a glimpse of Wu on his own, in the first act, when he eats a sandwich with another secondary character even less defined and developed than Wu. “Mommy Dearest” clearly shows why Wu shuffles off the board halfway through the episode: he’s never needed and he has no investment in the case. Nick and Hank solve murders. Wu’s friend makes the case important for him. He broods, he thinks, he paces rooms sorting out the pieces of the case that don’t make sense.
Wu’s personal investment in the case gives the character depth and the case depth. Wu’s conversation with his cousin exposits his connection with his close friend: she’s the girl his family and friends thought he’d marry. Her husband becomes more annoyed with Wu’s presence throughout the episode. The husband’s odd behavior increases after the assault on his wife. The writers introduced the husband in a princely way. He gladly left the house to pick prescriptions up from the pharmacy. He seemed innocent, well-adjusted; but Nick and Hank didn’t trust him. Soon, Wu didn’t. It then followed I, the viewer, didn’t.
The husband was torn between family tradition and his first born, which was a promising conflict that seemed to have more going on with it it until it didn’t. He’s pushed down the stairs and removed from the story. The jealousy he feels because of Wu is a very minor part of the story. Within their minor battle to protect a woman they both love is something about love and protection; however, Wu loses his mind and his whatever-he-feels-for-his-friend falls away as paranoia about the Aswang grows. The Aswang resembled Tolkien’s tortured Gollum though it lacked Gollum’s personality, depth, struggle, and etc., For Wu it was his childhood nightmare come to life in the most nightmarish possible. Nick shot the mother in the back of the head. Wu checked into a mental ward because of repeated visions of the Aswang bursting through the window to plunge that tongue into his esophagus.
Nick and Hank don’t tell Wu about the other side of Portland. Hank wants to, but Nick doesn’t. Grimm’s writers probably made a rule in the writer’s room to drag out a single character’s discovery of what’s really going on for a full season. I appreciated what we learned about Wu regardless of him accomplishing absolutely nothing.
-Two short scenes for Adalind and Renard; three scenes actually. Her baby’s already demonic looking.