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Grimm Review: 'El Cucuy'

Christopher Monigle Christopher Monigle
November 30th, 2013 11:45am EST

Grimm

I wonder will Grimm make a tradition out of bringing Mexican and/or Spanish legends to modern audiences. Last season’s “La Llorona” was promoted in the same way as last night’s “El Cucuy.” Special attention was given to the episode’s source material. “La Llorona” was promoted more for its scary tale than the world in which the scary tale is happening, which is the world of Nick and his friends, with weird murders and different creatures behind those murders. I felt unsure about what kind of episode “El Cucuy” would be. Would it shelve the over-arcing parts of the story for a week to focus exclusively on El Cucuy? The answer is no.

The legend of El Cucuy reminded me of a story I heard earlier this year. This American Life ran a story about “Diana, Hunter of Bus Drivers.” “Diana” shot and killed two bus drivers in Cuidad Juarez. Bus drivers in Cuidad Juarez had been raping women who rode took their buses home or to work. The roots of the story, this woman’s actions rather, seem rooted in this legend of El Cucuy. El Cucuy acts on behalf of the sorrowful voices it hears. El Cucuy comes through a town and acts violently against the criminals who harm people. The cries of sorrow come together to form the most sorrowful cry, a cry wherein all sorrow is connected, and then El Cucuy attacks.

There’s a mother theme throughout El Cucuy. El Cucuy itself is a 77 year old woman who could be anyone’s grandmother. She responds to the cries of mothers she hears in the roughest part of Portland. Two robbers brutally beat a mother’s son, and her cries echo throughout the town; soon, the two robbers are found brutally murdered. Two men follow a young woman, walking home from the bus stop. One man tries to assault the young woman, but gets brutally murdered before he can harm her. The mother of a local do-gooder, Daniel Flores, cries out for aid when her son takes a knife to the local ‘beast of evil’ who pushes drugs and violence in the neighborhood. El Cucuy intervenes on her behalf.

Nick investigates the murders, of course, but he’s alarmed by an e-mail sent from his mother, who hasn’t been seen since last season. Monroe’s mother’s voice is heard for the first time in the series. He’s also alarmed by his mother but because his parents don’t know about the specifics of Rosalee. Monroe’s mother doesn’t really connect, as it were, to the other mother parts of the episode; however, her little role serves as this sort of Old Testament type omniscient force he worries about disappointing (or not). The mother’s role as protector connects Nick’s mother with the mothers seen throughout episode and with The Mother, El Cucuy.

Grimm put a different spin on the legend of El Cucuy. With the role of the mother-as-protector, El Cucuy cannot prey on innocent children. Juliette provides brief exposition about the actual legend when she tells Nick she was told El Cucuy would eat her if she didn’t eat her vegetables or if she behaved badly. Grimm turns the legend around so that it’s about protecting innocent children, no matter the age since a mother always sees her son or daughter as her child. Nick and Hank don’t know what to do with the kindly old woman they find ripping through the throat of the ‘beast of evil’ character in the last act except to let her on her way, to which Renard asks, “Are you kidding me?” El Cucuy punished the bad man and turned a bad neighborhood to good. How does one imprison a myth anyway?

Juliette learns about Nick’s mother, who he speaks about in a bemused way, though the essentials of Nick’s mother are conveyed to Juliette. “M” sacrificed for the sake of her son’s safety and all that. Juliette tracks his mother to a place in Slovenia. Nick assumes she’s headed to Greece. Later, Juliette finds a section in the Grimm journals about a slaughter in Greece during the 1600s. I suspect that’s foreshadowing, but I never thought Nick’s mom would have disappeared for so long from the show.

Other Thoughts:

-Does NBC hate Grimm? I don’t think the network wanted to skip two weeks of Grimm since it had a late premiere. Last Friday the network ran a special about John F. Kennedy. Last night was the day after Black Friday. The episode ran against holiday specials, so maybe it performed decently. I searched for last night’s ratings but did not find any.

-The Adalind story is barely worth a mention. Her baby has two heartbeats. Renard’s getting the medical records.


-John Behring directed it. Michael Golamco wrote it.

Photo Credits: © NBCUniversal, Inc


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