Saturday, April 11, 2015

Grimm: Chupacabra – review

Director: Aaron Lipstadt

First aired: 2014

Contains spoilers

I previously reviewed the season 3 episode of Grimm, Mommy Dearest but before that a friend, Everlost, warned me that there was a chupacabra episode (which had just aired in the UK).

The big difference (beyond myth type) between these two episodes was the fact that this barely teetered on two feet as a standalone episode. It brought in the doubts being felt by Sgt Wu (Reggie Lee) by the end of Mommy Dearest (indeed there were scenes from that episode in the “previously on”) and there was the ongoing saga of the baby we saw born in that episode but – as well as that – there was a lot of other background material that meant very little to a casual watcher (See NOTE below).

medicine sans frontier
That also meant that there was very little story to our main story but, of what there was, we start off in the Dominican Republic. There we see doctors Gabe (Andrew Harris) and Diego (Max Arciniega) who are, I assume, at a medicine sans frontiers camp. It is their last day and they are due to fly back to Portland. Diego is bitten by a mosquito just as they leave the hospital tent. He gets home, jet lagged but pleased to see his wife, Belem (Alyssa Diaz, the Vampire Diaries). We notice that the bite has blistered.

He wakes in the night, feverish. He walks outside the house and is wracked with pain, collapsing against the post and then falling to the floor. We see hair sprout on his arms. A man (Shawn Lee) is walking his dog, which begins to get quiet feisty (a squirrel is assumed). The dog manages to pull away from the man and run off. He chases after the dog, rounds the corner and sees Diego snacking on the pooch. He redirects his attack to the man.

the morning after
Diego awakens, back in human form but covered with blood and not at home. At the house, round the corner from his, the police have set up a crime scene and detectives Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) and Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby) arrive. Sgt Wu doesn’t know what to make of it – the victim has had his throat ripped out but there is little blood (Wu mentions werewolves and vampires, though it becomes clear he still doesn’t know about the Grimm or the wesen, only suspects something really wrong and he is losing his mind, and so this is more sarcastic than anything). A neighbour states that the attack is like that of el chupacabra.

Now, often with the chupacabra we go ‘Vamp or Not?’ but this one is definitely drinking blood. As it goes on we discover that Diego and Belen are coyotl but Diego has caught a rare blood disease from the mosquito that morphs the wesen into a wældreór – a bloodthirsty creature permanently transformed and a cure has to be given to him quickly or he will be that way forever. Chupabra is just the modern name for wældreór.

And that’s about it. For a fan of the series I am sure that there was much of interest going on but as a standalone episode the main story was crowded out by the arc material and as such the episode didn’t really build any sympathy for the focal characters. The episode relies on stereotypes, the good doctor and the loving wife, to carry it forward and they, in some respects, are little more than ciphers for the Wu character development. As a standalone 4 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

NOTE: When I wrote the review of this episode and Season 3’s Aswang episode I had not seen any more of the series but, becoming intrigued, by the time of posting I had caught up as far as Season 3. The body of the review was left to capture my uninitiated thoughts.

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