Grimm, Season 1, Episode 14: "Plumed Serpent"
Beast of the Week: Damonfeuers, dragon creatures who can essentially light their own gastric acids on fire. Talk about heartburn! Hey-oooooo!
Source Material: Super Mario Brothers, pretty much.
The Procedural: Two bodies are found incinerated to death inside a warehouse filled with scrap copper. An arson investigator (played by hometown, uh, “hero” Daniel Baldwin) describes the way they got vaporized as like being hit with napalm. He also says chunks of human fat were found in the vicinity. The building owner tells Hank and Nick that several of his warehouses have been the target of thieves recently, with the locks found completely melted. No copper is reported coming through local scrapyards, however.
Back at the station, a witness reports seeing a homeless man with a severely scarred face fleeing the scene the night before. He describes the man to the police sketch artist, who miraculously renders a near-perfect drawing of the guy who caught a glimpse of in the cold open. Moments later, the cops are called back to the warehouse, where the owner was assaulted. Hank, Nick and Wu corner the perp inside and nearly get good and 'sploded. In the melee, Nick sees the guy transform into some kind of agitated lizard-person.
Detective Baldwin gets the DNA results back from the lipids found at the scene, identifying the culprit as Fred Eberhart, a war vet and former welder for the railroad. He has a daughter, Ariel, who works a local strip club, which turns out to be Dante's. Nick goes to the club, purely for investigative purposes (riiiiiiight) and finds Ariel on stage doing—what else?—a fire dance routine. He also spots Eddie Monroe clapping appreciatively from a table. He gives Nick the skinny on the damonfeuers, explaining they eat a high-fat, low-carb diet, producing serious amounts of gastric acids that they vaporizer then ignite, perhaps with static electricity. So, they don't exactly breathe fire, but close enough.
Nick visits Ariel backstage. She's got a dragon tattoo, by the way, but she had it “long before the books came out.” She doesn't reveal much about her father, though she does reveal ... so Nick follows her home. He sees flashes of light coming from her backyard, causing him to snoops around. Ariel jumps out and tackles him, but instead of ripping his head off, she rips off Nick's shirt (there's a lot of Giuntoli abdomen in this episode) and kisses him. Inconveniently, Nick's phone, which got knocked out of his pocket, starts ringing. It's Juliette. Ariel answers (draaaaammmzz), and now Nick's got some 'splaining to do. Back home, he gets “grilled” (get it?) by Juliette, but they eventually come to an understanding...just as Ariel is shown peering through their window.
The next day, Hank and Nick interview Fred's old boss at the railroad, who informs the detectives that Fred was devastated after his wife died in a fire. Back at the station, Ariel calls and invites Nick back to her home to talk about her dad. He makes a point of calling Juliette and being upfront about the invitation, and confirming that Hank is going with him this time. You can guess what's coming. Hank and Nick show up at Ariel's house, but she's not there. They break in and find copper everywhere. I must not have been paying close attention to this episode, because I totally missed the significance of copper with the damonfeuers.
After looking around the house, Hank splits and Nick goes home to shag Juliette (seriously, that was the implication). Arriving in his bedroom, however, he finds Ariel in his bed. She blows fire and bolts off, then calls to let Nick know she's abducted Juliette. Nick grabs Monroe and they head for an abandoned train tunnel, the perfect place for a reclusive dragon to set up a layer. Along the way, Monroe has an epiphany: This is Nick's quest, to save his princess from Bowser, I mean, a dragon, and fulfill “the ancient archetype of the whole relationship megillah.”
Using an old section car (with Monroe dropping some old-school train knowledge), the pair find Fred's hiding place. Nick creates a diversion while Monroe goes off to find Juliette. He gets to her just in time to untie her copper restraints and slug Ariel. Meanwhile, Nick gets into a bum fight with Fred, dodging his explosive burps long enough to stab him with a steel rod. Ariel says something about Fred finally being able to die with dignity (her whole motive for the kidnapping involved her father's regret over the death of his wife, though it was never adequately fleshed out), then starts spinning around and expelling those flammable gastric fumes while reciting some sort of nursery rhyme. Everyone escapes the tunnel just before it explodes.
Later, while driving home, Juliette tells Nick, “I can't promise I can keep doing this”—“this” meaning getting kidnapped by dragons?—prompting Nick to have flashbacks of Aunt Marie warning him to end his relationship with her. She's too tired to discuss things further, but does says she's “glad that bitch is dead.”
Not so fast! The final scene is of “that bitch” walking, unscathed, from the train tunnel, and presumably back to her job bikini dancing at Dante's.
Other Developments: Monroe informs Nick that a Grimm was recently found decapitated in Antwerp. These shadows, they are in the fore.
Grade: B-. After last week's episode managed to satisfyingly weave together the Case of the Week and the show's ongoing storylines, it's back to a ho-hum one-and-done. The show is trying to make us care about Juliette and Nick's relationship—I think this season will ultimately come down to what happens there, rather than some of the more intriguing story arcs—but it's not working out yet.