With #Grimm Season 6 only a few months from arriving on our screens, and the recent news that it will be the show's last hurrah, there's a lot riding on the upcoming, and final season of the well loved show. But there's many a problem yet to be solved before the flame burns out, and one in particular which has been needing addressing for a long time now.
As enjoyable as it is, Grimm is hard to defend as a pinnacle of writing achievement. What it is is good silly fun, and it does often touch on important matters like segregation, racism and family — albeit in an oft heavy handed manner. The bottom line of the show is that it’s a good human soap opera drama set in a world that is anything but, and it has been that way since the beginning.
But Grimm has a real problem, and it’s name is Juliette Silverton (Bitsie Tulloch). Not in so much that the character is a problem, but rather the way she has been treated by the show's writers is. In fact, it might be more accurate to say that the root of the problem is Adalind Schade (Claire Coffee).
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The Adalind Problem
A disclaimer here: I adore Adalind. She’s sassy and scheming and the ultimate over-protective mother. She's been one of the driving forces of Grimm ever since her memorable introduction way back in the very first episode — sometimes as an antagonist and sometimes less so — and Claire Coffee carries her off with aplomb.
From the start we loved to hate her, and then we hated to love her, and then we weren't quite sure where we landed on her character, as the show began to expose who she was as person and not just as a hexenbiest.
And, of course, she’s a mother fighting for her children, what more sympathetic a character can there be? Even #GameOfThrones' Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), the worst of the worst, has a certain relatability because she’s fierce, ruthless and she'll do anything to protect her family, even if it means destroying another.
In Game of Thrones this ultimately leads to Cersei's downfall, as she loses all her children. Similarly, the search for Adalind's lost daughter Diana Schade-Renard has been a driving plot point of Grimm since the beginning of Season 3. But then along came news of her second child, Kelly Schade-Burkhardt, and the niggly problems regarding her relationship with Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) and Juliette started stacking up.
Nick And Adalind
But ever since the beginning of Grimm there have been those who supported a romantic link between Adalind and titular character Nick. And often it feels like the writers were aware of this, planning to write Juliette off since the beginning.
For the first couple seasons of Grimm Juliette was almost a redundant character, the archetypal naive, boring, nagging girlfriend who, for her own sake, needs to be forcibly kept separate from the dangerous world her paramour inhabits. She broke through this over the course of Seasons 2 and 3, but it wasn't until Season 4 that Juliette really gained her own power, becoming a hexenbiest as the result of Adalind's spell to strip Nick of his Grimm abilities.
In this case though, Juliette's newfound strength was also her downfall. And, once again, it came about through Adalind. Arguably Adalind has been more of a driving force in Nick and Juliette’s relationship that Juliette was, and that’s the fault (or perhaps the intention) of the writing.
Juliette was used initially in the sphere of the innocent girlfriend, a trope in every supernatural show — and especially that of the superhero, which Nick arguably falls under. Named for one half of the most famous doomed couple in history, perhaps we should've seen the events of Season 4 coming. As Juliette became "tainted" by the world of the Grimm, so did Nick pull away from her, unable to even look upon her in her hexenbiest form when she challenges him to do so.
Did the creators always intend for Juliette to fall, or was this subplot written in response to viewers not being all that fond of Juliette in the first place? I suspect it may be the latter.
The Juliette Problem
Let’s not lie, Juliette put up with a lot of shit over the course of the series.
She nearly died multiple times times, and had her home invaded and destroyed even more times than that. She had her memory erased and dealt with a huge amount of upheaval to her life over that time period. She forgave Nick for sleeping with Adalind, the woman who had set out to destroy her life more than once before (although to be fair Adalind was in the form of Juliette at the time, and if that isn’t the best excuse we’ve ever heard for infidelity then we’re stumped).
When she first became a hexenbiest it wasn't an overnight change from good to bad. It was a slow slide down a slope which intensified when Nick rejected her. Juliette doesn’t react well to the notion that her friends think she needs to be "fixed." When she transforms she becomes something horrific to them and in their rejection she becomes what they fear, but had they — and Nick especially — put her needs before their own prejudice, she could have been saved.
There's an anti-hexenbiest prejudice which runs throughout the characters in the show — as a race hexenbiests are usually evil. But whilst Nick, Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Rosalee (Bree Turner) all shelter and protect Adalind, even after all the terrible things she did to them, they reject Juliette — their friend and loved one — when she begins to change.
Yes, Juliette was wrong to do what she did in Season 4. We can’t forgive the hand she had in the death of Kelly Burkhardt (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), as well as taking Diana away again and everything else she did. But it's hard not to feel sympathetic towards her.
Juliette was right to call out Nick about her refusal to accept the changes that had happened to her. He recoils from her physically because she’s no longer beautiful and because she's become a symbol of what, in his view, is all that is wrong with the Wesen world. In the universe of Grimm hexenbiests are by default the bad guys, but that’s just one side of the coin. From the point of view of a Wesen, Nick as a Grimm is also by default a bad guy, but he's proven that to be untrue over the course of the series.
A Biest By Any Other Name
As Juliette falls under the influence of the hexenbiest, she is no longer pure. She's no longer the good girl, the girl next door, the girlfriend waiting at home to put up with her heroes' baggage. She becomes powerful, but corrupt. Remember, despite their reputation, not all hexenbiests are evil — we've seen that not only with Adalind, but with Henrietta (Garcelle Beauvais) and later with Eve (Bitsie Tulloch) too.
The question is, why are we expected to forgive Adalind so easily when she was always so much worse than Juliette? Why does Adalind succeed when Juliette is punished? Juliette had a hand in Kelly’s death, but she did not kill her. Adalind has attempted to kill Nick, Juliette, Kelly, Monroe, Rosalee, Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby) and more, but she receives redemption whilst Juliette does not.
Do we give Adalind more leeway because she is a mother? This is certainly a point of contention once she falls pregnant with Nick's child, as Kenneth Bowes-Lyon (Nico Evers-Swindell) says to Juliette in "Iron Hans":
"She's having what should have been your baby with your boyfriend."
Given the influence of the hexenbiest, Julliete’s reaction to the events of Season 3 and 4 is understandable, to an extent. As much as we may love Adalind, she is not a good person — especially when it comes to the relationship between her and Juliette.
Juliette may have been the annoying whiny weak girlfriend, but she was at heart a good person, someone who cared about Nick. She became the sacrifice, the scapegoat. She paid for Nick’s "sins," because she loved him and he her. As she tells Nick in "You Don't Know Jack":
"You made me, now get used to it."
And lets be honest, biesty Juliette is the best kind of Juliette. She’s assertive, she’s strong, she’s a stone cold bitch and after three seasons of her being a bit of a weed, it’s a startling and incredible transformation. For the first time she’s standing up for herself, for the first time she’s calling Nick out for being a rubbish boyfriend, and it’s a breath of fresh air.
Tulloch plays her off with incredible bile and passion, it’s hard not to love to hate her in the same way we did Adalind. By the conclusion of Season 4 the two have all but switched places — Juliette the scheming hexenbiest, Adalind the innocent normal girl.
Juliette knows that what she is doing is wrong. She knows that when she lures Kelly to her house. It’s only then she realises where the path of rage has led her, and she walks to face her fate just as Kelly does to hers. Juliette still exists inside the monster, as we see from her facial expressions when she learns that Nick has escaped the royals in the Season 4 finale.
At the end she begs Nick to kill her, because she realizes she's crossed a line she can't return from. She can never go back to Nick and the life she had, and she forces Trubel (Jacqueline Toboni) to kill her by attacking Nick — wounding him but not killing him.
Eve, And Beyond
Which brings us to Eve in Grimm Season 5. Eve was kind of a great thing to happen to Juliette's character, despite all the horribleness that came before her. Even as Season 5 saw Eve denying the feelings tied into her past as Juliette, and the beginnings of a possible romance between Nick and Adalind, the finale episode made it pretty clear that Juliette may be resurfacing from wherever she's been buried within Eve's psyche.
This in itself brings its own problems. Because there's no place for Juliette now, Nick has moved on with Adalind and their child, and she's been nothing but a sacrifice.
In Season 6 I foresee some kind of ending for Juliette where she becomes the sacrificial lamb again. Dying tragically somehow in defense of Nick, Adalind or their child. She’ll absolve herself of her sins and die at peace, leaving Nick to move on and find his own peace. She won’t be a woman in a refrigerator, but like so many others she’ll be punished for the actions of her love, the main character.
Grimm doesn’t take many prisoners, but Juliette is the show’s greatest victim, echoing the warnings of Marie Kessler (Kate Burton) who told Nick from the beginning that he must leave Juliette and a normal life behind in order to protect her. Maybe I'll be proven wrong, maybe the writers will find a conclusion to her story which doesn’t end with her dying tragically. But, at the end of the day, Juliette deserved better.
Grimm Season 6 is set to premiere on January 6, 2017.