Grimm backtracked a bit after its last two excellent episodes, reverting to the Wesen-o'the-Week formula that it has used so faithfully — and consistently — ceaselessly, one might say — over the last few years. But the spirit of innovation is still kickin', and darned if it isn't used to tell us a story that's more than just "new weird Wesen kills a guy, Nick eventually gets 'em."
While I enjoyed "The Good Soldier," there's not too much to it, so I apologize if this is brief (not really. I have to stay home every Friday night Grimm and Dracula are on, so I figure you people owe me). A woman finds soldier Kirk Acavedo from Fringe, accuses him of raping her without using the word rape, she leaves, and Kirk is immediately killed by a manticore — a mythological creature with a lion head and a scorpion's tail (it also usually has bat wings, but the Grimm budget only stretches so far).
The woman, named Frankie, also accosts a few military contractors, who we know from primetime TV dramas are all scumbags, and of course raped her as well. One of the contractors wants to confess, but the manticore kills him and his wife before he can, until there's only the super-slimy head of the PMC left. Meanwhile, Nick and Hank do their detective thing, realize another dude in Phoenix who served with these guys died in Phoenix a few weeks ago in the same way, so they call their elderly commanding officer, who's dying of cancer somewhere across the country, who explains about the rape and that the guy are scumbags, but since they're private military contractors they can't be prosecuted for anything. And when this CO gets off Skype, he goes and gets himself a drink, because he's actually in a cheap motel room, not a hospital.
Nick and Hank find Frankie, who is happy to tell them that sure, she called these assholes out, but she didn't kill them. There's a great scene where Nick pulls his "Look, I'm a Grimm and I know you're a manticore." The lady gives him a flat look and turns into a Steinadler, a hawk Wesen, and Nick is just boggled. Of course, the only other person who knew what Frankie was planning was the CO, and Nick and Hank realize the old CO is the manticore, just as he catches up with the PMC head, and turns into a manticore. And then the last PMC guy turns into a manticore, too
AND THEN THERE'S A MOTHERFUCKING MANTICORE FIGHT.
I'll get back to this in second. Nick and Hank arrive just as PMC Asshole stabs Old CO in the chest, but don't worry, it's all part of Old CO's plan — PMC asshole can't be convicted for raping Frankie, but he can be convicted for murdering Old CO back here in the U.S. Justice is done, more or less.
Here's what made this episode stand out from the other W-o'-t-W episodes for me: 1) The murders were so straightforward that it actually made sense for Nick and Hank not to immediately suspect a Wesen. Yes, the victims all had an oddly large, circular wound, but that only proved the killer had a weird weapon, not that he/she was a weird Wesen. There was no victim covered in boils, no one had climbed a tree to let their stomachs explode. And as soon as they heard the weapon also injected neurotoxin, as if there was a giant scorpion involved, Nick and Hank just looked at each and immediately called Juliette for Grimm research help.
2) The obvious suspect wasn't the culprit. Normally, Grimm doesn't try to make its mysteries too tough, letting the discovery of the Wesen-ness of the bad guys count as the plot. But "The Good Soldier" did a good job about making Frankie seem like the killer by giving us no other suspects until very late in the game, which made the twist a bit of a surprise. This was also assisted by the fact that 3) Grimm tricked up in regards to the Old CO. Nic and Hank gets him on the phone, and he's super-sympathetic to the woman's cause, and you immediately start wondering if he's involved somehow, because why would the show bother to introduce a new character this late in the episode. But then, when he gets off the computer and there's the reveal he's in a motel room, it could have just been presented as a simple deception about his location, still indicating he was a good guy on the lady's side, perhaps her accomplice. Instead, Old OC wanders casually across the room and fixes himself a big-ass scotch, and it just seems so sinister! I fully expected that he was the mastermind behind the other assholes. But no!
4) Nick and Hank were largely superfluous in this episode. Not that Nick and Hank need to be useless, of course, but this was almost entirely an event that was occurring beyond the realm of the main Grimm characters, that Nick and Hank only got to see part of. Clearly, all this stuff would have happened almost exactly the same way had Nick not gotten involved. It just gives this wonderful view that there's more out there to the world of Grimm beyond Nick's immediate circle, that people are having other lives out there that don't revolve around him and the other main characters.
Also, 4a) MOTHERFUCKING MANTICORE FIGHT. To go along with #4, Nick arrived when the fight was basically over. The main conflict was between two other characters, and Nick was only a bystander. It's not something Grimm can or should do every week, but in terms of making Grimm seem like an actual world, it does wonders.
• The B plot is that Rosalee and Munroe go to see Rosalee's estranged mom and sister. As it turns out, Rosalee was in jail for shoplifting during her dad's funeral, which caused her to miss it, which forced her sister to come home and take care of their mother, which made her super, super-bitter, and thus Rosalee hasn't seen any of them for seven years. This gets resolved over a single dinner, which keeps it from having the emotional impact the writers probably wanted it to.
• I don't know what's wrong with Rosalee's mom, but she seems fine. I don't know why she needed one of her daughters to abandon her career to come back home and take care of her full time.
• Why was Rosalee put in jail for shoplifting? I mean, narratively? She was a drug addict. Why not say she was in jail for some kind of drug-related crime? It's just weird, is all.
• 45 Seconds with Adalind: Adalind telekinectically mucks about with a coffee mug, albeit without much control. Renard's flunky says she's slowly getting her powers back, which finally answers whether that hilariously elaborate set of tasks Stefania made her do worked, but her powers still need time to fully recover.
• Dear person in charge of choosing the music for tonight's episode: I thought playing "In the Mood" in the VA hall was a bit on-the-nose, but the military drums as the lady walked out was just terrible. TERRIBLE.