Friday, October 26, 2012

"The Bottle Imp" & "The Spirit in the Bottle"

"Let me out, let me out," the spirit cried. And the boy, thinking no evil, drew the cork out of the bottle. Episode seven (season two) is inspired by the Brothers Grimm tale (99), The Spirit in the Bottle. The original story is about a bottle buried beneath a tree that is found by the son of a woodcutter. The boy then unleashes a violent spirit when he uncorks his mysterious find. You can read the short tale HERE. It's also interesting to consider the story's parallels with variations of the Middle Eastern folk tale of Aladdin, the boy who releases a genie from a magical lamp (a story now found in Western versions of  One Thousand and One Nights, also known as Arabian Nights).

Episode Summary: (from Sidereel) An investigation into a gruesome murder leads Nick and Hank to an unstable father and his daughter. Elsewhere, Monroe fills in for Rosalee at the spice shop; and Capt. Renard deals with women from his past.

Grimm on Grimm: Although many fans have complained that this episode fell short compared to recent developments seen on the show, it nevertheless features  interesting fairy tale motifs and a fun spin on the original story that inspired it. First, the idea of an evil spirit released from a bottle is transposed to a little girl unleashed on the outside world, wreaking  plenty of deadly havoc as a young and untamed Wesen. As the episode begins, we see April Granger innocently seated at home, waiting for her father on the front porch. This establishes an immediate contrast between the interior and exterior, home versus the outside world, that is paralleled in the original story by the bottle spirit being either uncorked or sealed, as well as the bottle's location above or underground (note that in the tale of Aladdin, much of the action takes place underground as well, not to mention the genie that is released from inside the much coveted lamp).

April Granger, the "bottle imp".
Eventually, we learn that the young girl is a Drang-Zorn (urge, stress + wrath) whose Wesen nature has developed prematurely. The harm she causes, however grave, isn't necessarily her fault, but her Wesen parents can hardly count on the City of Portland to understand that, underlining once again the contrast of interior (Wesen and the highly select inner circle privy to their existence) and exterior (general public, oblivious to the supernatural creatures with whom they coexist). In order to conceal his daughter's violent tendencies, the girl's father builds an underground bunker, another reference to the Brothers Grimm story, in which the bottle is buried beneath a tree.

Although not featured in The Spirit in the Bottle story, the episode's plot about a young girl who develops as a Wesen too soon can easily be read as an analogy for puberty and menstruation, specifically. April appears indeed to be the perfect age to represent the youngest end of the spectrum in terms of menstrual onset. Yet again, the inner/outer contrast is at play here: April's outer youthful and sweet appearance versus the discomfort and harsher changes she is experiencing internally. Other fairy tales that tackle (often violently) girls' coming of age include: The Red Shoes, Little Red Riding Hood and Donkey Skin, to name just a few. 

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