Episode the third of my Grimm Tales vs. Television! We are off to a far better start in the second half of 2017, as I have managed to put a post up two weeks in a row! Applause-worthy, I think.
The opening quote of episode 3, season 1 of Grimm had a brighter background, but a more painful-sounding intent:
Interestingly enough, the Grimm tale that I believe this episode to have been based on had no such quote within, nor anything remotely similar. The story I refer to from the Grimm Brothers is called quite simply “The Queen Bee,” wherein bees are a comparatively small part of the story. I hadn’t actually read this tale before having to look for it for this episode. Like most Grimm tales, the story was very short (3 pages), and not as, well…horribly violent and gross as some of the Grimm tales can be. I was lucky enough to have this story in the edition of the Grimm Brothers works that I have had since I was a child; The Complete Illustrated Stories of the Brothers Grimm, published by Chancellor Press in 1989. There are many editions of this book though; this one is one of my favourites and I am honestly quite tempted to buy it anyway!
To the point: the Grimm episode and the original Grimm Brothers stories are quite different, more so that the previous tales. In The Queen Bee, a young prince journeys from home in search of his two older brothers. Upon finding them, they travel together for a time, but the youngest brother has to continually prevent his older siblings from doing wrong unto the forest creatures. First, he saves an anthill from being knocked over for spite; second, he saves ducks from being caught and roasted for food; lastly, he saves a nest of bees from being smoked for the honey their nest contains. Eventually, the brothers stumble across a castle, wherein they find odd statues of men and horses, and a locked room containing an old man that does not speak. The old man provides food, and leads them to rooms so they may rest. In the morning, the eldest brother is set a task: to collect one thousand of the princess’ pearls, laying beneath moss on the forest floor. If he fails this task, he shall be turned to stone. Being able to collect only one hundred pearls in a day, he is turned to stone. The second brother is set the same task, and fails just the same: he collects only two hundred pearls. The third brother, seeing the futility of his task, weeps for his fate and that of his brothers. However, the ants that he had saved previously, seeing his plight, gathered and piled the pearls for him, and so he succeeded. The second task was to retrieve a key from the bottom of the lake: and the ducks, whose lives he had saved previously, dived for and retrieved the key for the young prince, and so he succeeded. The third and final task was to guess which of the three princesses, the old king’s daughters, was the youngest. His only clue was that before sleeping, all three had consumed something different: the youngest had consumed honey. The Queen bee, whose life had also been saved by the youngest prince, tasted the lips of all three maidens and remained upon the mouth of the youngest, and so the prince succeeded in his tasks. He married the princess, and in time became King in the old man’s stead.
The NBC episode of Grimm, BeeWare, is focused around bees: both creatures and Wesen. However, that is around about where the similarities to the original story ends. In keeping with the theme of the show, which is more Supernatural meets Criminal Minds, the show revolves around a group of bees seeking revenge upon another species of Wesen for perceived wrongs done to them by that species. Bee venom is the murder weapon. As for all the other details, well…. Watch the show. All the same, considering what I would call the difficulty of trying to make bees, of all creatures, relevant to a supernatural crime drama, this episode is quite good. And again, I enjoyed reading the original tale and I look forward to reading more of the Grimm brothers’ tales in the future.
If you watch Grimm, or if you have any thoughts about this episode or the original tale, let me know in the comments or send me a message through the Contact Me page.
Main image credit: The Complete Illustrated Stories of The Grimm Brothers (1989) London: Chancellor Press, Octopus Books Ltd
Quote image credits: NBC’s Grimm
Categories: Fairy Tales, Grimm Brothers, Grimm Season 1, Grimm: Tales vs. Television
What a great idea comparing the two tales. I have watched some episodes of Grimm but to my shame I have not read the original tales. I need too x
Thanks! I didn’t start reading them until my late teens, and even now I haven’t read them all. This is my way of actually trying to make my way through them in a systemic fashion, while also watching a show I really enjoy 🙂