‘The Grimm Variations’ Episode 3 “Hansel And Gretel” Recap & Ending Explained

The picturesque animation of Jacob and Wilhelm seeing their little sister play with dolls marks the beginning of a classic folktale based on siblings. In this variation, Hansel and Gretel are students at a school, and the witch doesn’t want to eat them and turns out to be a good woman. Nonetheless, she still offers them her confections, so that should be enough information for you before I jump in to discuss the third episode of The Grimm Variations.


Spoiler Alert

How do Hansel and Gretel come across the witch?

Hansel and Gretel live and study in a private school run by a couple whom the kids address as Papa and Mama. The couple seems to take good care of the kids while also instilling manners and discipline in them at the same time. The kids have a set routine, which includes waking up, going to the cafeteria for breakfast, attending classes, and playing for the rest of the day. The kids are sent to detention if they break the rules, and their lives look content otherwise. One fine night, Papa and Mama catch Hansel and Gretel in the washroom scribbling on the floor. Tired of the countless accounts of their in-disciplinary behavior, Mama and Papa sent the kids to spend the night in the forest, which resides just outside the campus. Hansel insists on staying by the fence, but Gretel pushes him to venture deep into the woods since they’re free to do anything for the time being. They see a hut in the middle of the forest, and when the siblings enter the hut, they see a delicious cake, along with more sweets and pastries. Gretel doesn’t wait and starts eating without any hesitation, and Hansel follows suit soon. An old woman asks them if they like what they’re eating, and the three indulge in a conversation. The woman doesn’t have any qualities of the traditional witch in the original story; rather, she pushes Hansel to see if there’s more out there than he’s taught by books. She talks like a flat-earther at this point and convinces Hansel that he must check if there’s an end to the world. 


What does Hansel discover after going back to school?

Mama always tells the kids not to fetch the ball if it crosses the fence, and it’s only she who should bring it back. Hansel decides to check on the old woman’s theory and runs to fetch the ball, defying Mama. He discovers that an invisible wall exists beyond the fence, and when Mama asks him if he’s seen anything concerning, he pretends that everything is how it’s supposed to be. Later that night, he’s punished again for disobeying Mama’s rules and sent to the jungle, but Gretel comes with him nonetheless. They visit the woman again, but this time, their thirst for knowledge is much greater than before. The old woman asks them to look around for unusual things happening around them, and Hansel and Gretel follow her words. She gives them a shiny jar of candies and tells them that these will show him the path. 

What unusual things do Hansel and Gretel discover?

Hansel starts to look for unusual things, and the old woman says unusual things happen all the time. There’s a really funny bit during this interaction, and it’s delightful how this The Grimm Variations episode has a comic element for giggles. Anyway, Hansel notices that there are a few kids missing from the school, and nobody really cares about that. A boy named Fritz, who used to wet the bed every day, hasn’t been seen in school for months. Hansel’s friend Carl points out that there have been many children who’ve gone missing over the years, as the kids in the annual pictures keep decreasing in numbers. At this point, you might think Papa and Mama are organ dealers or child traffickers; let me assure you, they’re not. 


How do Hansel and Gretel find the answers?

Hansel and Gretel sneak out of the school at the darkest hour of the night to seek answers. When Hansel raises the jar of candy in front of the invisible wall, he opens a portal to the unknown. Both the siblings walk inside, and they’re in a facility that looks futuristic. Gretel notices that Hansel has been growing up, and he doesn’t need her pestering to do things anymore. They come across a room that resembles a university classroom, and a large display shows databases of kids who’ve been missing. They hear footsteps and hide, and it’s Mama trying to look for them. They run from Mama, but Mama scans them, and she’s running faster than Usain Bolt. It turns out she’s a robot and not at all a real human being. The chase ends when Mama gets crushed by the sliding doors, but she asks the kids to go. 

Is Gretel real?

The old woman appears before them and tells them that now Hansel is ready to face the real world and seek more knowledge. This timeline is set in the future, and the Earth has been uninhabitable for quite some time. The surviving humans decided it was best to leave their offsprings behind and planned survival strategies. This facility is part of one of the survival strategies, and they’re burdened with teaching the new children and making them ready to face the world. Hansel is shown a spacecraft he’s supposed to board as he’s passed his test. But he sees that there’s only one seat in the spacecraft, and the woman leaves it up to him to make his decision. The time of revelation has come, and Gretel tells Hansel she’s nothing but an imaginary sister he made up. All this time, when Gretel encouraged Hansel to do stuff he was scared to do. Hansel was partly schizophrenic, and now the realization causes him to have a breakdown. With a heavy heart, Hansel boards the spacecraft, and the memories of Gretel overwhelm him. He lands on a different planet, where an older boy approaches him and hugs him in joy. The boy is Fritz, the bedwetter who was lost. Hansel sees a lot of other similar-looking spacecraft around him and realizes this is how his new life is going to begin. All the kids who went missing ended up here when they were ready. He bids goodbye to Gretel and joins Fritz. The old woman is back in the hut as a new kid enters her hut, looking for a place to stay the night. 


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Aniket Mukherjee
Aniket Mukherjee
Aniket is a literature student pursuing his master's degree while trying to comprehend Joyce and Pound. When his head is not shoved in books, he finds solace in cinema and his heart beats for poetry, football, and Adam Sandler in times.

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