When we last left Grimm, all hell was about to break loose, with Rosalee having run out of new fiancé Monroe’s house and his parents attacking a just-arrived Nick. This week we pick up where we left off, with the parents Monroe fuming, Nick on the defensive, and Rosalee crying alone at the spice shop. However after this tremendous buildup, and an Olympics-inspired month-long hiatus, “Revelation” is a significant let-down. The episode is split between two main storylines: Nick/Juliette, Monroe/Rosalee, and Monroe’s parents in Portland, and Adalind and co. in Vienna; unfortunately, only one of these works, and it’s not the one most would expect.
The January television premieres have finally settled down, leaving us with a manageable docket for the podcast this week. We start with the comedies, including the pilot for Comedy Central’sBroad City, then talk a little reality along with the genre fare, and finish up our week in television with the dramas. Afterward, we welcome back Les Chappell from the AV Club and This Was Television to help us discuss the surprisingly overlooked classic sitcomTaxi.
Comedies (11:30-26:57): Broad City pilot, The Mindy Project, Parks and Recreation, Enlisted, Looking, Girls
Reality/Genre (27:45-36:54): Top Chef, Supernatural, Grimm, AHS Coven
Drama (37:51-50:59): Sherlock,Justified, Parenthood, True Detective
DVD Shelf (52:16-end): Taxi with Les Chappell
Grimm thankfully takes a week off from its European drama with “Eyes of the Beholder”, an entertaining installment that improves significantly upon last week’s “Red Menace” by focusing on only two storylines. This week’s episode wisely moves Adalind offscreen and keeps Capt. Renard and Sgt. Wu on the sidelines, giving them a few entertaining moments, but allowing the audience to spend enough time with its new(ish) characters, like Hank’s love interest, Zuri, and Juliette’s former roommate, Alicia, that we actually care what happens to them.
There are several lingering questions about the world Grimm inhabits, and the audience is reminded of one of the biggest this week- just how many Wesen are there? Nick and Hank are constantly (and randomly) drawing new cases with Wesen involvement, implying a significant population at least in Portland, but this week Rosalee talks about isolation and insecurity coming with discovering one’s Wesen heritage, implying that there isn’t a particularly strong community or support network for Wesen children and teens. Given the procedural nature of the series, the Wesen-of-the-week approach is likely not going anywhere, but three seasons in, we should know if Nick’s constant, random exposure to new Wesen is an anomaly or to be expected.
The Grimm premiere picks up right where last year’s finale left off. Actually, that’s not quite right- it rewinds a bit, replaying those final moments with the added perspective of Renard, who apparently was just off camera, lurking and overhearing enough of his brother’s dastardly scheme to be able to thwart it, at least somewhat. There’s a bit too much retread, but this is more understandable in a premiere. Otherwise, the setpiece at the docks works very well, giving each of the characters enough to do and providing an entertaining, engaging backbone for the episode.
his week Grimm gets in on the zombie action, but as usual isn’t shy about acknowledging its sources, hence the slightly cheeky title. But hey, why should Georgia get all the undead? As the US’s northern representative of all things weird (as shown by my map), it only seems fair that Portland should get a chance to play host to some resurrected bodies. And let’s be practical, they’ll keep better in a cool climate.
The job of playing Wesen is placed in the competent hands of Reg E Cathey (The Wire, House of Cards) who inhabits the role of Baron Samedi with cadaverous glee and the usual spark of subversive mischief in his eye. The Baron is at his usual job of animating corpses, but with the traditional Grimm twist that he does so by transforming himself into…what?
Grimm gets a promotion this week, moving from its Friday night ‘death slot’ to 10pm on Tuesday, after the cancellation of ‘Ready for Love’. The show has performed consistently well, hitting 5 million viewers, or thereabouts, every epsiode this season. With a strong fan base, NBC must be gambling that the move will open up the show to a new set of viewers, cunningly timing it as the pace picks up towards the season finale. This means that something pretty special is planned, something the creators want to dangle in front of a fresh crowd, to whet appetites for season 3.
Did you find yourself screaming a particular name at the screen during this week’s episode of Grimm? A name that starts with an ‘R’ and ends with an ‘N’? And has the letters ‘UMPELSTILTSKI’ in between?
You weren’t alone. As Nick and Hank (and Wu and Renard and the owner of a computer game company) trawled through a list of names like ‘Skillet Nip Strum’ and ‘Kitten Slip Slurp’ without so much as a facial twitch to indicate they might have spotted the HUGE resemblance between them and the name of a certain fairy tale gnome, enough viewers must have been shouting the solution at them for the cries to be audible in space.
In Grimm the Wesen crimes Nick has to solve fall into two types: those concerning Wesen’s with emotional issues (like the Mauzhertz in ‘Of Mouse and Man’ or the Genio Innocuo in ‘The Other Side’) and those concerning Wesen’s with eating-people issues. The show is always at its best with the latter at the center of the tale and this is what we got this week. This Wesen not only morphs into a parasitic fly, it enjoys using its proboscis to lick up the tears of its victims, but only after it has infected their eyeballs with its flesh-eating young. So far, so eewww. Even Monroe has to suppress a gag reflex when reading up on this particular beast.
With a foe of this awfulness to beat, it’s the perfect moment to finally unveil Team Grimm. Most shows set up their monster-hunting band from season one, episode one (think X-files, Supernatural, et al) but Grimm has held back from giving Nick more than occasional allies for not one but almost two series. He’s gradually acquired help: first Monroe, then Rosalee, then – after his brush with a Hexenbeist – Hank, but this is the first time we’ve seen all four of them around a table, sipping wine and discussing tactics.
After a block of episodes devoted to the Nick/Juliette/Renard love triangle, this week’s show sees a welcome return to more general Wesen issues, specifically a series of bank robberies carried out by Blutbads who have decided to expand beyond their traditional profession of munching little girls and into more lucrative territory, giving Hank and Nick the familiar, but always intriguing crime-with-a-hint-of-Wesen to solve. The fly in the ointment plotwise (there’s always one of those with Grimm) is not that Blutbads might stray across certain moral boundaries – only daily yoga exercises and a strict vegan diet allow Munroe to suppress his darker impulses – but that the robbers don’t bother with masks to hide their identities, they just put on their wolf faces instead. This feels all wrong, because one of the founding principles of the show has been that only Grimms, like Nick, can see the Wesen change – this is how the whole story starts, with Nick being able to see things that no one else can. It seems more a little sneaky on the part of the writers that all of a sudden we now discover that humans can see Wesen but only if the Wesen allow it.
Grimm, Season 2, Episode 13, ”Face Off”
Written by: Jim Kouf & David Greenwalt
Directed by: Terrence O’Hara
Airs Friday 9.00pm EST on NBC
After a season break of almost four months, the resumption of Grimm had much to do in terms of tying up plot threads. Not surprising that Kouf and Greenwalt, two of the show’s three originators, wrote this episode because they are probably the only people on the planet who have a sure grasp of how the story so far fits together. Like the girl in the tale of Rumpelstiltskin who has to spin straw into gold, Kouf and Greenwalt had their work cut out, with various story strands to combine: a sought-after key, Juliette’s memory loss, her spell-induced passion for Renard, Renard’s involvement with the Hexenbeists and some kind of Europe-based uprising in the offing.
The bundle they come up with was untidy, but recognizable as whole cloth. Some of the finessing is clumsy: Renard’s hunt for the key first takes him to Nick’s trailer, which is the logical place for him to look, but it’s only after that search is unsuccessful that Renard suddenly remembers seeing Nick stash something in his drawer at work. This gives the sense of the writers inserting scenes to kill time and to give them a convenient opportunity to drag Hank, who almost catches Renard in the act, into the action. When characters don’t do the things which seem natural, but the things which suit the plot, the effect is forced and although every show has to resort to these strategies from time to time, Grimm is more prone to it than most. Another example this episode is Nick’s drawn-out inability to connect the dots and realize that Renard has a connection to the Wesen world. In this episode, Munro tells Nick that Renard is the one who woke Juliette from her Hexenbeist-induced coma and this is why the two of them have developed such a powerful attraction towards each other. This is the moment when logic screams that Renard must be Wesen, but Nick just accepts the news as if he’s hearing that Renard isn’t as big a Trailblazers fan as he thought.
Don’t let the photo fool you. This is what the makers of Grimm wanted you to think the season finale was all about: Nick Burkhardt finally reaching inside and taking firm hold of his Grimm heritage.
This was not what the season finale was all about.
Granted, Nick did have a kickass moment. When he opened the Grimm armoury, Wesen-bashing on his mind, we all collectively willed him to choose the big baseball bat embedded with studs and he obligingly did just that. Then we collectively willed him to brain some Hundjagers with the bat and he did that too. This, along with one moment scary enough to make me spill my apple juice (and that doesn’t happen very often), was as exciting as the show got.
Grimm Episode 2.11 ‘To Protect and Serve Man’
Written by: Dan E. Fesman
Directed by: Omar Madha
Airs Friday 9.00pm EST on NBC
When is Hank going to get a girlfriend?
I’ve asked this question twice now and from this week’s show, I wasn’t the only one anxious to see Hank, whose last romantic experience was a disastrous liaison with the Hexenbeist Adelind, having a little more luck in the romance stakes.
The writers kept their cards close to their chest, but our patience was rewarded. The DA Lauren Castro – played by Lisa Vidal in full panther mode – did the thing that DAs always do when they are around cops in TV shows: refuse to reopen cases and threaten all and sundry with jail time, but once all that was over, Hank and Lauren were allowed to simper at each other in a way which told us that Love was in the Air. Since Castro is going to stand for mayor, I’m guessing that in season 3 there will be some Wesen shenanigans in the bureaucracy which Nick and Hank will have to sort out, the kind of shenanigans which mean Hank and Lauren have to spend a lot of time together. And if you don’t think Wesens are the types to hold political office, just watch a few episodes of Boss. If that lot aren’t Wesen I’ll put ketchup on my pyjamas and eat them.
Grimm Ep2.10 “The Hour of Death”: Finally they kiss
Grimm Episode 2.10 “The Hour of Death”
Written by: Sean Calder
Directed by: Peter Werner
Airs Friday 9.00pm EST on NBC
I’m just going to repeat a line from my review of last week’s Grimm
‘Is Ryan Smulson, the clumsy intern at the station, actually a Wesen mole?’
To which question the answer has to be DAMN I’M GOOD.
OK, Ryan was a little too obviously fresh-faced and aw-shucks to be believable (also, what police station has interns?) but still – SCORE one for me.
That said, although the storyline this week, which involved Ryan and another Grimm doing Nick’s job for him, had the benefit of giving David Giuntoli more to do, it wrapped up what was a promising new development way too quickly and neatly for me. According to Grimm lore, Hitler was a Loven and there’s a sense of balance about the discovery that those who police the Wesen possess in their ranks the equivalent of the Gestapo. I wanted that possibility to grow and perhaps to link with Renard and his estranged family of Eurotrash, who clearly believe that its American cousins need a reminder of how things used to be done in the old days.
There were all kinds of hints that this was the way the story was headed: ancient symbols, urgent phonecalls from Renard to yet another heavily accented lackey, Wesen running around in a panic and shouting about ancient texts, yet the denouement reduced all of these promising leads to a story about hero worship and wanting the inside to match the outside.