Grimm: “A Dish Best Served Cold”
B+

Grimm: “A Dish Best Served Cold”

B+

Grimm

“A Dish Best Served Cold”

Season 3, Episode 3

No show packs a more rich and varied sampler platter into its pre-credits sequence than Grimm. “A Dish Best Served Cold” begins with Nick on a treadmill at the doctor’s office. “No matter how fast I had you running, your heart rate and your blood pressure barely moved,” says the doctor. “Has there been any change in your diet or lifestyle recently?” That’s the cue for a flashback of Nick getting gobbed in the face by a blowfish dude. While the 11-year-olds of every age in the audience are celebrating this reminder of one of the show’s all-time greatest gross-outs, there’s a cut to a restaurant scene that’s a shipper’s delight: Monroe telling Rosalee that Nick is moving out of his house, and delicately raising the possibility that she move in with him. She teases him adorably, before saying yes. He tells her he loves her. She takes a breath, laces her fingers between his, and says, “That’s a relief, because I love you too.”

While the teenage girls of every age and gender in the audience are still squealing—I myself scared the hell out of my cat—there’s a flat-out horror scene: Some poor bastard running through the woods at night leans against a tree and strips off his shirt to stare at his belly, which is doing the hula to the accompaniment of sound effects lifted from the bathroom scene in Dumb And Dumber. He scales the tree, but whatever is wrong with him, gravity isn’t the problem, and when he suddenly explodes, his guts just have farther to fall before they hit the ground. Examining the victim’s driver’s license when the cops arrive at the scene, Sgt. Wu comments, “Ironically, he was an organ donor.”

After a couple of season-opener episodes that sent plot threads flying in several different directions, some of them devoted to setting up God knows what long-term narrative developments, it’s nice to see a mostly self-contained procedural episode, with roots deep in the show’s fairy-tale-monster mythology. As the carcasses of blown-up guys nesting in trees begin to proliferate, the connections start to assert themselves. The victims are Blutbad, and they all had their last meal at the Raven & Rose, the high-profile restaurant where Monroe, the sly devil, was seen making his move. The plot thickens when Nick visits the restaurant and discovers that it is staffed entirely by Bauerschwein—i.e., pig-people. In what I’m just going to go ahead and declare to be the single most inspired piece of guest casting of this TV season, the head Bauerschwein is played by Dan Bakkedahl, who plays swinishness with such brio on Veep that, for him, growing a snout and floppy, pointy ears just amounts to the next logical step.

There’s no mystery, really; Bakkedahl is the obvious suspect as soon as he shows up and smirks, and no twist is coming. The biggest surprise comes when Captain Renard, fed up with Nick’s muted anguish over his having killed a man in a bar fight when he was high on blowfish gunk, tells him irritably, “What’s really bothering you, the fact that you killed someone, or that you killed someone who wasn’t Wesen?” I could hardly believe that he went there, especially since it’s not like Renard to lay his cards out there for anyone else to see. But given that the climax involves Monroe threatening to go all Death Wish on the Bauerschwein and Nick having to put him down, I guess maybe the line is there as deliberate foreshadowing.

It’s just a pretend takedown, of course, designed to trick Dan Bakkedahl into confessing to his crimes, before a convenient pack of Blutbad who are on the scene tear him limb from limb. (From the way they’re in on the gag, I guess they must be “reformed,” good-guy Blutbad, like Monroe and his fallen friends. I know it’s been awhile, but back when Monroe’s character was introduced, wasn’t the fact that he presented as unusual, and a bit of outsider, for having renounced hurting human beings? It’s starting to look as if Portland has as many reformed Blutbad as it has Starbucks.) It’s a little disappointing, not just because the con game itself is kind of dumb, but because it would be exciting to see Monroe honestly tempted to get back in touch with his wild-animal side.

But if this episode is unexceptional in its storytelling, I enjoyed most of the details too much to complain much. I especially liked the surprise “get the hell out of my house” party that Monroe throws Nick, complete with people jumping out from behind a doorway yelling “Surprise!” and bringing out a cake. It's a fun little gathering, and it's almost a shame that it has to be interrupted for an abrupt return to the plot. It may not be the main thing that brings people back to it week after week, but in the motley collection of appealing characters it's developed over the course of its two seasons, Grimm is the hangout show that Portland deserves.

Stray observations:

  • Helping Nick move out, Monroe says that, while he’s glad the two of them are moving on with their romantic lives, he’ll sort of miss “the whole Odd Couple thing.” Although I appreciate the fact that the show had more pressing matters than to pad out its episodes out with squabbles about unwashed dishes and matted fur clogging the shower drain, I wouldn’t have minded a few more scenes of the whole Odd Couple thing. This is what webisodes should be for, NBC!
  • Kevin was pulled away on urgent business, but will return to his usual post here next week.