It looks like Grimm is going to leave most of those plates spinning for a while. Renard’s origins, the resistance movement, Adalind’s whereabouts, Juliette’s memory, Nick’s mother, those goddamn coins—all of that is on the bench tonight, except for a few ancillary scenes. Instead, “Bad Moon Rising” is a transformation into Grimm: Special Victims Unit, a tightly plotted standalone that accomplishes one important plot point. Hank is no longer in the dark, and though there are still a lot of questions, it felt right.
This is Grimm signaling that it knows how to get more than one aspect of the show working. Monroe had maybe five minutes of screen time, Rosalee didn’t appear at all, and this is still the best episode of the season so far, by a wide margin. It’s easier to forget the multitudinous serialized problems with the show when it chooses to ignore all but one of them, incorporating one thread into a compelling case of the week.
Maybe the incremental approach isn’t such a bad thing. Isolating Hank’s emotional difficulties allows the episode to develop his struggles. Since Nick’s abilities manifested back in the pilot, Hank has seen some crazy shit, from getting bowled over by Monroe in the woods, to shooting a Wesen suspect and then seeing it revert to human form, to Adalind messing with his mind. He justifiably believes that he might be going out of his mind, and he reveals to Nick that he’s considering resigning. That’s a big impetus for Nick to start explaining, but luckily the case helps him out considerably.
The show hasn’t given Russell Hornsby a lot of material to work with so far, other than some wisecracks about ex-wives, but tonight he carries this plot. The scene with the therapist progresses quickly, and a case involving a close friend who also happens to be a Wesen conveniently drops out of the sky to provide a plausible transition, but I believed the progression from Hank’s depression to relief. And the big reveal in the barn with Nick and Carly works because Nick’s speech convinces him. It’s an anxious moment, with Hank high-strung, pointing his gun to keep his demons at bay. But Nick talks him down from the ledge, earns Hank’s trust in the moment, and proves that he’s not alone or going crazy. It strengthens the partnership
First, Grimm gets the overarching details out of the way. Juliette still doesn’t remember Nick, or the details of their relationship, but she knows where she works, recognizes her house, and recalls the names of friends. Even worse for Nick, she remembers Monroe and is surprisingly friendly toward him, even recalling the details of the horrifically awkward dinner in season one, but she doesn’t remember anything related to Nick. Adalind is still nowhere to be found, and Nick is giving details to Renard about Catherine Schade’s murder. But then Hank’s friend Gerald (played by Mark Pellegrino, better known as Jacob from Lost) comes in with an emergency: His daughter is missing, and Nick can tell Gerald is a Wesen.
Most of the cases Nick deals with as a Grimm involve brutal violence, but rarely has a case been so grotesque and disturbing. Gerald is a Coyotle—not one of the show’s better names for a creature, down there with Maushertz—a Wesen who fiercely stays within the pack. He and his now-deceased wife left Texas to raise their daughter, but her family caught up to Gerald and kidnapped his daughter to perform a sickening inbred mating ritual to “introduce her to the pack.” That’s where the SVU aspect comes in, as Nick and Hank race around with Gerald to track the Coyotles to a foreclosed farm.
As evidenced by my favorite episode of the show so far, “Organ Grinder,” the key to a successful episode of Grimm is limiting the number of serialized plots dealt with concurrently, and tying in a continuing thread to the case at hand. On occasion, Grimm gets this right, and we get something that’s as gripping as a supernatural procedural can be, and engrossing enough to ignore all the little details that might not add up. The action scenes at the farm held my attention, and I didn’t roll my eyes at the explanations. Whenever Grimm can put together an episodic plot that maintains momentum like this within one episode, it’s much better than when the show tries to confront the whole patchwork at once. There’s a whole season to go, and this kind of pacing is preferable to the ponderous episodes of last season that accomplished nothing in the overarching plot and then some feverishly rushed episodes that whipped through serialized elements.
Sure, there’s a lot of shoddy police work going on all over this case, from bringing along the father of the missing girl to completely disregarding protocol once they show up at the farm. They should call for backup, they shouldn’t even have him in the car, but then again, what’s Nick going to do to explain what they are in the event that something goes down? He wanted to explain everything to Hank, and does that while getting out of the situation in the best way possible. But Hank punching that Coyotle dude in the face didn’t really seem like the right way to go.
To my surprise, I never once found myself frustrated that Monroe didn’t have a bigger part in “Bad Moon Rising,” or that Rosalee was missing, or that the case didn’t reveal some larger arc in the Wesen world. This was Grimm: SVU, with a tense plot focused tightly on one problem the show let dangle for far too long, and rectified in a satisfying fashion. Sure, loose ends remain: Nick has to answer a lot of questions for Hank, then there’s the matter of getting to know Monroe and Rosalee, and whether or not Nick will talk to Renard. But this is a template for how to make a solid episode of Grimm, one that confronts the problems of the first season head-on with logical and detailed explanations while expanding the Wesen world through attention-grabbing episodic plots.
- Tonight’s epigraph comes from the Grimm fairy tale “The Old Woman In the Wood”, which has almost nothing to do with the plot of the episode except for a girl stranded on her own in dangerous surroundings. Same goes for the Creedence Clearwater Revival reference in the title, because the action played out before the full moon could rise. Still, out of context, the quote makes for some good ominous foreshadowing.
- This was my first time seeing the new opening credits live because I had a screener for the two-parter. Dear lord it’s a horrendous opening sequence, and needs to be excised immediately.
- Mark Pellegrino and Titus Welliver have now both been guest stars, meaning that Allison Janney should be next, fingers crossed.
- Next week: A romantic picnic between Monroe and Rosalee—a bottle episode I would love to see—is interrupted by WESEN ZOMBIES. Get ready.
- Sgt. Wu’s line to Nick at the end of the episode was fantastic. I like when the side characters bring in more comic relief—it balances the show.
- At this point, the show has essentially reset the dynamic between Nick and Juliette, which adds the pressure of either needing Nick to make her fall in love with him again, bring back her memory, or heed his aunt’s advice from the pilot and cut her loose. Only the third option would streamline the show, while the other two would add more clutter to an already heavily weighed down universe.
- Monroe does receive enough screen time for this winning line from Silas Weir Mitchell: “When a mommy coyotle and a daddy coyotle love each other very much…”
- “…Like sleeping together well?” Oh Juliette, don’t be so demure.