Even though I’m warming up to Grimm and laughing at some nice one-liners while I enjoy the fairy tale retellings, those big questions from the pilot are still floating somewhere in the back of my mind. Personally, I find it easy to disregard the overarching questions when Nick and Hank are investigating a case on their own, or whenever Eddie Monroe shows up. But whenever Captain Renard slinks in (and he was in the background of a few scenes tonight), it always highlights that there is a glass ceiling on this show that feels impenetrable at the moment because the show continues to ignore the lingering big questions inherent in the premise and pilot episode. No matter how compellingly the fractured fairy tales unfold, there was a lot of backstory in that first hour that has only reappeared in flashes. “Beeware,” the best episode of the series so far, managed to tell a story related to the creature world Nick was discovering while he and Hank investigated a case, but no other episode has struck the right blend since.
I still can’t believe that after Aunt Marie’s death, Nick hasn’t talked to a single person about it in a meaningful way. She raised him, she told him that he was a Grimm, gave him very, very basic instructions, and then died in the second episode when she could have easily died in the pilot. The Winnebago of Knowledge is still there, though Nick doesn’t use it to help him this time, but “Danse Macabre” still followed the same predictable structure as every episode so far.
I liked the case of the week quite a bit tonight, and a lot of that had to do with the way the show found to modernize the Pied Piper in a way that lightly riffed on modern music and adolescent bullying to build a new version of the fairy tale. Once Upon A Time is interested in twisting the Disney Princess stories into an interwoven web of Lost-level mythos, but the reason I prefer Grimm is precisely because of the way it approaches the folk tale material. It tries to ground the fairy tales just outside of reality, in a way that hems as close to believability as possible. OUAT has to create a fake town outside the rest of the world to exist.
I also really liked that Roddy the Pied Piper/violin prodigy/rat person moonlighted as a rave DJ. The deadmau5 kid used the alter ego DJ WRETCHED CAT (I’m just assuming from the words that his name is in all caps), but the show didn’t go in the same direction as a lot of other procedurals would take material like this. For one, most of the CSI: Miami type shows would be doing “ripped from the headlines” crimes, which Grimm doesn’t have to do. I’m actually really enjoying getting to go back and rediscover the fairy tales the show uses as inspiration, and the way the leading the children away aspect of the story got woven into a revenge plot against jealous bullies at a private music school struck me as very creative.
As usual, there are tiny little hints to an overarching plot sprinkled around the case of the week. First, Hank and Sergeant Wu grab a drink at a nice looking bar/restaurant, but when Hank goes to leave, Adaline Schade is there to flirt and invite him to “save her” by having dinner with her. Captain Renard sits outside in his SUV looking suspicious, which is pretty convenient, and now there are inklings of some kind of seduction plot. I wasn’t very interested in that development. I thought it came about unnaturally, just injected for Hank to get something to do in the larger scheme of things. The plumber fixing Nick and Juliet’s refrigerator was a bit better. When Nick comes home, the plumber can tell he’s a Grimm, and he promptly books it out of the house, but he comes back when only Juliet is around to grab his tools, and says a bunch of things that don’t make any sense to her, since Nick has yet to explain his newfound “powers” to his girlfriend.
Those little advancements helped in a small way, but I really do think this show is stuck in a slightly above average range until it finds a way to deal with the overarching mythology of the show in a better way. That’s one big advantage that OUAT has over Grimm. It knows that there is a larger backstory to explain, and it goes about setting that record straight from the beginning. Grimm has delayed examining the big issues, spinning its wheels in episodic procedural land, content to dig into the wealth of fairy tales and dole out tiny bursts of serialized plot lines for now. I’ll keep watching, but if this keeps up, I know I’ll get more frustrated and want Grimm to hurry up and play the cards it’s been holding since the beginning.
- There’s another new episode tomorrow night, because NBC is trying out the show in a Thursday time slot, presumably to see whether it can replace Prime Suspect. I’m pretty sure the Friday night spot is a better place, especially because Chuck, Fringe, and CSI: New York are all either ending or on the bubble, but who knows. The ratings surprised people after the debut; maybe the Thursday shift will too.
- I liked the deadmau5 reference, but I found the rave scenes incredibly funny, and I’m guessing that was unintentional.
- Hank is scared of rats, because one of them is required to be. It’s a law of television when dealing with rodents.
- “Is this about that teacher who ended up as Ratatouille?”
- “It’s coming from underground!” “Oh, that is SO LITERAL!”