First, NBC premiered Grimm opposite the deciding game of a World Series. Then, they brought the show back early to capitalize on a ton of promotion during the Olympics, attempted a “special episode” midweek last fall that didn’t pan out. Now, Grimm moves into a plum Tuesday night spot behind The Voice. As one of NBC’s few minor successes over the past two seasons, this either shows the network’s faith in the series—which officially got picked up for a third season last week—or portends a precipitous fall given NBC’s string of failures jumbling their schedule. Luckily, “Endangered” proves to be a very good way to introduce any potential new viewers to Grimm on its new night to finish out this season.
I was skeptical during the opening minutes, what with the suggestion of aliens and Sgt. Wu’s on-the-nose X-Files reference. On top of a mythical volcano demon last week, adding aliens as another wrinkle to this world would threaten to crush it under the weight of all the different varieties of creatures. Even Buffy, with its wide range of demonic, multi-dimensional baddies, tried the extra-terrestrial monster-of-the week approach with the Queller Demon during its fifth season. But for now, extra-terrestrial elements have no place in a mythological world taking cues from centuries-old fairy tales.
But “Endangered” doesn’t go for the alien abduction or invasion story. Instead, Grimm goes for the rare-and-valuable-endangered-species-on-the-run-and-about-to-have-a-baby plot, mixed with a hunter in disguise. It’s a familiar arc, but Bree Turner and Silas Weir Mitchell’s performances, amazed and curious with ever-improving chemistry, sell it well. The creatures, who turn glowing blue when agitated thanks to a hormone for bioluminescence (I haven’t seen Avatar in a long time, so my below-rudimentary knowledge of this part of biochemistry is practically nonexistent), are on the run from Nebraska, aiming to get to Alaska to meet up with more of their kind. But the female, Jocelyn, is very close to giving birth, leading her partner Vincent with no choice but to mutilate cows in order to harvest their ovaries to feed his partner.
Nick and Wu handle the investigation, tracking a glowing skin fragment and the recent history of cow mutilations to come up with a movement pattern. Once Nick stumbles upon the Glühenwolk entry in one of Aunt Marie’s books, he shows Rosalee, and the unofficial search party with Monroe goes into full-on rescue mode.
This information also reveals that the creepy guy trailing behind Nick and Wu for part of the case is no alien hunter. He’s a Wesen poacher, looking to shoot the Glühenwolk with a special bullet that keeps a creature fully shifted for hours, then skin the creatures and sell the hides to the highest bidder. This practice, frowned upon in human hunters, strikes Rosalee and Monroe as particularly egregious, like hunting “The Most Dangerous Game” for a living. So this case has it all: an alien fake out that actually functions as an endangered species hunt, a sharpshooter Wesen poacher (which oddly make me think of the hunter in Jumanji, played by the butler from Richie Rich), and a hasty birthing scene. But when the poacher shows up, it’s a quick and messy confrontation, as Nick throws him off and Monroe puts up just enough of a fight for Nick to fire a round. This all screamed of being pressed for time, from the discovery of the barn to the final shot meant to convince the police of strange possibility of alien involvement.
I like episodes when Nick doesn’t have to work with Hank to keep up appearances while working on a police case. Taking the suspect information as a jumping off point to get involved as a Grimm with Rosalee and Monroe at his back always works to the show’s greatest strength: the chemistry of Turner, Mitchell, and even Giuntoli, who continues to improve.
NBC lucked out with this episode, since it combines a surprisingly successful episodic plot, which could have gone wrong in so many ways, with a few extended moments of heavy exposition and mythology. For a scene designed specifically as an info-dump, Nick’s conversation with Renard is surprisingly tense. This is part of Grimm’s mythology that always leaves me wanting more. Seven crusaders (Nick’s ancestors) discovered some mysterious power while sacking Constantinople in the 13th century that they hid away from the Wesen royal families who sponsored their crusade. Renard outlines several legends of the item: alchemy, eternal life, the prophet Muhammad’s sword, or the nails and part of the cross that bore Jesus. All of the items conjure thoughts of immense power or reverence (though some more than others—there are enough supposed nails and splinters of wood from Jesus’ cross worshipped as relics around the world to build a replica of Noah’s ark), but this is yet another instance where Nick and Renard want to trust each other, want to believe they have the same interests, but end up in a shaky partnership once again.
As for the keys, the royal families have four of the seven. One obtained from a crusader via brutal torture and three others from presumably blooding killings. Nick possesses one, meaning that two are still unaccounted for. In the overarching plot of Grimm, this quest possibility has become just as compelling as the royal family drama or the looming eventual confrontation between Nick and Renard’s brother. Even better, it’s far more interesting than the other recurring plotline, the Fuchsbau coins that bestow power and drive obsession, and once belonged to Wesen Hitler.
And against the odds, Grimm has finally learned how to keep Juliette’s journey interesting without devoting a ton of screen time to Bitsie Tulloch. She continues to remember more information about Nick, and her strong feelings for him return, but she’s still skeptical about what to do. That one positive memory, at a Christmas party when Nick says he loves her for the first time, feels entirely contrived and ridiculous in the moment, but at least it shows that she isn’t just remembering terrifying, overwhelming information. However, she directly asks Monroe what a Grimm is, to which he’s initially dumbfounded and worried about sending her down the same spiral as before.
To Monroe’s credit, he confronts the issue head-on as best he can, saying Nick sees things that others cannot. He gives general information without getting into specific, unbelievable information, and I take this as a sign that the writers have finally figured out how to turn this plot around. The preview for next week suggests that Juliette will have to have a serious talk with Nick in the immediate future and become a more integral part of helping Nick get back on track, as well as their relationship. She already inadvertently helped out last season in “Organ Grinder,” but if Grimm follows through on hitting the reset button on her character by bringing her up to speed on everything about Wesen and Grimms by the end of this season, it’ll be an awfully crowded gang of allies in Portland to square off against the Verrat and Eric’s impending visit.
- The opening epigraph comes from “Brother and Sister,” another Brothers Grimm fairy tale that bears some resemblance to “Hansel and Gretel” (which has the alternate title “Little Brother and Little Sister,” leading to a lot of confusion). The quote itself makes sense when applied to the episode, with Vincent leaving his wife behind, but other than that there’s no connection between the stories.
- Did anybody catch what kind of Wesen the poacher was? I thought he had a beak, but couldn’t place it.
- Hank is gone again this week, but his presence isn’t missed. That’s not exactly a good sign, since as more people get added to this new Scooby gang, there’s less room for a human cop made redundant by both Monroe and Renard. It would be a shock and a catalyst for Nick’s character if Hank suffered some irreparable harm though.
- Monroe’s parents reside in New Hampshire in the same house that Monroe grew up in; I would be absolutely shocked if we don’t see Monroe’s parents by this time next season.
- Monroe’s line of the night: “I’d bet my great, great, great grandfather on it.”