Grimm has so many different plates spinning, from the royals to Nick’s mom to Adalind to the Fuchsbau coins to those hidden keys (speaking of which—what’s been going on with Bud and the other Eisbibers lately?) that it took me a while to remember that the show already sort-of went to the “Nick deals with another Grimm” well once before. Ryan the intern’s mini-arc that ended in last season’s “The Hour Of Death” didn’t end up revealing another Grimm for Nick to commiserate with. Instead, Ryan was a lamprey-like Wesen masquerading as a Grimm because he desperately wanted to be one, a violent copycat who didn’t have Nick’s legal authority as a cop, nor his secret authority as a Grimm. It was a generally exciting hour that, like many good hours of Grimm, elucidated the difficulty Nick has with parsing out when he has to skirt over legal lines in order to take care of Grimm business.
“Nobody Knows The Trubel I’ve Seen” is another one of those hours. It’s both a police procedural investigation and a bit of mysterious world-expansion—at least until the case catches up with the suspect and Nick is once again confronted with a choice of whether to treat the case like a police officer, or intervene as a Grimm and overlook standard procedure in order to avoid legal ramifications. For the first time in a while, there’s a new recurring element of Grimm that I find greatly intriguing—and it’s about damn time Nick encountered a Grimm outside of his family to figure out how others of his ilk experience the world.
Theresa Rubel (Ominous voice: “Nobody calls me Theresa…they call me Trubel.”) is a Grimm who had an upbringing completely unlike Nick Burkhardt. Nick and Hank don’t uncover much about her past throughout the episode, which instead reveals her to be a violently paranoid lone wolf who doesn’t trust anyone at all and doesn’t understand her existence. She was born in New York, and spent time in a Spokane psychiatric facility before breaking out—which Hank presumes points to her bouncing around in psychiatric care, treated like some kind of psychopath with hallucinogenic visions of monsters. The only other Grimms on the show so far have been Nick’s mother Kelly and his Aunt Marie—plus all of his ancestors who passed down everything in Marie’s Magic Airstream. The existence of Grimms outside the Burkhardt family is a natural reveal, and one that has value in expanding Nick’s network should he eventually seek to go after the royals, or if the show really has anything planned on a grander scale for the New Scoobies, since they’ll need some allies outside Portland other than Nick’s mom.
I’ve often said that Grimm has strains of David Greenwalt’s previous shows like Angel and Buffy in its DNA, and this particular plot development is a place where that influence appears more dramatically than usual. Trubel will be around for more than one episode—she’s staying with Nick and Juliette by the end of this hour, which is sure to be an interesting dynamic given that Monrosalee’s impending nuptials already put a strain on them. And Nick sees in her what he could have been if not for the fractured legacy of his family, someone like Aunt Marie to look after him and protect him, and then a combination of Marie and new pal Monroe to explain his emerging Wesen visions so he didn’t go entirely insane right off the bat.
Killing off Aunt Marie in the second episode of the series robbed Grimm of the chance to give Nick a true mentor figure in the vein of Rupert Giles on Buffy. Monroe has served as the living encyclopedia for when the team doesn’t have time to do research in the Airstream (which isn’t often anymore), and Rosalee offers up her knowledge on Wesen as well as all the different semi-magical potions and powders available in her spice shop. But despite some inklings of training, both physical and historical, in the early goings of the first season, there hasn’t been much in the way of Grimm mentorship going on. Nick taking Trubel under his wing in an attempt to show her she’s not crazy, legitimize her visions, and help her understanding what being a Grimm means and entails, is him adopting something like a Watcher/Slayer relationship.
I’m always in favor of a Giles-type character showing up, since that dynamic worked so well on Buffy, and it’s a useful role on supernatural shows. But I’m not sure that what Grimm needs is to turn Nick into a pseudo-Giles overseeing the Grimm equivalent of Faith for the last four episodes of this season. Especially when the Adalind-Renard-Viktor baby plot seems to be doubling back on itself and complicating beyond a reasonable resolution. (Though I am glad that C. Thomas Howell is still around and hope he gets more to do.)
The other problem is that Grimm has borrowed much of that Watcher/Slayer structure, insofar as the characters relate to one another within a hierarchy or unofficial chain-of-command, but there’s no winking, campy sense of humor. There have only ever been slight asides of humor, mostly confined to Monroe’s peculiarities. The rest of the show is all grimly serious (pardon the pun). There was a fun side to hating how wooden Eliza Dushku’s performance as Faith was over the years (at least for me), but with Trubel there is only watching her pummel people, or stoically stalk away underneath a freeway overpass. If Nick trains Trubel, I hope there’s a lot of comic relief from the way they interact, or how Hank and Monroe observe the interaction, otherwise it’s going to be a long, dramatic slog.
There’s also the issue that Trubel encounters nothing but Wesen on her crime-of-self-defense spree. For the most part, Wesen seem to recoil and slink away when encountering Grimms—unless they’re of a particularly violent sort. But Trubel kills two Wesen who randomly drive down the road, and later one who happens to see her shoplift a pair of boots from a store. This is structured, I assume, to make it easier to forgive Trubel for her troubles, since her visions—and the way she’s been treated by an unknowing world that thinks she’s just crazy—cause her to lash out in otherwise unforgivable violence. Nick kills dangerous Wesen, and at least the first two people Trubel mows down have lengthy criminal records. But it’s getting a bit ridiculous for every single person this group runs into to also be a Wesen. There’s practically nobody left to be the unsuspecting human horrified by all the crazy supernatural things that keep happening in Portland.
I’m willing to let this play out through the end of the season before I completely make up my mind about it. I like the new element of a non-Burkhardt Grimm being introduced into the mix, and the (seemingly temporary) shift for Nick into a mentorship role. But Grimm keeps putting along between these jolts of new energy without regard to a purposefully crafted season-long momentum. The staff already knows it will have a fourth season, but after nearly three years, I can’t think of much overall progress this show has made other than making me smile like an idiot any time Monroe and Rosalee do something weird like toss recyclables to each other.
- NBC and all sorts of press outlets surrounding the University of Michigan have been making a big deal out of Grimm casting current Wolverine senior Jacqueline Toboni as Trubel. She was discovered when co-creator Jim Kouf and his wife, producer Lynn Kouf, visited Ann Arbor to speak at the school and observe one of the classes at Michigan that brings together writers, actors, and production students to create short films. The story is pretty cool, but she mostly projects a stoic, feral presence in this first episode. She’s slated to appear through the end of the season and then potential recur for a few episodes next season, so we’ll see what Grimm ends up doing with her character.
- If I continue my character comparisons to other series Greenwalt worked on, I’d say Monroe is the Xander, Rosalee a combination Anya/Willow, and Nick isn’t really Buffy—he’s more like Angel with a healthy dose of Riley chucked in.
- But again, what’s missing in Grimm is that perpetually witty sense of humor that shows up on Buffy, Angel, and even Supernatural and Lost Girl, to balance out what could otherwise be heavy-handed mythological drivel.
- Any theories as to why Trubel has that black knight chess piece with her? Maybe I’m forgetting some easily symbolism but that one flew right by without recognition.
- Yes, the opening epigraph is just lyrics from the famous song. I thought it was a bit weird, but hey, once the show shifted away from the original fairy tales, I guess all bets are off as to what can show up there.