Little improvements continue to signal that Grimm now has a firmer handle on its central cadre of characters and larger storytelling aims while eliminating the more uneven aspects of the show. It’s a working ensemble with much stronger chemistry that can now undulate as conflicts arise, but uniting everyone other than Nick together as a team is an important step to delving into the supporting characters as much as the first two seasons focused on Nick’s development and David Giuntoli’s growing comfort in the role. Whether that will step down a notch when the main focus isn’t on Nick’s recovery and is instead on solving the case of the new scary Wesen in town remains to be seen. But “PTZD” brought the first big story of the season down for an exciting landing without the same fate as the plane Nick was on in the premiere.
The Portland Scoobies working together must be the modus operandi going forward. It’s a wonderful sight to behold with Nick incapacitated, for the lead to shift from Renard taking out the security equipment, to Monroe and Hank tracking Nick to house and then a barn, and then Rosalee and Juliette to deliver the antidote shot. It’s fluid and quippy while staging a compelling action sequence. And as a two-part serialized story that plants the seeds for Nick’s arc the rest of the season, it’s a cut above last season.
A move back to a more case-of-the-week structure is inevitable, but I really liked how “PTZD” kept the bulk of the conflict within the main characters. It trimmed and focused instead of looking outward, which will come later in the season, and that allowed the episode to better establish a baseline characterization for everyone. Nick is addled and unstable; Hank works alongside a Grimm and a bastard royal Wesen with no powers; MonRosalee grow closer together (with the inevitable looming complications somewhere down the road; Juliette has joined the group in a somewhat veterinary capacity. And they all want to protect Nick from what happened to him, for fear that he’ll do what he perceives is the right thing and turn himself into the police.
Everyone else lies to the police to evade the investigation because they care about Nick, because they believe it was a terrible accident, and they need him to make the supernatural part of the world safer, at least in their neck of the woods. But the best part of the plot is that it creates a central moral quandary that sets the tone for the season. Nick’s rampage—though entirely under the effect of Samedi’s Wesen abilities—left a man dead, and that carries guilt. The circumstances under which Nick finds out about the murder, and then confronting Juliette, may seem contrived, but it’s actually one of the better moments Giuntoli has gotten to show shock and surprise instead of being casually in awe of his own power.
Grimm construes the events in such a way that it would be easy to absolve Nick from the perspective of those will all the evidence. Nick had no idea what he was doing, his larger actions are in service of the greater good and the Wesen community (unlike traditional Grimms), and it could be interpreted as self-defense. The group circles the wagons, gets all sides of the story straight, and the investigation should prove fruitless in tracking down Nick thanks to Eric’s plan to usurp the Grimm to Europe.
It’s worth noting that nobody has the same motive for keeping Nick’s secret. Juliette wants Nick safe so they have a chance to keep repairing their relationship. Hank looks at Nick as his partner, and that loyalty has kept him there since learning of Nick’s secret. Monroe and Rosalee trust that Nick can help the peaceful Wesen and help resist the larger evil forces of the royal family. And Captain Renard can jostle his way into a dominant leadership position not just at the Portland PD, but within the small allied group led by Nick.
Captain Renard has the security tape. For now, he’s showing it to Nick in an effort to keep the story under control and protect Nick. But now that his brother is seemingly out of the way—and let’s all remember that general rule about not seeing a body—Grimm needs a main antagonist. And with that power vacuum and a bit of blackmail information to hold over Nick’s head, Sean has a few strong reasons to start exerting power to bring Nick more under his control in the precinct. (Side note: Is there a Portland Police Commissioner, and shouldn’t we see him as a Wesen?”)
Whatever unique effect Baron Samedi’s zombie creation powers had on Nick, they’re clearly not going away anytime soon. His body is shifting between a lifeless, pallid deep blue and a weary but brightened complexion. And that gives him some new, amplified powers with varied side effects. My current theory invokes the opening Voltaire epigraph: that Nick is somehow shifting between death and resurrection, suffering from a more permanent condition that could mirror Adalind’s journey to reclaim her powers.
And speaking of that journey, it is at once the most mysterious and the most unnecessary aspect of the show right now. Other than some creepy body effects—and some wonky CGI, but it’s television so it gets a bit of a pass—it’s unclear why Adalind trying to get her hexenbiest powers back has to take this long. It allows the writers to come up with increasingly gross rituals, like spreading the liquefied internal organs of a murdered hexenbiest on a pregnant mother’s belly. But in not explaining the reasoning behind any of this, or connecting Adalind to anything else going on in Portland—especially given Eric’s sudden departure—the longer it’s drawn out the more aimless it will feel.
But the focus is on Nick’s altered state, and how that will affect his abilities going forward. He’s under duress, carrying a lot of guilt, and the entire group has the morality of this big secret hanging over their heads. It’s a strong way to start the season since it’s messy and will require a lot of parsing out, and I’m excited to see whether Grimm can keep up the momentum when it slows down the season-long arc and adds in new cases that need to be solved within the hour.
- On the Big Bad front: Sasha Roiz won’t be turning bad again just yet (though I like the idea of a mutable ally/enemy, because of Angel), but the showrunners have revealed who will be stepping in for a while this season. I won’t totally spoil it, but there’s a connection to a major actor from David Greenwalt’s best series who also recurred on a sitcom where his wife is a regular cast member currently in its final season.
- Lazarus syndrome: nice cover by Rosalee coming up with something that is an actual medical condition but also connects to zombie mythology.
- Hank doesn’t do other people’s busy work: “You can stay here and fill out all these reports for us.” “Bye.”
- Now Mama Renard is a presence, at least via phone, which indicates an appearance sometime during this season. Grimm has done well with guest casting, but now that the show has its act together I’m actually disappointed they went to the Amy Acker well so early and only in an episodic plot. I’m just hoping for a way to bring back Titus Welliver.