Grimm cycles through episodes like “The Show Must Go On” every so often, that sidestep police investigations in favor of allowing a few of the New Scoobies to deal with the case at hand as they see fit outside of the formal legal system. And when that leaves room for Monrosalee to take charge, it’s usually an issue of Wesen rights that serves as a mild allegory for disenfranchised or mistreated persons. The correlation between bestial beings and those that need to be rescued may not be the most sensitive parallel, but it allows Grimm to leave Nick and Hank somewhat in the background, transition away from the repetitive structure of Nick/Hank/Wu at a crime scene followed by a trip to the Magic Airstream, interrogation, and a final Wesen confrontation. Instead, Monroe and Rosalee take center stage.
A carnival rolls through the Portland area, and of course it must have something to do with Wesen. Hank and Nick are investigating the death of two women, but the larger issue at hand is that the entire main event is populated with Wesen going full woge in front of a regular human audience. They don’t flinch becaue they believe the act is magic, but there’s actually a dangerous blutbad as the main attraction, so corrupted by constantly, willfully using his woge, that he’s afflicted by a dangerous condition that leaves him vulnerable to blacking out and giving into his primal, violent urges. The rest of the carnival rounds out with various Wesen, from the Dämonfeuer breathing fire to the giant crushing bones to the waifish Genevieve, wrestling with her feelings for Max the blutbad.
Nick, Hank, and Juliette can only offer so much in the way of investigating a niche community that harbords Wesen. So it’s up to Monroe and Rosalee to dig a little deeper into the carnival life in order to protect similar people under threat. There’s some subtle commentary in there about carnivals, and the ways in which this kind of unregulated work gets very little oversight, leading to rampant exploitation that none of the victims feel they can escape from. It’s not exactly handled delicately, which is why despite leaning heavily on two of my favorite Grimm characters to sort things out the Wesen way, I think this is a fairly weak episode. Instead of Nick and Hank doing more typical police work, Rosalee goes undercover unofficially, but still manages to ask the right questions, play along when she needs to, and leave the rest to Monroe. The whole ordeal reveals that there’s a condidtion Wesen can suffer should they knowingly go full woge too many times without proper justification.
At this point, I do have to circle back to point out what might be the most emotional moment in the series so far. Silas Weir Mitchall has played Monroe so adeptly that he steals nearly every scene he’s in, and along with Bree Turner forms the most likeable and easy to root for couple on the show. But though Monroe’s proposal was delightful and romantic, I think the moment he asks Nick to be his best man is actually more poignant. Grimm got renewed for a fourth season this week, and I don’t think anybody could’ve predicted the show would last this long. Consistntly the most well-developed and intriguing partnership on the show is Nick and Monroe, with Nick learning more about the Wesen world and Monroe having a way out into the world at large. Though Monroe insists that Nick changed his life, it’s clear that they both did that for each other. On the strength of that interaction, Grimm has slowly flourished. So I freely admit that I got slightly emotional when the best man/maid of honor exchange went down.
Aside from that development, this is actually a straightforward case, even if it’s one that requires Monrosalee to perform an end-around to infiltrate the carnival. Once on the inside, Rosalee sees that the ringmaster is a Löwen, that he essentially hold everyone hostage, and the downtrodden are only waiting for the right moment to strike. Nick and Hank don’t have a lot to do here other than speak exposition that narrows the list of suspects down to the people at the carnival while sitting at desks back at the presinct. Monroe and Rosalee get some more practical field experience performing an impromptu Wesen intervention that ultimately proves successful, but the grandstanding about working conditions feels too confined to the fanciful creatures that it doesn’t resonate as strongly as it could.
Elsewhere in “The Show,” Adalind and Meisner continue to evade Viktor and his other assassins. I think what I find most frustrating about Adalind’s plot—aside from the given fact that it has dragged on for over a full season at this point—is that the scenes amount to nothing but plot-dumps. Other than Meisner’s rather throwaway line that his fight is in Europe when Adalind looks miffed that he’s not joining her in the next leg of her escape, the character has been shrouded in mystery. Adalind hasn’t exactly had the chance to say anything about what she thinks of being pregnant, or about actually keeping the child instead of giving it up to the royals or Stefania (who was simply another agent for Viktor). This plot has also isolated Renard as the voice on the other end of the phone. He still interacts with Nick and Hank on individual cases, but he hasn’t been an essential part of the show through the middle of the season.
This is the problem with the stable of characters Grimm has established. It’s too large to comfortably keep track of them over the course of the season without dropping people here and there when keeping tabs on the entire cast would be best. There’s no coherent story that involves all of them because the structure adheres to the procedural. But the choice to have Adalind or Drew or Bud or Nick’s mom swing through for a couple episodes has dramatically improved the series. They consistently provide comic relief, but they also offer different facets of the Wesen world for Nick and his collaborators to engage with. An episode like this fills in some of the gaps that haven’t been apparent to anyone who doesn’t watch Grimm on a week-to-week basis. As a part of Wesen sociology it’s enlightening, but as a case it falls short. Thankfully, Monrosalee elevate almost anything. The first dinner scene alone is worth sticking around after Dateline but before Hannibal.
- Be sure to read the Random Roles interview Will Harris did with Silas Weir Mitchell, since he’s got some bizarre credits and tells a few great stories.
- The payoff for the big reveal Grimm has been teasing in the “next week” promos culminates in the next episode, airing on April 4. That should be a good one, since the last time Adalind dealt with a Grim directly it was one of the best episodes the show has ever done.