While I’ve leveled a fair amount of criticisms at Grimm over the course of this season, something that I acknowledge is that the show is subject to many of those criticisms by the nature of its format. At its heart Grimm is still a network police procedural that has to fill 22 episodes every year, the bulk of which need to serve as contained entities as much as they do building blocks of the larger narrative. It’s a story that lays a lot of track in order to meet the goals of each week and each season, and while I don’t rescind earlier criticisms, it’s important to know that there are factors the show works against.
And an awareness of those factors makes an episode like “Bad Night” all the more rewarding. Doing this legwork earns Grimm the freedom to do an episode where it’s allowed to pay off many of its plots at once, and when they do—as we’ve seen at several stages of the show’s life—those episodes are frequently the show’s best. Now, with Black Claw getting ready to make its biggest play yet and Team Grimm at its most disadvantaged point, all the pieces are present for the action to truly get started. “Bad Night” lights off the powder keg perfectly, all the respective stakes raised and battle lines drawn.
The spark that gets things going is the reveal at the end of “The Taming Of The Wu,” where Adalind left with Kelly to keep her children and her Grimm lover safe. Understandably, said Grimm lover is furious at this departure and goes on the warpath to figure out where his family is. David Giuntoli always does well in the instances where Nick decides to step off the straight and narrow path, and now it’s getting even uglier with his baby son caught up in it. It’s straight to heavy vigilante stuff, as he kicks down Renard’s door without a warrant, shoots two Black Claw operatives in cold blood, and talks about assassinating his captain in the planning stages. (He also inadvertently cock-blocks Monroe and Rosalee, but they have to be used to it by now.) Nothing gets Grimm out of its police procedural rut as much as Nick choosing not to be police, and at this point he’s going to Dirty Harry extremes.
As to his captain, he’s pursuing a more diplomatic approach. Of the aforementioned criticisms I’ve had of Grimm this season, one of the more niggling ones is the question of Renard’s allegiances. It’s been unclear if he’s fully on board with Black Claw’s plan, if he’s playing them to get what he wants, or if he’s working as a double agent with another party’s interests in mind. “Bad Night” appears to come down on the first option as he gets Nick alone in his office to make his case for Black Claw, promising the inevitability of the revolution and the rewards that come to those on the right side. Arguments about whether or not the side makes sense for him are dispelled slightly by relief that he’s finally chosen one, and Sasha Roiz is good enough to sell his commitment.
Unfortunately, a furious Nick and an ambitious Renard doesn’t translate into a fruitful partnership. If anything it’s the reigniting of a long-dormant feud. It’s worth remembering that the first time these two were honest with each other about their Grimm and Zauerbiest origins far back in “Face Off” they came to blows, and since then it’s been an uneasy truce relying on the presence of common enemies. Nick and Renard never truly resolved their differences, nor were they ever more than occasional allies—Renard always standing on the outside of Team Grimm—and these latest developments are exposing the rot underneath. (Case in point, Renard’s resentment about handing Diana over to the Grimms in the first place.) Nick coldly promises his death in the episode’s closing moments, and it’s an entirely believable sentiment.
Black Claw is also continuing to use its connections against Team Grimm, with Hank’s developing relationship taking on a new degree of espionage. The point of particular interest here is the Black Claw agent sent to lift Hank’s phone: none other than Rosalee’s ex Tony, last seen having his fingers bent 180 degrees in “Into The Schwartzwald.” Rosalee’s past eventually coming back to her was one of those loose threads I chastised Grimm for earlier in the season, but this reveal casts it in a much more favorable light. He wasn’t there simply looking for money, he was there to get under her skin with his familiarity, as much a part of Black Claw’s plans as Zuri’s seduction of Hank or singling out Xavier due to his friendship with Monroe. It becomes a part of a whole and adds to Black Claw’s merits as an enemy.
As the nature of Black Claw’s machinations become apparent, Team Grimm rises to the occasion with its own. While they deploy the same tactic of forcing a woge in interrogation, they manage to be smarter about it by realizing that a lack of woge is even more of a giveaway and realize how deep the break-in goes. And when Hank puts together the pieces of how convenient the break-in is, it leads to a double-cross on Zuri that plays well for Russell Hornsby’s ability to play stoic and lets Eve get back to her favored torture method from “Star-Crossed.” Team Grimm has spent so much time on the defensive of late that it’s a treat to see them taking an active role, showing Black Claw that their plans for the world can’t be counted as a success just yet.
“Bad Night” also serves as a valuable reminder that despite both sides making all of their plans, there’s a lot of wild cards floating out there who could wind up on one or both sides before it’s over. Adalind might be living under Renard’s roof, but she’s clearly not happy with the arrangement and even less happy with Renard’s effort to bring up the old days—Renard’s history with her as chaotic and unresolved as it is with Nick, and she’s not shy about using her powers to remind him of that reality. Diana may be overjoyed to have her family together, but she’s pushing it in ways that her parents don’t reciprocate, and the glares she’s giving Rachel as a potential interloper look to be on the road to literal death glares. The were-Wu is still present, but Wu’s learning how to control it (in a great scene for Reggie Lee) as opposed to the other way around. And of course there’s the Splinter of Destiny, which Nick discloses to Trubel as a secret to be shared between Grimms, and something that she’ll need to take care of if anything happens to him.
The last one is a possibility that can’t be ruled out given where things are. The episode ends with Renard now mayor-elect of Portland and Adalind brought on stage with her children, presented as “his family,” and the mood inside Hadrian’s Wall HQ getting progressively worse. Everyone throws around knowing looks save for Nick’s, which turns to ice and leads to only two words: “They’re dead.” What was once a political conflict has now become personal in the most cutting of ways, the dark thoughts of a broken heart and broken family now in perfect sync with his duties as a Grimm. It definitely feels like Nick could do anything in reaction to events, and now that we’re in that glorious stretch of Grimm where the action is constant, no possibilities can be ruled out.
- This Week In Portland: Nothing of note this week as characters largely shuttle between established locations. However, it’s worth noting that their fictional Portland mayoral campaign takes place as Portland is busy with its own, and there’s a chance I might be writing Sean Renard in when it comes time to file my ballot. (I typically write in Kyle MacLachlan’s Mr. Mayor.)
- This Week’s Epigram: “We have to distrust each other. It is our only defense against betrayal.” The charmingly optimistic viewpoint of Tennessee Williams.
- Know Your Wesen: Not a lot of woge sightings, but lots of familiar names popping up. Rosalee cites such insectoid wesen as Spinnetod, Mellifer, and Jinnamuru Xunte as possibilites before she learns of Tony’s identity, and the Black Claw organizational chart contains Ziegevolk, Hasslich, Schinderdiv, and a previously unseen kind called Schwarfbucke.
- Okay, I saved my major gripe about the episode for the end: I don’t for an instant buy that Renard could trot Adalind, Diana, and Kelly out at his press conference and present them as his hereto unseen family. Regardless of how late he jumped into the race, regardless of how much a private person he’d present himself as, there’s no goddamned way that a candidate for mayoral office could just say “Oh yeah, I’ve always had this family!” Even a fluff profile piece would have picked up on this.
- I picked on Hank a couple weeks ago as being a character only present to receive exposition, but “Bad Night” is an instance where that process is a lot of fun to witness given how insane everything that’s happening sounds to someone who needs to be brought up to speed. “What’d I miss? … Well, this just keeps getting better and better.”
- “Unless you join me in the next few minutes, you’re gonna be the one self-winding tonight.” “And I’m done.” I freaking love Monrosalee.
- “I assume you lost the two following you?” “For good.” “I’ll update the database.” Trubel’s genuine enthusiasm for data entry when it comes to crossing off Black Claw agents is a treat.
- “They want Grimms on their side.” “Yeah, makes sense, they wanna keep their heads.”
- “I did kinda nail it, didn’t I?” Ah, classic Wu.
- Season finale next week! It’s a double-header, so plan accordingly.