And here I thought Grimm wouldn’t make it past three episodes. After a pretty serious downturn in the first few weeks back from the winter hiatus, Grimm pulled together its best episode yet, a tightly wound and gruesomely creepy standalone plot that finally brought out some real agency from Nick, showed a more useful side of Juliette, and threw in some great Silas Weir Mitchell scenes to boot. I was stunned at how involved I got over the course of the hour, and even though I feel like a bit of an easy grader, I have no problems giving this an A, since it represents to me the best that Grimm has to offer going forward.
A homeless kid turns up dead on the banks of a river, his eyes pecked out by birds and missing most of his blood. Nick and Hank’s investigation lead them to some street kids selling puka shell necklaces. The two homeless kids that Nick and Hank talk to are Hansen and Gracie, mirroring the Hansel and Gretel quote from the epigraph, but they’re only minor characters in a much bigger case. Nick uncovers a rather unsettling practice within the creature world. In the same way that holistic medicine sometimes uses strange animal parts like rhino horn in treatments, the creature world uses human organs, and creatures called Gyers (or Geyers, again I can only try to represent the phonetics of the made up creature terms) are the black market organ salesmen, carving up humans and harvesting their organs for sale.
For the first time I can remember, I was actually a bit scared by an episode of Grimm. I’m not a big horror fan, and I’m okay admitting that I’m easily frightened by most of that genre, but that wasn’t the kind of feeling I got from the whole sinister plot. It was just deeply unsettling, and not in a Law & Order ripped-from-the-headlines-crime kind of way, just in the way that the Gyer doctors lured in street kids, cared for them and checked on their health, then turned around and mercilessly harvested their organs and disposed of the bodies in a giant fire pit. It was frightening in a way that gave me goosebumps as Nick uncovered each little shred of the story, and I was much more impressed with how he used his Grimm knowledge to get information out of witnesses and suspects. The final scene in the clinic, when he confronts one of the Gyers to find out the remote harvesting location, along with Nick chasing down one of the guys who sells human parts, showed a distinct transition from the helpless and lost version of the character from the early goings.
I could nitpick in a few places, like the David Caruso-level terrible one-liners that Wu and Hank spew out when the first body is discovered, or how there is still an overabundance of characters helping Nick out now that even Juliette is pitching in, getting answers about one of the missing boys out of Gracie. But just like the Three Little Pigs/Big Bad Wolf episode that shed some light on Eddie’s backstory in the fall, the strengths of “Organ Grinder” completely rendered my misgivings irrelevant. I was engrossed for the first time since that Eddie Monroe backstory, something I found even more surprising since Silas Weir Mitchell basically disappeared halfway through the episode.
My only real complaint with the episode as it kept going was that it had no connection to the serialized plot. There weren’t a lot of overarching stakes, just episodic ones that would clearly wrap up by the end of the episode. That’s perfectly fine, I appreciate good standalone episodes, but then in the final scene we got just a hint of a bigger plot sprinkled in. Captain Renard finds a wooden box on his desk with a giant scythe carved into it with a severed ear inside, then a phone call from some mysterious person we’ve never heard from. It’s presumably a Reaper, sending a different kind of message than the one Eddie got from the people who beat him up and drew a scythe on his car in blood.
Captain Renard is something like royalty in the creature world, but he’s still shrouded in mystery. We don’t know his angle, but he doesn’t really seem to be the Big Bad either, especially since the Reapers who want the Grimm problem taken care of can’t seem to get Renard to do anything. The Captain likes Nick, and mentions that he has “a conscience” while on the phone with the Reaper. That suggests that Renard doesn’t hate Grimms or want them destroyed, and that he views Nick’s judgment on bad creatures as just for the time being. Even though we don’t know who’s ear is in the box, and it may simply be the same ear Renard chopped off a guy at the beginning of the season, the Reapers are definitely ramping up the pressure on anyone associated with Nick to get rid of him. Eddie’s response last week was to double down and reinforce his partnership with Nick, but it remains to be seen how Renard will react.
This could all just be a fluke, one great episode in the middle of the season that shows the potential Grimm never achieved in full, but right now I don’t want to look at it that way. If the show pulls it together and actually becomes a gripping, well-plotted supernatural show that merits inclusion with Angel or even The Vampire Diaries at this point, we’ll point back to this episode as the turning point that started the transition from confused and disparate police procedural to an assured and downright spooky drama.
- I spent so much time gushing about how surprised I was by the episode I barely mentioned Silas Weir Mitchell, who gets some great scenes tonight. Him buying human gall bladder had some great humor, and his dinner with Nick where he bemoans the lack of “getting to know you” topics of conversation was another perfect example of why he’s my favorite character on the show.
- The demonic blonde girl has been absent for a while, and she’s Renard’s henchwoman, so I’m hoping that as that part of the plot ramps up her character returns in a more meaningful way. The bee episode that she had a big part in is now relegated to the third best episode of the season, after this one and Bauerswine/Blutbad feuding.