[Gentle readers, please note: this entry was written on Sunday, November 1 but, due to technical difficulties beyond our control, unfortunately didn’t post the same day. We ask you to keep that in mind when reading the post. Thank you! – the editors]
Hi there, spooky fans, and happy second day of Allhallowtide! It’s the Feast of All Saints (and to those who are watching football today instead of attending church, we don’t mean the New Orleans variety). As saints are usually involved in penitence, good works, martyrdom or reputed miracles and not spooky stuff, we’ll leave them be and let them have their feast day in peace. However, this then frees us for a discussion of a less saintly nature about figures of myth and legend.
Grimm is an NBC TV series we probably should have gotten around to discussing much earlier, considering that it’s about nothing but figures of myth and legend living surreptitiously in the modern world. Instead of taking a horror approach as the gory AMC series The Walking Dead does (which we will NOT be discussing on SpookyThings, as we don’t do horror per se), Grimm speculates on what the famous German brothers and collectors of the fairy tales might really have been about, how their descendants in the modern world might have to deal with their heritage in the here and now, and what the fallout might be if one of those descendants were a nice police detective living in Portland with his veterinarian girlfriend, both of them completely clueless about his background. Well now – that’s an arresting premise, and it certainly got my attention.
I grant you that I found the idea behind the show intriguing but was unpersuaded at first. However, I’ve been hooked from about the third episode on, and so I freely admit we should have reviewed this show – or at least written about it – from the start. Except that our blog isn’t as old as the show is, and we had to make our own introductions and establish ourselves, just as the series did. Mea culpa.
Writing about the show now, however, now that the necessary introductions and exposition of the first season are over and there was some interesting action in the second and third season along with new characters added, is perhaps better after all. Why? Because now there have been enough episodes to tell whether the series is working, and I’d say it is. Also, now that we’re deeper into the story – we know the background, the major players and our Grimm finally understands his heritage, the extent of his own powers, and has determined his own set of ethics for operating in this shadow world of strange creatures – the real fun begins.
Before we get into the twisted plots to get you up to speed in the series, I should note that David Giuntoli, who plays Detective Nick Burkhardt, the Grimm of the series title, has really grown into the role. I thought maybe he was a little soft in the role in the first few episodes, but that changed soon enough. It took half a dozen episodes for the ensemble to jell, but it did. By now, all the major characters are wearing their roles like they were comfortable old shoes. Better plottting as the first season continued no doubt helped, as did the need for less and less exposition as time wore on.
Here’s where we are at the start of the fourth season. Our Grimm detective has just figured out that he got too comfortable with the situation and wasn’t watchful enough – because he’s been stripped of his Grimm powers, just at the moment he’d found an untutored protégé to train and really needs his skills. And the sorceress (a Hexenbiest) who stole them did so while masquerading as his girlfriend and bedding him. Which really pisses off the girlfriend, who by now is ready to reach for an axe when she sees a Hexenbiest coming. Oh, and there are plenty of enemies who would kill the Grimm if they could (and now they probably can). That’s some mighty powerful challenges for the fourth season. There shouldn’t be even one boring episode ahead.
You’ll notice an awful lot of German names in this series, easily explained by the fact that most of the beasties or two-natured, called Wessen (VESS-en), hail from central Europe, where they have their own hierarchy, aristocrats and royals (whom apparently nobody among the beasties likes and most actually fear). Their social structure in North America, however, is less cut and dried, especially since Nick became a Grimm and some of the Wessen community in and around Portland have come to know him. Nick lives in a cute Arts and Crafts house with Juliette, who finally got clued in officially to his being a Grimm and what that means over the last two seasons; that shook her up enough that Nick had to postpone proposing to her (at the start of the series, both of them were readying themselves for exactly that moment – and now that’s a sore point between them, especially for Nick, who still has the ring). His partner Hank Griffin is another normal human who now knows the score, and their boss, Capt. Sean Renard (who speaks French beautifully, BTW), turns out to be an exiled Wessen royal, born illegitimate and therefore an outcast, but one that his cousins would gladly kill if they could (and they’re trying).
Nick’s own mother, whom he thought long dead and who is also a Grimm and a member of the resistance that is allied against the Wessen royals, resurfaced during the second and third season and near the end of the third took charge of a rather special child that everyone’s looking for. Nick’s mom has some totally kick-ass ninja skills as a Grimm herself, incidentally, which totally blows away Nick, who never suspected anything of the sort. Nobody among the Wessen really knows who she is (just as no one else knows she’s alive), and she’s keeping it that way. To save little Nicky, she let her sister Marie (another sleeper Grimm) raise him and keep him from the truth until Marie herself lay dying (that’s when Nick got his powers). Now mom’s back; well, now and then, anyway.
Did we mention that Nick’s protégé, who goes by the nickname Trouble (Trubel in German), is a young college-age street kid with foster home and abuse issues who thought she was going nuts seeing things (like ugly-ass scary Wessen) because she didn’t know that she was a Grimm? And that now she’s the only real Grimm in town, unless Nick can get his powers back? And that she’s living with Nick and Juliette, who’s lately kidding herself that Nick can live a normal life without his powers? Yeah, right: extreme wishful thinking, babe.
Oh, and the whole stealing of the powers thing happened at the same time a Wessen assassin tried to kill Capt. Renard at Nick’s house while Trouble was there – she beheaded the assassin with a machete and called 911 to save Renard before running to find Nick – while Nick and Juliette were attending the wedding of Nick’s two best Wessen friends (whom he introduced): Monroe (a werewolf who eats vegan, except for fish and eggs) and Rosalie, who’s one of the lesser furry Wessen (a squirrel? A mink? A possum?? Some wereanimal like that) and who runs an herb and spice shop and is good with spells and antidotes. The happy couple have their wedding at a rural mountain lodge interrupted by Trouble, who’s desperately trying to bring an antidote to Nick that the dying Renard was trying to pass along to him to recover his Grimm powers before it’s too late; but in a scuffle with the terrified Wessen at the wedding, who attack Trouble thinking she was there to murder everyone, the bottle with the potion is broken. Talk about a mess. The first episode of the new season ends with Nick stuck without his powers and Renard apparently dying in hospital just as a mysterious older woman arrives, concerned for his welfare.
We’re up to the second episode of the fourth season now, which aired last Friday night. The mysterious woman turns out to be Renard’s loving mother, Elisabeth LaSalle, who’s come just in time to save him. Speaking of that, she actually stops time for a bit in order to accomplish it without any of the doctors and nurses in the room noticing. Mom’s a real looker in the Gabor sisters vein – blonde, regal, elegantly dressed, very European, and well preserved, probably because she’s a Hexenbiest herself (which makes Renard half sorcerer and half royal whatever-that-is himself). Relieved her son will recover now, she’s also saddened and disappointed to learn that Renard’s cousins are still trying to kill him, even though he lives across the pond and generally distances himself from the royals. “Will they never leave us alone?” Mom sighs. But of course, because she’s a much older, smarter Hexenbiest than Nick’s seducer, one Adelind Schade, Renard’s mom will probably help her son’s ally recover his powers (most likely in this week’s episode). It’s still not clear, though, whether the captain is really a friend to Nick or just someone who wants a Grimm for an ally in his own power struggle.
Schade (SHAH-duh, even though the American characters pronounce it ‘shade’) means bad in German, BTW, and Adelind really is a bad girl in every sense of that term: self-absorbed, opportunistic, unfaithful, vindictive, willing to ally or sleep with anyone if it gives her an advantage. She bewitched Nick’s partner, Hank, early on and nearly scared the dickens out of him, but Hank’s wise to her now. To ally herself with the royals and gain their protection, she did the one thing that would give them something they really want: get herself pregnant with a royal child. Although at first they thought it might be the offspring of Renard’s legitimate but now dead half-brother, whom Adelind slept with in season two (she didn’t care if he didn’t stick around, being more the black widow type herself), but really, when sleeping with his cousin didn’t work, she seduced Renard himself to get pregnant – and then performed a bloody murder ritual to recover her own witch powers, which Nick had neutralized back in season two. Now, the only other person that Adelind cares about besides herself is her baby (and that’s probably a surprise even to her).
Remember that really special, powerful child Nick’s mother is hiding? Yeah: Adelind’s newborn girl. When Adelind’s deal with the royals fell through before the baby was born and she realized they’d take the baby anyway and get rid of her, she escaped with the help of the resistance (guess who). So Nick’s mom knows very well what this baby might mean – and with Renard’s assent, she vanishes with the infant to keep her out of the royals’ grasp. Adelind, however, thinks the royals have her (because they lied about that, of course) and that she will only be allowed to see her baby if she steals Nick’s powers. So she does, then shows up in Vienna at the home of the royal cousin, pleading to see her child – only to find herself thrown into prison and mocked because they don’t have the kid and she never counted, in their eyes. Only the baby matters.
Meanwhile, Monroe and Rosalie are searching vainly through spellbook after spellbook, trying to find something to help Nick when Juliette shows up at the herb shop and asks them to maybe take their time, so that she and Nick can discuss whether or not he’s better off not being a Grimm. The moment Juliette leaves, however, Monroe and Rosalie exchange a skeptical look and go back to their work, knowing that Nick won’t be safe without his powers. The Wessen world with all its were-animals and monsters won’t go away just because Nick’s suddenly dysfunctional.
Did we explain, BTW, that the dead assassin was an FBI agent in the pay of the royals who was also Wessen – a Hundjaeger or dog-that-is-a-hunter, an enforcer who had gone off the FBI radar weeks earlier? And that now there’s a couple of FBI investigators looking into his death, one of whom (Agent Chavez) discovers a Grimm’s-guide-to-deadly-Wessen in Trouble’s bedroom when they come to search Nick’s house after the attack on Capt. Renard? And that at least one of those FBI agents is also Wessen (Chavez again)? She’s one of the predator-bird weres, only Nick doesn’t know that because he can’t recognize Wessen now, so the agent concludes he isn’t a Grimm (they don’t realize he’s been one until now). But she does suspect Trouble, whose given name is Theresa Rubel (right, more German names). Moreover, Trouble’s grabbed right off the street from her bike (well, Juliette’s bicycle) and pulled into a van by several hooded figures and Agent Chavez at the end of the episode. So there we are with Nick minus Grimm powers, the only functional Grimm in town kidnapped, and a number of shadowy figures whose loyalties and intentions are unclear circling in the periphery. Ach – scheisse!! (We’ll let you figure out that one on your own.)
Friday nights should be fun this winter. We bet you’ll be rereading Grimm’s Fairy Tales with an entirely different eye now, wondering which mythical characters will surface next. We certainly will!
Until next time,
Your spooky TV critic,