After a brief hiatus, NBC’s Grimm has returned with the particularly gruesome and therefore aptly named Danse Macabre and followed it up with Three Little Pigs. The episodes illustrate a bit more complexity of characterization in the supernatural species (Reiningen and Bauerschwein, respectively) but still fall flat.
Given Nick Burkhardt’s dual roles as cop and Grimm, I can accept that police procedure will be hand waved. What has become unacceptable is the gaping hole in the narrative of exactly why the Grimms are Grimms, and Nick himself appearing to be a completely neutral human being. Giuntoli invests the character with an earnest sense of justice, but there isn’t a sense of purpose or passion in Nick. The blandness of the character serves to highlight that every other character is either, more mysterious, more interesting, or more charismatic than the title character.
Riffing on The Pied Piper of Hamelin, Danse Macabre makes the piper a rat-like species, the Reiningen, while rats are still those lured by his music. In contrast with previous episodes where the villain is always supernatural, the episode subverts this and puts some striking visuals onscreen, yet never rises above a paint-by-numbers plot. Silas Weir Mitchell makes a scene in which Monroe attempts to give wrong-side-of-the-tracks musical prodigy and Reiningen, Roddy Geiger (Nick Thurston) a pep talk both touching and hilariously awkward. When a repairman who is also Reiningen flips out because he knows Nick is a Grimm, the scene is both funny and sets up the possibility of Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) noticing that there are a few too many strange things happening to Nick these days.
In Three Little Pigs we’re introduced to the Bauerschwein and, in another subversion, it’s not the pigs’ houses being blown down. Monroe gets a little more history. Including an ex, Angelina Lasser (Jaime Ray Newman) with a penchant for motorcycles and bunny blood, and continues to provide much of the emotional conflict of the series. Both episodes raise the question, “If even relatively harmless species fear the Grimms, then are they truly heroic?”
It’s an aspect that I’d like to see explored, the moral grey area. Is the hunter truly on the side of good, or like the Spanish Inquisition, have Grimms been the oppressor of those they view as evil without evidence? Thus far, there is far too much focus on the monster of the week and not enough context for the larger world in which the supernatural and mundane exist side by side. The procedural format may make it exceptionally easy to start watching Grimm at any point, but six episodes into the series; the show hasn’t developed the sense of its own world in a way that makes it easy to want to.