Grimm: Season 2
When the entertainment industry latches on to something that produces more than an iota of financial success the proverbial band wagon is soon overcrowded as every television network and movie studio scrambles to quickly cash in. Although this usually means a significant dilution of quality occasionally an entry or two come along with surprising good results. A couple of years ago two television series embraced the current fade of supernatural themes by building their shows around mature interpretations of fairy tales. On ABC they looked to their parent company of Disney for a virtually endless supply of princesses, witches and all sorts of enchantments for ‘Once Upon a Time’. Meanwhile Universal, through their television branch, NBC came up with the series under examination here, ‘Grimm’. This uses the stories of the Brothers Grimm to drive a very different take on the perennial favorite of TV programming executives, the police procedural. While the Grimm fairy tales ewe tell our children are greatly Bowdlerized, the original content would ardent fan of the ‘Saw’ franchise a fright. The premise of ‘Grimm’ relies on a simple but effective superstition; "what if the creatures in those stories were real and lived covertly among us?’ to my delight both series quickly became never miss favorites of mine.
Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) is a dedicated detective with the homicide division of the Portland police department. He had established a solid life with his trusted friend and partner, Detective Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby) and on the personal front living with his fiancée, Juliette Silverton (Bitsie Tulloch), a veterinarian. In the first season his Aunt Marie (Kate Burton) shows up with two life altering pieces of news. The first was she is dying of cancer. The second was he is something called a Grimm. This is a human being with the supernatural ability to see creatures that otherwise look like anyone else in their true form. For centuries Grimms have protected humanity by hunting down and killing these creatures collectively referred to as Wesen. There are many species of Wesen some fairly harmless, other extremely dangerous. Traditionally Grimms did not differentiate. Marie bequeathed a trailer contain the knowledge girthed through centuries by hundreds of Griims.it also housed a supernatural apothecary and an arsenal of strange but painfully lethal weapons. In an unheard of move Nick befriends a Wesen, Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), a Blutbad or big bad wolf. Monroe has distanced himself from the violent nature associated with his kind and is a refined, considerate person. He becomes tight friends with Nick and his partner in the endless supply of Wesen related cases.
By the second season Hank has been read in to the covert Wesen world but as Nick was about to tell Juliette, a Hexenbiester (a facially torn witch-like Wesen) named Adalind Schade (Claire Coffee), used a potion to place her in a coma. Also resuming this season Nick has to contend with his missing mother, Kelly (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) another Grimm running from a vast conspiracy. At first the series was leaning towards a ‘freak of the week’ motif which can rapidly turn boring. Fortunately, the creative minds behind this show have much more in store. There is a group of ‘Royals’ who have been manipulating humans and Wesens for ages. Nick and Hank unknowing work for an illegitimate member of one powerful Royal family, Captain Sean Renard (Sasha Roiz) who has own agenda to gain power in his estranged family. In this season we discover his mother was a Hexenbiester; forbidden to the extreme and considered tacky. As a prince of sorts he was able to break the spell on Juliette but with consequences; a strong sexual attraction is created between them and Juliette regains memory of her life with one glaring exception. She cannot remember anything about Nick. With all of these subplots heavily entwined you might think things would get too confusing but again thanks to an abundance of ingenuity and talent the writer’s eaves these various threads into an extremely imaginative tapestry.
Each episode a new type of Wesen is introduced so you might want to bookmark the Grimm Wiki as a reference guide. One new regular introduced in season one and promoted to regular in two is Rosalee Calvert (Bree Turner), a Fuchsbau ( a fox like Wesen) how is a talented apothecary an knowledgeable of Wesen lore from their point of view. Despite her kind’s traditional fear and hatred of Blutbad she and Monroe fall in love. This is a subplot that fits into a broader set of unfolding circumstances that underlie the entire story is how Nick’s assumption of the role of Grimm has become catalyst for a new age of cooperation between tradition mortal enemies. This not only encompasses Wesen and this special Grimm but is manifested within former animosities between types of Wesen. This creates an atmosphere of centuries of tradition being subject to rapid changes. From the perspective of telling a story this provides richly fertile soil for drama, suspense, intrigue and romance. The components of successful story telling are enhanced greatly through this approach
Many of the Wesen species reflect Germanic linguistic origins consistent with the original Brother Grimm stories. This is also manifested in the names of the characters influenced by French and German words with a connection to their roles or personalities. This attention to detail and the old world linguistic continuity adds significantly to realism and ability to form a connection with the audience. The overall result is a synergy that has made this show one of the well-crafted and tightly written around today. The acting is impeccable and easily capable of overcoming the use of soap opera techniques employed. As a police procedural it works surprising well. Although it is true that Portland’s criminal community is disproportionately comprised of rouge Wesen the investigation of the publically revealed part of the crimes is surprisingly satisfying.
The series is an old school take on the supernatural and a return to the scarier aspects of the creature feature. While there are strong romantic plot lines throughout the story arc these is not a teen oriented, sappy vampire/werewolf tale that has been degrading the genre for a decade or so. This is first and foremost a crime drama encased in a horror motif providing a strongly entertaining time. When it first came out adjacent to Disney’s fairy tale offering I had my doubts that the competition would ruin them. Instead each show has firmly established its own identity and unique narrative, as for ‘Grimm’ the third season is about to start and if they remain on the course they have charted potentially viable for many more.
Grimm Guide: Explore The Creatures Of Grimm With This Interactive Guide