Grimmsters rejoice! Our favorite Wesen-battling detective is back, and Grimm started its second season with an edge-of-your-seat, two-part season premiere!
Sadly, Once Upon a Time doesn’t start until September, which means that I won’t be doing regular side-by-side comparisons. Also, I’m handling Grimm differently this season. Rather than doing weekly reviews, I’ll be doing periodic season check-ins, and perhaps the occasional interview or essay as part of my show coverage. For those of you who enjoyed my regular reviews, I just might be keeping them up over at The Teresa Jusino Experience, so keep your eyes peeled for additional Grimm coverage (and other stuff) over there!
Now, on to Grimm season two, and the episodes “Bad Teeth” and “The Kiss.”
This show is such a tease. After ending season one with a cliffhanger, they start season two with...a two part episode. Damn you, NBC.
In “Bad Teeth”/“The Kiss,” Nick (David Giuntoli) and his mother, Kelly (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) bond over taking down a mauvais dentes (a vicious sabertooth tiger-like wesen) and general Grimmery. Kelly begins to trust Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Rosalee (Bree Turner), but when she tells Nick at the end of “The Kiss” that she’s going to be leaving town, she actually steals a car and stays in Portland. What in the heck is she actually up to?
Meanwhile, Nick is arrested when the mauvais dentes who is after him kills two FBI agents. Nick barely manages to get out of it, but not before Hank (Russell Hornsby) lets Nick know that he knows something’s up (despite the fact that he’s spent a good chunk of his time sitting crazily in his apartment with a shotgun), but that he trusts Nick anyway.
Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) is still in a coma at the end of “Bad Teeth,” and her memory is starting to be erased. Captain Renard (Sasha Roiz) is concerned about Juliette, because of what harm to her might mean for keeping Nick under his control in Portland, so he employs Catherine’s (Jessica Tuck) help, since her daughter Adalind was the cause, and she provides him with a potion that will allow him to become Pure of Heart.
In “The Kiss,” Renard takes the potion, which has such an effect on his body that he loses control, revealing that there’s part of him that’s not human. After hulking out, the potion kicks in and he goes to the hospital and kisses Juliette, which allows her to wake up. However, part of her memory has already been erased, so when Nick arrives at her side, she has no idea who he is. Meanwhile, Renard deals with his brother, Eric (James Frain), over the phone. As it turns out, Eric sent the mauvais dentes for Nick, seemingly to disrupt any claim to power Captain Renard had. Sean took great pleasure in telling Eric that his Grimm killed Eric’s mauvais dentes. Oh, family drama.
Overall, the two-part story that opened Grimm season two was a good one. The episodes were fast-paced and engaging, and the direction and cinematography seem more like film and less like a television show this year. Also, the quality of the morphing has gotten even better, from the mauvais dentes, to Monroe and Rosalee morphing at Nick’s house, to Captain Renard’s morph in his apartment. Kudos to the effects department for having that stuff on lock. The performances have also gotten even better now that the cast has had a year to settle into these roles. So yes, good overall, but this doesn’t mean that the episodes were without their problems:
The New Opening Credits Sequence: Yeah, not diggin’ it. Sorry. Should’ve left well enough alone on that one. Now I feel like I’m watching a parody of a movie trailer before every episode.
Kelly Burckhardt: I love the way Nick’s mother is written. She’s loving, but she’s also a workaholic parent. She makes difficult choices, and she doesn’t coddle, because she was never coddled. There’s a very real inner struggle when she discovers that her son is friends with a blutbad and a fuchsbau, but she’s not so hard-headed that she can’t come around, even if it is difficult for her. She’s dryly funny, tries to make her son breakfast (even though she does it badly), and provides a welcome bit of female mentorship for Nick that I thought was sorely needed after Aunt Marie’s death. However, from the beginning, I thought that there was something not entirely benign about her, and at the end of “Bad Kiss” we see that she doesn’t board a train to leave town even though she tells Nick she’s going to. Rather, she steals a car and drives off for reasons unknown. She is an interesting character, and I hope that this means we’ll continue to have her pop up from time to time. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio rocks this part so hard, and she and David Giuntoli were at their best in their scenes together.
Monrosalee: Monroe and Rosalee are too cute together. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that pairing. Nothing. Their dialogue to and about each other, the glances, the little smiles...they are perfect, and Silas Weir Mitchell and Bree Turner have amazing chemistry. Except that we haven’t really seen them get together. The season two premiere sort of has them acting like an already-established couple, but we never got a moment where they acknowledged their feelings for each other. I don’t know if they actually are an already-established couple or not, but if they are, it would’ve been nice to see the moment when either one of them finally stepped up to the plate to make their feelings known. And if they’re not a couple yet, they sure are acting like one. So, we’re either missing something, or too much is being telegraphed too soon. One or the other. Still, I love that Rosalee is the kind of person who would hug a Grimm to smooth things over. She’s brave, that one.
Nick and Hank: Their scene in “The Kiss” was wonderful. Hank knows something’s fishy about Nick. He’s not stupid. But he also trusts his partner, and doesn’t demand to know what Nick is up to, so long as Nick respects him and their friendship. Russell Hornsby gave a beautiful, understated performance in “The Kiss,” which made me desperately want Nick to tell him about being a Grimm. Because Hank is exactly the kind of friend you want on your side and in the know.
Nick’s Arrest: I understand the impulse to want Nick’s cop life and Grimm life to collide, forcing him to choose, but the way Nick’s arrest played wasn’t particularly effective. Nick was too defensive to be believed (he sounded like a guilty person the entire time), tossing his gun into the river was a huge mistake (how long before it washes up somewhere and comes back to haunt him?), and the entire thing just seemed like a huge stall to allow Renard to be the one who wakes Juliette. In past episodes, Grimm has done a much better job of having the Grimm case run parallel to the regular police case. This instance of worlds colliding seemed forced and redundant.
Captain Renard: Renard becomes more fascinating the more we learn about him. Except that I learned more about him from press about the show than I did from the actual show. Sasha Roiz’s performance was wonderful, and from what we see and learn in the episode we know that Renard isn’t entirely human. There’s a scene where he finally gives up control of himself and allows himself to morph a bit when he takes the Pure Of Heart potion Catherine gave him to save Juliette. What is unclear in that scene is what he morphs into. When I saw it, it sort of reminded me of what the Terminator looked like when his flesh was peeled back. Then he started turning red and puffing black smoke all HULK SMASH style. I didn’t know what he was, but I thought it was cool.
Apparently, though, Renard is half-hexenbeist, which is definitely an interesting choice, and explains so much, both about his motivations to prove himself as worthy of power in his royal line, and also his penchant for getting with hexenbiest ladies. I just wish that his being part-hexenbeist had been made clearer in what I was watching. (Honestly, I didn’t know there could be male hexenbeists, and his morph didn’t resemble Catherine’s or Adalind’s at all.) I should get information like that from the episode, not from an interview I read after the fact.
What I did love, however, was that he was the one who saved Juliette with a kiss rather than Nick. That complicates his relationship with Nick quite a bit. My only question: why didn’t Rosalee and Monroe figure out the Pure Of Heart kiss stuff, too? I guess witches are more advanced at that sort of thing than recovering addict spice shop owners?
The Other Renard: Speaking of things that were ruined by press, let’s talk about Eric Renard. First of all, I think James Frain was a brilliant casting choice, as he excels at bringing a snarky, dark humor even in the most evil moments. On the show, it’s revealed that he is Renard’s brother and has sent the mauvais dentes to Portland to kill Renard’s Grimm in episode two, “The Kiss.” However, I already knew from countless casting announcements all over the entertainment press that James Frain had been cast to play Renard’s brother, which ruined the reveal. The second he first appeared in episode one, I was all “Ooh, Renard’s brother. What’s he up to?” Whereas I don’t think that’s the way that scene was intended to play based on how it was written.
Note to NBC publicity: you can make a casting announcement without giving the details as to who the actor is going to be playing, especially when those details will spoil the storytelling. Just saying. Still, I’m looking forward to the inevitable scenes Frain and Roiz will have together. With such great actors, I’m sure they will be epic.
Juliette’s Condition: Full disclosure: I have a thing about memory loss. With Alzheimer’s in my family, memory loss is one of the scariest things in the world to me, and when we get that glimpse in “Bad Teeth” of Juliette losing Nick in her memory, it was more frightening to me than any monster they could come up with. Having Juliette wake up and not know Nick nearly tore my heart out, and this will be one of the more interesting storylines on the show to me now. I’m interested in seeing how Juliette will change while undergoing this experience, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Nick now handles balancing his relationship with Juliette and his life as a Grimm now that he’s literally been given a blank slate with which to start over. He’d better do things right the second time around, because he screwed up the first time.
Also, the Sleeping Beauty quote at the beginning of “The Kiss” was “If a man pure of heart were to fall in love with her, that would bring her back to life.” Not “kiss her,” but “fall in love with her.” Does this mean Renard is in love with Juliette? Does the potion he took chemically create love as well as purity of heart? Or was this quote an indication of how Nick is going to step up and save her by proving his natural purity of heart and also loving her, bringing back her memory and, therefore, “back to life?” Hmmm....
Family, memory, the power of love, and coming into one’s own seem to be the themes we’ll be dealing with this season on Grimm, and I can’t wait to delve into those themes with this show and with these characters. Because even when the storytelling gets wonky from time to time, it’s the characters that keep me coming back for more. Oh, and the shirtless male characters. That, too.
Grimm will continue to air on Monday nights at 10 PM EST on NBC until Friday, September 21st, when it returns to its usual Friday at 9 PM EST time slot.
Teresa Jusino loves that Rosalee is a hugger. Her Feminist Brown Person take on pop culture has been featured on websites like ChinaShopMag.com, PinkRaygun.com, Newsarama, PopMatters.com, and she’s recently joined Al Día, the #1 Spanish-language newspaper in Philadelphia, as a pop culture columnist. 2012 will see Teresa’s work in two upcoming non-fiction anthologies, and she is also a writer/producer on Miley Yamamoto’s upcoming sci-fi web series, RETCON, which is set to debut in 2013. For more on her writing, get Twitterpated with Teresa, “like” her on Facebook, or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.