Grimm 1.05 “Danse Macabre” Review

Grimm Danse MacabreWhen talking about Grimm‘s last original episode (which aired in mid-November), I mentioned how badly I wanted the show to fully embrace its dark side, which features a lot of horror movie instincts. What has made Grimm such an interesting show to watch is how visually distinctive it is from (almost) everything else on TV and the show really asserts itself as something different when it piles on the dingy lighting, unique make-up/CGI, and intricately creepy details that keep its other worldly feel alive and kickin’. Simply, allowing Grimm to become a sort-of monster-movie-of-the-week could make for some fun TV.

Which may be why I was so initially drawn to “Danse Macabre”, as it shows Grimm falling further down the horror rabbit hole to mostly very strong results. For one, it was arguably the most gruesome of the first five episodes, at least in terms of gore and striking moments. Very rarely do horror/suspense shows get to me, but looking at the hollowed out body of Mr. Paul Lawson legitimately made me gasp in surprise, especially once a rat (spoiler alert) climbed out of his mouth. (It was the first moment that Grimm “went there” and I appreciated that.) My favorite visual, though, had to be the final rave that framed musical prodigy Roddy Geiger/DJ Retched Kat lured his bullies to (pictured above); complete with candles, gothic violin music, and a tidal wave of rats, it was impressive in all aspects and really pushed the show to new heights in terms of mood and atmosphere. There was something tragic about Roddy, something that fellow outsider Nick obviously related to, and that type of imagery had a certain amount of sadness and desperation to it that highlighted how lost this kid was.

Runner-up for my favorite shot (pictured below) was when Roddy was playing his violin in his trailer filled with rats; between the moody music and dank lighting, it was beyond striking.

However, despite how cool I found most of the episode, there were moments that made me step back and almost took me out of things. Aside from Roddy’s random VOICE OF DOOM at the final “rave” that was more silly than sinister, I have to wonder how the citizens of the greater Portland area didn’t notice a boy with an army of rats following him to a dark downtown warehouse? We only saw the Pied Violinist start his trek to carry out his master plan and it felt a little strange not to have anyone react to his presence on the streets; I know Portland isn’t a huge city along the lines of New York or Los Angeles, but it’s big enough to where something like this would be noticed fairly easily. Also stretching my suspension of disbelief was the fact that none of the four kids Roddy was targeting knew he was DJ Retched Kat when even Sgt. Wu knew who the most famous raver in Portland was. (Plus, Roddy never hid it, carrying his Deadmau5-esque head gear multiple places.) I know that if I’m bullying someone and framed them for a murder, I wouldn’t be going to shake my glowsticks with them, so either way, as gorgeously creepy as the last altercation was, it didn’t make much sense.

Grimm Danse MacabreThe best aspects of “Danse Macabre”, though, are what the episode means (or could mean) going forward. The very last scene, with the gopher-looking creature, planted a seed of doubt in Juliette’s mind regarding Nick and who he (really) is. Thus far in Grimm, the sarcastic vet has been used mostly to keep Nick’s human side in the show to balance out all the weirdness in his Grimm life, but now she may be taking on another role in the grander scheme of things. Nick has always been Juliette’s studly cop boyfriend with a nice house and now she’s faced with the thought that he may not only be that; he may be something much scarier, much more dangerous and seeing how she treads going forward is one of the things I’m most excited to see in future episodes. Additionally, we got to see the return of Adalind Schade, pretty blonde hexenbiest that tried to kill Aunt Marie in the pilot who was protected by Nick and Hank in “Bee-ware”. It’s no secret that I think a recurring big bad could do wonders for Grimm and her menacing re-entrance tonight, which snared an intoxicated Hank for a dinner date, could signal that Ms. Schade’s here to stay in the show’s universe. Granted, she hasn’t really caused much ruckus in two of her three appearances, but the fact that she seems like a hired gun for Captain Renard is enough to make me think that there’s more to Adalind’s “simple gesture” than it seemed.

If “Danse Macabre” is any indication, Grimm seems to have found the lane that it wants to occupy on the television landscape and it’s exactly the one I would have picked for them myself. Though the show can still inject a little self-aware humor and have it work well, Grimm flourishes when it goes a little dark and twisted, both in terms of visuals and how it interprets the fairy-tale-of-the-week. Despite some occasional gaps in logic, “Danse Macabre” was the most cohesive, consistent, and well-constructed episode the show’s done so far and if character development like this continues, the show could grow even more during the rest of its 22 episode first season. Grimm may be based on childhood morality tales with an assortment of creatures that learn valuable lessons, but for the show to keep distinguishing itself in an ever-crowded TV landscape, it may need to embrace the immoral.

Thoughts, Quotes, & Observations:
-“Oh, yeah. I had to stop him from yodeling.”
-“She had smoke coming out of a lot of orifices.”
-“Leave alcohol to those of us still searching.”
-“He’s not a rapper, is he?”
-“I guess somebody let the dogs out.”
-“Oh, man. That is so literal.”
-“Maybe they like raves. It was a rat rave.”
-Tonight’s opening quote: “Out they scampered from doors, windows, and gutters, rats of every size, all after the piper.”
-I didn’t hate the cheesy dialogue this time, only because they acknowledged in the episode how groan-inducing it was.
-A Lost alum and a Buffy alum will be coming to the show in future episodes. You can also check out Kate Burton (Aunt Marie) on Grey’s Anatomy. Monroe or Jacob Black: who ya got?
-The call back to Monroe RIPPING A GUY’S ARM OFF was fun.
-The police work continues to improve on the show, which is a relief.
-What do you think about the medical examiner? I enjoy her and I kind of hope we learn more about her soon, since it looks like she isn’t going anywhere.
-Other promising stuff going forward: the new combination of Wu and Hank, Monroe’s slightly shifted position (this episode being one of the first where he wasn’t just The Big Book of Grimm Knowledge), and the “post-show” between Roddy and Nick.
-Next time on Grimm: An arson case brings Monroe face-to-face with his past.

  • Pedantry

    Sorry, I normally hate to comment on reviews of any kind, but I do have to take issue with your exaggerated criticisim of the fact that Roddy's classmates didn't know he was DJ Retched: the episode didn't begin with Sergeant Wu knowing that Roddy=Retched; the discovery of Roddy's 'secret identity' was actually a major plot point that came about from Wu talking (off-screen, admittedly, but since the audience was already aware of Roddy's moonlighting, it would have simply wasted time to include that interview) with 'Retched's manager/agent/whatever.

    The subsequent conversation about 'DJ Retched's role in the underground rave scene only concerned Wu's knowledge of his psuedonym – and, if I'm not mistaken, even his implication that 'everybody' knew Retched's reputation as a DJ was challenged by Nick.

  • Natalia

    Sergent Wu only knew about Roddy's DJ secret identity because he was checking out Roddy's alibi. Remember, Roddy had to tell Nick where he was on the night of the murder. Sergent Wu spoke to the guy putting on the rave (Roddy's alibi contact).

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