The first season finale of Grimm ended up quelling much of the enthusiasm I had for the next season. It wasn’t a bad episode on its own merits, revealing that Nick’s mother didn’t actually die and playing up Hank’s paranoia, but it was anticlimactic after half a season of building toward…something. Promises of war didn’t come to fruition and the finale ended up being a whole lot of set-up that backtracked on some of its forward momentum (e.g. Nick telling Juliette about his “other life” and then she falls into a coma, likely forgetting everything) and made me second guess a lot of the show’s progress. Grimm improved during the back half of its season through expanding its universe and amping up the stakes for Detective Nick Burkhardt, but was it ready to take things to the next level?
Honestly, “Bad Teeth” was kind of a great episode, you guys. I could go on about the increased intensity of the fight scenes, the vicious and visually strong villain (a Mauvais Dentes, a cat-like creature that could destroy an entire village and did take out a fair amount of people), or the fact that Grimm showed that it can change structure and not fall apart (Monroe and Rosalee shifting to the back for Nick to become the focal point), but the main reason that I liked “Bad Teeth” was that it filled in a lot of the blanks with regards to background knowledge. Nick’s mother brought with her the type of information about Nick’s family, the impending war, and everything Grimm that Nick had been without during the first season, so it was nice to have a bit more context going forward. While the genetic component of being a Grimm was rather interesting (there are more female Grimms than males, with Nick’s mother, aunt, great great grandmother, and grandpa all inheriting it, while others didn’t), Kelly Burkhardt provided a lot of set-up for the rest of the season, particularly regarding the purpose of the key and the real reason the royals are so antsy right now. It may have been a little prologue-y in approach and reduced a lot of her screen time to an info dump status, but the emotional framing that her return gave the episode and the sheer lack of answers we received in the first season made that a more than okay choice for me. Kelly got to have other moments to give her character some shading (making breakfast, getting involved with the case) and everything she told Nick will be valuable for the rest of the season.
Nick hadn’t had any other Grimms to learn from and with his mother’s refugee status, she might not be around for long, so now’s the time for soaking up as much knowledge about this life as he can. If he’s going to become the Grimm that he can be, he has to have full disclosure, though it could conceivably become a little convoluted with the whole “one weapon to control the world and the only way to find it is through seven keys with parts of a map on their back” thing.
Nick was a bit of a tricky character for me in the first season, as he wasn’t that openly vulnerable of a character. His mixture of emotional closed off-ness (shut up, that’s a word) and intimidating competency as a hunter didn’t allow him that much humanity, that much fallibility. Bringing back his mother and taking away his girlfriend, though, made him face up to a lot of issues that he might not have wanted to deal with in the past. Nick and his mother had several moments that, despite her recent appearance, felt extremely earned emotionally and provided a bit more complexity to his character. Nick became so good so quickly that we didn’t get to see the struggle or the insecurity that comes from adopting this whole other identity; with his mother recounting the death of his father and her best friend at the hand of the reapers, as well as the decision to leave him with Aunt Marie, Nick became less Detective Nick Burkhardt, Certified Bad Ass and more Nick Burkhardt, regular guy with abandonment issues that didn’t really face them before. As much as I like any hero accepting their fate and becoming truly great at their “job”, having that greatness come from something inside (i.e. losing his mother) makes it that much more compelling to watch.
One of the best moves that the premiere made was to have Captain Renard not only more involved in the action, but more on his toes through the reveal of the second Grimm. Renard is a character all about control and having another Grimm makes him not occupy in the driver’s seat, something that he’s not quite used to and something that might wake him up a little bit. Although the show began to hint at his motives and give him more to do, Renard was more of an enigma than a character in the first season, an ideal dressed in a trench coat and scowling menacingly more often than not. Here, though, Grimm has put a little more meat behind Renard and I thought that it worked; he wants to keep Nick close to the force because he can keep tabs on him easier and possibly stop any attempts he makes at taking down the royals before they get started. The poisoning of Kimura before Nick and Kelly could get any information from him shows that he might be getting a little worried about possibly losing his power, which Renard will have to reconcile during the season. He has to, more or less, protect Nick, but he can’t let him get too much information or too much confidence, otherwise he might be next.
The brief look at his torturer of a brother (and his brother’s awful CGI castle) continued the episode’s expansion of the Grimm world and finally a peek at one of the royal families. The show talked about the royals, they’ve showed Renard, and they’ve had assassin German Wesen come for Nick, but it’s never really shown us royalty HQ or given us a visual/idea of how they live and who they are. Portland may be another character in Grimm (and rightfully so), but for the show to be able to work long term, it has to not become too insular and provide more of an imminent threat against Nick.
“Bad Teeth” proved to be an encouraging episode that could signal a bigger, badder, and ballsier Grimm to come in season two. The show could sometimes rest on its laurels last season, taking episodes “off” in the middle of arcs that stalled plot momentum and failing to deliver on answers for character motivations that would make episodes a little clearer. But in the season two premiere, the pacing is crisper and the answers are finally trickling in, which is all the more impressive considering how much the episode had to do in a span of 42 minutes. It brought the action up a notch through several (rather cool) fight sequences, gave our hero a lot more shading, and finally began to unravel the complex spool of yarn that is Captain Renard, all the while setting the stage for impending battles that Nick will have to fight. If Grimm can keep up this level of quality and continue playing with the wild, weird world that it created, the show might yet be able to fulfill its enormous potential.
Thoughts, Quotes, & Observations:
-Are you a fan of premiere two-parters that aren’t shown together? I liked the cut to black and the final image, but I think this could have been even stronger airing with the second part.
-Was Adalind’s mom’s little freakout on Rosalee over the price of the ingredients funny to anyone else? I don’t know if it was intentionally like that, but I had to laugh (and wish I could do that when I had to haggle over the price of something).
-I really liked the nightmares/hallucinations that Juliette had about Nick with one eye and such. Visually interesting/spooky and there has to be significance to them occurring with him in the room, no?
-The reapers took Gina’s head as a trophy for the killing thinking that it was Kelly’s. But if they died in a car crash, wouldn’t the police be alarmed that one of the victims was decapitated and the head vanished?
-The ending of the episode reminded me of the ending of the first Saw movie.
-Next week on Grimm: More information will be revealed about Juliette’s condition, the fight with the Mauvais Dentes continues, and the FBI gets more involved in the case.