There’s a kind of compromise that you have to make with yourself if you’re going to watch network television. No hour-long thing on network TV will ever be as good as what’s on cable. Cable’s given us The Wire, Game of Thrones, Mad Men, and Battlestar Galactica. Shows like that have significantly amped up what I want from an hour of TV. When watching something like Grimm, one has to realize that as good as a given piece of network programming might be, it will never be as good as, for example Deadwood. (Though there are exceptions to this- namely, things involving Joss Whedon or Star Trek.)
That said, last night’s episode of Grimm was pretty good- for network television. The focus of the plot was not so much “whodunit” but “what’s going on?” In fact, the murder at the start of the show that gets the cops called and involved in the whole mess turns out to be fairly external to what the episode was about, which was gladiatorial deathmatches.
The episode didn’t have too many Portland landmarks in it. There was a brief exterior shot of the SE industrial area, a few scenes in Forest Park, and Slabtown made an appearance. That was about it, other than the recurring shots of the Fremont Bridge that appear in just about every episode. Hit the jump for Lion-people, swords, bloody deathmatches, and cannibalism.
Last night’s episode was all about big dudes hitting each other with archaic weapons. Nick and Hank investigate a murder, and very quickly find out who did it. They ask some questions, realize that their perpetrator has been missing for a while, and track him down to an underground Thunderdome where enslaved animal-people bash each other with archaic weapons for the amusement of other, non-enslaved animal people. All of this is run by lion-dudes who speak Latin, because Latin is awesome. (At one point a lion-dude also said “today is a good day to die.” Part of me thinks that was an intentional dog whistle for nerds, and I felt nicely pandered to.)
Monroe also looked into what was going on with the Thunderdome, but ended up getting dragged off by beastie-slavers and forced to fight. While waiting for his fight, Monroe was kept in a cramped metal box where he and the other gladiators-to-be were fed the flesh of whoever lost the last Thunderdome fight. (Monroe, good wolfman that he is, did not partake.) When forced to fight a big lizard-guy, Monroe was about to get gakked but Nick swooped in just in time and, in a dramatic display of balls and stupidity, agreed to fight in Monroe’s place so his wolf-buddy wouldn’t get killed.
Then fighting happened! Biff! Pow! Clang! Ka-blamo! The gladiatorial fighting scenes were staged decently well, and just at the right moment the other cops showed up as backup, and busted up the whole Thunderdome thing, because bloodsport is bad.
Renard the police captain was the real standout character from last night, though. He’s been hovering around in a sort of malevolent manner since the show began, but last night we got to see him actually do something. Renard throws his weight around with the Lion-dude, and ultimately has him killed to death by a priest that can turn into some kind of bear/dog/monster thing.
I still had a few quibbles, though. Juliette. Nick’s girlfriend continues to be a doe-eyed zero-dimensional bore. I want her to either develop as a character or die. She added absolutely nothing to the plot last night, and is only a “character” insofar as she has a relationship with Nick. I’m also hoping that Nick’s partner Hank actually gets clued in on the whole creature-world thing. As it is now, we’ve got a show where one of the main characters has no idea what the show is actually about, and Hank just seems to be there as an auxiliary for Nick in the early scenes, rather than an essential part of conceit.
Also Monroe mentioned taking the “trolley.” NO ONE IN PORTLAND CALLS ANYTHING A TROLLEY. Seriously, Grimm spent a good section of episode two saying “Portland Streetcar” like it was some kind of catchphrase. Get it right, guys.
If Grimm keeps up like it has for the past few episodes, it will continue to be an entirely fun and watchable, as far as network television goes. Here's hoping. You can do, it Grimm! I somewhat believe in you!
The next episode airs March 2nd.