Last night’s episode of Grimm was about a werewolf Rapunzel who kills people with her hair. It was actually one of the better episodes so far- maybe my second favorite after episode five. Grimm has been extraordinarily uneven, ranging from pretty good to embarrassingly bad, but last night’s episode reaffirmed that Portland’s locally-grown fantasy show has potential to be highly non-awful. It still hasn’t totally clicked yet, but this was a step in the right direction.

There were no big Portland landmarks or locations in this episode, but the cameras did spend a whole lot of time drinking in greenery. Pretty much every other shot was filled with tons of dark, dense, trees, and the casual watcher of Grimm who’d never been here before could be forgiven for thinking that Portland is actually a magical forest kingdom, which, I suppose, is sort of the point of the show.

Hit the jump for an awesome tree house and the world’s deadliest dreadlock.

The show opens with a couple hiking through the woods, looking for Shining Lake, which is out in Mount Hood National Forest. However, they’re suddenly assaulted by a rather belligerent guy with a big gun. The man, it turns out, is growing marijuana in the woods and bellows about how he has “Three million dollars growing up here.” Now, I’ve never been to a pot plantation, but I’ve always imagined them as being a bit more, I don’t know, relaxed. My mental picture has always been a bunch of hippies puttering about with some greenhouses. I could see a lone crazy dude with a gun making meth, sure. But weed? This guy seemed way too jacked-up to be into weed.

Anyway, as the terrified hikers are cowering in fear from the evil, evil drug dealer guy, they are suddenly saved when a snarling creature zooms out of the forest and snaps the man’s neck with a giant dreadlock. Yes, a big, nasty dreadlock zoom out of the forest, wraps itself around the man’s neck, and then dissociates his various neck vertebrae. He dies, and the hikers are saved. Cut the cops, checking out the scene.

Nick and his partner Hank show up, because apparently their jurisdiction stretches all the way out to Mount Hood. They check out the body and find some strange hair on it, which will be important in a moment. Nick wanders off into the woods and runs into a feral juvenile blutbad, a wolf creature, who is apparently the owner of the death-dealing dreadlock from earlier. She runs away, and he goes back to the scene. DNA TV Cop Plot Magic tells them that the hair belongs to a child named Holly who vanished in the woods several years ago, and has been assumed dead.

After that, the episode split into pretty well defined A and B stories. In the A story, Nick and Monroe, his blutbad buddy, head into the woods to find the feral wolf girl. They track her down in the forest, and find out that for the past several years she’s been hunting down wild animals and living in a really excellent tree fort in Mount Hood National Forest. Where did she get this fort? Who knows, but it's cool, and precisely the kind of place I'd want to live in if I were a feral kid living in the woods. The drug dealer from earlier apparently shot her with buckshot, hence her murderous animosity. Nick and Monroe manage to treat her wounds and earn her trust.

The B story was all about Hank, Nick’s partner, looking into why the girl disappeared in the first place. It was actually nice to see Hank, who up to this point has only been “Nick’s partner,” and not much else, get to be a detective in his own right. He eventually finds out that Holly didn’t get lost in the woods- she was abducted and dumped there by one of her neighbors.

Also, remember that dead guy from earlier? He had a pair of redneck brothers who don’t trust the cops to find the killer and are trying to exact vengeance themselves. They kidnap one of the hikers from earlier, and accuse him of murdering their brother. They encounter Monroe in the woods, and accuse him of the same. Basically, they’re undeveloped trigger-happy bad guys, but they perform their function decently well, i.e., they’re the requisite antagonists for the episode. The climax is a Mexican standoff between the two brothers, Monroe, and Nick outside of Holly’s tree fort. Holly busts out her killer dread again, Nick shoots a bad guy, and Holly is reunited with her family back in Portland.

Was last night’s episode great television? No. But, it was clear, un-muddled, and took it’s time. What’s more, there were several asides that contributed to world-building without being too heavy-handed about it. The scenes between Monroe and Holly bonding over their mutual wolf-ness were far better than the groan-inducing slow-mo wolf-running from the last episode, and the show really demonstrated what it's like to be in its world, as opposed to just showing you its world. My favorite part of the show actually had nothing to do with the main plot at all.

In a totally throwaway scene, three fairy tale beasties are sitting in a bar, and one says that he saw a Grimm in Portland. The other two don’t believe him, so they pile into a car and then sneak a peek at Nick’s house, cowering under their dashboard so the Big Bad Grimm can’t see them. It was a small scene that implied that Grimm does take place in a larger, thought-out world, and that the various fantasy creatures aren’t just monsters of the week. The episode seemed to be part of a cohesive whole in ways that previous ones were not. Hopefully, that will continue to be the case. It's still not there yet, but I'm hoping it can make it. More like this please, Grimm.