May 22, 2013



The second season of NBC’s GRIMM was considerably more satisfying than its first, although it did show the strain of trying to establish a series mythology.  The season’s final episode (really, last week’s hour and this one formed a cohesive 2-hour finale), written by series co-creators David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf, and directed by Norberto Barba, went the cliffhanger route–even the “To Be Continued” title card acknowledged how familiar that was–so in a sense we won’t know how well it was pulled off until next fall.

Aside from some technical improvements (the human-to-Wesen transitions were much smoother), where Grimm excelled this season was in developing and deepening the ties between the show’s regular characters, a crucial move for a show that hopes to have a long run.  Nick (David Giuntoli), our titular Grimm, was more comfortable with his Grimm-ness, and Giuntoli’s performance loosened up too.  His police partner Hank (Russell Hornsby) was finally clued in to Portland’s large population of Wesen (apparent humans who are actually fairy tale characters–although the show’s definition of “fairy tale,” like Once Upon A Time‘s, has gotten rather broad) and Nick’s particular talents for seeing them as they really are and dispatching them when necessary, and that meant the scripts could dispense with all the awkward contrivances that were needed to keep Hank off-screen in Season 1 whenever Nick was doing his Grimm thing.  Blutbad and clockmaker Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) was already a highlight of the show and its main source of wry humor, accentuated when circumstances forced him to take in Nick as a roommate for a chunk of the season; Monroe’s romance with Rosalee (Bree Turner), a Fuchsbau who’s also sort of a Wesen pharmacist, had time to grow in the course of the season.  (Although–for budget reasons?–Hornsby and Turner were both absent from the show with only perfunctory explanation for several episodes each.)   After a season and a half of dithering about just how evil Nick’s police boss Captain Renard (also a half-Wesen) should be, the show chose wisely to make him not so evil at all (at least for now), and able to form an uneasy alliance with Nick.

The character and performer who benefited most, though, was Bitsie Tulloch as Nick’s girlfriend Juliette.  Far from her role in Season 1 as devoted and clueless helpmate, Juliette had the meatiest storyline of the series in Season 2, first put under a curse that sent her into a coma before it placed her into a supernaturally intense romance with Renard (who had kissed her awake), then undergoing near-madness as her memories struggled to reappear.  It’s been rewarding to see Tulloch step up to the greatly increased demands of the role, and as Season 2 ends, Juliette is finally completely aware of what’s been happening, to her and everyone else, and seems primed to be a full member of the team in Season 3.

Grimm‘s season was shakier when it came to creating an overarching mythology, which proceeded in fits and starts.  The basic quest turned out to be TV Fantasy Mythology 101–there’s a series of magic keys (Nick has one), which if united and used can control the world.  Naturally there’s a BIg Bad who wants that key; in this case he’s Renard’s half-brother Eric (James Frain), a full-blooded Prince of the Wesen.  Unfortunately, although Frain is a strong actor and no stranger to horror fantasy (he was a dynamite crazy vampire on True Blood), he hasn’t been in many episodes of the show, and like the magic key storyline, his character is so far generic.  (We know he must be evil because he speaks with a posh English accent.)  This is all mixed up with the pregnancy of ex-witch-but-still-up-to-no-good Adelind (Claire Coffee), whose baby might have been fathered by either Eric or Renard.  Pregnancy hasn’t served Adelind’s character well–she’s been out of the picture for several episodes at a time, and when she does appear, she doesn’t have much to do.  (Coffee is also victimized by the show’s utterly unconvincing attempt to pretend that part of its action is taking place in the grand hotels and palaces of Europe.)

The finale itself brought in, as Wesen-of-the-week, a voodoo priest played by the always-marvelous Reg E. Cathay, who more or less created an army of zombies for Eric’s use.  This all turned out to be part of one of those master plans where Eric’s climactic capture of Nick required such a procession of perfectly-timed events that it made no sense as a deliberate strategy (Nick had to discover the secret zombie lair at exactly the right moment, etc).  But it did set things up nicely for next season, with the tables being turned somewhat as Juliette, Monroe and Rosalee (and possibly Renard as well) will have to rescue the Grimm in distress.

The fantasy genre on TV is a crowded one these days, and Grimm isn’t close to being in a class with Game of Thrones, The Vampire Diaries or Orphan Black, to name a few.  But like ArrowGrimm is reasonably entertaining, especially on network TV’s slow Friday nights (where its ratings are steady if unspectacular), and its steady improvement is encouraging.  The show shouldn’t rest on its laurels just yet, but it’s moving in the right direction.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."