After what felt like an eternity, Grimm has finally returned to NBC with “Ungrateful Dead.” As a self-admitted Grimmster, it was difficult waiting to see what happened to Nick, the show’s titular Grimm, after his encounter with Baron Samedi, a Wesen with the ability to spit toxic goop that turns its victims into zombies. Of course, season two ended on a cliffhanger, with Nick getting gooped in the face and the bad guys gloating over his might-as-well-be-dead body. Fade to black and “To be continued… oh come on, you knew this was coming” plastered across the screen. Salt the wounds, Grimm. Salt the wounds.
If you missed the aforementioned cliffhanger, or simply needed a refresher, the show is kind enough to bridge the gap by dropping viewers a little bit before where it left off last. Monroe, Rosalee, and Juliette are trying to escape from a horde of zombies; meanwhile, Nick engages with the Baron and, in a case of viewer déjà vu, loses. Although this stuff was familiar, I like that they started off before the previous episode had wrapped, because it provides a nice little cushion and eases viewers back into the show’s world.
Of course, that cushion is an illusion. Zombies are everywhere, including on the roof of the car that Nick’s Scooby Gang are trying to escape in. At the same time, Captain Renard has tailed his brother Eric to the container yard and proceeds to discover our hero in now a Nick in a box. Did I mention zombies? Everyone gets a chance to show how badass they are by fighting them off. A personal favorite moment of mine is Juliette calling Hank while kicking said zombies off the roof of one of the storage units. I also enjoyed the Captain going Zauberbiest on the zombies, before he meets up with the rest of the group. It’s nice to see the other characters show off a little bit, since the protagonist has been sidelined.
The gang slips away, leaving the zombies to Sergeant Wu and the rest of the Portland PD. This allows the show takes the opportunity to give the characters—and viewers—an information dump. On the car ride to the airport—Nick in a box is being shipped to the Royals in Austria and they need to stop it—the Captain fills everyone in on what’s going on. The Baron does a little exposition himself, reminding viewers of the implications of his zombie goop and the villains’ plans. The Baron also dispatches with cannon fodder so obvious, they should be wearing red shirts. While the episode dips a little here, these scenes are important for moving the story forward. They couldn’t spend an entire episode in a container yard beating up zombies, now could they?
In fact, the show leaps across the ocean to Austria, with a gory close up of the now deceased Frau Pech. The camera pulls away alongside Stefania, the gypsy queen, who has the dead Hexenbiest’s heart in her hands. They quickly jump back to Portland, but this gives viewers a reminder of Adalind—who Stefania calls for—and her place in the larger story. To be honest, I had forgotten about Adalind’s arc, which involves the former Hexenbiest attempting to reclaim the magical powers she lost fighting Nick in the show’s second season, but I was definitely reminded by the end of this scene.
That said, I just as quickly forget about her once the show returns its focus to the zombie shenanigans going on in Portland. This isn’t a slight to the character, but to the structure of the story and its implementation in the episode. Later on, when the show gets back to her, I’m happy—and maybe a little worried for our heroes—that Adalind is officially walking the path back to power. I must note, that while she might have lost her magic, her powers of snark remain fully intact. Claire Coffee and Shoreh Agdashloo both play their characters here with a darkly humorous edge that I love.
Back in Portland, Nick’s friends are understandably worried about him. Of course, they don’t realize he’s punching his way out of his metal casket as they fret. The Baron smugly attempts to subdue him again, but Zombie Nick, in a manner reminiscent of the Hulk, rages on. He not only attacks the Baron, but goes after the men piloting the airplane as well. While I wish those guys no harm, there was definitely something satisfying about Zombie Nick punching the guy shouting “Obey me! I am your master!” right in the face. Even if there’s a huge plane crash that follows.
At Rosalee’s spice shop, she, Monroe, and Juliette are going back and forth about how to save Nick and prepare enough of the zombie cure to save the random zombified folks down at the container yard. As I mentioned earlier, with Nick sidelined, the show really allows his support system to shine. Rosalee and Juliette brainstorm a way to cure the horde that involves so much scientific jargon that I would give Bitsie Tulloch a medal for remembering it all. Team Zombie Cure does their thing, while back at the police station, the Captain and Hank are having a back and forth of their own about how to deal with Nick being taken and the resulting plane crash. Pretty soon the gang is together and they’re all worried about the fate of Nick’s plane. Little do any of them know, Zombie Nick has just crawled out of the wreckage and he’s about to get himself into a bar brawl.
While one could dismiss David Giuntoli’s performance here as looking around and grunting; it’s really so much more. Over the course of the series, Giuntoli’s acting has become sharper and sharper, not unlike his characters powers. His expressions and physical movements are fantastic. He doesn’t have a lot to work with as a mindless rage monster, but he certainly works with every bit of it. When provoked by an especially unpleasant bar-goer, Zombie Nick goes off and causes what could be called a “ruckus.” Zombie Nick proceeds to tear the place up. I doubt I’m supposed to, but I’m actually rooting for him a little bit here. I especially enjoyed the slow motion emphasis of Zombie Nick fully engaging his senses and the random selection of folks getting their asses handed to them. I mean, I know it’s bad, but what can I say? I’m entertained.
Unfortunately for everyone involved, Zombie Nick gets away. This is especially unfortunate for a family that he may or may not tear apart based on the ominous stare that follows him overhearing them with his enhanced Zombie Grimm senses. With very little time left, I—and most viewers—have probably clued themselves in that we’re going to be left hanging again. And we are. The screen fades to black, and once again, we’re being snarked from beyond. “This ain’t over yet,” it tells us.
And I’m glad for that. While I was worried last season where this zombie storyline would go, I find the opportunities it creates for all of the characters to make for some compelling entertainment. All of Nick’s supporting players get a chance to shine. At the same time, Giuntoli gets to flex his acting muscles and play something completely different. As someone who had his share of criticisms for certain aspects of season two, this season has started off with a bang and I cannot wait to see where Grimm goes next.