Reviews

‘Grimm’ Midseason Review: Zombies and Krampus and Storyline Critiques (Oh My!)

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Grimm comes back from its midseason finale tonight! However, before we leap into “Red Menace,” I think we’re due a little reflection on the season so far. To be honest, before this season began, I hoped to write something up for TVSource Magazine about why I love the show so much. I’m looking at this as the opportunity to do a little bit of that, while focusing especially on the show’s third season so far.

David Giuntoli (and Nick Burkhardt)

I’ve been a fan of David Giuntoli for a while now. I’m talking Road Rules ridiuclousness; episodic television appearances as gay soldiers, cheating boyfriends, and nameless college students; and made-for-MTV movies about disco.  When he was cast as Nick Burkhardt on Grimm, I could not have been more excited for the guy.  As the show’s leading man, he has quite a load to carry, and three seasons in, he’s doing a fantastic job.

The show, a solid dent in its third season as of this writing, has really allowed Giuntoli to ramp up his acting. The zombie arc that began in season two and overtly wrapped up in the current season’s opening two parter is a great example. Giuntoli spent the majority of the show’s first two hours as a zombie—and he rocked it. His facial expressions and physical responses are just as important as the lines he reads. Playing Zombie Nick meant he had to operate on those things alone.

After the zombie arc, Nick didn’t get away without scars. He randomly slips into a death state that amplifies his abilities in a variety of ways. While this is cool, I feel like they’re dragging a bit in getting this situation explained. Other than running with his shirt off and some wires attached at the doctor’s office, we’ve seen very little movement towards understanding what’s up with our hero.  In his encounters with Naiads and Krampus have both shown Nick’s Grimm powers amplified, but teasing a mystery the same way over and over makes it a little frustrating.  In 2014, my biggest hope for the character and this arc is to have more happen. And soon.

Bitsie Tulloch (and Juliette Silverton)

Before Grimm, I had never seen Bitsie Tulloch before. However, now that we’re deep into season three, I can say I love the actress and what she and her character bring to the table. This is saying something, because Juliette had a rough time in the show’s second season.  A too-long magical amnesia plotline made the character all but insufferable as she hooked up with Captain Renard. Fans struggled with the character in the first place, but the second season made her the target of a lot of undue hatred. Like a lot of genre shows centered on mostly male characters, the females often fall to the side.

In season three, Juliette has proven herself to be capable, useful, and even bad ass.  She fought zombies, helped diagnose Wesen ailments, and eagerly researched for Nick’s cases. This is how I imagined the character developing in the first season. Unfortunately, the show took a detour; based on what the season so far has provided, though, the character is back on track. Tulloch did a solid job with the material she was given last season, but I’d say she’s killing it with the direction her character is going in now. I relish her scenes with Giuntoli now, because they’ve both evolved quite a bit since the show’s first episode in 2011.

I Love Monrosalee

It’s true; I do. However, as much as I love the cute moments these characters share, it took far too long to show some unique development with Rosalee. While Bree Turner’s Fuchsbau is capable and vital to the Grimm team, she hasn’t had much going on until the most recent episodes have fleshed her out a bit more.  When the gang dealt with the Grausen, we got to see her at odds with Silas Weir Mitchell’s Monroe. While Nick was facing Krampus, Rosalee dealt with her own troubles and disclosed to Monroe the childhood loss of beloved family members at Christmastime.  These moments set her somewhat at odds against Monroe, but they also fulfilled a request I had been making in almost all of my reviews so far: give Rosalee something more to do!

While the character got those moments, I would like to see her having moments outside of the Monrosalee pairing too. Not to say I don’t love Monroe. I do. In fact, I’m missing the Nick and Monroe moments that occurred when Monroe was the only guy Nick could rely on as a Grimm. I also miss the bromantic roomie situation they had going last season—it was one of the overlong amnesia arc’s few redeeming qualities. I’m hoping the rest of the season will give us both nostalgic elements that focus on the Nick and Monroe dynamic while allowing for some independent stuff with Rosalee.

Vienna Calling

Sasha Roiz and Claire Coffee are both fantastic. Their characters, Renard and Adalind, are both complicated and more than a little twisted. However, so is the storyline they’re both wrapped up in right now. One of the show’s greatest strengths is being able to develop a mythology while operating on an episode of the week style format. However, maintaining that mythology can be difficult and Renard and Adalind’s current arc often seems an afterthought. To be fair, I understand that the show wants to put this stuff on a slow burn, but before Renard took his trip to Austria, Adalind and her whole character arc felt completely disconnected from the rest of the show.

Even now, Renard’s alliance with rebel forces is dragging a bit, though he has had some great moments. It’s unfair to Roiz and Coffee that they’re weighted down with a story that keeps them detached from everyone else. They’re more than capable of handling the load, but like the slow burn of Nick’s zombie powers story now and the poorly handled amnesia arc last season, things could be sped up a little more. I will say, the writers and show are handling these arcs better than last season, but there’s still some room for improvement. I’m hoping that the addition of Alexis Denisof to the cast for this storyline and the impending birth of Adalind’s baby will amplify things a bit.

Supporting Players, Story Structure, and Random Reflections

There are a few characters I have yet to mention that are really due some attention: Reggie Lee’s Sergeant Wu, Russell Hornsby’s Hank Griffin, and Danny Bruno’s Bud Wurstner. Lee is a scene stealer and has been from season one, but I’m really looking forward to when he’ll find out about what’s really going on around him. Wu’s literally the only regular character that isn’t clued into the Grimm and Wesen shenanigans and that has limited him to crime scene commentary this season. I hear a Wu-centric episode is in the offing, so I’m hoping he’ll get to do more. He doesn’t necessarily have to find out even—I’d just be happy if he finally got a full name.

Hornsby’s Hank has been a great supporting player all season, but it would be cool for him to have more going on too.  I feel like they’ve teased an interesting friendship triangle dynamic with him, Nick, and Monroe that could be explored further. What if Hank and Monroe had to do something together? One of the best things about the season premiere was the excellent use of the show’s supporting players; I would love to see more of that. Speaking of supporting players, Bud is always a highlight. Bruno plays him in such an endearing way, that I can’t help but hope for more appearances as the season continues. A Bud centric episode would be fantastic.

As far as the story structure goes, I love that the show tries to balance both demands of genre and procedural dramas, but as has been mentioned—it struggles sometimes with making the prolonged arcs as enjoyable as the weekly Wesen adventures.  That said, they’ve moved so far from where they were in the second season in this respect, that I think that by the end of this season, we’ll have see a near perfect integration.

Despite some complaints, the show remains the one thing on TV I really need to watch live. The cast has been doing fantastic work and the writers continue to rework familiar stories in compelling ways. While certain actors could use more spotlight and certain stories could be moved forward more quickly, I have nothing but love for what’s going on this season in Grimm. Season two and that amnesia storyline was a major speed bump, but the show never landed on its face. Season three has seen the show continuing with a more confident stride and I, as TVSource’s resident Grimmster, cannot wait for tonight’s return.

Oh, and because I know the fans are aching for it: more shirtless rage in 2014. Hey, you gotta throw those Grimmsters a bone, right?

About the author

Kenneth Lane

An occasionally ridiculous human being who will talk your ear off if you let him, recently earned his Master of Arts in English. While figuring out what he’s doing next, he’s dealing with his self diagnosed pop culture hoarding problem.

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  • It wasn’t really mid-season. I’m still expecting a Greenwalt and Kouf cliffhanger around #12 or so. (Right before the Olympics!)