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Grimm – A Look at Season One

NBC’s Grimm wrapped up its freshman season a few days ago with a finale that timidly tried to address some of the mysteries the show has been flirting with for the past seven months. The attempt was half-hearted, and only raised further questions without answering those that have been lingering around for the entire season.

The Story
Grimm set out to tell the story of Nick Burckhardt, a “Grimm” charged with keeping the balance between humans and mythological creatures living among them. Although the premise is steeped in fairy tales, Grimm presents a much darker atmosphere and the creatures are definitely more threatening in their looks and actions.

Soon after the pilot, it became clear that in addition to the expected learning curve Nick would have to go through, the season would revolve around a couple of questions: Would Nick’s girlfriend Juliette and his partner Hank Griffin find out? What is the captain up to? Saying that the season didn’t revolve around those questions would be unfair, but it should also be said that instead of revolving around them (with the intention of eventually landing an answer) the first season only brought them up occasionally and rather lingered on Nick’s learning curve which seems to have only started.

Nick Buckhardt and others in Grimm
The Lingering
Twenty two episodes into the series, there is still a lot we don’t know about Grimms, like the extent of their “power”, whether they have any ability beyond being able to see creatures for what they really are. Come to think of it, that is about all we know about Grimms, which is hardly enough to instill so much fear among said creatures, even when one factors in what is in the trailer.

Nick’s girlfriend Juliette was very passive for most of the season or, if you prefer, spent a great deal of her screen time being puzzled by events around her. She became interesting only when she refused to marry him, and I think the show wasted an opportunity by having Nick being so erratic and unlike himself when trying to tell her the truth in the finale. Not that it would have mattered, as it is likely she will not remember a single thing after whatever she is under wanes.

After toying a bit with the mystery surrounding the captain and his European and local connections, the show decided to ground its season finale closer to home, bringing back Nick’s mother from the grave (so to speak) and adding another mystery to the list. The decision to have the finale stand on its own (even if there was an obvious attempt to connect it to earlier events through the gold coins) shows why the series has fared better than others on Fridays, but is also to some extent, the testament to the lack of ambition displayed by the showrunners throughout the season.

The Ambition (or lack thereof)
Grimm is first and foremost a police procedural, even if its criminals are typically mythological creatures. Those creatures and our hero provide an attractive twist, but the show has clearly avoided being heavily serialized. Most season one episodes can be watched in no particular order and skipping a few will definitely not throw anyone off course. In addition to that “safe” approach, the show benefits from having very likable protagonists. Nick and Monroe have the kind of relationship that is conducive to humor of the good kind and the addition of the female shopkeeper later on only enhanced things. Even the relationship between Nick and Juliette grows on you after a while.

Rosalie and Monroe in Grimm

The Future
In spite of all that, or maybe because of it and the general modesty of the show, the series retains a level of addictiveness without the kind of passion one might have with others. Throughout the season, Grimm gave the impression it could be so much more if it embraced its fantasy elements earnestly and adopted a multiple-arc season plan instead of being so shy with its mysteries. For its second season, I believe the show has the choice between quickly tackling some of its open questions or gradually becoming a series that is destined to fail. Nick’s mother could provide such an opportunity, given how much more versed in the mythology she must be. Hank and Juliette should also be dealt with. Resetting everything and going on as if the past year didn’t exposed them to their share of the strange and unexplained could work, but would required some skills. Finally, not providing detailed answers is one thing, but going on for a full season with the captain trying to achieve something we don’t understand, for reasons we don’t understand, while being threatened by people whose agenda we don’t understand was a bit too much, and should preferably be avoided in the upcoming season.

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