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Friday, October 31, 2014

SLEEPY HOLLOW Takes a Step "Back"

Article first published as SLEEPY HOLLOW Review Season 2 Episode 6 And the Abyss Gazes Back on Seat42F.

Sleepy Hollow 2x06 08

This week’s SLEEPY HOLLOW verges on really good, but has a few elements that don’t quite hit the mark. “And the Abyss Gazes Back” finds Joe Corbin (Zach Appelman, Kill Your Darlings) returning to town from Afghanistan. He’s been a solider overseas, hence why he misses his dad’s funeral, and now he’s come home, with a chip on his shoulder, to follow his father’s final instructions. He quickly gets drawn into the supernatural game.

The idea of Joe is kind of hokey. This is someone we’ve heard nothing about, yet he drops in with an already-established history with Abbie (Nicole Beharie). Shows do this all the time, of course, but it really seems strange that a new player important to the show’s mythology would enter the picture this late, this suddenly. Stranger still, even after getting the full story, Joe decides to go to Quantico, rather than stay and join the team, ruining the role.

I understand that shows have guest characters to move the narrative along and Joe fits firmly in a typical guest character mold. What’s disappointing is that SLEEPY HOLLOW should be better than this. It isn’t the typical procedural, and when it presents installments that lean in that direction, like “And the Abyss Gazes Back” does, it’s upsetting. Joe could easily be written as a long-term player, but isn’t. Why not?

That being said, “And the Abyss Gazes Back” is not the worst episode of SLEEPY HOLLOW to date. Despite Joe’s fleeting appearance, he does contribute something to the main characters. He brings father/son themes to the story, as well as shedding a little light on Sheriff Corbin, who remains a vital figure, even if a short-lived one.

Joe is bitter about how he thinks his father valued Abbie more than him, and that sparks something in Ichabod (Tom Mison). Thus far, we’ve not seen Ichabod talk about his feelings for Henry (John Noble) much, but he reveals that he does still love his son. This is a little hard to wrap one’s head around. Sure, Katrina (Katia Winter) thinks their son can be saved, but Ichabod seems more grounded than she does. Henry is very clearly evil, cursing Joe and taking Irving’s (Orlando Jones) soul. How can Ichabod hope for redemption? Yet, every parent doesn’t want to believe the worst about their child, no matter who that child may be, so it makes a kind of sense.

The scenes between Abbie and Joe are really sweet, after the initial conflict. Abbie did take Joe’s father’s attention away, but in a sense, that makes them like siblings. We get that by the end of the hour. Children grow up and get over petty jealousies, especially once they can see the bigger picture, which is hard to do when one is young. These two have an interesting relationship I’d love to see explored more.

Irving’s plot in “And the Abyss Gazes Back” is compelling. Learning that Henry owns his soul, Irving tries to resist Henry’s first job for him, which could also be his last: kill the man that paralyzed Irving’s daughter. Irving is sorely tempted to go through with it. Now only would the act get Irving out of the soul deal (or so Henry says; one can’t really trust him), but it would allow Irving to get vengeance for a very dark past wrong. However, Irving is not a monster and stops himself, even though he wants to strangle the man. No matter what happens after this, the episode firmly establishes Irving as a hero, not a traitor or stooge forced to the other side.

“And the Abyss Gazes Back” has some fun moments, with Ichabod getting into video games and trying to remember who Superman is. But it also gets a little goofy when he talks about knowing Daniel Boone. Is there anyone Ichabod didn’t know from colonial times? The world has far fewer people back then and Mr. Crane obviously ran in esteemed circles, but it’s getting a little ridiculous that he is personally acquainted every single person of note.

Over all, I like “And the Abyss Gazes Back,” but it is neither the best nor worst installment of SLEEPY HOLLOW this season. There are some of the elements present that consistently make the show great, while also taking some of the too-often-traveled routes other shows use. My wish is that the writers really come into their own and own their cool concept, tossing off the shackles of what they think broadcast television needs to be.

SLEEPY HOLLOW airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

THE WALKING DEAD - "Four Walls and a Roof" Review

Article first published as THE WALKING DEAD Review Season 5 Episode 3 Four Walls and a Roof on Seat42F.

The Walking Dead 5x03 2

This week’s installment of AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD is an emotional rollercoaster. Much of the series deals with finding morality in a much-changed world, debating what values can be held onto and which must be dropped to survive. What defines a good person in this new age? It’s surely not the same as what modern viewers are used to. This most recent hour, “Four Walls and a Roof,” finds many characters struggling to find that line.

First, a quick recap of events: Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) delights in telling his kidnapper-cannibals that they have eaten tainted meat, revealing he has been bitten by a walker. Gareth (Andrew J. West) and the others are disgusted, but have a new plan. They drop Bob back at the church to enrage Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the group, luring a strike force away from the main contingent. As soon as Rick et al. leave, Gareth and his men sneak in to finish off those left behind. But Rick is smarter than that and doubles back, brutally ending the Terminus survivors once and for all.

The scene in which Rick, Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Michonne (Danai Gurira), and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) savagely beat several of the Terminus guys to death, including Gareth, is stomach-turning. Fans might expect a triumphant moment of enemies being defeated, but that’s not what “Four Walls and a Roof” delivers. Instead, it’s an ugly side to these characters. Yes, Gareth and his followers are bad people and cannot be trusted to be set free again, so no one is arguing they don’t deserve to die. But the method of execution seems more cruel than necessary even if Rick’s excuse of not wanting to spend bullets makes sense, and there’s poetic justice in Rick fulfilling his promise to Gareth involving the red-handled machete.

Of course, this leaves hanging the question of if it’s safe to eat someone who has been bitten, with the diners dead before digestion completes.

Does this mean Rick and the others are bad people now? Even some of their friends look away in disgust, uncomfortable with what they are seeing. Yet, no one defects from Rick because of this. Everyone agrees it is necessary. This is where the line between right and wrong gets blurry, and one wonders if humanity can be held onto.

Bob provides that string of hope for the audience to keep liking our group. He tells Rick how awesome it is that Rick takes him in, making him a part of the family. Some other marauders are only looking out for themselves and would not allow anyone new to join them. Rick and his friends rescue Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) as recently as last week, proving they haven’t completely gone to the dark side. They only murder those who deserve it. Rick should keep looking for others to save.

One cannot say Gareth is redeemable. There is a certain charm to him, and his chilling oratory makes much more sense than it should. He is wronged in the past, and much of his killing is done to keep his people alive. The difference is, he slaughters those who have done nothing to him. And he is fine with using people and creeping them out in a sadistic manner, drawing an A on the church like the one on the train car in which he imprisoned the group. Gareth crosses the line of decency, and that’s why he must die.

In fact, we actually look down on the characters whom cannot kill someone like Gareth. Father Gabriel reveals his cowardice, hiding in the church as his parishioners are devoured, and that makes him pathetic and detested, not a man to look up to as he cannot kill even a walker. Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) leaves a Terminus guy alive in a cabin, and that paints him in a poor light, even if he is able to spare Sasha the pain of taking Bob out, only proving he can kill walkers, not humans. Those who cannot step up the plate the way Rick does seem doomed to perish, sooner rather than later. Brutality, as hard to stomach as it is, is a necessary part of this world.

Still, without that scene in “Four Walls and a Roof” in which Bob tells Rick what a good man Rick is, Rick balancing his baby daughter on his hip, it would be hard for the heroes of THE WALKING DEAD to come back from this. There has to be good mixed in with the bad. Rick has to have a moral line about who is judged worthy of being put down, and we have to know he won’t do the same to whoever they meet next. Justified or not as killing Gareth’s band is, it’s hard to watch a good man do it, and that is part of why this series is the best drama on television.

The only thing that bothers me about this episode is when Abraham takes Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and Rosita (Christian Serratos), along with Glenn (Steven Yeun), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), and Tara (Alanna Masterson), off on their own. His goodbye to Rick is great. Glenn and Maggie’s decision to join up makes sense. But why can’t Abraham wait? It’s clear that Eugene wants to. The immediate threat of Gareth is gone, so there’s no rush to move on, right?

I guess Abraham is a man on a mission who suddenly feels his mission has been delayed too long. I get it; I really do. He is out to save the world. But the group would be so much stronger if he’d just give Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride) a day to get back. The fact that Daryl shows up soon after the others leave makes it all the more groan-worthy. It’s true that Abraham has no way of knowing the wait would be so short, but still…!

Speaking of Daryl, who is behind him in that final scene? If it’s Carol, why doesn’t she come out? Is it Beth (Emily Kinney) and a group of other captives Daryl has rescued? I want to know more about this right now!

“Four Walls and a Roof” is a fantastic episode, made all the better by setting it inside of a church, which is, as one character says, just “Four Walls and a Roof.” It really plays to the strengths of the series, and both significant deaths are affecting, in different ways. Seven days is a long wait for the next installment.

THE WALKING DEAD airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.

MIKE TYSON MYSTERIES Mysteriously Hilarious

Article first published as MIKE TYSON MYSTERIES Review on Seat42F.

Mike Tyson Mysteries Adult Swim

MIKE TYSON MYSTERIES premieres next week on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. What is MIKE TYSON MYSTERIES, you may ask? Well, imagine you and your buddies got high, watched a bunch of old episodes of Scooby Doo, and wondered what the show would be like if retired boxer Mike Tyson starred in it. Then, toss in an Oscar-winning screenwriter (who also appears in a zany sitcom), a semi-washed-up comedian who doesn’t always get the respect he deserves, and a bunch of jokes that only an on-drugs college student, possibly an English major, could come up, and you have this show.

Which is why MIKE TYSON MYSTERIES is awesome!

In the animated series, Mike Tyson (who also acted in The Hangover films) voices a version of himself taken to extremes. Mike lives with his adopted, eighteen-year-old, Asian daughter, Yung Hee (Rachel Ramras, Mad), a guy who was turned into a pigeon by his ex-wife and who now goes by the name Pigeon (Norm MacDonald, Saturday Night Live), and a closeted gay, gentleman ghost, Marquess of Queensbury (Jim Rash, Community). They form a team that solves mysteries together, because, why not?

The program is created by Hugh Davidson, who is famous for writing and performing on Robot Chicken. Obviously, Hugh gets some of the random gags from his experience there, but puts together a more cohesive story for this project. What he is doing works extremely well.

I’m not sure exactly why I love MIKE TYSON MYSTERIES so much. It’s part nostalgia, to be sure, as the style and tone references older works for children that I grew up watching. It’s partially the inane sense of humor, often dirty, which Adult Swim is known for. It’s somewhat due to the intelligent references, proving the writer is educated. And it’s just all cleverly woven together, bringing subplots back around full circle and letting even the most insane one-liners actually mean something to the larger picture.

Let me give you an example of this. In the first episode, Mike receives a letter from Pulitzer Prize-winner Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men) asking him to help find an ending to his latest book. Mike tosses out a crazy theory as to what the mystery might be, which everyone else scoffs at because it seemingly has no basis in reality. A series of mishaps occur that takes the team to McCarthy’s place, even bringing a second author into the story, and then it all wraps up as Mike predicted, to certain extent. The script isn’t predictable; there aren’t clues connecting point A to point B. But in the end, it all makes a strange kind of sense.

Now, I don’t know if McCarthy voices himself or not, and can’t seem to find confirmation on the internet as of yet. But Mike Tyson, who has had a mixed reputation based on past press coverage, must have a sense of humor about himself to participate in this. The fact that McDonald and Rash, both respectable people, signed up to join him should lend weight to the show, too.

Now, I’m sure MIKE TYSON MYSTERIES is not for everyone. It’s off-the-wall enough that it probably will attract a wide variety of viewers, but not everyone likes their comedy this goofy. It’s far from a traditional family sitcom or a show one can watch with one’s kids. But to a thirty-year-old male critic who watches far too much TV, it tickles the funny bone and strikes me as nearly the most original thing to hit the adult animated scene in years, even with its generous borrowing of other works.

MIKE TYSON MYSTERIES premieres Monday at 10:30 p.m. ET on Cartoon Network.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"Breaking" Down ONCE UPON A TIME

Article first published as ONCE UPON A TIME Review Season 4 Episode 5 Breaking Glass on Seat42F.


This week’s episode of ABC’s ONCE UPON A TIME is called “Breaking Glass,” a title that doesn’t really fit exactly with the episode. And that isn’t the only strange thing in the mostly entertaining, but occasionally inconsistent, installment which finds a friendship forming, inner strength being found, and a mother learning how to be more than that again.

First, we have Emma (Jennifer Morrison), Regina (Lana Parrilla), and Elsa (Georgina Haig) all on the hunt for the elusive Snow Queen (Elizabeth Mitchell). The Queen has taken to the woods, and when Emma goes to Regina for help, not only does Regina refuse to do so, but the Snow Queen manages to lure the left-alone Elsa into a trap (after Elsa sits in the car for an incredibly unrealistic long time). Emma and Regina become reluctant partners on the trail, until all have a big showdown in which the Snow Queen triumphs.

We still don’t know the Snow Queen’s plan, but it involves getting Regina’s pocket mirror in order to complete a larger mirror in her lair. Incidentally, this also allows Sidney (Giancarlo Esposito) out of his entrapment when he switches allegiances, but the Snow Queen doesn’t really want him, and it’s certainly too late for him to go crawling back to Regina, so he’s left a bit adrift. But back to the Snow Queen, it’s all ice and mirrors as she plays with everyone, accomplishes her goals, but reveals nothing to the of herself to the characters or the viewers.

The Snow Queen seems interested in Elsa, whom we know is her niece, though Elsa isn’t aware. The Snow Queen gets Elsa out of the way so she can attend to the task at hand, but when Elsa is able to break free, the Snow Queen seems proud. My guess is that the Snow Queen would like to help Elsa, but only if she proves herself worthy of her attention, and Elsa is well on her way to doing so. However, the help will probably only come if it benefits the Snow Queen, at least in casting Elsa (who really needs to change clothes) as an apprentice and heir-apparent.

The Snow Queen doesn’t seem to care so much about Regina and Emma. True, one could argue that the way the bridge disintegrates is designed to lead the women somewhere rather than to kill them, but the Snow Queen is just a little too careless with their lives to seem like she worries about keeping them alive in any way.

Which makes the revelation that Emma lived with her as a teenager, something the Snow Queen has wiped from Emma’s memory, and that doesn’t quite justify the pointless Emma flashbacks in “Breaking Glass,” all the more puzzling. Why is the Snow Queen interested in Emma, and how did she get out of Storybrooke during the original curse? Or why did she join the town sometime during that curse, as seen in pictures?

The welcome outcome of this ONCE UPON A TIME adventure is that Emma and Regina acknowledge something like a friendship. I do feel like Regina shuts Emma down too much, even in keeping with her character, and the way that Emma sees Regina as a much-needed friend comes out of nowhere, not satisfactorily answered in the flashbacks. But “Breaking Glass” gets the women to a place they need to be, on the road to a real relationship, and that is very moving.

Regina needs Emma’s friendship as much as Emma needs Regina. The latter reasons are obvious, as Emma could use some help with her magic. The former may be less so. Regina is losing her humanity, treating Sidney like a pawn again and considering dark options, even as she doesn’t go through with them. Henry’s (Jared Gilmore) faith in his adopted mother helps keep Regina good, but an adult friend, one who can see through the bull in a way Henry can’t, as well as someone whose faith in her that Regina doesn’t expect, can help Regina even more. Emma is important in Regina’s redemption sticking and continuing forward.

Another great scene is a small one in which Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) shows interest in Emma’s past. This romantic, compassionate Hook doesn’t quite gel with the schemer seen last week, but it is the Hook fans want, and the Hook that Emma deserves. Hopefully, ONCE UPON A TIME will give us more of this Hook and less of the other one.

Elsewhere, Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) thinks David (Josh Dallas) leads her on a wild goose chase after the escaped Will Scarlet (Michael Socha) in order to get her groove back. It turns out not be a trick by David, but the side story is a good use of Mary Margaret and David, usually flat, uninteresting characters, and the more Will can be worked into the story, even if his narrative is unfolding as fitfully as the Snow Queen’s, the better.

ONCE UPON A TIME is having a rough fall, better than last spring’s batch, but lacking the cohesiveness and the rich layers of the previous autumn’s Neverland arc. “Breaking Glass” does much to get the show back on track, but unfortunately, in doing so, it has to stray from some established bits in recent weeks. Here’s hoping ONCE figures out what it needs to do and sticks with it in time to salvage this story.

ONCE UPON A TIME airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"Night" Is Near For DOCTOR WHO Season 8

TV Review: ‘Doctor Who’ – ‘In the Forest of the Night’

Article first published as TV Review: 'Doctor Who' - 'In the Forest of the Night' on Blogcritics.

In the latest episode of the BBC’s Doctor Who, “In the Forest of the Night,” trees suddenly sprout all over the Earth, clogging major cities and seemingly taking over everything. Is this an alien invasion? The environment fighting back against human intrusion? An attempt to create chaos? Or something else entirely? The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), assisted by Clara (Jenna Coleman), Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson), and a group of schoolchildren, intends to find out.

The core mystery at the center of “In the Forest of the Night” is interesting. Like the Weeping Angels and the creatures that live under the bed, the trees are an ever-present, real thing made creepy. When The Doctor theorizes that fairytales paint the woods as haunted because the trees have long been a threat to mankind, it makes sense. Not only that, but the motivation for attacking us, who harm them, is sound. But when that idea is turned on its head, that the trees actually protect us, not hurt us, it’s a twist on a structure used often in Doctor Who, making it seem somewhat fresh.

It is also interesting that no one wants to be saved by The Doctor if their families will die. The kids need their parents, Danny needs to stay and stand his ground, and Clara doesn’t to be the last remaining human. There’s a theme of loneliness explored a bit, forcing a perspective that many compassionate humans can agree with and get behind.

The Doctor doesn’t understand this. The 12th Doctor, more than previous incarnations, is self-involved and doesn’t worry about others unless they’re among the few individuals he cares about. At one point, The Doctor considers leaving the Earth to its fate, everyone doomed to die, and I kind of wish the series had gone through with this. Not only would it irrevocably shift the dynamic between Clara and The Doctor, it would force the writers to deal with a callous part of The Doctor that has been festering all season. Instead, it’s hinted at and then dropped, disappointingly, as The Doctor reverts to form and figures out the puzzle.

Clara is in the opposite position from The Doctor, learning to care a lot about those around her. A year ago, while she would have continued to urge The Doctor to fight on, she might not have been so willing to die with everyone else. Now, she has Danny, understanding Danny who will forgive her lies about cutting off ties with The Doctor if she can figure out how to be true to herself. He gives his very good explanation of what he wants out of life, and it appeals to her. I think Danny will help Clara be who she should be, giving up her adventures and escapism to finally start living the life she’s meant to have.

It’s actually pretty ridiculous how the children fold into this story. Doctor Who has involved civilians in the past, but rarely on this magnitude. All of Clara and Danny’s charges (none among the recognizable ones from previous weeks) are in on the secret, present for the important parts. What’s more, it phases none of them to learn The Doctor’s secrets, which is tongue-in-cheekily dealt with, but certainly not in a satisfactory manner.

As has been usual this fall, “In the Forest of the Night” is mostly a stand-alone episode. There is barely a glimpse of Missy (Michelle Gomez), and character arcs are only touched upon, not explored. Doctor Who‘s large stories would lose nothing by leaving this episode out of the run, and that’s never a good sign. Where has the series, which used to be complex and convoluted, gone so wrong that most hours these days are forgettable?

So, as has happened a lot lately, “In the Forest of the Night” leaves one with an empty feeling. Good ideas are not realized as fully as they should, and the story does not sufficiently tie into the bigger picture. Where once there is a mythology-heavy must-see program, in the eighth season, those in charge have made the show more “normal,” more pedestrian, and far less appealing to discerning fans. I don’t know if this is meant to help the show continue to grow in its appeal to the masses, but it’s having the opposite effect on the fans, with viewing numbers shrinking greatly this year. This episode is not the way to fix that.

Doctor Who airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET on BBC America.

Monday, October 27, 2014

CONSTANTINE Yet Another Hero

Article first published as CONSTANTINE Review on Seat42F.

Constantine - Season Pilot

FOX has Gotham, ABC has Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter, the CW has Arrow and The Flash, and now NBC has CONSTANTINE. It’s getting very crowded for superheroes on the television airwaves. And those are just the ones directly based on the comic books, as Sleepy Hollow, Grimm, and others could be considered in this genre, too. How does the latest, inspired by a DC character spun off of Swamp Thing twenty-some years ago under the comic title Hellblazer, stack up with its competition?
Well, for starters, CONSTANTINE has a different tone than most of its peers. While other DC series have gone to dark places after the success of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, CONSTANTINE is a horror title, so it necessarily doesn’t have a lot of fun in its DNA. The world is shadowy and washed out, and the titular character and his friends, what few of them he has, all struggle with their inner demons as much as the literal ones invading the world.

John Constantine (Matt Ryan, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, Layer Cake) begins the series in an institution. Once mired in the supernatural world, he has distanced himself from all that junk and tried to clean up his life. We soon learn this is because he feels responsible for something that happened to a little girl awhile back, but whatever his reasons are, he’s out of the business and working on bettering himself.

However, just because Constantine is done with demons and such doesn’t mean they are done with him. After all, the show isn’t called Demon Hunter Rehab. So Constantine is forced out of hiding when a threat comes to town that requires his unique skill set. Will he continue to resist, or step up and be the hero that the world needs him to be? Take a wild guess.

Constantine isn’t alone, of course. An angel named Manny (Harold Perrineau, Lost, Sons of Anarchy) is assigned to watch over him, much as Constantine is given the task of protecting Liv (Lucy Griffiths, True Blood), a young woman whose father he knew. Constantine’s best bud, Chas (Charles Halford, True Detective), lends a hand and a taxi, and while not a main character, a reluctant Ritchie Simpson (Jeremy Davies, Lost, Justified) is roped into joining the gang, at least temporarily.

What unfolds is not a standard procedural tale, but rather, an involved narrative that is both scary and dire. I could compare CONSTANTINE to shows like Grimm, Hannibal, Dominion, Arrow, Gotham, and more because it borrows from all of those in tone and style, though isn’t a carbon copy of any of them, either. CONSTANTINE stakes out its own piece of the landscape, and it does manage to feel somewhat unique.

I can’t say it’s among my favorite programs, though, at least not from the pilot alone. It’s not that the pacing is slow, because a lot happens, but I still felt my attention wandering. It’s a bit boring, perhaps because it puts bringing the fright ahead of making one care about the characters, even as it doesn’t commit fully to an action piece. It’s pretty consistent and decently enough made, but just doesn’t grab me the way others have. And it won’t help DC unseat Marvel as Comic-to-Screen King anytime soon.

I will say, CONSTANTINE isn’t really predictable. One of the characters mentioned in this review (not Simpson) isn’t sticking around, at least not full-time. They are neatly written out of the story, kind of making them feel like they’re in a case-of-the-week guest star situation, but with a role that is developed more than most, as if intended to be a main character, then dropped. There is a replacement coming to the story soon, which may change my overall opinion of the show, depending on how the dynamic could shift. So the jury remains out, for now.

CONSTANTINE premieres Friday, October 24th on NBC.

"Thanks" GRIMM!

Article first published as GRIMM Review Season 4 Episode 1 Thanks for the Memories on Seat42F.

Grimm - Season 4

GRIMM returns to NBC with its fourth season premiere, “Thanks for the Memories.” A Wesen that can suck memories out of a person’s brain comes to Portland. Nick (David Giuntoli) begins investigating the case, made more difficult by the fact that he no longer has his Grimm powers. Luckily, he still has friends, and they are all willing to help him out.

Nick has quite a few things to overcome. For one, his job as a detective is harder. He is a fine policeman before he becomes a Grimm, sure, but now he’s used to operating a certain way and can’t any longer. With his captain, Renard (Sasha Roiz), fighting for his life in the hospital, Nick doesn’t have that automatic backing from above, and “Thanks for the Memories” doesn’t reveal what the new hierarchy may be in the department. Even if Renard lives, which I cannot say if that will happen or not, it seems certain it would be quite awhile before he could be back on the job, and GRIMM will have to figure out how to handle that.

Another complication at work is Wu (Reggie Lee), who is looking into the death at Nick’s house. Nick’s dwelling has plenty of Wesen documentation, which revives Wu’s suspicions about monsters. Personally, I feel it is time he is brought into the loop, allowing Lee a deserved larger role on the series. But if the writers decide to keep him in the dark, they must keep the characters dancing circles around Wu to confused and distract him, which is becoming harder and harder to do.

What’s more, because the deceased is an FBI agent, there is now federal involvement in the investigation. Since everything went down at Nick’s house, there is no way he can avoid getting involved. He has to deflect this unwanted attention and may have to keep coming up with plausible explanations as more and more things pile up against him. What we learn of the lead FBI agent in “Thanks for the Memories” only adds to the challenges GRIMM is throwing at its lead.

If that’s not enough, Nick still has Trubel (Jacqueline Toboni) to look out for. Trubel is plenty happy to help by stepping up and taking on Nick’s Grimm duties, the first time she’s really been around people who count on her. Nick allows her to do some of this because, after all, someone has to, and he’s not up to it right now. But she’s a kid and she’s not a cop; he has to be careful around her. Trubel still isn’t a main character, which worries me about her continued survival, and she is liable to throw herself too quickly into a situation, endangering herself and others. Trubel could cause more trouble than she already has.

The one benefit of Nick no longer being a Grimm is in his relationship with Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch). She is complaining about what his destiny does to their relationship, and she’s definitely still not over Nick sleeping with Adalind (Claire Coffee), no matter how cleverly Adalind tricks Nick. But will Juliette soon come to regret her wish? If Nick is no longer a Grimm, he may not bring threats around as often, but he’s also less prepared to protect her in a world they’ve already, irreversibly gotten involved in. I have faith their bond can survive, once Juliette has time to get over Nick’s ‘betrayal,’ but I’m not so sure a Grimm-less life is good for them.

Add to this more Viktor (Alexis Denisof) machinations, newlyweds skipping their honeymoon to help out a friend, and the aforementioned case-of-the-week, and GRIMM’s season premiere is incredibly jam-packed with all kinds of drama and going-ons, much of which cannot be answered in a single hour. Thankfully, GRIMM is smart enough to realize that and take its time in letting the involved tale come to fruition.

“Thanks for the Memories” isn’t as exciting as many of the other installments of the series, but it is solid in its storytelling and deals with the aftermath of last spring’s finale in an entertaining and appropriate way. That’s good enough for me. It doesn’t stand strongly on its own, but I prefer the serial style, anyway.

GRIMM airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.