Friday, February 20, 2015

GRIMM Not Quite on "Fire"

Article originally written for Seat42F.

This week’s installment on NBC’s GRIMM is called “Trial by Fire.” A Wesen that can turn himself into a living flame burns down a family business, inadvertently killing two employees in the process. Nick (David Giuntoli) and Hank (Russell Hornsby) investigate, turned to an old foe to help them, which causes trouble for one of their closest friends.

What I was expecting from this week’s GRIMM was the showdown between Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) and Adalind (Claire Coffee). It was highly publicized and long anticipated. And technically, “Trial by Fire” does deliver that – briefly, at the very end. This exemplifies the problem with GRIMM right now, which is that it minimizes the big stories that effect our characters in the favor of case-of-the-weeks.

It’s hard to complain too much about the case in “Trial by Fire.” It not only brings back Orson (Daniel Roebuck), one of the first villains Nick puts away back in the sixth episode of the series, but also deals with some real depth here. Nick realizes that Orson isn’t the only one to blame in the conflict in which two of his brothers were killed by Monroe’s then-girlfriend, now deceased. It’s a re-examination of something the show glossed over awhile ago, which is always a good thing for a program to do down the line.

Even better is how this affects Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), whose people have an ancient feud with Orson’s. When Monroe sees Nick and Hank working with Orson, he is furious and storms out, which makes sense, given his history. Monroe doesn’t buy into stereotypes in general, but because this one is backed up by his own experiences, he embraces it. It takes Rosalee (Bree Turner) to make Monroe realize he’s really no better than the hate group that kidnapped him if he can’t get over his prejudice, and with great strength of will, Monroe decides to help out.

How the case ends is really of no importance to GRIMM. Sure, they catch the bad guy who hired the evil Wesen and kill the Wesen himself. But in terms of the mythology of the show, it’s far more important that Monroe sees something about himself that he can use to help grow, Rosalee puts her husband in his place, and Nick helps the viewer look a little further into complexity of the world.

Were a case-of-the-week-centered episode rare, this is the type I’d like to see, the depth making up for how repetitive the story structure is. Because GRIMM has been delivering a lot of these cases, the fact that this is by far the best one in recent memory doesn’t take away the sting of a series squandering its potential. This needs to be the exception, not the rule, for GRIMM.

Back to Juliette and Adalind, “Trial by Fire” finds Viktor (Alexis Denisof) and Adalind still trying to track Adalind’s baby. They get a little info from Renard (Sasha Roiz), whom I guess decides to cooperate the minimum amount to avoid trouble, and then Adalind goes after Juliette to find out more. Not knowing Juliette is now Hexenbiest, Adalind doesn’t know what she’s in for.

I love that Adalind ends up being scared of Juliette. Apparently, Juliette isn’t just a Hexenbiest, but the Hexenbiest, the top dog of her breed. This has many implications that I can’t wait to see explored (though GRIMM will probably only give us small bits of this at a time), and how Adalind will deal with this should be among the most interesting.

The hour ends with Nick finding out Juliette’s secret. I still say it’s completely dumb he doesn’t figure things out himself; he’s supposed to be a great detective, and all the signs are there. But the episode ends before we get his reaction. NBC’s promo is awful, making it seem like Juliette is scared of Nick for some reason, which makes no sense, but still, the promise of the couple coming to terms with this development together is nice.

“Trial by Fire” is a great GRIMM episode that, unfortunately, is part of a larger, disappointing trend. On its own, I have very few complaints. Taken with the rest of the surrounding installments, it doesn’t do anything to fix the mistakes GRIMM is making.

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

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