The second episode of a television series is often a far better bellwether of the show's tone than the pilot: Working from the confident position of a network pickup, the show is free to work itself into a groove. Grimm's second episode, however, spent a lot of its time wiggling its way out of traps it set for itself. (Bear traps, you might say. Then you'd pause for three seconds to let the irony of the pun set in. That is how Grimm rolls.) Friday's show was about three bears (or "jagerbars") who live in a large estate and use home invaders as prey in "The Most Dangerous Game"-style hunts. It was also about pushing a lot of reset buttons. Here's what we now know.
This isn't a show about child predators. This is a children's show. Grimm wisely ditched all parallels between its shape-shifting monsters and child abductors. Instead, it pushed further down the path forged by Sesame Street's news reports from fairy tale crime scenes. The show has a TV-14 rating, which makes sense: It is pitched exactly to 14-year-olds. Most dialogue is some blend of exposition and underlining the fairy-tale roots, as if the writers do not entirely trust the viewers to understand this very difficult concept. In tone, actually, it reminds me of nothing so much as Square One's cop parody Mathnet, but with monsters instead of fractions. Mathnet was better, but Mathnet is better than most contemporary television shows.
The wolf blows the house down. Grimm is clearly aware after two episodes that Eddie Monroe, the reformed "blutbad" (Big Bad Wolf to haters) played by Silas Weir Mitchell, is the best thing onscreen: conflicted, dangerous and good with a one-liner after turning an assailant into a one-armer. (The overenthusiastic amputation was a welcome dollop of real violence, a reminder that this show could be pretty funny if it gets a little more adult.) In fact, five bucks says that by the end of the season, Monroe will transition into the Hellboy-like protagonist of this series, while Detective Nick (David Giuntoli) will slide into the background to keep imitating Tom Cruise on mood suppressants.
We will not be spending the entire season at Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital, thank Christ. This gives me some confidence in predicting that Monroe will take his rightful place atop the show: Though Nick's bewildered brooding and earnest explanations of the patently obvious continue to lead Grimm, at least they killed off his annoying aunt. Nothing against poor Marie (Kate Burton), who was probably as much fun as a terminal cancer patient could be, but her only mode was "ominous warning," and about 25 percent of the first two episodes was dedicated to making sure she was not killed by assassins. Of course, at the end of the episode, she was killed by assassins. Goodbye, Aunt Marie. You were high-maintenance, but you had a closet filled with knives and axes.
A bear mitzvah has less magicians-for-rent, more mauling. Before ominously shuffling off this mortal coil, Aunt Marie did get the best line of the night, explaining the perils of coming-of-age rituals in the jagerbar household: "It could be a problem if they're traditional." The idea of treating shape-shifting bears as if they were another chapter in the paperback edition of God is Not Great was clever, and I liked how the pasty, shirtless, claw-tatted jagerbars looked like Idaho militia kids or fans of the Vancouver Grizzlies having a hard time letting go. I still don't understand why the bears took all that time digging a giant bear trap, however. Maybe they are self-loathing?
We'll have Grimm to kick around some more. It continued its run as NBC's highest rated new series, dropping only 12 percent from the pilot. Maybe some credit should go to the network's novel tack in promotions: It is blurbing the praise of its Twitter followers. (Entertainment Weekly first noticed this phenomenon, pointing out that one of the satisfied social networkers is a wig salesperson.) But two of the Tweeters aren't just viewers: They're Portland actresses with roles on Grimm. Ayanna Berkshire says Grimm is "so good"; she also plays the doctor in the first two episodes. Local radio personality Tara Dublin says the show is a "monster hit"; she's an extra in four episodes. Though I do not have a gig on the show, I'm happy to pitch in: "At least they killed off the annoying aunt!" —@aaronmesh
WW recaps Grimm each Monday. Come back next week for the episode about bees, which is getting great buzz. (Three-second pause.) No, seriously.