This review contains spoilers.
3.1 The Ungrateful Dead
Grimm returned to our screens on Friday with an action-packed season opener.
Season two’s cliff-hanger had left our hero Nick Burkhardt turned into a zombie and locked in a coffin by Cracher-Mortel Baron Samedi, while dozens of the walking dead rampaged though the streets of Portland.
The Ungrateful Dead was markedly different, however, from the regular episodes we’re used to, which often follow a fairly predictable plot line of Nick and his chums battling some beastly ‘Wesen of the Week’, with the action all wrapped up nicely in forty-three minutes.
But from the opening scene when Grimm’s own Scooby gang were surrounded by rage-filled zombies looking to tear them to pieces, to Adalind’s dismemberment of a witch’s corpse, it seems the show’s writers are not only cranking up the pace, but taking its series regulars into darker, more interesting places.
This episode also proved that Hank, Juliette, Monroe and Rosalee can all handle themselves perfectly well in the absence of Nick, as they worked together to evade an onslaught of zombie-fied Portlanders, and concoct an antidote to the rage.
It was, of course, left to Monroe to provide the comic relief. When Sgt. Wu questions how they will know if the cure has worked on the infected, imprisoned in a shipping container, Monroe answers: “I think it’s like popcorn; when it stops making noise, it’s done.”
And, at last! The writers have now decided to give Juliette’s character a little more depth than reacting blankly and / or with confusion to the action going on around her. It was a massive source of frustration, and could definitely be singled out as the weak link in the ensemble cast.
Juliette, however, is now fully up to speed with the fact that Portland is home to a secret population of creatures which humans believe exist only in folklore, her boyfriend is the only guy in town who can see – and kick the asses of – the aforementioned creatures, and that she was victim to a super spell that first caused amnesia, and then a powerful obsession with Captain Renard – but hey, we’ve all been there.
Indeed, after fifty-three episodes of playing the clueless casualty, this episode saw her earning her place in the gang by helping to come up with solution to the problem of administering an antidote to the container of crazies. Her succinct explanation of the Williamson Ether Synthesis: “Basically it’s an organic reaction which forms ether from an organohalide and alcohol.” Um, thanks Juliette, it’s good to know those years of veterinary training are paying off.
Over in Europe, deliciously evil Adalind was forced to perform a series of gruesome acts – which included severing Frau Pech’s hands and feet from her dead body, and scooping out her eyes – as she proved once more she would stop at nothing to restore her Hexenbiest powers. Overseeing the test was the über-devious and not-to-be-messed-with Stefania, who seemed to relish the macabre nature of the proceedings.
A big question now, surely, is with Adalind’s Hexenbiest powers regained, will she follow through with her deal with Stefania to deliver her the royal heir?
Possible baby-daddy Captain Renard, meanwhile, is evolving into a real hero. This episode saw a rare view of him woging into his half-Zauberbiest form as he battled the undead, before leading the hunt for Nick. While we’re supposed to be kept guessing over where his loyalties lie, he appears to be increasingly aligning himself with Nick and his gang of hybrid heroes. It’s unlikely he’ll turn on them now – this episode saw him plan to ruthlessly dispatch villainous half-brother Eric – although this ruthlessness may be used to greater effect down the line. He has more shades to his personality than the ever-reliable Nick, and arguably makes for a more interesting character.
Even in zombie form, Nick was pretty much still a good guy. After dispatching Baron Samedi – or rather he causes a plane to crash which does him in – he beats up some bikers in a bar before taking off into the night. It’s hardly Walking Dead levels of depravity.
The end of the episode sees the writers attempt dramatic tension with Zombie-Nick sinisterly eyeing up a young family returning to their isolated home. But odds are the family are quite safe from attack; how would the hero come back from something like that?
Grimm has to date, been a solidly reliable in its ability to entertain, creating characters you can root for, reminiscent of early seasons of Buffy. This season may take it in a different direction, perhaps a darker route, as it explores the mysterious Verrat and the threat it poses to Nick.
The episode ended with the words “This aint over yet”. You get the feeling that this season won’t be delivering the little neat parcels of fun we’ve been used to, which is only something to look forward to.
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