After what seems like forever, NBC’s Grimm finally returns to our TV sets with an episode that immediately follows the events of last season’s cliffhanger finale. So how are Nick (David Giuntoli) and co. handling the zombie invasion?
Let’s bitch it out…To say that ‘The Ungrateful Dead’ picks up where ‘Goodnight, Sweet Grimm’ left off is actually a bit untrue. We actually begin 15 minutes before, then 5 minutes before, before settling on now. It’s an unusual narrative ploy – one clearly intended on catching up new viewers. It’s not unwelcome, though it does feel a bit awkward to continually provide timed updates so that we understand exactly when we are in the events leading up to Nick’s abduction by Baron Samedi (Reg E. Cathey) and Eric Renard (James Frain).
In truth much of this episode feels like a slow (re)introduction to the world of Grimm. Considering how much ground is traditionally covered in a single episode, the decision to dedicate this entire premiere episode to such a contained storyline is kinda surprising. When you examine exactly what happens, it doesn’t actually amount to much: Nick is taken to the airfield, his friends are unable to prevent the plan from taking off, Nick wakes up mid-flight, crashes the plane and then trashes a roadside hillbilly club called Shirley’s Tippy Canoe (lol) before disappearing into the woods. In between Hank (Russell Hornsby) and Renard (Sasha Roiz) try to stabilize the group as they deal with those infected during the Baron’s zombie-making spree. One the more agitated end of the spectrum, we have Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) and Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), both of whom want to go after the Royal family for orchestrating the kidnapping. Of the civilians, only Rosalee (Bree Turner) remains level-headed – concocting an aromatic version of the cure to spare the shipping container of zombies from gruesome death, as well as advising her riled-up friends that they need to chillax and consider who they want to take on.
After being off the air for so long (thanks again, NBC!), a lot of this feels facile but necessary. It’s useful to spend time with everyone in order to reestablish their character and priorities (even Reggie Lee’s Wu gets a few opportunities to establish himself as the intrepid – and frequently put-upon – sergeant stuck cleaning up the core cast’s mess). By episode’s end the situation with Nick remains unresolved and, in a Frankenstein-inspired cliffhanger, the on-the-loose threat has come upon a helpless family doomed to suffer when the show resumes the story next week. Thankfully the showrunners cheekily acknowledge the semi-groanworthy nature of the ending with a title card that reads “This Ain’t Over Yet.”
‘The Ungrateful Dead’ may not be the strongest episode of the series, but it helpfully reminds us of all the reasons why we love the show and are happy to have it back. And so, with that in mind, welcome back, Grimm. We’ve missed you dearly…
- The other substantial storyline of note is Adalind’s (Claire Coffee) adventures in Europe. Her cliffhanger last season involved the decision to align herself with Stefania Popescu (Shohreh Aghdashloo, who’s name is not becoming easier to spell despite the practice). Together the two conniving ladies murdered Frau Pech (Mary McDonald-Lewis), and spend the premiere conducting an elaborate spell using her disgusting remains. Key ingredients include a variety of grotesque severed limbs, a bloody box and a field full of poppies. All of this to begin the process to get Adalind’s Hexenbiest powers back (she’s only been approved by episode’s end! What a fuss!). The uneasiness of Adalind and Stefania’s alliance seems to have dissipated since last we saw them, but Adalind’s powers of sarcasm remain something to be reckoned with. What a mouth on that one!
- Speaking of those body parts, kudos to the practical FX crew for creating a particularly grisly spectacle of Frau’s body. The CGI crew, on the other hand, disappoints (as usual). Allow me to say what we’re all thinking: that plane looks terrible
- There’s a surprising amount of illogical decision making in this episode. Wouldn’t Juliette be the best person to try and talk Zombie Nick back from the edge? Shouldn’t the aromatic cure have come to mind earlier? Of everyone, Hank is the one who is most on the ball: calling the airfield en route to try and prevent the plane carrying Nick from taking off (I’d blame Renard, but he’s driving, so it’s better he isn’t on the phone since that’s a big no-no)
- My biggest gripe: why did no one check to see if the Baron is dead?! If that guy comes back next week I am going to be pissed!
- Love the Evil Dead meets Blair Witch Project style camerawork used to depict Nick’s point of view as he makes his way through the woods. As for his disposition, I couldn’t make out any of the whisper wording he’s hearing when he’s in the bar, but he seems to have gained a slow-motion perspective that allows him to anticipate/react attacks much better. Wonder if that power will be permanent?
- Finally, despite airing on separate networks, it occurred to me as I watched the season premiere how enjoyable a Grimm/Sleepy Hollow doubleheader would be. If only some of the viewers who have turned the FOX show into a monster hit would sample Grimm – I think they would be pleasantly surprised at what a solid little genre show they’ve been missing
- Stefania (to Adalind, referring to Frau’s body): “I’m going to have to throw out the carpet. You just can’t get Hexenbiest blood out of anything.”
- Monroe (when Rosalee suggests the aromatic cure): “Oh you mean like we get them to smoke it?”
- Adalind (when told the hole must be filled in by hand): “Of course it must”
What are your thoughts on Grimm‘s return? Did you appreciate the chance to get reacquainted with everyone, or were you hoping more would happen? Are you excited to see how Nick will recover from this next week (since he inevitably will be rescued from the brink)? How ominous were those ghostly hands reaching for Adalind’s face? And is the Baron really dead? Comment away below
Grimm airs Fridays at 9pm EST on NBC