‘The Rat King’ explores Wesen class warfare, but the procedural components are overwhelmed by the NBC series’ startling new mythology. Let’s bitch it out…
Grimm has spent a great deal of time exploring the historical legacy that underpins how different Wesen interact with each other, so the conflict between the rats and the cats that drives ‘The Rat King’ is familiar. The twist is that the rats have discovered a way to use their underdog status as a weapon to create a giant, mutant enforcer. While the sight of a 20 foot tall rat comes off a bit silly, the special effects are actually pretty serviceable and as a result the case is tolerable.
The issue is that the procedural case of the week is a distraction from the more intriguing elements introduced by Trubel’s (Jacqueline Toboni) return. I’ve never made an effort to disguise my disinterest in Grimm‘s cases, though several of the fifth season’s episodes have made more of a concerted effort to tie them into the series’ larger mythology. The Rat King’ doesn’t really do that – the case is basically a stand alone – and the result is a fairly rote procedural that can’t help but suffer when the writers explode our preconception of who Trubel is.
When she was introduced, the young Grimm was basically a teen runway with no familial connections. After her abduction in last season’s finale, it seemed like she was being held prisoner by members of the resistance in an effort to get to Nick (David Giuntoli). When Trubel reappeared last episode, I hoped that we would get some answers. Instead ‘The Rat King’ introduces a brand new series of questions, namely why Trubel has a number of fake IDs, a secret apartment and a very expensive motorcycle with the kind of arsenal of weapons that would make Batman proud. Throw in Meisner’s (Damien Puckler) concern for her well-being, including his willingness to reveal his identity and throwing down against the resistance at the hospital and suddenly it’s very unclear who is affiliated with what and how Trubel fits in.
With so many unanswered questions, Grimm‘s mythological arc once again captures the imagination in a way that no case of the week can compete with. Sorry trio of dead cat boys…
- It’s very strange to see Scream‘s Carlson Young because Selina is a genuinely nice character, not a snarky bitch like Brooke from the MTV series.
- Adalind (Claire Coffee), Hank (Russell Hornsby), Wu (Reggie Lee), Rosalee (Bree Turner) and Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) all appear, but they’re barely more than pawns to keep the narrative moving forward. It’s hardly surprising considering the priority status afforded Trubel, but I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the time dedicated to the Rat King had been dedicated solely to the mythology components. At some point I hope that Grimm trusts its core audience to let go of the case, even if it is only sporadically.
- Renard (Sasha Roiz) is stranded in his own C-plot, which would be less disheartening if his story weren’t so boring. It’s possible that the mayoral race story line has loads of potential, but it feels very reminiscent of Renard’s arc last season, which percolated for nearly twenty episodes before finally paying off (kinda). It’s distracting when we cut off away from the more interesting narrative to spend time on what feels like an arbitrary scene.
- Monroe (after the Rat King has been electrocuted): “There really are no winners in this.”
Your turn: what did you think of how the procedural and mythology components mixed together? Was the Rat King an interesting villain? Is Renard stranded in another slow burning plot again? Sound off below.
Grimm airs its fall finale next Friday at 9pm EST on NBC