Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce
Season One of borg.com favorite Grimm ended on a high-stakes cliffhanger, with Juliette in a coma, evil Adalind missing, and surprise-of-surprises, Nick’s mom alive and kicking Wesen butt.
Thankfully, NBC didn’t make us wait long for the outcome to all this suspenseful buildup, and Monday night’s Season Two pilot jumped right in with both feet, ratcheting up the tension and stakes with more twisty mysteries, otherworldly conspiracies, and good old-fashioned drama. What it didn’t do was wrap up any of those storylines–Juliette is still in a coma, Adalind is still missing, and Nick’s mom is a back-from-the-faked-her-own-death UberGrimm–presaging a season full of complex mystery and perhaps more questions raised than answered.
Its attention soundly focused on building the series mythos, “Bad Teeth” follows a French Wesen assassin, or Mauvais Dentes, sent to Portland to presumably dispatch Nick (David Giuntoli)–and anyone standing in his way, including cargo ship stowaways, crewmen, harbormasters, security guards, and FBI agents. A brief appearance by veteran character actor James Frain (Leverage, Burn Notice, The Closer, etc.) hints at the involvement of the Verrat, one of the ancient secret societies of the Grimmverse introduced last season. Frain, who is always solid, was especially fun in his one short scene–and we hope to see him again this season. He’d make a great ongoing villain, and it would be nice to see him in a regular role, instead of just popping up for guest appearances.
Meanwhile, Nick’s reunion with his mother is equal parts tender and educational. Kelly (Kelly? Really?) Burkhardt, in a fun, Chuck-style stunt casting move, is played by longtime favorite Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Abyss, Without a Trace). They navigate the secrets of Nick’s past and her disappearance/supposed murder, explore Aunt Marie’s trailer, and decipher some of the mystery of the Verrat, the Mauvais Dentes, and the fabled Seven Royal Families in charge of it all.
Meanwhile-meanwhile, as Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Rosalee (Bree Turner) work on an antidote to Juliette’s (Bitsie Tulloch) magically-induced coma, the backstage machinations of shady police captain Renard continue. All last season we watched Renard (Sasha Roiz) lurking in the background, conspiring with Hexenbiest Adalind Schade (Claire Coffee), and menacing Nick’s early efforts to harness his Grimm abilities. The Season Two Renard seems less altogether evil, and more nuanced and complex–a welcome and fascinating development. In fact, it is Renard who seems most dedicated to waking Juliette, although for his own yet-to-be-revealed motives.
If there were missteps in the episode, they’re the same ones to haunt the series thus far. Primarily? The consistently underutilized Juliette could hardly be more marginalized–not merely sidelined, but comatose! Her storyline is compelling, but she’s not doing anything. The late-season additions of Rosalee and Nick’s mom have helped bolster the female power structure of the show, but we definitely hope to see Juliette recover and take a truly active role in the series. If she must be kept out of Nick’s secret life, fine–but let’s see more of the smart veterinarian (who, seriously, could be a terrific asset to Wesen investigations). And how about more scenes showing off one of our favorite cities–the filming location, Portland, Oregon?
It definitely appears as though NBC is investing more in Grimm this season–moving it to a new timeslot (Mondays at 9/8), getting a jumpstart on the fall season, launching innovative multimedia promotions, including a full-on marketing effort at this year’s Comic-Con, and adding a whole new opening to the series. We love this, because we love Grimm, and it seemed to lag behind similar series Lost Girl (SyFy) and Once Upon a Time (ABC) last season. Exciting new developments abound, both behind the scenes and onscreen. We can’t wait for next Monday’s new episode!