Grimm, Episode 1: Pilot


Introduction

Grimm is a new show airing on Friday nights on NBC, which either means they know it’ll be cancelled soon or want it to start out with a cult following and go from there. Grim prospects, pun intended. It bills itself as a supernatural police procedural, and its premise is that the Brothers Grimm were criminal profilers who wrote about actual events. I have written a recap (not a synopsis) of the episode, following immediately below, so keep that in mind if you want to avoid spoilers. My actual review is at the bottom. Enjoy!

Recap

Grimm episode one starts with a quote from The Brothers Grimm, 1812: “The wolf thought to himself, what a tender nice creature. What a plump mouthful…” A sorority girl in a red hoodie and pink Nikes leaves her building to go jogging through the woods. Her pink iPod is playing the Eurhythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” There are two paths: Talon Creek and Sweetbriar Trail – she takes Talon Creek. As she jogs, she passes a Hummel figurine sitting on a log next to the path, does a double take, and goes back to check it out. Suddenly she is attacked, pushed offscreen by a fast-moving hairy thing. There is screaming, there is roaring, then there is silence in the woods except for her iPod, still playing the song.

Our hero, Nick, is walking out of a jewelry store, showing off the engagement ring he just bought to his partner, Hank, who is taking pictures with a camera that is apparently new police equipment?!? Hank has been married (and presumably divorced) 4 times, while Nick tells him he plans to get married only once. Hank calls him “one of those Happily Ever After” men. A pretty blonde comes out of a coffee shop; Nick is staring at her. Hank asks the detective what he sees: she wears Armani, makes low six figures, drives a BMW, and is gunning for senior partner at her law firm. So Nick makes a hobby of profiling… Hank asks why he can’t just look at her ass like a normal guy, and reminds him they have a call. As Hank gets into their police car Nick continues to stare at the woman. Her face suddenly distorts, looking very mummified-corpsey before returning to normal.

Nick and Hank are in the woods at the crime scene, being shown around by a ranger. One body part is near the trail, and the rest is off-trail. She’s in bits and pieces, and the ranger states they only know it was a woman by the pink woman’s Nike found with the bits (sexist!). Hank asks the ranger what kind of an animal could’ve done this, and he said the interesting thing is that there is only one print they found near the body: a boot print. Nick remarks that it’s similar to something that happened recently in Munson Creek Falls, which was determined to be a bobcat (not wearing boots though). Then he asks Hank if he hears something, and starts following a faint sound of music.

Yes, it’s the iPod, still playing! Not only that, but it’s still playing “Sweet Dreams,” so the girl must’ve had it on infinite loop. Hank identifies the song, calls it one of the Eurhythmics’ better ones, and sings along. Nick says, “I didn’t know you couldn’t sing.”

Nick and Hank walk into a government building, talking about running searches in predator databases and checking into the Munson Creek Falls attack while they wait for DNA results on the victim/attacker. They walk into the Portland Police Bureau, which means they are definitely in Oregon. Hank takes the iPod for prints as we follow Nick. A perp is being questioned at an officer’s desk; his face distorts and he has a lizardy look with a long tongue before he returns to normal. Staring, Nick bumps into Sgt Wu, who (I’m calling it now) is going to be the annoying sarcastic competitive character.

A bald woman driving an old SUV and pulling an airstream trailer pulls into someone’s yard. She gets out, slowly and painfully walking with a cane. On the porch of the house is shelving with a lot of potted herbs. She looks inside the dark house.

There are 23 known (sexual, not animal) predators in a 5-mile radius to the attack, but none rise to the violence shown that morning. They did get a hit on a missing person: university student went jogging that morning and didn’t come back. They interview her sorority sister and make a positive id that night at the station. They decide to call it a night. Nick’s ringbox falls out of his coat onto the desk. Hank teases him about the big night ahead and calls him Romeo.

Nick pulls up to the house the bald woman went to. There’s a dog barking in the distance, but he is cut off with a yelp. He enters the dark house, calling out for Juliette, and finds the bald woman slowly chopping tomatoes at the kitchen table. She turns and smiles – she is his Aunt Marie. Juliette says Aunt Marie was there when she got home from work, and has been telling some interesting stories about Nick – dead frog in the microwave, really? Aunt Marie apologizes for not giving any advance notice of her visit. Nick asks Aunt Marie how she’s doing, she says she’s not as well as she used to be, and whispers that they need to talk when he hugs her.

Nick and Aunt Marie go for a walk. Aunt Marie is terminal, and doesn’t know how long she has left to live. She says that she has so much she needs to tell him. She won’t tell him why she didn’t come out sooner, but instead tells him he needs to know about his family. She asks him if he’s been seeing strange things recently. The look on his face tells her all she needs to know. She tells him the misfortune of his family is passing on to him quicker than she wanted, and that when it happened to her it knocked her on her ass for a week. He must end it with Juliette immediately and never see her again. It’s just too dangerous.

Nick starts to question her, but Aunt Marie catches sight of a green car around the corner and says “He’s here.” She pulls a short sword out and is promptly attacked by a guy with a scythe. His face is brown and wrinkly, and he is called Hulda. He knocks Nick over, which allows Aunt Marie to stab him in the back. He knocks her down and is about to cut her with the scythe when Nick unloads his gun into him. He falls to the ground, his face turning human as he dies.

Aunt Marie asks Nick if he killed the guy, to which he says yes, and she tells him his parents didn’t die in a crash, they were killed. She also tells him “they” are after her, and gives him a green amulet of some sort and tells him to guard it with his life. Cops are now processing the scene, and interviewing Juliette while Marie is being taken to an ambulance on a stretcher. Nick tells Hank the guy came out of nowhere and attacked her with the scythe, and there was nothing else he could do. Hank tells him to go to the hospital and he’ll take care of things here. Juliette asks if he wants her to come along, and he tells her no, he’ll be home soon. She tells him she loves him, and he just gets into the ambulance.

Nick is drawing an extremely detailed head of Hulda when he is approached by a doctor who tells him Marie is conscious. Marie asks him if he saw Hulda, and says that when “they” lose control they can’t hide. She tells him they have the special ability to see things as they really are. “This is no fairy tale. What they wrote about really happened. You are one of the last Grimms.” She tells him everything’s in her trailer, there is so much he needs to learn, and that he is very vulnerable now so he must be careful. The doctor tells him he needs to go now. As he leaves, he looks at the rectangular jade (?) amulet. It splits in half and reveals the inside part is a key. Everything is covered over with swirly carvings.

At the station, Nick is examining the scythe – it has an inscription on the blade in a foreign language. Hank jumpscares him from behind and asks if it’s been translated. It has: “Reapers of the Grimms.” Hank ran Hulda’s prints and found him to be wanted for assault, rape, and murder. Captain Renard (hmm) approaches, telling him if he had to shoot somebody, he picked a good one, and reminds him to see the department psychologist. “The first shooting is no easy thing.”

Nick has a dream: Juliette is running through the forest in a red satin dress and is attacked by Hulda. He can’t sleep, so he goes to check out Marie’s trailer. Apparently Grimms are also related to Time Lords, because that trailer is much bigger on the inside. It also is packed with things on shelves and a desk is set up in the middle with all sorts of things that will fall over or down anytime you hit a bump in the road or make a turn. I totally want to live in it. Nick opens a cabinet and finds a medieval arsenal of knives, swords, maces, hammers, axes, a metal net…he closes it again without comment. On the desk is a leatherbound manuscript/scrapbook. It appears to be part family history, part monster encyclopedia. If the drawings in her are Marie’s, they share artistic talent too. Nick recognizes the blonde he saw that morning as a Hexenbiest, and Juliette jumpscares him. As they walk back into the house she asks him how long he lived with Marie. He says she was his mother from the time he was 12 (when his parents died). Juliette asks if they lived in the trailer, but Nick didn’t know she had it. A cat yowls, scaring Nick. Juliette tells him it’s just a cat, and he says “yeah.” They go inside. A growling is heard by the audience.

The next day at the station, Nick and Hank catch us up by having a conversation about the case. DNA evidence is inconclusive, and they have a match to the boot print: the ad says it’s some sort of exclusive boot, but it looks like an ordinary yellowish-tan leather workboot with thick soles.

We cut to a mailman slowly walking his route in the very boots we’re looking for. We only see him clearly from the back – he is kept out of focus from the front. As he walks away from the camera, a little girl in a red hoodie skips towards us. As she passes him, the mailman stops, then turns and follows her.

Aunt Marie is in a deep coma now. The doctor tells Nick all they can do is wait and see if she comes out of it, and asks him if he knew about the scars. Nick does not. The doctor says a lot of them look like knife wounds, and they are all over her body – what line of work was she in? Nick replies that she’s a librarian.

Nick and Hank show up at a crying woman’s house – she is the mother of the little red-hooded girl. She was supposed to show up at her grandfather’s house (nice), which is on the other side of the woods from her house (also nice). Cut to the chief explaining that they’ll be looking for the missing girl in pairs, and there is no motive yet, so they don’t know if they’re looking for a relative, a ransom, or a pedophile. He mentions that she was last seen in a red hoodie and purple leggings. Nick and Hank exchange a look. They tell the captain that the girl torn to pieces was also wearing a red hoodie, and he comments that he hopes it’s not the same guy.

The mailtruck drives away. Nick and Hank are out retracing the little girl’s route. Hank points out that it’s much quicker to go through the woods to get to her grandfather’s instead of taking the way around. Nick says the mother was very specific on the route her daughter takes. Hank says “Kids always do what their moms tell them to do – I know I did” as he walks into the woods. Nick takes Hollyberry Trail while Hank heads to Mill Pond.

Nick wanders around listening to choice bits of Aunt Marie voiceover and getting freaked out by every little sound in the woods. Hank, meanwhile, finds a girl’s backpack and calls his partner over for a look. Hank calls in the crime scene while Nick looks around. He finds the same bootprints in the mud and runs through the woods after them, emerging onto a street in a more dilapidated neighborhood than the side they entered.

As Nick looks around, a man comes out of his house to get the mail. Three little girls ride by on their bikes, and after they pass the man’s face distorts into something very wolflike, and back to human again. Nick yells to Hank that he’s got him, and runs to catch the man. He manages to run into his house before Nick tackles him. He cowers as Nick yells “Where is she?!”

Cops are all over the house, clearly at the end of an exhaustive search, as Sgt Wu looks under a throw pillow on the couch and complains. Nick insists if she’s not at the house, he’s stashed her someplace else. Hank takes him out onto the front porch, asking what Nick sees in the guy that they clearly don’t – he’s got a clean record. Looking at Monroe (I don’t think he’s named in this ep, but constantly reading about “the man” will be tedious) sitting in the back of the cop car, Nick tells Hank that he fits the profile: he’s a loner, never been married, and he lives across the street from a park! (Unfortunately, I fit that profile as well…) Hank tells Nick the only way they’ll get him in court is if he sues their asses, and stalks off. Nick and the man stare at each other through the car window.

Juliette is in her nightgown, ready for bed, staring out the window at the light beaming out of the trailer. Nick is inside with the lamp on, poring through the book to find a match for the man he saw. He passes a drawing of a “Haage” which seems to match Hulda, and seems to find what he’s looking for.

Monroe is standing in front of his window, eating while he appears to be doing something very intricate with his hands. Nick is lurking at the edge of the woods, watching him. Juliette calls him, but he doesn’t pick up because Monroe chooses that moment to go outside to the backyard. Nick quickly and quietly runs around the other side of the house, peeking around the corner.

Monroe is peeing on his own fence, and walks to the side as he’s doing it so he can get the whole length. Nick’s face hilariously changes from afraid to confused to horrified. Monroe seems to smell something, so he finishes, zips up, and hurries back into the house. Nick is left not knowing what to do as the lights inside go out. Suddenly Monroe crashes through the window, throwing Nick against the house and growling at him that he shouldn’t have come back. He changes his face back to normal as Nick tries to get his gun out, telling him he’s just making a point, and invites him inside for a beer. “And by the way, you’re paying for that window.”

As he passes Nick a beer, he says he never expected to see a Grimm up close, and says his parents used to scare the hell out of him with stories of Grimms as a kid. He asks Nick how long he’s been a Grimm since he seems kinda new. Monroe confirms that you get your abilities only after a relative has died (or is close to death, in Marie’s case), and says in an ominous tone that he has heard of Marie. After this he says he doesn’t want any trouble, he’s a good blutbad, and hasn’t killed in years.

Nick asks what he said he was, to which he replies that Nick’s ancestors vulgarized blutbad into the Big Bad Wolf in the books, yet he’s not that big, and he’s done with the bad. How does he keep from being bad? “A strict regimen of diet, drugs, and Pilates.” He pats his belly, calling himself a reformed blutbad, a Wieder blutbad, which is a different church altogether. “You go to church?” “Yeah, don’t you?”

Nick tries another tack, asking how he can stop all this from happening to him. Monroe says it can’t be stopped – it’s who Nick is. He asks if that’s why Nick came, but Nick replies he’s there because of the little girl. Monroe says “I don’t know where she is! Did I not just tell you about my strict regimen?” Nick says he has to know other blutbads in the area. Monroe explains the plural is blutbaden, and no, bad things happen when they get into packs – especially when they see red. He says he’s a clockmaker, and not an abductor of little girls. Nick says he’s got to know if there are any more things around, and Monroe corrects him: “We are not things.”

Nick says he was marking his territory just now. “Yeah, I don’t piss on my fence for kicks.” So logically, he must know there are others around the area. Monroe says he doesn’t bother the other blutbaden, and they don’t bother him. Nick gets rough, insisting he must have a pretty good idea of who’s got her. Monroe looks feral, but doesn’t turn.

An old VW bus goes over a bridge in a forest. It pulls up to a wood cabin – it looks like it’s been there a long time since there is moss on the roof. The mailman gets out of the bus and pulls out a whimpering mailbag, which he carries into the cabin. Interestingly, we still haven’t seen his face. He sets the bag down on the floor and moves a small table and a rug to reveal a trapdoor. He carries the mailbag into the basement and sets it down on a 4-poster bed. The little girl scrambles out of it, sitting as compactly as possible at the head of the bed, terrified. We finally see the mailman, who has a mild, pleasant face. He tells her in a mild, pleasant voice not to be scared, and asks if she likes the place. She says tearfully that she just wants to go home. He replies that she is home, and says they should hang up her jacket. He removes the red hoodie, her scared eyes never leaving her face. He walks over to an armoire, opens it, and hangs the hoodie next to all the other red hoodies inside. All the red seems to make him agitated, but he is much calmer as soon as he closes the door again. He asks if she’d like a pot pie, and when she shakes her head no, angrily grabs the empty bag and runs up the stairs, closing the trapdoor.

Nick and Monroe are in his old yellow Beetle. Nick says that he really thinks he should be driving. Monroe is driving with his head stuck out the window, sniffing. From the dialogue, it sounds like Nick took him to the college girl’s crime scene to get the scent he is now tracking. Monroe explains that since the blutbad has just fed, he’ll be fine for a week, so he’s probably just going to fatten the little girl up. He gets a definite hit on the scent.

The mailman, now in a sweater and slacks, is sitting on his bed, examining his blood-spattered boots, and gets up. Nick and Monroe stop on the bridge. Monroe says this is as far as they drive, and shuts off the engine and lights. They get out of the car and stand next to it. The lights are back on again (must be magic). Monroe begins to rub something all over him and hands some to Nick, explaining that it’s wolfsbane, and will mask their scent. Nick rubs some on and starts to head down the road. Monroe stops him. “What, do you want to call him and tell him you’re coming? This way.” They head down to the water below, splashing down the stream for a bit. A full moon is revealed, causing Monroe to fight against changing for a minute. Nick asks if he should’ve armed himself with silver bullets. Monroe stares at him, saying “What are you, an idiot?” They come within sight of the cabin, and it gets very hard for Monroe to keep control. He said if he goes in, he doesn’t know what might happen – he might be on Nick’s side, he might be on the blutbad’s side, he might even go after the little girl. He runs away.

Hank is woken up by a phone call from Nick. “I found her.” The mailman is standing over his fireplace, obviously burning the boots there though we do not see them. He smells something (though I don’t know how you can smell anything over burning rubber), and looks out the window at the empty woods. Suddenly there is knocking. It is the little girl knocking on the trapdoor. He opens it up and she again says she just wants to go home. He growls at her, “I told you, you are home!”

Hank pulls up on the bridge. Nick stops the car and explains that the cabin is on the other side of the stream. He also rubs wolfsbane on Hank, who is not amused. Hank asks Nick where backup is, and Nick explains that he only called Hank because “I already cried wolf once.” As they struggle not to fall down in the stream, Hank asks Nick how he found the place. He says he couldn’t sleep, so he started checking up on people who’ve bought the boots. Hank asks what the guy’s name is. “It’s..uh…I forgot.” Smooth, Nick. When they get up to the cabin, Hank asks Nick if he ran the plates on the van. “I’m still waiting…” Seeing the look on Hank’s face, Nick asks him if he trusts him. Clearly against his better judgment, Hank says he’s in.

The mailman is covering up the trapdoor with its rug and table again. Classical music is softly playing, and the Hummels are on shelves on the wall. He straightens up, sniffing, his body and face tense. He turns towards the door before Nick uses the door knocker (in the shape of a man). He pleasantly greets them, and asks if he can help them. Hilariously, they both look down at his feet (now in tan moccasins) and look at each other. Hank introduces them as police officers and the mailman invites them in.

He tells them they can sit in the room with the trapdoor. Hank picks up one of the throw pillows, saying how nice it is. The mailman says he did the needlepoint himself, “Not that I tell everyone.” A buzzer goes off. “Potpie’s done.” He says he’ll just be a moment to get it out of the oven, and then they can talk. After he leaves, Hank turns to Nick. “Are you kidding me?” Nick says he’s sure this is the guy, and Hank sighs and goes into the kitchen, interrupting the mailman from smelling the potpie. His red eyes turn back to blue as he gets control of himself and turns around with a smile.

Through some overly polite conversation, the only interesting bit being the mailman’s insistence he’s just like them (government worker), they establish that they’re looking for a little girl who went missing, and a pair of boots led them to him. He tells them with a smile to search everywhere they like. Nick desperately looks in the bedroom closet. By Hank’s exasperation we know they’ve searched the rest of the little cabin. Hank tells Nick he’s leaving now so he can keep his job. Nick follows him out, frustrated. The mailman is standing by the fireplace, humming. He asks if there’s anything else they need, but Hank says they’ll see themselves out. Nick and the mailman exchange a look as he goes out the door.

Nick starts trying to argue with Hank that he knows he’s right when Hank stops dead in his tracks. He’s realized that the mailman was humming “Sweet Dreams”, the song on the dead girl’s iPod. They turn around to see the mailman watching them from the window. He quickly steps away and the lights go out in the cabin.

Nick and Hank burst into the cabin, lit only by their flashlights and firelight. The mailman, in his wolf form, tackles Hank, breaking the Hummels (nooooooooooooo). The mailman easily throws Nick across the room and runs out the door. Hank runs to the doorway, shooting him several times in the back. By the time they get close to him his face is normal again, so it’s doubtful Hank managed to see anything strange about him. Nick turns him over and asks where she is. The mailman, wheezing from a punctured lung, says “Grimm” and dies.

They go back into the dark cabin, calling for the little girl, but she doesn’t answer. Hank says she must not be here, but that they’ll have to call it in as soon as he can throw the breaker. Nick looks around a bit desperately when he notices water dripping through the floor from a vase of flowers that were knocked over in the fight. He finds the trapdoor and calls to Hank when he sees her on the bed. The mailman had tied her up and gagged her. Hank trips the breaker at that point, and Nick runs over to her, telling her they’re cops and she’s safe. She jumps into his arms as soon as she’s untied. Hank tells Nick he has no idea how he found her, but he’s glad he found her.

Nick is holding Marie’s hand at her bedside, talking to her while she remains comatose. While he’s talking, a woman in a doctor’s labcoat comes in and prepares a syringe with green liquid. Marilyn Manson’s cover of “Sweet Dreams” starts playing. When she turns to inject Marie, Nick looks up and recognizes her as the blonde. They struggle, and while he prevents her from injecting Marie, she manages to get some into him, turning the world into slo-mo. He slumps to the floor, and she hisses with her distorted face at him as she walks away. Real doctors and nurses rush in to help Marie, but leave Nick on the floor for the moment (which is hilarious).

The blonde leaves the building, throwing away the coat as she gets into a big black SUV. Chief Renard asks her, “Is she dead?” She says no, “he” was there, and the chief said they’ll just have to try again. “Let’s hope she doesn’t wake up first.” They drive off, and the last shot is of Marie opening her eyes.

Review

Since Boy&Horse was nice enough to publish this on his site, I’ll take a page from his…book? and put my thoughts into 3 categories: The Good, The Bad, and The Weird.

The Good

I love the concept of this series. Cop/crime shows are a dime a dozen these days, and this one not only has an original location (unless I’ve missed other Portland OR cop shows), but an original concept (though borrows from Terry Gilliam’s The Brothers Grimm). The pilot understandably has a lot of setup to get through, and it remains to be seen how the show will evolve. Hopefully it keeps a balance between actual cop work and the supernatural stuff.

I wasn’t enthusiastic about this series until I saw Silas Weir Mitchell as Monroe in the commercials. I loved him as Haywire in Prison Break. His performance here is less jumpy, more controlled, but he has such a way of delivering ridiculous lines so matter-of-factly that he is the best part of this show so far.

Get used to this look...

Nick, played by David Giuntoli, has great chemistry with his onscreen partner Hank, played by Russell Hornsby. They bounce well off each other, and are very comfortable together. Like all good partnerships, they seem to have worked out all the kinks of working together and divided up their work roles so that everything runs smoothly (no arguing over who gets to drive, etc).

....Artsy

Tim Bagley as the mailman is amazing. His entire performance, from the way he moves (especially the way he moves) to the way he speaks, says control. I didn’t realize it until much later, but he has such good control over himself that he doesn’t do a wolf-face change until the very end. The only thing added by special effects is red eyes in one scene – everything else is in his expression and body language. Honestly, even if the idea of the show leaves you cold, watch this episode just for him.

The set design is boring/unnoticeable overall with two big exceptions: Marie’s trailer and the mailman’s cabin. I could spend days exploring Marie’s trailer, and probably find new things every time. It’s literally a TARDIS packed with fairytale knickknacks (you actually can explore the trailer on NBC’s official site). Most of all, it looks comfortable. I can totally see myself curling up on the couch to take a nap after reading about hexenbeists and sharpening my sword collection. The other set that blew me away was the mailman’s cabin. It is sparse, but neat. I have visited relatives in Finland, and his place reminded me of their houses. The floor, walls, and ceilings are all wood, and everything in there that could be handmade is. The tables, shelves, pillows, and even the stairs to the basement prison all look like the mailman spent a lot of time and love making them, and caring for them. The stairs particularly caught my eye, because they look handmade, yet very worn, so you can tell he’s been up and down those stairs more times than anyone cares to guess.

The Bad

With the exceptions noted above, the cast. It’s a combination of acting and writing, of course, but I found most to be pretty generic. David Giuntoli is best when he’s working off someone like Hank – he’s very likable and has some great expressions. On his own, or with less engaging costars, he’s very bland and flat. It doesn’t help that he’s the “hero” – heroes are usually pretty bland. Kate Burton as Marie is disappointing to me – I am always a fan of badass females, but instead of cutting the crap and getting to the point, almost half her lines consist of saying a variation of “I have so much to tell you.” So tell him already, jeez. I don’t know if they have more plans for her – she’s been in the hospital for over half the episode, but usually characters like her are dead by now. I could list the rest of the cast by name, but no one has received much of any characterization beyond “the girlfriend” “the evil blonde” “the evil guy in charge”, so I’m going to leave it at that. I am really hoping things improve as the series continues – as the pilot, this had to concentrate on setup, so characterization and story had to take a backseat.

Creature design is also pretty boring – so far it seems to be mostly face-morphing to something hairy or something scaly. You don’t see too much in the way of body-transformation, but perhaps that’s the point – these people have been hiding for hundreds or thousands of years.

The Weird

Marie’s trailer. It’s a TARDIS, look at it!

The Hummel figurine. Watch the “Ask TGWTG” web series on thatguywiththeglasses.com and see why I laughed my ass off at a Hummel figurine luring a girl to her death.

Overall

I really liked this show, and hope it continues for a while. I’m very curious about the direction it will follow, and hope that the characters will become more engaging. I enjoyed the nods to the Little Red Riding Hood story in this episode – I wouldn’t mind there being a different “story” each week as much as I would mind a baddie of the week.

Ed.: This Review was written by Red Sarah, please follow her on twitter: @RedSarah12.

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