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The Future is looking Grimm

Or is it? Over its past four seasons, Grimm has established itself as a rather serene show. Despite it dark and gritty outward appearance, its serialized plots always tend towards a happy ending – as one would expect of a show that is largely inspired by fairy tales. The world of Grimm is inhabited by creatures (‘Wesen’) that cannot be seen by the majority of the population. They are sort of creatures that live inside people, but the people themselves are the creatures. They only show this when they want to or when they get emotional (‘Woge’). Some of them are harmless, others are very dangerous. These dangerous Wesen are the ones that the titular Grimm has to tackle. A Grimm is someone who, unlike most people, can see Wesen for what they really are and has superhuman strength to fight them. Nick Burkhardt, a detective in Portland (its setting in Portland makes the show feel very authentic, as it is always shot on location), discovers that he is one such Grimm and is hurled into a whole new world when his Aunt Marie dies and her powers pass on to him. As the name suggests, the Grimms are descendants of the German fairy tale collectors (and linguists), Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. This is definitely also the reason for the heavy use of German in the show, which I’m sad to say it absolutely abysmal. It seems like the writers used a dusty old dictionary to translate one word at a time, resulting in ridiculously wrong names such as “Bauerschwein” or “Leben Sauger”. Google translate does a better job than the Grimm writers, and really, why didn’t they hire a German to proofread? But eventually (as a German speaker) you’ll get used to this weirdness and just accept it as a method to tying the show to the brothers Grimm. According to the lore of the show, they were the first to publicly record stories of Wesen (however, the ‘Grimms’ have existed before the brothers, only under different names). This concept of a parallel world that is kept under control by select chosen ones is very reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, if you substitute Slayer with Grimm and Demons/Vampires with Wesen. This is not surprising, as Grimm was co-created by Buffy & Angel alumni David Greenwalt.

GRIMM -- Season 4 -- Pictured (L-R): Claire Coffee as Adalind Schade, Sasha Roiz as Capt. Sean Renard, Bree Turner as Rosalee Calvert, Silas Weir Mitchell as Monroe, David Giuntoli as Nick Burkhardt, Bitsie Tulloch as Juliette Silverton, Russell Hornsby as Hank Griffin, and Reggie Lee as Sgt. Wu-- Photo by Chris Haston/NBC.

The cast of Grimm: Claire Coffee as Adalind Schade, Sasha Roiz as Capt. Sean Renard, Bree Turner as Rosalee Calvert, Silas Weir Mitchell as Monroe, David Giuntoli as Nick Burkhardt, Bitsie Tulloch as Juliette Silverton, Russell Hornsby as Hank Griffin, and Reggie Lee as Sgt. Wu — Photo by Chris Haston/NBC.

Unlike Buffy, however, Grimm is also a police procedural, and suddenly for Nick, seemingly every murder case seems to be Wesen-related. Grimm is a very typical murder/monster of the week show, in which the monster/murder tends to take up the majority of any given episode, while minor screen time is devoted to season/series wide plots. Now, this MotW pattern has its pros and cons – its most obvious purpose is to attract casual viewers who don’t want to bother with serialized plots. However, I have long been a fan of more serialized shows, as they tend to be much more rewarding. In Grimm, the MotW plots sometimes seem very much out of place, especially towards the end of the season when stuff is getting really exciting. But they also contribute in giving the show a lightness that makes is so digestible, similar to Castle. Also much like Castle, Grimm has established a rather positive attitude towards its own characters. Unlike in other shows, which seem to be drowning in ridiculous amount of drama, the characters of Grimm are not only likeable, but they also all appear to like each other and always radiate that feeling of a fairy-tale style happy ending. For four seasons Grimm has been a relatively lowbrow show with utterly predictable plots and magical deus ex machinae that save the day.

Spoilers Follow (up until episode 4.22)

Until now. After over 80 episodes of positive outcomes, I couldn’t believe the events of the season four finale. I’ve come to expect a solution in which everyone lives happily ever after, but it seems that not only one but two characters are now dead for good. This seems surprising, as characters on the show have died before, but were brought back to life – such as Captain Renard, whose brief experience with the afterlife was a major season-wide plot point that came to a conclusion towards the end of season four. But shortly after his little problem was taken care of, the most gruesome, dramatic plot point so far has unfolded; Nick’s mother, also a Grimm who lives off the grid, came back to town only to walk straight into a trap that led to her decapitation. To make things worse, the antagonists left Nick a nice surprise to discover when he comes home; his mother’s head in a box. And even worse, all of this is a repercussion of Nick’s former lover Juliette having turned into a Hexenbiest after helping him to regain his Grimm powers, which he had previously lost due to Adalind’s (another Hexenbiest) mischievery, which again had numerous causes. This showcases that the series-wide plot is a lot more complicated than you would expect after I have praised this show for its relative simplicity in this blog post… and it seems to be only getting more complex. Not only does Nick have to suffer the shock of losing his mother, but also the loss of Juliette, who, after having turned into a murderous Hexenbiest, was seemingly unstoppable and finally killed by Trubel, another Grimm, when Nick fails to pull the trigger on Juliette (for more on her character development, I recommend the The Mary Sue).

I still can’t quite believe that both these characters are really dead. I still expect the upcoming season to conjure up another deus ex machina or a clever plot twist that reveals Nick’s mother and/or Juliette to be still alive; how could Kelly Burkhardt walk into such a trap? Throughout the episode, I expected her to jump out of the shadows, revealing a cunning plan to fool the antagonists into thinking she’s dead. But when it was revealed that the child that was with her is really Diana, I couldn’t be believe it. She really IS dead?! How is that possible on a show as fluffy and predictable as Grimm? I predicted pretty much every ‘plot twist’ from season one through three, how is it possible that Grimm is now turning into such a gruesomely grim show? I have similar feelings about Juliette’s death; there must be some way that she is not dead at all, considering that even Renard survived three bullets to the chest. Only the Grimm writers know for sure, but one thing is clear: it seems that at the end of season four, Grimm has completely abandoned its comfort zone. This was foreshadowed in the torching of Nick’s trailer, which has been his Grimm-cave for most of the show. It was the place where problems were solved and where most characters realized that there is a whole other world hidden beneath the surface. Grimm seems to finally have found itself. Much like Buffy, it needed a few seasons to get there. I only hope that I can expect some major feels in upcoming seasons (if it’s even possible to top the gruesomeness of season four).

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