During the final stretch of episodes in its first season, Grimm managed to add on a lot of depth that wasn’t there initially. The opening half of the series focused almost exclusively on Detective Nick Burkhardt coming to terms with his stature as a Grimm and learning about the Wesen world where he would soon become immersed. Viewers got to grow along with Nick and watch his evolution from mild-mannered police officer to competent (and later, damn good) creature hunter, but it wasn’t until later that the world expanded. The highly complex Wesen hierarchy and all the ways they’ve become embedded into society came into play in latter episodes of the show, along with the reappearance of Nick’s long-lost mother and the roles that each person in his life played in the system.
But where would Grimm go once it all came crashing in on Nick in the first season finale? Would it embrace the world it created or would it try to hide from it and revert back to earlier patterns?
Luckily, Grimm managed to lean into the changes it made, as the first two episodes of the season manage to balance the procedural and the mythology without giving either the shaft. The episodes follow Nick’s investigation into a series of murders on a freighter, as well as his quest for information about his mother, who had come back from the dead (figuratively) after 18 years away. The show’s eagerness to take on more serial elements and deepen the knowledge about Nick’s past and the Wesen world was obvious in the first season, but this pair of episodes is the first time that it all synced up and each aspect of the story proved to be entertaining. The policework is a little more twisty and exciting than the typical Grimm episode, while having Nick connect with his heritage in a way that he couldn’t before proves to be both touching and oddly relatable; Nick may be one of the final obstacles that the royals have to go through in order to achieve world domination, but he’s still a human being that’s been alone for the past year. No one can know both sides of Nick Burkhardt and he hasn’t been able to take a breath since the series began. The presence of his mother (the quite excellent Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, who shifts between cold bad ass and mother hen effortlessly) allows Nick to be himself.
While Nick and his mother are obviously going to be the center of the initial episodes this season, much more is going in the rest of the Grimm-verse. A major plus for these episodes is the push-pull of the mystery – the show may lift the curtain on a few things (i.e. increasingly intimidating Captain Renard’s motivations/family life, the purpose of the key that Aunt Marie gave Nick, the real antidote for Juliette’s condition that Monroe and Rosalee may not be able to provide), but it won’t do that without raising a few questions and creating a few problems in return. The prologue/epilogue (depending on your interpretation) feel of the episodes results from a lot of chess-type maneuvering, particularly from Renard (who might be subscribing to the “keep your friends closer and your enemies closer” philosophy) and the FBI agents in town to help with the murder investigation. It’s the type of political gamesmanship that might not produce that many fireworks, but it makes for a potentially explosive following few episodes.
In a lot of ways, the first two episodes of Grimm‘s second season play more like transition pieces than a major kick-off to the season, with all the tangles that came from the first season finale either taken care of or given one additional twist to complicate things that much further. The show manages to squeeze everything that it does well into two episodes that may not seem like they’d fit together (aside from content carrying over) but actually serve as indicators of the improved quality of the season. Grimm showed a lot of promise in its first season and coming into season two, I had to wonder if they would be able to fully make the creative leap. Judging by the increased action sequences, a more outwardly emotional Nick, and storytelling that’s allowed to breathe (in addition to a potentially game-changing cliffhanger in the second episode, titled “The Kiss”), I think that Grimm may be ready to launch.