Thirty episodes into viewing, I reviewed this show last month. Now I’m a bit into season 5.
I have to give this program a solid B. It’s not without flaws. It’s also not without a devoted fandom. I haven’t hooked into that, mainly because I want to spare myself surprises that may come as I catch up with the last eighteen episodes I haven’t yet seen.
As the Grimm braintrust navigates long story arcs, it manages to weave in an X-Files monster-of-the-week, introducing viewers to a parade of human-animal chimeras. Various urban legends like aliens, Bigfoot, crime waves, and world takeover conspiracies are explained well by the secret subcultures encountered by the various characters.
The fourth season shakes things up quite a bit. By the end, a few important characters are killed off–some good, some bad, and some good-turned-bad. The title character’s home goes through another few battles then gets sold off early in season 5. His fortress-of-solitude is burned. He gains an apprentice (think Batman’s Robin), loses her, then regains her only to have her mysteriously kidnapped. I was thinking spin-off when the character disappeared the first time, but that seems to be off the table. Probably for the best.
As I observed in the previous review, lots of elements of hero fiction join the urban fantasy vector. They all get blended for good effect.
- There was a lot of early attention given to mysterious keys that somehow (think National Treasure) produce a map that leads somewhere to something. But the Grimm braintrust seems to have forgotten it.
- They almost went down the Order of the Phoenix road with the main character looked upon with suspicion by friends for what seems to be erratic and irrational behavior. That would have hurt worse than losing a lot of crime-fighting stuff. But the idea got resolved pretty quick. Maybe quicker than it needed to be.
- I thought of a few narratives that would have been interesting to explore, but it would have required some movement away from the central city, Portland, where all the weird happenings occur. Two characters go to Europe, but otherwise, the Pacific Northwest is the center of the universe of strange.
- Lots of violence. Too much, I think. Sometimes a more disciplined approach would have given things a bit of variety, if nothing else. I’m aware it’s a violent world and scheme they have running here. Sometimes there’s more menace with subterfuge, and the threat of harm than people actually getting hurled across rooms, beheaded, or otherwise beaten.
Ninety-some episodes in, the characters and their relationships are compelling and do create great loyalty. At least among the viewers I know. For a network show, surprisingly good. Buffy and the X-Files have lapped Grimm. But hanging in that universe would require an effort of genius. Most works of television genius get cancelled by network execs long before their time.