Grimm held its ratings well in its second week, and as such looks to be an incredibly surprising minor hit for NBC. Considering the network has been plummeting in comparison to the other majors to start the fall, Grimm seems rather safe as it stands now. That's nice to see, since I felt that tonight was another small step up from last week, building from an episodic case of the week through to a serialized plot that gave a better glimpse at the overall story for the whole season.
The opening quote on the title card comes from the 1955 Joan Crawford film Queen Bee, a veiled reference to the more obscure Brother's Grimm tale of the same name. The very idea of bee people seemed rather ludicrous within the scope of the fairy tale setting, but "Beeware" overcome a terrible pun in its title to not only come up with the best and tightest episode of the show yet, but expand the larger mythology in such a way that set up some bigger arcs for the rest of the season.
Flash mobs were popular about a year ago, which makes Grimm's use of one on Portland's tram system to set up the first victim incredibly dated. That victim, a lawyer, gets a giant dose of bee venom, many thousand times more potent than an actual bee sting, and while Hank and Nick interview the flash mob participants, Nick spots a couple bee people. That leads them to a paper company, and to the blonde woman from the pilot, who needs protection from the attacks of the bee people. We've settled into a pretty easy rhythm for how an episode of Grimm is going to unfold. First we'll see the initial victim, then Sgt. Wu shows Nick and Hank the crime scene. After some routine police work and manifestation of Nick's observant powers, he calls in Eddie Monroe for some supernatural sleuthing, and that's the key to solving the case. That seems to be the model the show is working off of, gleaning a bit of backstory as it goes.
So the blonde demon chick gets some backstory. Her name is Adalind, and is known as a hexenbiest, which translates to "witch-beast," yet another unfortunate example of Grimm clumsily injecting some German heritage to the proceedings. I like that the show is taking a loose approach to Grimm's fairy tales, but this whole cobbled together method of making up German names gets very confusing very quickly. Nick reads them from the book in the magic trailer he got from Aunt Marie, uses them in conversation with Eddie Monroe, but they aren't intuitive and don't obey any logical use of German, so I found myself trying to catch the names with varying degrees of success throughout the episode.
There are still a number of glaring problems going on here. Most important is that Aunt Marie has disappeared without a trace. Yes, she died, so physically she can't be there, but the emotional weight of her death is completely absent from anything Nick does. Marie didn't die in a peaceful manner. As a former "librarian," she only succumbed after three failed assassination attempts – two of them while she's in a hospital bed clinging to life. Nick isn't affected in any way by those events until the final moments of tonight's episode, with one measly flashback to Marie's directive to "hunt down the bad ones like your ancestors." Ignoring the death of the woman who raised Nick entirely is the biggest drawback to a nicely plotted episode, but it isn't the only one. The issue of Aunt Marie's trailer is also pretty ridiculous. It's full of every bit of knowledge Nick needs, but still there's no explanation as to why anything other than the book is necessary to a cop. The very basic questions of "Why here? Why now?" have always been brushed under a rug in favor of the crime plots that wrap up easily within the episode. I hate to keep making the Buffy comparison, but without the same type of Hellmouth underlying reason for this action to take place at this time in Portland, a lack of explanation will continue to hold Grimm back.
Tonight, the mythology tied in very nicely with the case of the week. Adalind's lawyer co-workers at the law firm, the ones killed by massively venomous bee stings, are both Hexenbiests as well, as Nick finds out via a mark on the underside of their tongues, conveniently cut out by the coroner during the autopsy process. A lot of the details get uncovered too easily, such as Nick and Eddie's nighttime investigation that has the Blutbad following the scent of the owner of the abandoned paper factory, but there was some actual suspense to the way the two of them crept through that mansion, eventually discovering some giant beehive in an upstairs room. There was a deft build from the initial homicide to Nick and Hank's involvement, the manifestation of his abilities in an interrogation with the bee people, Eddie's weekly scene, then the revelation that the bee people were some kind of supernatural communicators between everyone in the fairy tale creature world that's hiding behind all the normal goings-on in Portland and elsewhere.
In the end, the Queen Bee person ends up fighting Adalind, with Nick left holding his gun, wondering whether to protect his job as a cop by protecting blond demon girl, or listening to the bee communication that the Hexenbiests are part of a larger conspiracy aimed at finding him. The preview for next week gives an idea that the stakes are actually starting to raise my expectations that Grimm could work its way into being a worthwhile show. Even with all of the larger faults I still have with Grimm, I was still very entertained by this episode. It seemed to exist outside of those problems, as though it was supposed to come after a lot of other clunky hours that provided the connecting information to make this one run so smoothly. Eventually it's going to need to provide some key answers as to how this is all going on, but if it's able to do that in a convincing way while tying in the cases-of-the-week into Nick's development as a Grimm and the overall connections between all the fairy tale creatures, then the show can continue to get significantly better than the scattershot qualities it showed in the pilot.