Grimm, Ep. 1.04, “Lonelyhearts”: Series continues well with a B&B-running Bluebeard
A woman’s death in a hit and run accident puts Nick and Hank on the trail of a seductor who uses more than small talk to attract his partners. At the same time, a new Reaper comes to town with Nick in his sights, but intervention from someone close to Nick turns the assassin around.
Grimm, Season 1, Episode 4, “Lonelyhearts”
Writers: Alan di Fiore and Dan E. Fesman
Director: Michael Waxman
Airs Friday at 9pm EST on NBC
Remember the short guy with glasses at High School who always had a queue of girls begging to go out with him? According to Grimm, chances are that the guy was a Ziegevolk: a goat like creature with a secret method to make himself irresistible to the opposite sex. In this episode, a Ziegevolk has arrived in Portland with his sights set on a fresh slew of conquests and, in a typical touch of wry Grimm humor, has housed himself in a Bed and Breakfast so deeply twee that when Nick and Hank arrive to question him, the other guests assume they’re gay and about to check in to the Honeymoon Suite.
By now, the Grimm storyline has settled into a familiar pattern. We’re given a CSI-like set up before the titles in which someone usually dies. Nick and Hank investigate, during which Nick’s Grimm powers reveal the presence of something non-human. He heads to the trailer, hits the Grimm books his Aunt Marie left him and supplements what he finds by consulting Munroe, who is always initially reluctant to get involved, but can usually be bribed into helping (this time Nick offers him money, but luckily the gig involves Munroe visiting a singles bar, so he reduces his fee to the price of a couple of drinks). There’s nothing wrong with a formula. The X-Files also followed an established weekly groove in exactly the same way. So long as Grimm’s monster of the week continues to hit the sweet spot between menacing and intriguingly quirky, the repetition won’t drag.
The dialogue this week isn’t quite as sharp as last week, but by this point Grimm’s other strengths are becoming apparent. Visually, the show is a treat: the lighting is lush and velvety and the colors rich as a storybook illustration. This week, Nick and Hank drool over a vintage MG the enamelled blue of a Fabergé egg and the flowers in the Ziegevolk’s enchanted garden are so vivid we can almost smell them. The show also knows how to use the camera to involve us in the action; when Hank enters the garden and we hear a horrible squishing noise, the shot stays at head level for the precise amount of time needed to make a punchline out of lowering to his foot so we can see the flattened toad glued to his sole. It even dares to offer us a subtext. This episode is all about chemistry, so we’re given shot after shot of Nick one-on-one with his three main foils: Hank, Juliette, and Munroe as if to illustrate relationships in action. Thanks to strong acting, the ploy works. David Giuntoli and Bitsie Tulloch have a nice sparky vibe together, whereas Giuntoli and Silas Weir Mitchell as Munroe operate in the tight, wary frame of adversaries forced to by circumstances to cooperate, while Giuntoli and Russell Hornsby (Hank) have the easy rhythm of two guys who spend a lot of time together staking out suspects and swapping bad jokes.
As for the Ziegevolk itself (according to the official Grimm website, other real life Ziegevolks include Frank Sinatra and JFK), we get another strong guest performance from Patrick Fischler, who is completely convincing as a satyr who’s just happened to throw on a suit, even if some of the mechanics of how his magic work are a little fuzzy. Munroe tells us that if a Ziegevolk touches you he owns you, but Fischler’s effect on Hank is inexplicably temporary and we never get into why he needs additional powers to attract his female victims back to his chintzy nook. Other elements of the story are getting stronger, however. We’ve known from the beginning that Nick’s station boss, Captain Renard (Shasha Roiz, being foxy), is somehow involved in the Grimm world and so far we’ve been allowed to assume that he works for the bad guys. But this episode, the waters are muddied when Renard sees off a Reaper who has arrived in town, scythe sharpened and on the hunt for a Grimm to shorten by a head. It’s not clear if Renard is protecting Nick or saving him for later, but it hints at interesting possibilities to come.