The interesting thing about Grimm is that it’s possible to say that the show has too many plots going on at once and you can phrase it as both a criticism and a compliment. People who don’t like the show can say that it has attention deficit disorder when it comes to the storytelling, making it hard to invest in the mythology because the writers willl forget about what’s going on two or three episodes later. And people who do like the show can say they appreciate how there’s all sorts of potential directions events can take from week to week, and that having a plan that’s loose at best is an endearing change from shows that might be too committed to one central mythology or destination.
Regardless of how you feel about Grimm having an overabundance of stories to tell, there’s no question that when it manages to make one of them pay off, it’s typically worth the frustration. “Map Of The Seven Knights” last week was able to reinvigorate what was at one time the central mystery of the show, and “Key Move” keeps that momentum going by turning a lackluster plot into a gripping one. One bullet suddenly raises the stakes for everyone, and a shot in the chest turns into a narrative shot in the arm.
The bullet in question is one that’s fired by Black Claw assassin Marwan, and the chest in question belongs to mayoral candidate Andrew Dixon. For the past few weeks it’s been a recurring complaint that the Dixon campaign and Renard’s involvement in said campaign have been the weakest part of season five, one that we were just waiting to tie into everything else going on. And it does so by borrowing a few points from The Day Of The Jackal, spending a lot of time following Marwan throughout his routine: the casing of the site, identifying his point of attack, assembling his custom-designed bicycle-concealed weapon, and test-firing it by taking out a basketball in one shot. It’s an excitingly paced part of the episode, one that sets the stage of events and reinforces the concerned murmurs of his reputation from “Star-Crossed.”
Of course, his reputation wouldn’t be entirely necessary to pull this one off—if there’s a complaint about tonight’s episode it’s that Portland’s police force come off looking like idiots. First there’s the bike officer who rather conspicuously follows him down the park, and then walks into an obvious trap where his life is only saved by the need for secrecy. And despite a Marwan sighting happening near the future site of a political rally, neither Hank or Wu seem to remember the rally’s taking place until midway through, leading them both to stagger through the crowd trying to identify potential bombers. (It’s like Nick goes on vacation, and suddenly they forget how to do their jobs) Yes, they can’t call the full might of the department down on him without having to explain a lot of things, but any police force worth their salt cancels a political event if there’s a whiff of terrorism.
While it’s not surprising that Black Claw winds up taking hostile actions in regards to Portland’s mayoral race, it’s the direction of where it goes that transforms this plot into one we need to play closer attention to. It turns out that while everyone’s been worried about the attention the group is paying to Nick and Monroe, no one stopped to consider that they might have similar intel on Renard—a half-Zauerbiest half-royal in a position of power over both a major American city and one of the only American Grimms. Lucien handing Marwan a photo of Renard seems to indicate he was the target all along, and Rachel’s insistence that he remain on stage during the speech only furthers that impression.
And yet the bullet takes Dixon out. You could say it’s possible Marwan missed, but after so much time emphasizing his super-sight it seems hard to believe he’d botch that most key of shots. This sends a lot of what’s happened over the last few episodes into a new light: has Dixon’s campaign been grooming Renard to be a supporter, or a replacement? What was a lackluster storyline now feels like it’s been playing a long game that we didn’t take the time to consider until now, and whether or not it’s true the mere fact that it’s forcing reconsideration this far into things is a victory on the part of the writers.
In thinking about what this means for Renard going forward, I find myself comparing two scenes in particular, the delightful opening and Nick letting his captain know he’ll be “off the grid” for a brief period. The opening scene continues the great energy from the end of “Map Of The Seven Knights,” every member of Team Grimm enjoying their discovery and throwing theories at each other about where the treasure might be. On the other end of things, there’s a terse interaction between Nick and Renard that doesn’t even mention the possibility of the treasure. (Renard: “Anything I need to know?” Nick: “I don’t know yet.”) One or two ambushes aside, Renard is still at arm’s length from the rest of the group, and if they’re going to keep him there, it’s more interesting if the story tilts even harder into keeping him as a potential adversary.
The other person who’s off to the side of that main group is Adalind, who makes it clear her prior intentions toward the keys have evaporated and she’d prefer the treasure remain buried. Her reasons for doing so turn out to be more personal, as she confesses her love for Nick and the two have their first sexual encounter without ulterior motives. Yet while these are events to reward the Nickalind front—please let me know if this shipper population prefers a different name—the writers continue to exercise restraint in committing to it as a romance. Nick’s post-coital languor is one that’s not exactly peaceful, his head filled with season one flashbacks of murder attempts and fights to the death. Grimm may have its roots in fairy tales, but there’s no sign of a happily ever after on the horizon for these two, and if there is they’ll have to work for it.
Nick’s troubled feelings about that relationship is just one of many things that he and Monroe get to talk about as they travel to the Schwarzwald Forest to track down the knights’ treasure. I mentioned last week how refreshing it was to just see these two hanging out and having a conversation like in the old days, and sending them off to Germany means there’s plenty more room for that. As expected, Silas Weir Mitchell dominates the conversation with his various historical tangents on eyeglasses and peasants, and David Giuntoli is the right kind of audience as he endures his friend’s enthusiasm and winds up asking the only questions Monroe doesn’t want to give too many details on. (Monroe: “My family hunted here for hundreds of years..” Nick: “And when you say hunted, you mean…” Monroe: “Oh, you know. Lots of stuff.”)
While the beats of the treasure hunt aren’t anything extraordinary—lots of scanning maps and speculation of things that may not be there anymore after hundreds of years—it turns out that in conducting their search Nick and Monroe are missing the forest for the trees. Or what’s hiding in them, as an early conversation with a priest triggers a Grimm hunt. In all their speculation about hunting the treasure and Black Claw interference, they didn’t consider the possibility that entering older territory meets older ways, where Grimms are still the hunters and murderers of legend. It’s an exciting idea, Nick so used to his home turf he doesn’t stop to truly prepare for what’s outside of it.
It looks like it’ll be at least another week until the nature of the treasure is revealed, as Nick and Monroe literally drop out of sight at the episode’s end as their excavation collapses the ground. However, Grimm has all the momentum it needs to get to keep its audience excited for whatever the resolution turns out to be. The criticism of having too many plots going hasn’t fully dissolved, but when the major plots center around a political assassination and a Crusades-era treasure, it’s hard to argue the show doesn’t have its priorities in order.
- This Week In Portland: Lovejoy Fountain Park is a beautiful spot located in the Pearl District, though the overcast weather the episode was shot during keep it from taking full advantage of the titular fountains.
- This Week’s Epigram: In an episode where Nick and Monroe are chasing their white whale, tonight’s words come from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.
- Know Your Wesen: Since Grimm has so many wesen at this point and doesn’t need to introduce a new one every week, we’re introducing a new weekly feature to keep previously featured ones straight with the help of the Grimm wiki. Lucien is a Mauvais Dentes, Marwan is a Steinadler, Father Eickholt is a Blutbad, and his skittish cleaner is a Mauzhertz.
- I hadn’t looked up the actor who played Dixon before this episode, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that Andrew Sheets looked familiar because he had a noteworthy appearance on Breaking Bad. He played Walt’s fellow cancer patient in “Hermanos,” who attempted to bond with the other man and was brutally shut down in response.
- Any mentions of Germany above should probably be noted as “Germany.” They may have shot some of the driving and exterior town scenes in Europe, but all the major conversations take place inside the car and there’s a conspicuous effort to show Nick and Monroe from behind whenever they get out. It’s a safe bet Giuntoli and Weir Mitchell never set foot outside the country.
- Re: flashbacks. Dear God does Giuntoli look young in those.
- My verbatim notes from the Nick and Adalind scene: “If Adalind gets pregnant again, I am going to lose my goddamned mind.”
- Trubel’s dispatched for a mission in Santiago at the end of the episode, a move that has the unpleasant feeling of someone on the production side telling the writers “We only have this actress for so many episodes this year.” Hopefully this isn’t her returning to her home planet as Trubel’s grown on me this year.
- “Looks like we’re going on a crusade.”
- Nick on Rosalee’s fake passports: “This is really good for something completely illegal.”
- “He dug his own grave, I just provided the shovel.” “And the dirt.” “Well, that too.”
- “Maybe there’s other commandments we know nothing about.”
- Next week: Grimm crosses the threshold of 100 episodes!