Tonight’s epigraph comes from “The Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing” (of somewhat disputed Aesop/biblical origin), which tipped the episode’s hand right at the start. So far the best episodes of Grimm have found a way to take a well-known folk tale—or the occasional obscure story—and give it a modern twist to fit in a crime procedural context. Not so with “The Good Shepherd,” which is mostly a literal take on that story, depicting a Blutbad reverend presiding over a congregation of sheep Wesen (at one point Monroe says the name and the plural form, but I honestly have no clue how to spell it). It’s all a bit too clever from the get-go, with the whole flock of sheep as the reverend’s flock, the herd mentality, et al.
From the beginning, it’s clear that the reverend is corrupt. One of his parishioners, the guy that does the accounting for free, ends up in a big wood chipper after transferring the entire contents of the church coffers to an account in Curacao. The guy’s body is only found because of a metal hip replacement, pretty gruesome, but surrounded by some truly terrible one-liner guest performances.
Hank and Nick slowly parse out the details, the wolf leading the sheep, the reverend’s affair with his assistant, and another instance of church funds mysteriously disappearing at the reverend’s previous congregation in Arkansas. Everything points to the obvious culprit, it just takes one slight twist to turn the reformed wolf into the bad one. The reverend’s undoing is his own sinful nature, having an affair with someone else and fathering a child, leading the masses to turn on him, allowing his assistant and the other woman to abscond to an Office Space-esque ending that looked absolutely ridiculous.
As far as cases of the week go, I’ve rarely been less interested than with this one. Maybe it’s because the world of Grimm doesn’t seem to match up particularly well with religion, and the Blutbad reverend doesn’t really ever get into anything beyond vaguely Christian platitudes. Is this church a particular denomination? The glaring lack of specificity hurts the case, and turns it into a rote procedural with no mystery or tension. When Grimm works best, I don’t know exactly where the folk tales are going, even when I’m familiar with the basic structure of the tales. “The Good Shepherd” is an example of the show following its inspiration too closely.
There are some delightful little moments, mostly involving Monroe. He’s a little freaked out by the way Hank stares at him now—which will hopefully be rectified with some one-on-one Wesen adjustment therapy next week—but the two biggest laughs come when he goes undercover as the second Blutbad in the church congregation. His entrance is great, complete with the hat as a perfect kicker, but once the Reverend puts Monroe in a small room for the night, Monroe’s disgust at finding a digital clock is priceless.
Even some of the orbiting plots didn’t really click. The Nuckelavee, which was giving a rather menacing introduction hovering over the end of the last episode, gets only a few rushed scenes. He stalks Nick at the bar with the Eisbiber, he breaks into Nick’s house and stealthily escapes when Juliette gets home. But then he just attacks Nick at the Magic Trailer, and though there’s a bit of a struggle, Nick grabs a hammer, gives the horse-man a whack on the head, and then deposits the body in the river. When Renard gets the guy’s file from Sgt. Wu after the body turns up in the river, it’s clear that he’s pleased Nick has passed yet another test from his brother and the other royals over in Europe, but it’s a wasted opportunity to build a larger villain.
Grimm hasn’t yet turned the corner where it can place Nick on one side and a villain on the other, working slowly to bring them both to a final confrontation. The episodic plots are hit-or-miss, that’s to be expected at this point. I’ve been watching a lot of Buffy lately, and it took until late in the second season for the show to really hit a consistent groove. I’m willing to grant this show a lot of leeway because of the supporting elements I find fascinating, but Buffy was on the WB, and NBC isn’t going to let this drag on forever if the ratings start to slip.
If Nick is going to continue to just beat down everything in his path, it would be nice to feel a little gravity, or that there’s something more at stake. The Nuckelavee doesn’t do anything to Juliette, doesn’t destroy the trailer, and doesn’t have a single line in the script. Elements like this aren’t adding any extra spice to Grimm, just some flavorless garnish.
But I have some strange hope that this is all going to get better, or at least elements that I like more will return. This might be spoiler-ishto some of you, but the scenes from next week’s episodes, and the episode titles down the road have me feeling excited for the first time since I started covering this show. I’ll mostly chalk this one up to a fundamental misfire from the case of the week at the center, but as was the case with many episode during the first season
- Okay, so a ratings check-in: Grimm did not do well on Monday nights. That much is certain. What remains to be seen is whether the show can hold onto its audience from last season, or whether the dartboard scheduling that placed Whitney and Community as lead-ins will do anything in October.
- No Rosalee this week. Bummer.
- Nice details in the bar: a Rogue Brewery sign! Dead Guy Ale is really good, and I’m partial to the Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout when I’m on the west coast. Also: Portland Timbers sweatshirt! Is there some kind of MLS tie-in, or is this just more regional accuracy? We’ll have to wait for Les Chappell’s take to find out.
- It’s only a quick ten-second scene, but Renard is feeling some adverse effect from waking Juliette up with that kiss. The long con on keeping Nick from finding out about him is starting to wear thin for me.
- That one Juliette/Nick scene was pretty pointless, like a placeholder just to make sure they got screen time together. The basic point was that they’re going to stay in the same house…great? I don’t really feel either way about this.
- Okay, so those upcoming scenes: Adalind returns, which is…a development out of nowhere seemingly for no reason, and Juliette will start to remember things. And later down the road? Monroe’s Blutbad ex-girlfriend and an episode called “La Llorona.” I’m looking forward to that stuff.