Russell Hornsby, David Giuntoli, Reggie Lee (Images: NBC)

You can definitely say this for “Breakfast In Bed”: no episode of Grimm ever worked harder to pull off a joke. It spends the whole run time of the episode offering significant glances at an old man confined to a wheelchair, someone who’s lived in a madness-connected hotel for years and who’s never spoken to anyone. He’s the exact person you’d think would be the killer. Except suddenly someone else is revealed in that role, and when that someone else dies, our old man suddenly sits up. He turns into a red fish wesen laughing hysterically, and the earlier reveal of his middle name in Nick’s file comes into focus. Yep. He was a literal and figurative red herring the whole time. A tip of the pun cap to you, Grimm.

But to focus entirely on that joke also runs the risk of devaluing “Breakfast In Bed,” which is a sturdy Grimm episode even without bringing that into play. It manages to juggle its humorous beats in a story that’s ripe with darker and invasive themes, and manages not to devalue either of them as it moves through the mystery. It also takes some welcome steps to advance the ongoing plots, not so much providing clarity as renewing interest in what comes next.

What’s most entertaining about “Breakfast In Bed” is that for the bulk of its run time, it manages to keep to a whodunit narrative. Instead of Grimm’s typical approach of showing the wesen go about its murderous actions, all interactions with this week’s beast are limited to the reactions of its victims, meaning we don’t know until the end what’s haunting the Englewood Hotel. Is it the old man in the wheelchair, the crotchety hotel manager, the quiet handyman, or some heretofore unseen player? Writer Kyle McVey does an admirable job of misdirection here, nudging viewers one way or the other but always playing the cards close to the vest as to what’s going on.

And when the reveal does come out, it manages to be a surprise. Once the hotel owner was featured in the phone call with Nick it was a safe bet that she’d play a part in the denouement somehow, but to have her be the killer—and faking a life in California from her Portland penthouse—is a move you didn’t see coming but makes perfect sense in the execution. Unfortunately, the fault of keeping things mysterious for so long means there’s not enough time to humanize her beyond a comment on how she can’t sleep any more than her victims can, and one threat from Nick later she cracks her head open on a dresser. (At some point after Grimm ends, someone will have to do the math on how many wesen get killed by Nick and how many of them died from their own damn mistakes, because this is not the first time.) A good villain in the shadows, you wish you had more time with her once she’s brought to the light.

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There’s a few other good moments scattered throughout the investigation. Episodic casting is strong with Charles Baker (Breaking Bad’s Skinny Pete) offering a compelling pitch to Dan’s sleep-deprived mania, and veteran character actor William Russ channeling the Platonic ideal of crotchety old hotel manager to the point you feel you’ve seen him do this in 30 different works. The new wesen is another ambitious offering by the creative team and works the best of any of the season’s introductions, a distressing creature best described as a mix of otter and lamprey whose nocturnal predations call back creepy memories of the Aswang. And as ever, it’s fun to see Monroe get press-ganged into playing the bait and relying on some chemical assistance—“Good To The Bone” is fondly recalled—and Silas Weir Mitchell playing paralyzed is so much fun you wish it lasted longer.

On the plot front, Renard’s finally dragged out of his malaise by the fact that Black Claw is once again making its presence felt in Portland. After all the time spent on the establishment of Black Claw as a major threat to the entire world last season, it would have felt wrong not to return to its dark ambitions at some point, and their reach and resources keep them dangerous. The twist, however, is that Renard doesn’t want any part of those ambitions. This is a character who’s been fighting and scheming for the majority of the series, and after a few serious losses his appetite isn’t what it once was. The life of Grimm has worn everyone down—witness the moment of agreement in the spice shop basement on not getting out of messed-up lives—and not even stoic Renard is immune.

Black Claw’s intrusion also puts an end to Meisner’s weirdly accented haunting, as the ghost interrupts his guilt trip to warn Renard the organization considers him a loose end to tie up. (It also warns him not to talk to someone who isn’t there, a good comic beat as Renard realizes maybe he shouldn’t feed the certain precinct speculation he’s nuts.) It remains to be seen if this is the last we see of Meisner—his clouding the assassin’s mind removes any doubts his presence was real—but in assisting and departing he does help nudge Renard down a possible path. If Black Claw continues to focus on snuffing Renard out, his honed survival instincts could push him back into the orbit of Team Grimm.

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Speaking of orbit, Julievette’s runic carvings have now led to the next phase of the Splinter of Destiny/Shroud of Curin’ mystery. The frustratingly vague events of prior episodes now give way to something interesting and possibly otherworldly, as the symbols are finally interpreted as an astronomy calendar, one made up of symbols from societies miles and centuries apart. After six seasons of being a gumbo of mythologies, it feels oddly right for Grimm’s greatest mystery to be a nexus of every culture possible. Or even beyond the world: they may have disproved aliens at one point, but if they turned out to be real this late in the game it wouldn’t come as that huge of a surprise.

That landing or its equivalent is yet to come, as Rosalee and Julievette find the astral connection and it’s not a chronicle but a prophecy. Come March 24—the date of Grimm’s penultimate episode, for those paying attention—something that was foreseen all the way back in the Crusades is going to come to pass. And now, the big question to ask: what pun could this all possibly be leading towards?

Stray observations:

  • This Week In Portland: Dan kills his victim on the North Park Blocks and then runs to a building that’s located on East Burnside, meaning that he ran across the Burnside Bridge in his skivvies. An odd sight, but in this town, not unheard of.
  • This Week’s Epigram: “Sleep is good, death is better; but of course, the best thing would to have never been born at all.” The words of German poet Heinrich Heine, or words of wisdom from a Democratic political strategist in 2017?
  • Know Your Wesen: The hotel manager is a Hundjäger, well known in Grimm as enforcers of the Seven Houses. However, this one doesn’t seem guilty of anything other than picking a fight with Nick, so a possible interpretation here is that Nick straight-up murders an innocent civilian.
  • I know that the Portland Police Department as depicted in Grimm is on par with Dexter’s Miami Metro when it comes to noticing main characters doing shady shit, but come on: Renard shoots two men dead in a police precinct parking garage and walks away from it.
  • Last week’s events of an antique shop and ghost-busting aren’t mentioned once. Was the whole thing Meisner just gas-lighting his killer?
  • “So you think this is just mental?” “Nah. We’re never just thinking that.”
  • “She was always a little loopy, which is why she was my favorite aunt.”
  • “Well, like the man said: Life is a nightmare that prevents one from sleeping.” Monroe referring to Oscar Wilde as “the man” is yet another reason why Monroe is the absolute best.

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