Robert Baker (NBC)

Tradition is a concept that’s prevalent throughout Grimm. Many wesen cultures boast of a heritage that runs all the way back to medieval times (if not older), and their naturally insular way of life means that many aspects of that tradition have survived even in our modern era. Going all the way back to the second episode and reappearing as recently as “Iron Hans,” Grimm’s evinced a deep interest in people who are tied to an old way of doing things, and that pursuing that old way of things runs contrary to how people live. It falls to Nick and his team, who have one foot in the old world and one in the new, to find a way to keep these traditions from hurting anyone without stomping them out.

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It’s a course of action that’s produced good episodes in the past, but “Maiden Quest” doesn’t manage to rise to those levels. Instead, it’s a middling episode of Grimm that manages to deliver a serviceable weekly case, but it’s without the almost mythological component that’s made prior cases in the same vein so engaging. And surrounding it are only a few narrative bread crumbs, promising some interesting story lines down the road but failing to introduce enough to make it interesting in the here and now.

What’s frustrating is that there is a potentially cool concept in the main plot—a mobster offering his daughter’s hand to whoever brings him the head of his enemy—but it never gets off the ground in the way it needs to. While “Maiden Quest” hints at the various ties and connections in this wesen underworld that his daughter’s marriage would secure, those connections are largely unexplored beyond making references to the larger world they serve. (Give or take the scene where Renard meets his defense attorney friend who isn’t happy he’s got a Grimm on his payroll, though that attorney isn’t likely to reappear.) In a season where a shadowy organization seems to be pulling a lot of wesen-related strings, the Troyer mating ritual and all its golden feathers feels archaic and almost gimmicky, rather than something to be feared and revered.

Madeline Zima, Russell Hornsby, David Giuntoli (NBC)

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Part of the reason it’s not as effective as it could be as is that the reveal of the daughter Elena as the killer is one that was easy to guess. Admittedly, I’m conditioned not to trust characters played by Madeline Zima after her stint as agent of chaos Mia on Californication, but even from the early scenes she commands more attention than any of the three thugs vying for her hand. Subsequent interactions where one suitor lays some obnoxiously patriarchal attitude on her and another makes it clear he doesn’t want any part of this ritual only further remove doubts, as it’s clear whose side we’re supposed to be on in this game. While Grimm tries to save it with an additional twist that her father was hoping for this very outcome, everything happens so fast in that last scene there’s no sense of resolution, lacking the emotional payoff that a similar scene had in “Iron Hans.”

That’s not to say it’s a plot without fun, most of which comes from Frankie. While his mob dialogue is corny (delivering “Someone tried to whack me!” without a hint of irony at one point), he does go down the rabbit (or Villeharra) hole of wesen-viewing madness well over the course of the episode. Robert Baker, whose appearances include the chicken-focused goon Randall on Justified, gets to play increasingly drunk and unhinged with each attempt on his life and is clearly having fun doing so. He’s undergoing the same horrified introduction to this world of monsters that both Wu and Hank went through years ago, only his journey isn’t one that ends with a spot researching in the spice shop basement. It provides the episode with its darker foray, though again the final scene feels to quick to deeply register.

“Maiden Quest” also suffered from the feeling of being an episode of Grimm where all of the non-case material was there to set up for future stories. Captain Renard meets with a young politician who’s planning to run for mayor and wants the support of a decorated police captain, and Rosalee gets a letter from a mysterious “T” in Seattle she used to run with during her lost years. Both of these are promising narrative threads, as Renard’s personal ambitions and Rosalee’s addict past are ground that’s only been lightly explored over the last four years. (And any kind of plot for Renard is welcome given how little he’s had to do this season.) But with only one scene devoted to each, neither has any time to take root at the beginning, instead feeling like details viewers will need to keep in mind along with the dozen other plot points that Grimm may or may not remember to address.

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Claire Coffee, David Giuntoli (NBC)

Instead, we get more time devoted to Nick and Adalind, who find caring for a newborn is increasingly stressful within the confines of the Fortress of Grimmitude. While I was more positive on the energy between David Giuntoli and Claire Coffee last week, this week everything is too direct, settling into classic awkward cohabitation scenarios like Nick having to loan her his shirt and then seeing her bra on the hook post-shower. It hasn’t reached sexual tension yet—and Kelly’s colic and vomit are keeping sex far from either of their minds—but the push in that direction isn’t a subtle one this week. There feels like a pace that’s necessary for something to happen between these two, and “Maiden Quest” doesn’t have it.

Whatever their version of domesticity is, it’s broken up in the closing moments of the episode when a motorcycle crashes into the trash cans and winds up depositing a badly beaten Trubel on Nick’s doorstep. This is the most interesting development of the episode, as Trubel’s been a complete enigma since her return in “Headache,” glimpses of interactions with Meisner making it unclear if she’s his ally or his prisoner. And given how much that motorcycle felt like an obvious distraction, her return’s asking more questions than it answers, all of which are questions Nick should be asking himself. Much as Elena proved to be more than the prize to be won, Nick should think twice about letting this wounded animal into the home he worked so hard to secure.

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Stray observations:

  • This Week In Portland: The F Bomb is not real, though it appears to be modeled after one of the clubs in Old Town/Chinatown—not far from the Floyd’s Coffee location where Renard sits down with Andrew. And both Frankie and Troyer boast some pretty impressive hilltop views from their respective estates.
  • This Week’s Epigram: We’re back to the Brothers Grimm canon this week with The Twelve Dancing Princesses, which provides another early hint that the seemingly docile girl at the center of the story might have a lot going on under the surface.
  • Big question: why do none of the competitors go to their own woge forms when they’re attacked by another wesen? You’d think that’d give them at least a fighting chance.
  • The most disappointing part of the whole story for me was the fact that Frankie didn’t even kill Troyer’s son, he was just indirectly responsible for it. That deflated a lot of the engagement and made Frankie feel more like a bystander than an active participant in whatever was going on.
  • Also in terms of dropping narrative bread crumbs, Adalind mentions that her father left when she was four. Sounds like a Chekov’s absentee parent to me.
  • Monroe and Rosalee have the best home life. Listening to concertos and drinking wine? Hearing the cello counterpoint isn’t even necessary to savor the experience.
  • “Not having spent time in a mental institution, the ME does not have the insight that I have.”
  • “A little deja Wu going on here.”
  • “Would you really slay a dragon for me?” “Yeah, a flock of them! Or whatever a group of dragons is called.” Of course there’s a Reddit thread for that topic.
  • Grimm is off next week for Thanksgiving. Have a good holiday and try not to eat any turkey wesen! (An idea I’m amazed the show hasn’t used yet.)

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