Grimm, Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot

For those to have missed the reviews of Episode 1 and 2 on the forums, I’ll be posting them here now.

Director: Marc Buckland

Teleplay by: David Greenwalt & Jim Kouf

Pic Credit: Daemon’s TV

“The wolf thought to himself, what a tender young creature. What a nice plump mouthful…” – The Brothers Grimm, 1812

I am a huge urban fantasy fan, but I’ve always believed that the only “fairy” tales that could be inserted into an urban fantasy setting would be the tales involving elves and other such members of the fairy races in literature.

Grimm proves me wrong in the best way. It takes a staple of today’s TV landscape, the procedural, and drops it into the middle of the fairytale world – our main character Nick, is a homicide cop, the Monster Slayer in the world of Grimm, who when the show opens is unaware of the heritage of his family as monster-slayers and that his name should in effect be “Grimm”.

We meet him during a murder case in which a female runner is viciously attacked by a wild animale. The imagery hits me immediately – the woman wore a red hoodie while jogging, through the woods no less.

Red Riding Hood anyone?

As the show progresses we are shown Nick’s world – the show opens with him wanting to propose to his girlfriend, with whom he lives, while his Aunt Marie, a cancer sufferer pays him an unexpected visit. It seems that she is his only family as his parents, he thinks, were killed in an accident.

Now, by this point, Nick begins to see strange things – human beings whose faces turn into that of monsters around him, and another case drops into his lap and his partner’s: a young girl, wearing a red hoodie, was kidnapped on the way to school. Split into teams, he and his partner track the girl’s path to school, and instead of following the path she is supposed to take, reason that she might have taken a short cut, you guessed it, through the woods, and when Nick follows the path, along with his partner, they find her backpack, and Nick spies a man, whose face flashes into that of a wolf’s and who lives opposite the path that the young girl would have taken to school after leaving the woods. He immediately calls in a search of the suspect’s house, to no avail – there is no girl there.

That night, Marie tells Nick that her time is running out, and we realize, that her impending death corresponds to his beginning to see the faces of the monsters around him – her power is being passed down to him.  While this is very Buffy, in a way, what I like about this is the acknowledgement that monster slayers are not immune to disease monsters like cancer which is robbing Marie of the time she needs to make him ready to take over from her. We also see though, that Nick knows nothing of his heritage, his real name or the real reason behind his parent’s death. As they walk, though, they are attacked, and Marie defends them both until she is knocked out, and Nick is forced to kill their attacker, who attacked while wearing a monster-face, but changes into a human after.

While Marie is recuperating in hospital, Nick continues on his case, toMonroe, the Big Bad Wolf suspect he is convinced has the girl. One unfortunate tracking/following incident later, he discovers thatMonroe, is a reformed Big Bad Wolf, and he knows exactly who Nick is – a Grimm, the bogeymen Monroe was afraid of as a kid. This is where the show elevates itself – showing that all monsters are not straightforwardly “monsters” and that Nick, and his family, are essentially their monsters of their bedtime stories. It creates the impression that nothing is as straightforward as it seems, and it kept me hooked! Later on, Nick finds out that the scythe that he and Marie were attacked with, has an inscription: The Reaper of Grimms AKA the Grimm Reaper. Here again, we see that the fairytale world is not without it’s own monster hunters, ones that are after Nick.

Monroe offers to help Nick find the killer, the true Big Bad Wolf in the area and what precedes this is a funny and witty tutor-student scene where the Big Bad Wolf, Monroe is the one teaching Nick about wolves and how to track them, things he should have already known. They do find the scent of the killer-wolf and Monroe does lead Nick to his house, but we discover that Monroe can ultimately not be trusted once he changes into a wolf, and he warns Nick that he does not know if when he changes he will attack Nick, or the other wolf or both. He leaves Nick there for his own safety, who then calls his partner.

There is a genuine creepiness that the show manages, as it mixes fairytales and our “real world”. The killer lives in a normal house, not unlike one you would expect a grandmother to live in, but underneath the floorboards is his chamber where he keeps his victims. It’s all filled with metaphors, but it adds to the atmosphere of the episode in a big way, making it something unique in today’s TV landscape.

The episode ends with a hell of a cliffhanger – and a great promise of more twists and turns to come!

 What did you think of the episode? I loved it, and since watching the first episode of Once Upon a Time, I realize the integration of the fantastic into “our” world is more appealing to me that the split between the fairy tale world of the OUaT and the real world action. I do appreciate in OUaT that the main character is a woman, who by all accounts is supposed to save the day.

 Characterizations and plot-wise though, Grimm is ahead.