Grimm beats The Walking Dead at its own game

It seems like the last few episodes of Grimm I’ve been pointing out the least interesting plotlines. It may have taken until the end of the episode to confirm, but I’m not sure there’s a bad moment in “The Waking Dead.”

This was the penultimate episode of the season, so unlike most Grimm episodes, there is so much shit going on. Wu shoots a guy who was recorded dead by the medical examiner a few days ago. Nick keeps seeing a weird dude with a top hat. Juliette is determined to recover all her memories, which includes learning about the true nature of Wesen — and seeing them in action. Adalind gets caught between Frau Pescher and Stefania. Renard’s brother Eric arrives in Portland to talk and… has other plans.

That’s a ton of shit, and I wish Grimm was always this packed. But let’s start with the main plot, which seems like another Wesen-o’-the-Week story, but turns into something much more interesting by the end. Wu and Generic Cop investigate a domestic disturbance; they find a girl dead and have to shoot the crazed man who’s clearly killed her. Upon investigation, they find the man already has a coroner’s report filled out from three days ago, which, Nick et al. assume is some kind of clerical error. Now, I’m all about Nick recognizing Wesen at the first hint of them, but this is straight up zombie stuff, and a clerical error does seem like a genuinely more reasonable explanation, so I’ll give him a pass.

The girl the zombie killed wakes up on the Medical Examiner's table, freaking everybody out. Nick immediately hits the trailer — a good call, just to be on the safe side. Turns out the culprit is a Wesen called the Cracher-Mortel, who is for all intents and purposes Baron Samedi, complete with a New Orleans accent and a penchant for raising the dead, whose green spit essentially makes zombies. Samedi manages to spirit the girl from the hospital before Nick and Hank can investigate further.

Meanwhile, Juliette is determined to finally get her last memory back, which is of whatever Nick told Monroe to show her at the end of season one. These scenes are glorious and practically a direct apology to the fans for taking so long to get to this moment: Monroe, Rosalee and Bud arguing Rosalee should go first as the least scary of the three, Bud accidentally transforming due to stress, Monroe actually taking a step back to minimize the terror of Blutbad form even slightly, Juliette walking out, giving viewers a few seconds of terror that everything is going to repeat itself — and then she walks back in. Honestly, I don’t know that this pivotal moment could have been presented any better. After all the turmoil and stalling, it’s either a knowing wink to the fans to get Juliette over this plot point quickly, or it’s a slap in the face, but either way I think we’re all glad Juliette is now on board with Team Grimm.

Also meanwhile, Adalind’s semi-confidantes Frau Pescher and Stefania are getting into a pissing match regarding Adalind’s unborn Royal baby, with the Frau threatening Adalind and Adalind turning to Stefania to help. This results in Stefania forcing Adalind to "sign" a contract (via magic/blood/handprint magic); this is likely a horrible decision on Adalind's part, but one we won’t know the results of until next episode. And in Grimm’s biggest development, Renard’s brother Eric arrives unexpectedly in Portland, who, after arranging to meet with Renard in the finale, has an actual meeting… with Baron Samedi. Who happens to also have a giant warehouse full of his zombie creatures.

When I saw the trailer for this episode, I was certain that it was going to be bad; it seemed like it was just trying to cash in on The Walking Dead and the zombie fad, that it would offer a few cheap scares, and essentially be another throwaway, standalone episode. So let me you how thrilled I am that Baron Samedi isn’t just a Wesen-o’-the-Week, but part of whatever plan Eric has for his brother, and/or the Grimm, and/or Portland. That the episode didn’t actually focus on horror at all (one scare in the M.E.’s room hardly counts). That unlike most episodes of Grimm (or The Walking Dead for that matter) I never felt like the show was padding itself out or wasting time.

Samedi isn’t a gimmicky, temporary antagonist, he’s part of a major threat, and revealing that Eric is behind him raises the stakes considerably for what I’m fully expecting to be a pretty exciting, possibly relevatory Grimm season finale next week. We have Renard finally meeting his brother, a trailer full of zombies ready to invade Portland, Eric behind it for unknown reasons, the possibility that this isn’t the first Wesen Eric has sent to attack Portland — and we finally resolve the Juliette memory/Nick relationship thing for good while also finally putting Juliette on Team Grimm! I have zero problems with any of this. No backsies, Grimm!

Grimm beats The Walking Dead at its own game

Assorted Musings:

• TV fans may recognize Baron Samedi as the actor Reg E. Cathey, who was Aidan Gillen’s political advisor on The Wire. If Baron Samedi wanted to stop by Game of Thrones and give Littlefinger some help, I’d have no objections.

• Now that I’m finally watching Nick and Juliette both have feelings for each other at the same time, there is a weird little chemistry between them. That was a pleasant surprise.

• Man, let me tell you again how great the scene where Juliette sees he first Wesen is. If you've been watching since the beginning, it’s probably not worth waiting two full seasons for, but I still dug it.

• James Frain, who plays Renard’s brother Eric, was just born to play upper-class, snobby villains. He does seem to be having more fun here than he did on The Cape, however.

• Spoiler from the “Next time on Grimm” preview which means it’s totally not a spoiler: It appears that Adalind's brief bout with motherhood is going to come to an end. I'm betting this means she'll also get her Hexenbiest powers back, so she can return as a power player in season 3.