It is a rare thing indeed to get to the end of a six-season old show, even one you have loved passionately from the start, and be able to say that it is as good now, if not better, than when it began.
Most shows either start out strong, or at least with some promise until they hit their stride, before reaching an apotheosis and then beginning a decline, which can be gentle or jump-the-shark precipitous.
Either way, sustaining any TV show over six seasons is not an easy undertaking, and yet Grimm, an appealing mix of fantasy and police procedural, managed it with seeming ease, delivering season after season that, while not always perfect, remained consistently watchable and engaging.
One of the things that anchored the show solidly in many peoples’ affections was the sense of family that undergirded pretty much everything that happened in the show.
This was significant for a number of reasons – firstly the titular Grimm, in this case Nick (David Giuntoli), were a traditionally solitary lot, their bloodied journey in life a lonely one, dedicated to keeping humanity safe from the beastly Wesen, human/animal hybrids who when not “woged” were indistinguishable from their non-Wesen counterparts.
With their members responsible for not just the many creatures in the Grimm fairytales – not, in the show’s beautifully-detailed and richly-expressed mythology, so much make believe as recounting of real life instances – but other inhabitants of myths large and small (think Chupacabra, Wendigo and Anubis), they had been viewed as monsters, ghoulish denizens of peoples’ waking dreams, that must be vanquished and destroyed before they threatened humanity.
Given the pervasive reach of Wesen in society, keeping them under control was a full-time, distinctly unusual job, one that did not make any allowance for personal entanglements of any kind, something that Nick was painfully aware of through the experiences of his Aunt Marie (Kate Burton) and mother Kelly (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio).
Even so, Nick, a thoroughly modern Grimm in many ways who only killed when absolutely necessary – while modernising, the Wesen world, like ours, has its more tribal, conservative stalwarts who don’t observe the rule of law – constrained in large part by his job as a detective with the Portland PD but also personal ethics, eschewed that, sticking with girlfriend Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) through thick and thin, often at great cost to her (mostly) and him.
His unwillingness to lock himself in an emotional ivory tower extended to police partner Hank (Russell Hornby), Sergeant Wu (Reggie Lee), Blutbad (werewolf) Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Fuchsbau girlfriend/wife Rosalee (Bree Turner), fellow Grimm Trubel (Jacqueline Toboni) and even onetime enemy Adalind (Claire Coffee) and frenemy police captain Sean Renard (Sasha Roiz), all of them became family, in one sense or another, over the six seasons, and gave the show an emotional intimacy that enriched its diverse and intelligent storytelling.
This strong sense of family was never on more powerful display that in the final two episodes of the show, part of a truncated final season, that saw this once-hitherto union of Grimm and Wesen, fighting back against a monstrous, literally Satanic-like evil, from “The Other Place”.
Come to claim a missing part of a powerful rod – inspiring the quotes that began each episode; respectively, “You shall break them with a rod” and “Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” – and claim Renard and Adalind’s child Diana (Hannah R. Loyd) as his bride (she is a powerfully magical girl with immense gifts) Zerstörer is a grey and red glowing skull-like being with glowing green eyes and the body and a face of a Scandinavian supermodel when he so chooses.
Breaking through from “The Other Place” to our reality via gas station restroom mirror, as you do, and killing two people and a lot of bats as he did so, he laid waste to people and places in his search for Diana, cleverly hidden away in the remote forest lodge where Grimm first began its unique adventures all those years ago (yes it is only six years but when it’s a show you’ve become immersed to and wedded in, it comes to feel, in the best way possible, like it’s been there forever).
Rather crucially – SPOILERS AHEAD! – he kills off, one-by-one, Nick’s family, the replacement for the actual one he never had, leaving everyone bar Nick and Trubel, lying dead at various places in Portland, a shocking turn of events that leaves you gasping since it attacks the very heart of what made Grimm such a heartfelt show to begin with.
Far from just being a freak-of-the-week show, Grimm was far more nuanced, drawing the constituents elements of each week’s storyline, where Wesen began to outnumber humans, or at least it seemed that way, out into a luxuriously rich mythos-laden narrative that reaffirmed the importance of basic humanity, irregardless of whether you are man or beast.
While it pivoted on its cases, much like Fringe before it, it was never constrained or wholly defined by them, allowing itself the freedom to explore large, wide-ranging narrative arcs such as the one that leads us to this calamitous and then not-so-calamitous – SPOILER AHEAD! – happy ending.
In that way, Grimm was an entrancingly different kind of show – wedded yes to bloodthirsty, horror-lite storylines that challenged our concepts of reality, but equally, if not more so, committed to affirming how vitally important the bonds of friend and family are when faced with all kinds of threats, physical and existential.
The final episodes played with the character of the show beautifully, giving us terror and thrills, heartache and joy in crowd-pleasing measure, and drawing a close to a remarkable tale of man and man/beast, and the fact that not only are we not that different from each other, but that times changes and with them must change those occupying them, lest the same old pointless patterns repeat themselves over and over.