This summer, NBC is getting people caught up with the TV show Grimm with repeats twice a week, starting with the pilot this past Monday. How can we compare Nick’s first year as a Grimm to Buffy Summers’ early days as a Slayer?
Spoiler Warning for Season 1, Speculation for Season 2 in the rest of the story….
Portland Police Detective Nick Burkhardt has had a tough education ever since his Aunt Marie told him that he was a Grimm, a hunter of strange beings called Wesen. Since then, he’s befriended a clock-making Blutbad named Monroe and a Fuchsbau pharmacist named Rosalee, and is a hero to a very industrious people who look like beavers. He’s also tangled with a hexenbiest named Adalind who nearly killed his partner Hank, and may have mutated Nick’s girl, Juliette. All the while, a police captain is trying to control Nick while hiding his true agenda…whatever that is.
Nick’s first year as a Grimm may remind people of another supernatural hero…Buffy Summers. It may be natural, since co-creators David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf worked with Joss Whedon on Buffy and Angel.
One thing both Nick and Buffy have in common is that their destiny arrived at a moment’s notice. A guy named Merrick told Buffy in the movie, and in the first half of “Becoming”, that she has a destiny battling vampires and the forces of darkness. In the Grimm pilot Aunt Marie tells Nick that he is one of the last Grimms, yet regrets not telling him sooner. He had to find out the hard way, by seeing Marie fight off a Reaper. Yet we don’t know if he’s the last Grimm in America or just one of the last ones. We do know later in the series a Grimm was beheaded in Belgium, but no one else has claimed to be a Grimm. Marie also admits that no one knows how many Reapers there are. For all we know, she’s been working as a Grimm alone for some time, and now expects Nick to take up the role. Later we see that he’s not sure he can do this. He’s been having nightmares, as Buffy did in “Welcome to the Hellmouth”. When he meets Monroe the Blutbad for the first time, he asks how he can stop seeing the Wesen and avoid being a Grimm. Monroe tells him he can’t because “it’s who you are.”
Both characters are forced to take up their job role once their mentor dies. For Buffy it’s the death of Merrick in the movie and the Dark Horse comic. For Nick, it’s Aunt Marie dying after she kills a Reaper who tries to kill her in the hospital in “Bears Will be Bears.” Both do get new mentors: Buffy has Rupert Giles as her second Watcher, while Nick relies on Monroe for Wesen lore. It’s a supernatural twist of the role of the informant seen in many police dramas. Monroe also becomes a teacher, when he prepares Nick for the Lowen Games (a Wesen Fight Club) in “Last Grimm Standing” and trains him with assorted weapons at the start of “Leave It To Beavers”
In both shows, the characters are introduced in different levels of development as heroes. In “Welcome to the Hellmouth”, Buffy is already a Slayer, and hopes that she can leave that behind her in Sunnydale. Once she finds out a student was killed the night before by a vampire and meets her new Watcher, that’s not going to happen. She also gets new allies in different ways: Xander eavesdrops on Buffy and Giles, Willow is attacked by a vampire, and Angel just shows up in the dark. In the Grimm pilot, we see Nick starting to see strange faces on assorted people. It’s his ability to see Wesen starting to develop. His life is about to change. He meets Monroe when he suspects him of kidnapping those missing girls, but soon finds out Monroe knows more about Grimms than he does.
There’s also the problem of living two lives. For Buffy Summers, it’s trying to finish homework and exams and date while battling vampires, zombies and such. For Nick, it’s trying to decide if his role as a Grimm fits with his primary role as a police officer. In the pilot, it does, as Nick investigates another blutbad who’s been kidnapping and killing girls. However, in “Bee-Ware,” Nick meets with a Mellifor named Melissa Wincroft who was killing off the Hexenbeast lawyers who were suing her paper mill as a way to get rid of her. Melissa tries to explain this to Nick, but he kills her when she was about to attack Hank. It’s the first example of how Wesen law, which includes blood revenge, clashes with human law. It happens again in “Three Bad Wolves” where an arson investigator who’s also a Bauerschwein, kills a blutbad in a family feud that includes the brother of one of Monroe’s ex-girlfriends. The investigator claims he and Nick are doing the same job. Nick disagrees, and has to arrest the investigator.
Nick’s views change in “Cat and Mouse”, when he tries to protect Ian, a leader in the Wesen Resistance, from Waltz, a Verrat bounty hunter who thinks freedom is a joke. Nick takes care of Waltz and helps Ian escape with fake papers. This shows that Nick has realized that sometimes human law can’t enforce the sense of justice accepted by Wesen.
Both heroes have a support system to make the job almost bearable. With Buffy, her Scooby Gang formed quickly with Giles, Xander, Willow, Angel, Jenny Calendar and Cordelia in season one, Oz in season two, and Tara, Anya and (somewhat reluctantly) Spike in season four. Buffy may be the Chosen One, but she isn’t alone in the battle against Evil.
Nick’s support system isn’t that extensive. He has Aunt Marie’s trailer, filled with books and weapons to help him “hunt down the bad ones”. However, not all the books are in English. That’s when he needs Monroe for translations, or more information about Wesen that’s not in the books. A recent addition is Rosalee, who was introduced in “Island of Dreams”. She’s a fuchsbau who comes to Portland when she finds out her brother, who ran an apocathary in “Organ Grinders”, was killed in a robbery. She later decides to keep the shop going, and eventually strikes up a relationship with Monroe.
Nick also has friends in eisbibers, a group of industrious Wesen. Developing that relationship was tricky, though. They first hear about Nick from a reinegan reparman named Bud who was afraid Nick would slay him. They get curious about Nick and where he lives. When some young eisbibers egg Nick’s house in “Tarantella,” he goes to their parents’ house to complain. The eisbibers panic, but Nick just asks them to lay off. A trust is formed in “Leave It to Beavers,” when Nick protects an eisbiber who saw a hasslich/building inspector kill one of the eisbiber construction workers.
Some may point out that Farley Colt, in “Three Coins in the Fuchsbau”, plays a big role in Nick’s development. He tells Nick he’s a steinadler (sort of a mercenary) who once dated Marie, and had promised to raise Nick if something happened to her. He also talks about the Seven Families, who acquire power behind the scenes, and have often used Grimm to maintain the balance of power. Nick seems not to be interested in this “history lesson”, but this one does affect him. The search for the Coins of Zakynthos led to his parents’ death, and may affect his own life now that he has them in the trailer. Colt was reportedly dead in “Woman in Black”, but you never can tell on this show.
For Nick and the other Grimms, they are ordered (or maybe just manipulated?) by the Seven Families. Captain Renard thinks he can control Nick’s fate, and viewers are not sure if he wants to kill Nick or use him in some unknown power play. He does protect Nick from a Reaper, but also uses Adalind to seduce Hank, Nick’s partner, in a way to control Nick. This nearly kills Hank, and Renard doesn’t seem concerned about that. The first season didn’t seem to have enough time to establish who Renard is or what he wants, although that will change when his brother arrives in season two.
It also seems that Grimms don’t seem to seek each other out. Maybe if they got organized, they may wind up having the real power, just as Buffy figured out against the Watcher’s Council.
Even as Nick settles in his dual role as a Grimm and a cop, he’s still not safe. We still don’t know what plans Captain Renard has for him. There are other nasty Wesen who may be gunning for Nick, especially after he sent the heads of two Reapers to Germany. He also wants to ask his supposedly dead mother why she’s returned.
It’s quite reminiscent of Buffy dealing with a boyfriend who went bad, a principal who hated her because he could, and a mother who’d never believe or understand she’s a Slayer. Of course, when her mom did find out she managed to accept it, which Buffy never expected. Parents can surprise you that way.
Nick would like to tell Hank, Sergeant Wu and Juliette about Wesen and Grimms, but Monroe says that can’t be done because their minds could never accept it. Juliette didn’t believe it, even after he allowed her into Marie’s trailer. Some fans think he didn’t explain it very well.
Season two will be a critical time for Nick Burkhardt. If he doesn’t get more support, his job as a Grimm might kill him…or worse.