It’s nice to be back in the capable arms of Grimm again. The season left off at the halfway point with a cliffhanger of a sort, leaving Nick without Juliette yet again but with an assumption of who caused the problem – Captain Renard, a Royal in Portland who is looking for Nick’s key. Juliette’s amnesia is an arc that has been going on for almost the entire second season, which means that it’s getting a bit tiring now that it has been played out for thirteen episodes. “Face Off”, the show’s return from midseason hiatus, sets out to change the lull in the plot.
Unlike many of Grimm‘s episodes, this one doesn’t fall into the common tropes of the show’s procedural drama. Instead, its entire focus is devoted to Captain Renard and his obsession with Juliette (and vice versa). It’s good to see “Face Off” exploring this plot in thorough detail – it’s been lingering at the back for a while now, and it was definitely time to get this situated before the show headed into even deeper territory with the battle between Royals and Grimms.
But “Face Off” does get bogged down in exposition; the episode spends a lot of time explaining the nature of Juliette’s affliction for viewers who might have forgotten over the break, plus there are some encounters with old characters who haven’t been on the show much like Rosalee and a returning Adalind. It’s nice to see Rosalee back (she didn’t get much screentime before the break either because of Bree Turner’s pregnancy), and Adalind is creating a power struggle that Captain Renard needs to try to thwart.
The real meat of the episode, though, doesn’t come about until the second to third act, when stuff starts to go way south. Renard finally gets up enough nerve to steal Nick’s key; Nick confronts him about his relationship with Juliette; and all three get a rough shakeup when they’re brought together to try to figure things out.
Obviously, the development between Juliette and Nick has petered off since her amnesia, but it’s also felt mostly forced. It’s still that way in “Face Off”, but the difference is that at least in this episode it feels like Grimm is working toward a resolution. There’s actually a step towards resolving the problem taken, and that forward momentum carries us into the next episode.
There’s an excellent fight between Nick and Renard that brings them closer together than they ever knew they could be. Even though Renard has felt like the bad guy these past few episodes, I’ve been reticent to accept that he’s the evil dude Grimm has been making him out to be. He’s shown numerous times that he really cares about Nick, and it’s exciting to see that both have taken up at least a temporary partnership. Now that both of their secrets are out, this team-up could prove to shift the elements of their relationship a whole lot.
There’s more for Grimm to deal with, and “Face Off” could be seen as a minimal return back to this fictional world. It doesn’t progress things too much, but it does put some new plot points into play moving forward. Honestly, this resolution with Juliette should have been done a few episodes back, so “Face Off” does feel like it’s stalling for time. But it’s a step in the right direction, and hopefully Grimm moves forward onto the much bigger storyline about the coming Royal battle.