I’ve been watching Grimm. Big shock, huh? I know … it’s a total surprise to all of you. I try not to post too much on whatever I’m into, because it can run into being “boring” very quickly for my audience. Back when I was on LiveJournal and having my Buffy phase, I posted daily thoughts on the symbolism, the relationship arcs, and the lessons found within the fantasy narrative. I’ll spare you that with Grimm even though I could do it very easily.
Like books, music, and many other things, I like a show I can sink my spiritual teeth into, because having a way to personalize the experience and make it meaningful for myself transitions the show from me “liking” it into that coveted inner circle of stories that hold spiritual significance for me. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, and I find something that I can resonate with within a story, I fall utterly in love with the idea of it… sometimes more so than the actual thing itself. I suspect that is what is happening with Grimm, which is on its surface a “procedural cop show with fairy tale monsters in it.” And, that is truly what it is, but once I mythologized and personalized the subtext with my religious beliefs, it took on a spiritual resonance of its own.
What fascinates me about the show is that its characters have one thing in common: their attempts to fight their inner nature, in order to be good. We see this most strongly in Nick, because he has the most vivid background – he is a Grimm, and for centuries, his ancestors have been dispatching Wesen (creatures) with merciless impunity. He is a “good” cop and decent human being, forced to become “judge, jury, and executioner” to various Wesen groups. Everything influences him toward mercilessness, from the books in his trailer chronicling the many encounters between previous Grimms and beasts (most of them end with “I cut off its head”) to the reaction he gets from Wesen – either terror (Grimms are the nightmarish creatures Wesen tell their children about) or the urge for them to kill him, to protect themselves.
When Wesen look into his eyes, they see their true selves, their innermost core, their “darkest, most inhuman” side. Most of them react violently, because it’s unnerving … it’s unpleasant … it forces them to confront an awful truth about their true nature, as a beast. They can hide from the rest of the world, but not from Nick. He sees them for who they are, and judges them. The good are protected by Nick, the evil must pay the price. In this, he is drastically different from his ancestors, who killed good and bad Wesen alike, because they assumed all beasts were evil. I suspect this is what Jesus was like; that people saw their true nature reflected in His gaze and either were comforted by His forgiveness and compassion or repelled by their own hideousness and came to hate Him for revealing their true self. For me, Nick has taken on a mythological role as a Messiah-figure, dispelling ignorance and superstition among the masses. He has every right to “judge” yet shows most mercy instead, and only is righteously vengeful against those who are unrepentant. He is a Grimm who does not see all Wesen as the same, nor judge them by the same standard, and in that, he does remind me of Christ. He is a Grimm (mortal) but he resists all urges of being a Grimm (his humanity / sin nature) in order to be much greater.
As a Grimm, he has every right to judge and punish … but He often withholds this punishment, out of grace. As the Son of God, Jesus had every right to judge and punish … but instead, the New Testament is strewn with stories of His grace and mercy. Only those with a right to judge can withhold judgment in exchange for grace, and that is what makes grace, in and of itself, so powerful — because only the wronged can truly forgive.
Monroe faces his own demons a lot, as a wolf. He is aware of what he is and not ashamed of it, but has chosen to do something about it. He knows he cannot resist temptation, so he chooses to be a vegetarian, because for him, meat is the gateway drug to a life of reckless, often evil indulgences. He must constantly fight his wolf tendencies in favor of goodness, but the wolf is still there and on occasion, in his anger over injustices, comes out. Others, including his parents, look down on him for abandoning his true nature and trying to control it, to be more civilized. This makes me think of the constant pressure believers are under to abandon their moral guidelines and to assimilate… to be as everyone else, rather than fighting against their sin nature. Monroe flickers, he fails at times, but he is steadfast and faithful in his determination not to be what his ancestors were… a monster. (“They put my grandfather’s head on a spike in the town square… not that he didn’t deserve it…”) He reminds me of the believer who acknowledged his true self fairly early on and has been trying hard to change it ever since. But, for Monroe, it is a process of outward change more than internal change; behavior modification, rather than addressing the impulse itself.
Unlike Monroe, Captain Renard does not repress his nature, he embraces it… yet, he too is changing for the better. It’s a natural process not stemming from his own decision to “self improve” but an external force shaping him gradually from within. What is that force? The purification potion he took to wake Juliette from her coma. That was the shifting point; he had to be “pure of heart” to bring her out of her spell-induced slumber. That one decision permanently changed him, but in very subtle and profound ways. He isn’t consciously changing through behavior modification; he is being subconsciously altered into a better man, I suspect because the potion had such a violent reaction against his beast-nature (“And because you’re barely human, you’re in for quite a ride, sweetie”). Did it … give him a conscience? Unlock it? Repress the Zauberbiest enough that he became more human as a result?
I love this idea, because it encompasses my faith so beautifully. How? Because we do not have to consciously change ourselves to become better; at the moment we accept Christ, we get our first taste of a purification. It hurts like hell, because it attacks our basic, selfish, sinful human nature. And sometimes, at first, there is no giant shift in who we are, but gradually, over time, the purification takes hold. It starts to work in us, to shape us, to soften us, to give us more love, to turn us into the person we were meant to be, in a more idealized state. It is rarely instantaneous, but the work of a lifetime; yet we have to be willing to do it, to face something dark and evil in ourselves in order to emerge a better human being. Like Renard, we have to be willing to endure being humbled and seen in our hideous true form before we can change.
However much, out of fondness for him, that I want to justify or excuse it, season one Renard was evil. He murdered and mutilated enemies, covered up his own crimes and those of his thugs, was involved in illegal activities, recruited, manipulated, and abandoned Adalind when she failed to target Hank, assassinated his royal brother, and shot his cousin in the head. After the purification process, Renard started changing. He resisted his attraction to Juliette, chose to trust Nick with his secret true nature, shows greater concern and protectiveness for those around him, went out of his way to comfort, protect, and emotionally stabilize Adalind, and decided to trust a Grimm with his child, so she can grow up outside evil influences… including him own. Renard is still Renard … still unpredictable and dubious in his intentions, but he is walking the right path.
And now we have Juliette … who I suspect is going to give in to her darker nature rather than resist it, and who may tragically illustrate another kind of spiritual element … the faithful that falls away into darkness. I hope not, but we shall see.