Grimm Grimm

Grimm may be inspired by beloved fairy tales, but don't expect any happily-ever-afters. In fact, life is about to get very deadly for all concerned. The hit NBC crime procedural — about a Portland homicide detective, Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli), with the power to spot supernatural creatures who masquerade as human beings—will get an early second-season return tonight, fresh from two weeks of heavy promotion during the Olympic Games. (The series airs on Mondays for five weeks, then returns to its previous Fridays-at-9 slot on September 21.) Prepare to get prehistoric.

"Grimm is going bigger and meaner and more badass — and we're even throwing in a saber-toothed tiger that can decimate a village," says cocreator David Greenwalt. "The series started on a micro level, where the big bad wolf was the neighborhood child molester, but now it's moving into a greater picture where the threat from the Wesen [creature] world is huge. We're going to find out that the members of a secret foreign cabal — we're calling them the Royal Families — are behind all of the political turmoil and strife that goes on in the world. And they are very interested in Nick Burkhardt."

Not in a good way, of course. Nick is a Grimm, one of a long line of criminal profilers and beast hunters descended from the famous storytelling Grimm Brothers. And he's a wanted man. In the season opener, an emissary from the Royal Families, a killing machine named Marnassier (Mike Dopud) who morphs into a saber-toothed tiger, arrives via the Portland shipping docks and will go in search of Nick, committing several horrifying murders along the way.

"He's just the first of many big bads to come," promises cocreator Jim Kouf. "The saber-toothed tiger is extinct in the 'known' world but not in the Wesen world — a new rule that's going to open us up to a lot of story possibilities."

This killer kitty isn't Nick's only woe in tonight's episode. His girlfriend Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) has fallen into a Sleeping Beauty—like coma, orchestrated by the bitter witch Adalind (Claire Coffee), and even if she snaps out of it she could suffer severe and permanent memory loss. Then there's Nick's dead mom Kelly (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) — also a Grimm — who popped up in last season's cliff-hanger looking very much alive.

"Nick is really hurt and very resentful that she lied to him for 18, how cruel can a mom be?" Giuntoli says. "It hits him even worse when he finds out his Aunt Marie [Kate Burton], who raised him, also lied about his mom being alive." Might this mean Nick's dad, who died in the same car accident Kelly supposedly did, is really out there somewhere? "Kelly swears Nick's father is still very much dead," says Giuntoli. "But at this point Nick's not taking anybody at their word."

Certainly not when Mom has her own agenda! Kelly is on the trail of the Coins of Zakynthos, ancient Greek currency with the power to turn men into murderous dictators. Nero, Caligula and Adolph Hitler all possessed the coins. Now they've fallen into Nick's hands (as a Grimm, he's immune to their power), and he has stashed them away to protect mankind.

Also this season, look for the return of the sexpot wolf Angelina (Jaime Ray Newman), who will threaten the romance between her ex-lover Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and his new squeeze Rosalee (Bree Turner). The past will also come back to haunt Nick's partner Hank (Russell Hornsby) when his old pal Jarold (Supernatural's Mark Pellegrino) — who is secretly a coyote — asks for help to save his daughter. Nick's mysterious boss Captain Renard (Sasha Roiz) gets a visit, too — from his estranged brother Eric (The Tudors' James Frain), who arrives from his lavish castle in Austria. Could the captain be a clandestine member of the Royals?

"More and more of what you see on the show is connected to the big global struggle for power," says Giuntoli. "Season 1 was all about Nick discovering his identity as a Grimm. Now he's no longer the befuddled rookie. Bad stuff is happening and crazy things are being revealed. It's time for Nick to step up and save the day."

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