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"We just wanted season two to be more epic, bigger, broader," said Executive Producer David Greenwalt of the new season of NBC's "Grimm," which launched its sophomore run last Monday after a heavy push by NBC during the highly rated London Olympic Games.
During a chat with our Jim Halterman, Greenwalt and Executive Producer Jim Kouf (who together created the show along with Stephen Carpenter) talked about shaping the stories of the new episodes, the casting of Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as the ass-kicking mother to David Giuntoli's Nick, the unsteadiness coming in the Nick/Juliette relationship and how the plan of the writers is to pretty much have every character on the show suffer greatly.
Jim Halterman: Once you got that second season renewal, what did that do for you writing wise?
David Greenwalt: We got the second season in March. It was really early and they came to us - "they" being the big honchos from the network - and that's always either a good sign or a bad sign when they actually physically come to you. They said, 'we want to pick up the show and we want to promote it during the Olympics and we want it on August 13th. Unfortunately, that means no hiatus for you guys.'
Jim Kouf: We're just starting to get to the point where we're babbling.
JH: Where are you in the process of the second season?
JK: About midseason.
DG: Not quite, but we're a good third near halfway through.
JH: Now that you have the first season behind you and you were able to hear from the network and audience on what was working and maybe what wasn't, how did that shape season two?
DG: We just wanted season two to be more epic, bigger, broader, a little more concerns for the world, what's going on in the world, some explanations for what's going on. The first season we explained what's going on in the individual criminal and we still do that but now we're going to the macro of what's going on in the world and how's that connected to all of this Grimm lore and mythology.
JH: Talk to me about casting Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, who really kicks ass in the episodes I've seen. However, I'm guessing that role was not easy to cast or was it easy?
DG: It's always a little bit too last minute and stuff but she was definitely our main choice. We met a couple of really great talented people, but she looks a little like she could be [Giuntoli's] mother. They're both Italian and she's just so great in the show. We did have to talk to her because if you saw the last season of last year, she has one line. She's present but she has one line, so we talked her through it, and she...
JK: She trusted us.
DG: She trusted us, fool that she might be. And she was very game. She did a lot of physical stuff. She just is great. We just love the choices she made. She did a lot of great stuff for us. Hopefully, we'll be seeing more of her.
JH: Watching her, I kept wondering if she is truly on the same page with Nick or is she there for a whole other reason that we're not aware of yet?
DG: They're on the same. It's just that this is a mother and son who haven't seen each other in all these years, they have a lot of issues to work out, but his relationship with what we call the Wesen, which are the critters, that's a very un-Grimm like thing to do. The traditional Grimm approach is to cut off their heads. So they're not on the same page in terms of how he deals with his so-called friends, but she learns to accept that a little bit, I think.
JK: Also, the story changes a little bit for both of them because she's now worried that he has inherited this and he's dealing with it, and he's in Portland. So now she knows more information. He knows more information. So it changes the dynamics a little bit of how they're going to move forward.
JH: I love how she relates to Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell). She basically says, 'I don't like you guys together' and that's very motherly. Is that going to be something we'll see play out throughout the season?
JK: A little bit.
DG: Yeah. She's learning that Nick is kind of a new-age Grimm. He's more open than she or her family members have ever been. And he's finding advantages to that and how he moves through the world, befriending a Wesen.
JH: Talk to me about killing off characters, because one, I love it when shows are brave enough to do that but you definitely kill people off. What's the philosophy or what the rules are for that?
DG: Well, the real rule is you should kill the ones you love but we don't always have the heart for that but we try to keep it as grounded in reality as possible. So if a bad guy has the advantage, we want him to have the advantage and if it's a situation where somebody gets killed, somebody gets killed, we surprise ourselves sometimes.
JK: So Nick is getting killed in episode 3. [laughs]
DG: And Bud (Danny Bruno) takes over from there.
JK: That's how Grimm puts a spin on it.
JH: One of the things I noticed between episode one and two was just the amount of exposition, I'm guessing for new viewers who may jump in. Are there rules for that as well?
JK: No. There are no rules.
DG: No, there's much less science than people sometimes think. We had to have that information. We had to answer those questions.
JK: Well, also Mom had the information, so it was natural that Mom wants to give Nick as much information as she knows while she's there. She didn't know he had the key, but when she finds out he has the key and he doesn't know what it's for. Well, she has to tell him what it's about or what she knows.
DG: So that was really less for new viewers than for old viewers who had saddled up this horse for 22 hours and we had to give some answers to these questions.
JH: What can you tease about Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) and where her relationship with Nick is going now that he's told her is a Grimm?
DG: Their relationship will continue, hopefully, should she arise from that coma. There will be more and more complications in their relationship and we like him to have a complicated relationship in that he kind of adores her as opposed to the typical thing where there're all these women in his life and that kind of thing. We like the idea of a steady relationship but it's going to get very unsteady very soon.
JH: And on the flip side of that, the fact that Nick and Hank (Russell Hornsby) spend so much time together in their work but Hank is still in the dark about a lot of the Grimm stuff even though it's happening practically in front of him. Is that also something you're going to play with?
DG: Stay tuned. Hank is definitely on a razor's edge right now and will eventually have to come to some kind of grips with all of this, because it's driving him insane. And Nick feels a little responsible for all this.
JH: Talk about Renard (Sasha Roiz) and what he's up to. He has some good scenes in the second episode but what is his arc moving forward?
DG: You're going to learn a lot more about his background and there's going to be some shocking stuff that's going to happen to him. He's always so in control and there's going to be a shocking incident that actually throws him off his game a little bit and the seams start to come undone a little bit. And you're going to learn about him, about his background.
JK: We're going to make them all suffer!
DG: They're all going to suffer as we have suffered.
JH: Are we going to get more into the character of Wu (Reggie Lee)?
JK: I love Reggie.
DG: You are going to get more with him.
JK: He'll suffer just like everybody else.
JH: Are we seeing Adalind (Claire Coffee) again anytime soon?
DG: Maybe. Pretty much maybe.
JH: Rosalee (Bree Turner) is now a series regular so what will her arc be in this season?
JK: Well, there's going to be a budding romance with her and Monroe, but it's going to be complicated by someone from Monroe's past, and it's going to be further complicated by something akin to the plague. Then, she's going to go away for a while and he may end up running the Spice Shop for a little while, while she's away. There are all kinds of stuff going on with them.
JH: I think that's everybody. Did I miss anything?
JK: Just that a lot of questions will be answered. It's a watchable hybrid show. You can join the show at any time and still help solve a crime. You don't have to know all this crazy background stuff.
"Grimm" airs Mondays at 10:00/9:00c on NBC through September 10 before returning to Fridays at 9:00/8:00c on September 21.