So the work project has take a giant leap forward through burning some midnight oil last night. Through my failings, I've come to better understand Catalyst, how jQuery and it's plugins are nice, but not the right tool for the job, and how reverting back to trust Template::Toolkit, while ugly, gets the job done.
That said, I have a working datagrid. Some values are hardcoded at the moment to match the schema, but eventually, I will have it all automagical, down to the generation of the edit fields based on either data_type or additional metadata stuff into column_info.
So what was it that finally let me do the grid thing that I wanted? Ext. Now, I know some of you really disdain Ext as a company. And you have every right to dislike them. They commit the worst licensing FUD ever. Head on out to their site and see what I mean. Basically telling people that they must pay for a license if they are developing "commercial" software. Except that completely ignores the fact of how the GPL (version 3 specifically) works. in the grand scheme of things, I am developing "commercial" software in that it serves a business purpose and money is changing hands, but what Ext fails to make clear is that use of GPL software in those cases is covered. I am not distributing anything. I can eat up all of the GPL'd code I could ever want and never release a damn thing. The terms of the license are awesome like that. And yet it is "commericial."
So after I get the work project squared away I will revisit DBIC::API and give it some lovin'. And then take that, with some Ext GPLed code, and build the real automagical datagrid that I wanted to build from the beginning.