I usually love when Grimm breaks out of the Wesen of the Week mold and gives us an encounter with something else. “Mishipeshu” is one of those episodes. The episode actually starts with a glimpse into the future, which is definitely a shift from the usual seamless episode-to-episode story telling we’re used to. What we see is jarring: Hank is beating the crap out of Nick. Nick is clearly holding back and Hank is about to kill his partner. The last thing we see before shifting to the “present” is Hank’s face shifting into a glowing lion-faced aura. Crazy stuff, right?
Crazier still is the idea that Monrosalee thought they could invite Nick (and Hank) over and not end up talking about Juliette. Nick’s frustrations overflow out of him, though his friends try to comfort him. Hank says something along the lines of “when something like this happens it takes some time.” I’m pretty sure a Hexenbiest transformation after a Grimm power restoring sex ritual happens all the time, Hank. Monrosalee offer their help, but Nick’s anxiety over Juliette is too much and he leaves. Hank and Monrosalee decide to work on a fix for the situation even if Nick isn’t around. They’re good friends. However, at a bar, Juliette is busy making up for just how good they’re being with a little bad behavior. A guy comes up to her and offers to buy her a drink—she offers that he buys her two, in turn—and things start heating up. At least for him they do. After a name guessing game and some rejected advances, Juliette woges and sends him flying across the room. The bartender calls the cop while Juliette does a sassy strut out the door.
While stuff is happening with people we care about, a school custodian is cleaning a classroom. He hears a noise and leaves his floor buffer to look for who made it. He tries to sound like a bad ass, but moments later is getting mauled by a figure wearing plaid with the same glowing blue spirit face that Hank had in the flash forward. It looks like we’ve got the ball rolling on this week’s case. Come morning, the familiar faces of Nick and company grace the scene of the crime. However, to the delight of Hank and fans, they aren’t the only recognizable faces. Deputy Farris is back! She arrived before even Wu and what she found was a mauled corpse. She postulates that it seems like an animal attack, but the fact they’re inside the school makes it unlikely. Nick asks about the kids, but Farris explains they canceled classes immediately after finding the dead guy. It’s not a snow day, kiddies, but it’s as close as you’re getting.
At the spice shop, Renard comes bearing that Hexenbiest book of magic that’s caused so much trouble. He’s also full of warnings about how dangerous it and the magical hat are. Renard and Monrosalee are a three-way character dynamic that’s never really been explored, so the attempted bonding over Juliette’s plight is appropriately awkward. Things are especially uncomfortable when he flashes back to the inappropriate make out session that preceded their making of the ‘biest with two backs. Speaking of last week’s episode, what the hell happened with Renard? Last time we saw him he was half naked on the floor after a seeming heart attack and now he’s having sex flashbacks and making the weirdest of mutual friend based small talk? What gives? He leaves with another warning, but now I’m just left wondering what happened in between last week and this one.
In the school’s principal’s office, Nick and company try to find out more about the guy who got mauled. The principal goes on to explain that the gentleman was antisocial and not well liked. Things take a turn when she starts talking about racist graffiti aimed at a Native American student at the school. She says it happened repeatedly, including an instance she found early one morning. Her deadpan rattling off of the hate speech directed the boy’s way is somehow distant yet disapproving of its content. Simon George, the boy targeted by the hate speech, dropped out just shy of graduating after the ordeal. With the likelihood that the custodian could have been involved high, Nick thinks the mauling might be Simon’s revenge. Before the leave the school entirely, Farris asks to come along. Apparently her ex-husband was a member of the same tribe as Simon. Emphasis on “ex-husband,” Hank. In the woods, we’re introduced to Simon, who doesn’t say much. To be fair, he doesn’t need to with the mouth surrounded with blood not unlike how a little girl might go to town with her mom’s lipstick. When he looks into a puddle, he sees the spirit creature reflected and freaks out. Who wouldn’t though?
Back at the precinct, Hank catches everybody up on the victim, who has a questionable past, though he seemed recently clean. Nick then fills them in on Simon. Farris has her own personal experience with the story of Simon’s father’s murder. When Simon was five-years-old, Gus, his father, was dragged out of his car and beaten to death right in front of young Simon. It was so traumatic that he was never able to speak about it after. Although the police have no jurisdiction with the tribe, Farris offers to leverage her connections for information. She’s a useful one, that Farris. After the talk about Simon, Wu pops up with some news of his own. Juliette was arrested. Nick is pretty shocked, but the whole exchange leaves me wondering: does Wu know Juliette is a Hexenbiest? It was a slow trickle of knowledge, but I’d imagine last week busted the dam on that one. Nick, flabbergasted, heads out to check on Juliette, while Hank and Farris head to the reservation. While our heroes head out, another guy, at what appears to be an auto shop, gets killed. My reaction? Oh well. He was on screen for five seconds before he was a disembodied scream. It’s hard to get upset over that.
However, it’s pretty damn easy to get upset over what’s going down between Nick and Juliette. While it’s good that Nick can finally talk to her, it’s not so great that she had to get arrested for it to happen. She serves up more than her share of sass about how a Grimm and a Hexenbiest could leave together in harmony. The tension between the characters is heavy and weighs them both down. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing: Bitsie Tulloch and David Giuntoli continue to do good work with the material. It is, however, uncomfortable and makes you want to squirm while you watch. There are moments of tenderness—Nick says he could never hurt her and she seems to worry that she could never say the same—mixed with Juliette wickedly relishing her power and comparing it to Nick’s. The frustration inherent in the situation makes it really easy to dislike Juliette. She blames everybody for what happened while simultaneously wallowing in the maddening power that goes along with it. It’s like a classic supervillain origin. She taunts Nick and says the only reason she let herself get arrested was to see if he would rescue her. He says he’s going to leave her there for her own safety and before the scene shifts, she notes “and safer for you.” These are rough scenes, but they’re probably among the best this episode has to offer.
At the reservation, Farris introduces Hank to Hector Ballou, one of the spiritual guides of the tribe. He further elaborates on Simon’s tragic life, explaining that the racist graffiti caused Simon to break after so many years away from the tribe. He returned to reconnect with his people and their beliefs. Simon came to Hector to help him connect with his spirit guide. As of the meeting, Simon has been on his quest for about three days. Hector also knows about what happened to Simon’s father. While talking to Hector, Hank gets a call from Nick about Juliette. Nick explains how bad their meeting was and what his plan is, which Hank calls “sort of a plan.” Of course, Nick didn’t just call to share his feelings. The auto shop guy’s been found, so Hank agrees to meet Nick at the scene.
When they all get there, the situation seems similar to the custodian. Even down to the sketchy past and seemingly clean present. Nick thinks they should look for a connection between the victims, so they get on that. Wu finds the custodian in the auto shop guy’s contacts. While our favorite detectives are figuring things out, Simon is continuing his quest. He chants in the forest by moonlight, bringing forth the spirit he’s been questing for. There’s definitely a third guy in line for a first class spirit of vengeance based mauling. Back at the precinct, the Scoobies try and figure out who it might be with a match the name across the victims’ contacts game. They find an overlapping name and pretty soon they find their guy has a similarly shady past as the two corpses.
A scene shift later and we find that this guy still seems like a questionable character. He’s just putting off some nasty vibes. The fact he just has a gun sitting around doesn’t help matters, but I will give him the fact he’s more aware than the previous two dudes who got slaughtered. While he paces around, Nick and company arrive at his house. A spirit empowered Simon attacks and guy with a gun ends up getting thrown out the window. Nick and Hank try and catch Simon, but he gets away, although not without hurting himself. Nick mistakes him for Wesen, but both Hank and Farris saw the glowing blue aura of what they will find out is the Mishipeshu.
In a somewhat abrupt change of pace, we catch back up with Renard, who appears to be grabbing something to eat at a food truck. Rosalee calls to ask him about the amount of a substance used in the spell to restore Nick, but he hasn’t a clue and his mom is pretty much MIA. Rosalee thinks that altering the measurements of the spell could produce a numbing effect that could render Juliette powerless. Renard offers to connect Monrosalee with another skilled Hexenbiest—I’m assuming Henrietta—when he becomes entranced by the money in the wallet of the man in front of him. Something about the way he handles the cash triggers something in him. He follows the man back to his car and knocks him out with one punch. I continue to ask, “What gives?” Later, Renard arrives at the precinct and is greeted by Wu. Wu updates him on the case and Renard realizes he has another man’s wallet with no clue where it came from. He tells Wu to return it anonymously and Wu, in turn, asks how much crime is typically Wesen related. Renard’s answer, which suggests crime is always Wesen related in some capacity, leaves Wu somewhat bewildered. I’m bewildered too, but only because I have no clue what’s going on with the Captain.
Having returned to the reservation, Nick, Hank, and Farris find out about the Mishipeshu from Hector. There’s a painfully awkward moment where Farris expresses her shock and Nick and Hank have to go along with the “Oh yeah, this is really weird!” vibe. The gang heads outside to a tent, where Hank and Farris drink something and take objects that belonged to Simon’s parents in order to connect with Simon on the dream plain. Nick almost takes a sip himself, but Hector sees something about him that suggests he would be safer not partaking. I wonder what would have happened to a Grimm in this situation. I guess we’ll never know. Elsewhere, Simon hobbles around, hurting from his crash landing when he made his escape earlier. You can hear Hector’s tribal chanting and when Simon looks up, his eyes make contact with the glowing eyes of a Mishipeshu totem. Moments later, Hank slips into Simon’s past. In one of Russell Hornsby’s finest acting performances of the series, he channels five-year-old Simon’s experience of watching his father being beaten to death. His voice shifts and he narrates what is a horrifying hate crime. We also see that the men who killed Simon’s father are the same ones that have been mauled or attacked. When Nick helps Farris when she’s starting to feel sick in the tent, Hank lets Simon take over and he goes running wildly through the woods.
Hank experiences flashes of Simon’s memories and wanders into the totem area where Simon was earlier. Nick, Farris, and Hector continue to look for him, but he encounters Simon who passes the Mishipeshu spirit on to Hank. Nick and company soon find Simon and the totem, realizing that they arrived too late to stop the spirit from passing along. A possessed Hank searches out the third killer, but is greeted by Simon and Hector. When Nick arrives and confronts him, we’re taken back to the start, with our hero getting the stuffing knocked out of him. Fortunately, Hank doesn’t murder his best friend. Hector blows some powder in his face that knocks the Mishipeshu out of him. Hank is traumatized by what happened, but when they head outside, the third killer can only taunt him and the others. Without proof, no arrest can be made. It almost seems like one of those unsatisfying Law & Order style conclusions, but this is Grimm. After Nick gives himself a guilt trip over Juliette’s current situation, we revisit the third killer. Guess what? Mishipeshu is back and it’s Deputy Farris. Clearly she and Hank need to get together now. Being possessed by the same spirit of vengeance has to be something to bond over, right?