Why is the wait between seasons of Grimm always so excruciating? Well, it could be the fact it typically starts later in the fall season than its returning cohorts. However, my love of the show and its cast of characters would likely make even the shortest break between seasons painful. It’s likely a combination of the two, though “The Grimm Identity” has more than just impatience and fan neediness to deal with. At the end of the fourth season, we witnessed a fully unhinged Juliette nearly murder our hero Nick before his fellow Grimm Trubel appeared and saved the day by firing multiple bolts from her crossbow into the erstwhile leading lady’s chest. On top of that, the source of many of Nick and Juliette’s problems, Adalind, is close to having Nick’s child. Juliette’s demise wasn’t unexpected—her involvement in the murder of Nick’s mother and the fact she set Aunt Marie’s trailer ablaze sealed her fate—but what shape the fallout takes has kept me on edge.
Cue “Identity.” Guess what? I’m still on edge, but so is Nick. The episode picks up almost immediately after Juliette’s death. Nick is in tears while Trubel stands nearby, but the moment is disrupted when a bunch of men in black hoods storm inside at the command of Special Agent Chavez. If you need a reminder, Chavez popped up here and there last season, played to antagonizing perfection by Elizabeth Rodriguez. Nick is chloroformed by one cluster of black hoods and Trubel is dragged out the front door by the other. There’s no relief to be found in these opening moments. Instead, we see black and white flashes of Nick’s memories with Juliette. These visions seemingly conclude with him laying her to rest at her funeral service; all of the Scoobies are there to say their goodbyes. However, this too is a hallucination; it’s still in black and white, even when he returns home, until a floating box containing his mother’s severed head brings a shock of color to the screen. This whole sequence is incredibly creepy. It only gets creepier when Nick’s house is suddenly full of multiple caskets and cardboard boxes. David Giuntoli does a particularly fine job handling the chaotic vision, but it’s only the start of one of his most driven performances as Nick Burkhardt yet.
Nick wakes up on the floor to a phone call from Hank. Not only has Trubel been taken, but Juliette’s body and his mother’s head are also nowhere to be found. After the bizarre trip he just had, it’s fair to say that Nick sounds a little on edge when talking to Hank, especially when he reveals that Juliette is dead and Trubel has been taken. While Hank heads over to see what’s going on, we reconnect with Monrosalee. Our favorite Wesen are already figuring out how they’ll be able to help support Nick when Adalind gives birth, but those considerations have to wait, because their phone rings and Nick’s on the line. After some frantic questioning, he drops the big bombshell: Juliette’s dead. He doesn’t stay on the phone for long though, we’re left with the understandably shocked Wesen couple and Nick running around his house like a madman. It doesn’t take long for him to remember one name though: Chavez. Hank arrives at the same time and gets more info from Nick, who is rushing around like a chicken Wesen (We haven’t seen one of those yet, have we?) with its head cut off. The volley of questions and answers tossed back and forth between the two partners gets pretty intense, with Hank in shocked disbelief even as Nick’s determined to come after Chavez. Nick tells Hank to find more information and heads out to crack some Steinadler skulls.
At the precinct, another dangling plot thread from last season’s finale is being tugged at: the Jack the Ripper copycat murders. As you might know, Renard was possessed by the Ripper’s spirit and committed some rather heinous murders before being exorcised. Fortunately, Nick killed Kenneth, the smug Royal douchebag who helped guide Juliette toward her own destruction, and his body was placed with evidence of the crime. However, Detectives Meacham and Pogue think that Kenneth was killed by some vigilantes, which leaves the case ajar, if not closed. Nonetheless, Renard is satisfied with how it’s played out so far, but I will say I won’t be surprised if those nosy detectives pop up again going on about vigilante justice. While things are seemingly on track at the police department, Nick continues to come unglued. He drives to confront Chavez at her office, nearly causing a couple of car accidents and running down a pedestrian in the process. This certainly isn’t Nick’s finest hour, but considering what’s happened to him and those he loved, I’ll give him a pass.
Back at the precinct, Hank shows up and brings Wu into Renard’s office to explain what happened the night before. Renard, however, is on the phone with the mayor who apparently wants those aforementioned vigilantes caught. See! I told you it would pop up again, though perhaps a bit quicker than expected. Pretty soon, Wu and Renard echo the booming chorus of confused voices over Juliette’s demise and Chavez’s involvement. Although I understand how the news needed to spread slowly, it still feels a little tedious, especially when Wu and Renard reinforce everything over and over again. It kind of reminds me of how soap operas often remind their viewers repeatedly of everything that’s happened before. It’s necessary info, but it’s still a speed bump. While Portland’s Finest debate about how to handle the Nick situation, Wu reminds us of another lingering thread from the end of last season: Nick’s neighbors. The Royals killed most of them to make their murder of Nick’s mother Kelly possible. Now the police are finding the bodies. The story soon picks up steam at the FBI office too. Nick decides to follow his crazy driving with a crazed public outburst after demanding a meeting with Chavez. If we didn’t know exactly how shady she is, Nick’s behavior would seem even more erratic and entirely unjustified, but fortunately, we do. Even though he’s teetering on the edge, I totally get where he’s coming from.
Unfortunately, Nick’s confrontation with Chavez does not go well. She calls and reports him to Renard, while Nick is on his way to the precinct after hearing about the murders of his neighbors. When Nick arrives, they’re still identifying the victims, but talk about the murders is interrupted when Renard drags Nick into his office. Renard is clearly concerned with Nick’s well being, but is pretty much ineffectual at the same time. His skepticism regarding Chavez’s participation in a secret organization is eye roll inducing, to say the least, and makes for a rather unpleasant back and forth between the two men. Renard decides Nick needs to take some time off, which, to me, sounds like a bad idea. What’s Nick going to do when he’s all Grimm unfettered by his policely duties? Hank, however, sees it differently, which leads to another unpleasant exchange. While I get the concern from Nick’s friends, I find myself perturbed by their seeming disbelief. One of my biggest pet peeves with genre television is when people surrounded by crazy situations act like they cannot possibly be real. Considering the stuff that’s happened the past four seasons, you’d think it’d be an easier pill to swallow.
It’s upsetting to see the group so scattered, but Hank plans on getting some help. Cue a shift to the spice shop. Monrosalee still can’t quite wrap their minds around everything that has happened, which somehow manages to be less of a retread due to the spark Bree Turner and Silas Weir Mitchell bring to their characters. Because they’re relatively clueless, they throw around some pretty wild theories about what happened. Rosalee is especially upset, which makes sense. Her best friend is dead. I’m really hoping Turner and her character will get to explore that loss in depth this season. However, before we get mired down in hopes for the season, we should get back to the Grimmiere. Nick is back home and searching for as much info about Chavez as he can. Before he can depart to track her down, he hears Juliette’s voice in his head and starts to lose it even more. It’s heartbreaking to watch, especially as a fan of both characters and their relationship. While Nick continues to lose grip, Hank fills Monroe and Rosalee in on Nick’s Chavez theory. While Wu does some research on Chavez, the discussion shifts gears to Juliette. Monroe is glad Juliette died over Nick, a justifiable claim which still sounds like a case of foot in mouth when said out loud. In a lot of ways, the argument that follows watches like a back and forth among the fans and writers just as much as among the characters. Rosalee asserts that Juliette’s transformation wasn’t her fault, though Wu and Hank make valid points about her embracing the darkness and nearly killing Nick. Rosalee continues to defend her friend, but then Monroe claims that Juliette knew it would be risky when she helped repower Nick. Considering the fact they had to return his abilities to help Monrosalee face the Wesen equivalent of the Klan, I’m a little perturbed by this. Hank helps squash the argument, but I highly doubt this will be last time it comes up.
When Wu finds Chavez’s address, Monroe agrees to head over there just in case Nick might be heading over there. Chavez, however, isn’t at her house. She’s strutting through a mysterious facility where a mysterious creature is being held kept and a mysterious man steps out of the shadows. Oh wait! That’s not a mysterious man! That’s Meisner, the Resistance’s resident bad ass slab of beefcake and most recent guardian of Adalind and Renard’s daughter, Diana. The fact Meisner and Chavez are in cahoots only increases the number of questions swimming around in my head, but I don’t see answers coming soon. I do, however, see a surprisingly suspenseful parking duel between Nick and Monroe, who arrive at Chavez’s place at the same time. Fans of the Nickroe bromance aren’t going to be thrilled with their encounter, especially when Nick points and yells “Get out of her!” Monroe’s a wolf, not a domestic dog, Nick.
Things aren’t just Nick being crazy, Chavez being mysterious, and Juliette being dead. Adalind’s pregnant too! Bud prepared her what I’m sure is a delicious breakfast, but while he debates the merits of maple syrup and raspberry jam, Adalind goes into labor. Adalind will clearly do anything to avoid weighing in on the great syrup and jam debate. While they scramble to the hospital, Wu digs deeper into Chavez’s background, but nothing exciting turns up. However, there’s plenty of excitement back at her place, where Nick finally confronts her; this time it’s as a Grimm confronting a Wesen. Back at the spice shop, a little further digging shows that Chavez’s parents were diplomats who died when she was in high school. The research session is cut short when they get a call from Nick. Rosalee answers, only to find he’s right outside with Chavez in tow.
Once Chavez has been dragged down into the spice shop’s basement, things start to get really satisfying. Chavez stays smug, but Nick and company tear into her about both Trubel and the fact Weston Stewart, the FBI agent that Trubel beheaded, was a Royal plant. The Scoobies aren’t so disjointed anymore now that they have Chavez and her resting bird face to hate. Chavez says something about her life not mattering because too much is at stake; the usual overly dramatic mysterious stuff. A call from Bud disrupts the seriousness for a moment, though I guess Adalind giving birth to Nick’s child is serious business too. Nick and Rosalee leave, while the others stand watch. None of them have time for Chavez’s secrets. Of course, why should they? I am relieved there is a seemingly quick resolution to Nick’s friends thinking he’s going off the deep end, though I’d be shocked if he doesn’t stay a little more on edge than before. He has very good reason to.
When Nick and Rosalee arrive at the hospital, they run into Bud, who gives them the rundown of what’s going with Adalind. Bud is as endearingly frantic as ever, but the situation is no less serious than the other stuff Nick has been dealing with. Rosalee pledges her and Monroe’s support and encourages Nick as they head towards the delivery room. It’s the first time I can recall Nick and Rosalee really sharing a one-on-one moment like this one and it’s pretty nice. When they arrive, Adalind and the baby start to have complications during the delivery. I find myself worried for both mother and child, but the dangerous turn suits the chaotic barrage that’s been firing at Nick since the last season. Meanwhile, back at the spice shop, Hank, Wu, and Monroe are trying to get Chavez to open up more. It’s no easy task. Chavez gives vague answers, but you can tell she’s softening a little bit.
Things take a turn when she gets a call on a fancy non-FBI issued thumbprint identifying phone. In a risky move, they let her answer and she makes a plan to bring Nick in to meet her people. She doesn’t, however, mention that she’s being held captive at the moment, which is pretty nice of her. Riddled with anxiety over the baby, Nick paces back and forth, but a call from Hank and an ultimatum from Chavez bring him back to the spice shop. The two depart, leaving Rosalee at the hospital and the rest of the gang at the spice shop. Hank gets one of the episode’s best lines when he says his trust only lasts for a couple of hours, but at this point we’ve only got about ten minutes left, so you know some crazy stuff is going to go down.
Nick and Chavez arrive at the location, but she offers little more than ominous warnings and vague details about what to expect. The show goes back to its horrific roots for a bit here, with shadowy spaces and no signs of life. There’s a reason for that though. The men Chavez had arranged to meet have been brutally murdered by a gang of nameless Wesen. Nick and Chavez are attacked and the ensuing fight sequence is nothing short of brutal. Nick impales one guy through the head, while Chavez breaks another assailant’s neck. Unfortunately, a third attacks her and slices her open. The fight continues, with another casualty on the attackers’ side, but one of them gets away. Chavez, muttering some more ominous warnings about a “rising” and handing over Trubel’s signature knight chess piece, bleeds out. As much as I wanted to see her go for most of the episode, I wanted to see her stick around by the end. As she passes, her super fancy phone gets another call. Nick uses her thumbprint to answer it and explains that Chavez was just killed and the people they were meeting were already dead when they arrived. Meisner, never identifying himself to Nick, tells him to keep the phone.
Back at the hospital, Rosalee fills Nick in on the status of Adalind and his baby. When he steps into Adalind’s hospital room, it’s tense. Understandably so, given everything that’s happened between the two of them. Adalind asks Nick not to hate her anymore, and in a surprisingly sweet turn, names their son “Kelly” after Nick’s mother. Part of me likes the idea of their relationship improving. At the same time, it’s pretty hard for me to justify a romance between the two characters given how their child was conceived when Adalind was disguised as Juliette and had sex with Nick in order to remove his powers, which in turn eventually brought about all the craziness that started the episode. I guess we’ll have to see how it goes, right? Between Nick now having a son and this mysterious “rising,” there’s clearly a lot going on in the premiere alone. Factor in Trubel still being MIA, Juliette’s missing body, and some loose threads to tug at from past seasons, I can see season five only getting wilder. I cannot wait.