We’re only six episodes into Grimm’s fifth season, but somehow it’s already time for the show’s winter finale. How is that possible? My impatience for the show’s late January return aside, the folks behind “Wesen Nacht” were not playing around in giving us an episode to both satiate us and make us desperate for more. Part of how they do this is by explicitly tying the Wesen of the Week to the overall arc of the season so far. Yes, I’m talking about the Wesen Uprising. The story takes some unexpected turns from there and we get some pretty crucial background info too.
The episode opens with a bunch of Wesen dressed all in black preparing to do what clusters of Wesen dressed all in black do: something bad. While that’s happening, Trubel is trying to catch up some much needed sleep after barely surviving an encounter with some of those Uprising people at the hospital last episode. Unfortunately, life has been very intense for her these past few months, so she’s not going to catch many Zs. It’s all tossing and turning for her. Fortunately, Nick is there to comfort her, though he’s cradling baby Kelly. It makes for an interesting juxtaposition of chaos and order that speaks to an intrinsic quality in this show. Adalind fills Trubel in on Nick’s anxiety over her absence and how long she slept after he saved her from the Wesen at the hospital before taking Kelly so the two Grimms can catch up. It’s an interesting dynamic between the younger Grimm and the suppressed Hexenbiest.
Before we can really get much Grimm quality time though, we’re interrupted with a Wesen crime spree. A menagerie of woged Wesen vandalizes a number of downtown shops, but they don’t simply destroy property. One of the shop owners is brutally murdered while another is kidnapped by the gang. Meanwhile, Nick and Trubel are none the wiser as she delivers the info dump of all info dumps. She’s been working for an underground government organization called Hadrian’s Wall which employed the late Agent Chavez and the very much alive Meisner. They’re the opposition to this Wesen Uprising and they’ve known what’s been going on with Nick and Adalind since Trubel killed Weston Steward. Trubel’s been jetsetting and taking down dangerous Wesen internationally for them and making bank while doing so. Hadrian’s Wall also gave her the awesome Grimm-Cycle that Nick was playing with last episode. She shows him everything it can do, including tracking phone numbers, which was how she found Nick after he moved. It’s one of the most effective uses of these kinds of scenes, because as a viewer, it’s not just retreading what we know. It’s a little overwhelming, but the cast handles it wonderfully. Trubel’s near breakdown after telling Nick everything is punctuated by a hug, which emphasizes the almost sibling like relationship the two characters have.
Unfortunately, a call about the crime spree interrupts the sweet moment. Pretty soon, Nick is with Hank and Wu is filling them both in on the downtown devastation. We find out the name of the kidnapped shop owner is Xavier Arivaca, while the murder victim is named Ken Honeycutt. Wu cuts to the chase pretty quickly though: the claw mark that’s been popping up in conjunction with that “Occultatum Libera” mess in almost every episode this season is on the wall of Xavier’s bakery. The next morning, Monrosalee find out about Xavier’s kidnapping on the news. It turns out they’re pretty good friends. While it would get worn out if they knew everybody in Portland’s Wesen world, it’s a great way of integrating all aspects of the show into a big case. Moments later, a frantic Bud shows up at their door revealing his ties to the murdered flower shop owner, who like him was an Eisbiber. The news report also delivers some even scarier news: similar attacks happened elsewhere too. We’re just getting a glimpse of the Uprising’s effect. We get an even bigger view when we’re dropped in on the group terrorizing Xavier. The leader, Dallas Cruz, shows Xavier a picture of Monroe. Xavier claims not to know him, but a woge on Cruz’s part and things start feeling really ominous.
At the precinct, Nick and company try to make sense of the incongruous events of the night before. They know it’s clearly tied to that claw mark, but that’s pretty much it. Fortunately, Monrosalee give Nick a ring and our detectives are out the door ready to find out more about the victims of the attack. While most of the gang is about to converge on this latest mess, Adalind and Trubel have an uncomfortable heart-to-heart. Trubel isn’t exactly on Team Adalind, but she isn’t chopping her head off yet either, so there’s hope of a friendship there. Until then, Trubel will treat the blonde with characteristic bluntness; she asks Adalind if she’s in love with Nick. Adalind’s response to the question is appropriately awkward and even a little defensive. At the same time, her resistance seems natural and not a put on. Adalind asks about Meisner, but Trubel is dismissive until Adalind mentions Diana. There’s a tension there and Jacqueline Toboni doesn’t miss a beat going from hard edged to a little softer as Trubel. She shifts right back when Adalind asks about Juliette. It’s a great moment between two very different characters that have their own unique attachments to the same man.
Less tense is Monroe’s explanation of Xavier to Nick and Hank once they arrive at his place. Apparently, Xavier is something called a Hasenfussige Schnecke. Think a hideous anthropomorphic blobfish and you’ll have this guy down. Bud gets the full info dump about the Uprising too. Something about him knowing makes me worried. He’s just an awkward little Eisbiber. Meanwhile, Wu is also finding things out. Namely, he learns Xavier’s whereabouts: back in his vandalized bakery. Xavier’s beaten up, but alive. He might be a disgusting blobfish, but he’s still doing better than Ken.
While Trubel is dropping knowledge and the Uprising is dropping bodies, Renard has been nowhere in sight. Worry not, fans. The hunky captain is filming a campaign commercial for Andrew Dixon. Looks like two episodes of prodding convinced him to make a public endorsement. Renard also meets a lovely redheaded woman named Rachel Wood. I get the feeling Rachel might pop up again based on the spark she had with Renard, but who knows. I’m still waiting for Toni Trucks to pop back up as Janelle Farris so Hank can finally get a stable love interest. Before we fall too deeply into Renard’s dreamy eyes—I see you, Rachel—we’re back with Nick and company. Monroe has some knowledge to share too. Specifically, he explains that most historical street riots often had a secret Wesen origin. That would mean the vandals were upholding a destructive tradition.
Wu interrupts the history lesson with a call about Xavier that brings Nick and Hank down to the hospital. Here, he gives us a pretty flimsy explanation of his escape; he also woges when Nick mentions he is a Grimm. The Hasenfussige Schnecke definitely ranks among the ugliest of Wesen. It’s not even a “so ugly it’s cute” type like the actual blobfish it’s based on. It’s not long before they have Xavier looking at mug shots to identify his kidnappers, but he strangely overlooks Cruz before identifying Billie Trump, a female member of the Wesen gang. Be suspicious of this guy, because I am. You know who else is suspicious of these crazy goings on? Meisner, whom appears at the bakery with a flashlight and his usual handsome grimace, is suspicious. He doesn’t do much though before we’re in Renard’s office talking about the insanity going on. Nick takes this opportunity to mention Agent Chavez’s grim fate. Renard isn’t thrilled to hear about the missing agent’s death, but he also seems protective of his detectives.
Renard agrees to bring in Billie and to have Xavier identify her on a line up, but he’s spineless and she’s making those faces a villain makes when they’re being really smug. The gang is worried about her going free, so they call in Monrosalee to provide Xavier to identify her. Desperate times call for desperate measures, as some say. The Wesen couple is more than happy to help out too, since the spice shop is overrun with Bud and a cluster of worried Wesen day players. While Nick waits for Monroe and Rosalee to arrive, he tries to use his own powers of persuasion on Xavier, but it’s to no avail. The pair makes a pretty good case, but Xavier is dismissive of Nick as a Grimm. Still, they succeed and he rats on Billie. In the interrogation room, Nick confronts a quiet Billie until he invokes his “I’m a Grimm” clause which gets an angry woge and seeming turn on her gang. David Giuntoli does his best “I could kick your ass if I wanted to but I’m also going to smolder” which is super effective, since Billie gives into Nick and seems to make the turn. Of course, Renard going full Zauberbiest on her might have pushed her over the edge too.
While the gang prepares to take Billie and find the Wesen gang, we get another brief glimpse of Meisner retrieving a mysterious female figure from the Hadrian’s Wall base. Before we can get too caught up in that, we’re back at the precinct with Rosalee offering to take Xavier home while the guys head off to kick some ass. Billie seems sort of worried that Dallas might do something to her, but Nick drags her out as the group approaches the gang’s base. Meanwhile, Xavier’s story starts to fall apart as Rosalee drives him home. It gets incredibly tense and soon he breaks, which in turn causes her to break his face. Bree Turner turns out another solid performance here. I’m glad she’s a little less patient with spineless blobfish than she is with murderous children. Billie’s nonchalance the closer they get to the bad guys triggers some of Nick’s alarms, but a call from a worried Rosalee signals what they unfortunately didn’t know: it’s a trap. Even worse, it’s too late to escape. It’s a “kill or be killed” situation, so Nick and company fend off a horde of attackers as best they can. That is until the pained screaming starts outside.
The gang is confused, but Nick heads out into the chaos. There are dead bodies scattered about, but unfortunately Dallas is still there and he manages to knock Nick down. Before he can deliver a final blow, he’s sky high. We see the shadowy silhouette of a hand and he comes crashing down to his death. Everybody else follows outside and Nick stands stunned, until the female figure comes into view. One word escapes Nick’s lips: “Juliette?”
Or is it? As some follow up press has confirmed, Bitsie Tulluch is going to be a regular presence on the show again, but how that takes shape will be a surprise, because this isn’t the Juliette we grew to love in the first three seasons, nor is it the one we grew to hate in season four. I’m excited to see how Tulloch’s return shakes out. It certainly made for one of the strongest non-cliffhanger cliffhangers in a long time in an episode that showed Grimm at its best and left me with a lot of feelings to untangle. Jan. 22 cannot get here fast enough.