The journey back into the city stalls out with a traffic jam, giving Nick time with no booze and his memories. Like working with Meredith on a domestic abuse call. A call that isn’t the first time and a guy who is a nasty piece of work. Nasty Guy threatens Nick with “the men I work with” and taking Nick’s badge. But Nick isn’t scared and dishes back the same tone and threats.
When Nick questions Happy about where Hailey is, Happy doesn’t know. He only saw a room of really old stuff (‘like when you were a kid’) and boxes with holes for the kids. Nick goes to visit a sketch artist he used to work with, who now lives on the street. He has Happy describe the monster, who is a really ugly dirty Santa Claus. Happy also tips Nick off to the idea that SantaCreep is a meth head. Nick goes back to the hooker from the night before who tells him about a strip club where Santa fetishes like to hang out. Their Santa isn’t there but one of the stripers tells him about a child abusing department store Santa who committed suicide at Gimbals. A Santa who had a kid that ended up in a mental hospital, and could be the guy they are looking for.
Meredith decides to help Amanda, especially after discovering that Hailey isn’t the only missing kid with a creepy Christmas card sent to the family. Theirs is a very odd couple partnership. Especially since Meredith was having sex with Nick while he and Amanda were married. And Amanda knows it.
SantaCreep drags Hailey to a table where he serves her water and fruitcake like it’s a high tea. Hailey doesn’t want to eat it but does out of fear when she discovers that the little boy she told about her father was really SantaCreep. Probably not a shock that the fruitcake was laced with drugs, enough to give Hailey quite a trip.
Nick leaves the strip club and by a weird coincidence, SantaCreep jumps him in the alley and gives him a rather nasty beat down. Not enough to kill him but it definitely pretties up his face a lot.
And the mystery of what happened to turn Nick from celebrated cop to whatever he could be called now is seemingly answered when it’s revealed that he and Meredith had yet another call to the home of the Nasty Guy, only this time he killed his wife and baby in brutal fashion. And Nick beat him to a bloody pulp for it. Interestingly on the same day that Amanda tried to tell him that she was pregnant. And that night when she asks Nick what he would think about having a kid, he basically tells her it’s a horrible idea. Which might explain why she didn’t tell him in the end.