At the end of last episode, Myka left the Warehouse after saying goodbye to everyone in a letter. But this is a special Christmas episode, which means it fits somewhere earlier in the order of episodes. Artie mentions his family in Russia, so this probably takes place after “Vendetta”, but obviously it has to come before the search for Warehouse 2. So it’s probably should be Episode 10 or 11, but whatever; this is how it aired, so this is how I’m reviewing it. We start with Pete and Myka showing up at the Warehouse in the middle of winter and Pete wishing it was located in Maui instead of Montana. Myka loves winter though (she is from Colorado) and shows her Christmas spirit by nailing Pete with a snowball.
Claudia’s apparently got the spirit too, because she’s used artifacts to decorate the office: Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves (which make you see stars without hitting you), a Swiss Miss blizzard cup that makes marshmallow flavoured snowflakes, and the original mistletoe … which is pretty strong, apparently. Claudia’s brother Joshua is there too, so that explains some of her giddiness, but she’s also jazzed about having people to spend Christmas with for once. She’s disappointed when Pete and Myka say they’re each going home for the holidays. Artie comes in and starts acting all Grinchy, even after Claudia gives him a new coat as a gift. He really gets mad when the mistletoe causes him to lay a big smooch on Joshua.
Meanwhile in Los Angeles (possibly the least Christmassy place on Earth), a guy named Larry Newley (played by Paul Blackthorne from Arrow) is disappointing his daughter by working too much instead of spending time with her. It looks like this is going to be one of those Christmas tales where someone learns that family is more important than money, although in this one, Larry and his wife are already split up. After video-chatting with his daughter Kallie, Larry hears somebody upstairs, busting up all his fancy shit. He gets a gun and goes to look, but freaks out when he sees who it is. We don’t really get a look at the culprit, but we do see a sparkling ball zoom up the chimney saying “Ho ho ho”, so we can make an educated guess at who the vandal was. If we need any more confirmation, the word “Naughty” is etched into the wall and catches on fire.
At the boardinghouse, Myka and Pete are about to leave when Artie comes in to tell them about Santa’s home invasion. We then get a modified version of the opening credits, with holiday-themed additions for the cast photos (including a dreidel for Saul Rubinek) and Christmas music for the theme. Anyway, Claudia’s still wondering how to get Artie in the proper spirit and Leena shows her a photo of Artie at the piano as a kid. Leena says Artie told her he was never happier than at that piano, and when she mentions how Artie’s father disowned him for joining the NSA, Claudia decides Artie’s old piano will be the perfect gift for him. Unfortunately, there are 486 piano tuners in the Philadelphia area, so it won’t be easy.
In L.A., Pete and Myka talk to Larry and he tells them he’s knocking down a bunch of old stores to put up a new shopping mall, so the people being evicted might have a beef with him. They go see the loudest complainer, a guy named Wilkie who runs one of those novelty shops that sell plastic dog shit and stuff like that, which means Pete’s in his glory. Wilkie says he had nothing to do with anything that happened at Larry’s house, but he’s not exactly broken up about it. Wilkie says he doesn’t care what Larry’s paying for his store, since it’s his parents’ legacy and something like that is more important than money. Naturally, Larry doesn’t get it.
At Larry’s office, the glowing ball shows up again and coalesces into Santa. Santa trashes the place and tells Larry (who he calls “Larry Noodles”) to change his life or Santa will take it from him. Santa then zooms up the vent, leaving Pete and Myka to wonder if he might be the genuine article. They call Artie, who mentions St. Nicholas, the guy Santa is based on. That convinces Pete they’re dealing with the real thing (“This was the real Santa, okay? Oh and by the way, be nice, because Santa is bad-ass!”), but Myka wonders if an artifact could let someone take Santa’s form. Artie mentions a couple of darker Santa types, like Krampus and Zwarte Piet. Myka and Pete hear Larry getting shit from his ex (Lila) about not spending time with their daughter. They wonder if Lila might have sent the Bad Santa after Larry, so they head over to Lila’s place, dragging a reluctant Larry with them.
In Philadelphia, Claudia finds Artie’s old piano—complete with his initials scratched inside the lid—and is thrilled. (Claudia: “Holy bah humbug, Marley!”; Conservatory teacher: “It’s Marla.”; Claudia: “Right, I’m so sorry.”) Claudia wants to buy it and Marla says she’ll have to ask the piano’s owner, Mr. Weisfeld. Yup, it’s Artie’s father, Izzy (played by Judd Hirsch) and we immediately know where Artie gets his grumpy demeanor from. In L.A., Pete and Larry have fruitcake with Kallie and Pete pretends to like it until Kallie reminds him she didn’t actually bake it … then he spits it out. (I guess I’m in the minority, but I actually like fruitcake, as long as it’s not dry.) Myka asks Lila about who might be threatening Larry, but Lila has no idea. Myka asks about the “Larry Noodles” thing and Lila says Larry hated that nickname, but nobody’s called him that since high school. She says they were actually happier when they had nothing, but once they started getting successful, that became the only thing that mattered to Larry.
In Philadelphia, Claudia is trying to convince Izzy to come see his son, but Izzy’s not interested … until Claudia tells him Artie is dying. She really lays it on thick and Izzy agrees to come with her; Claudia’s thrilled, but Joshua figures it’s a bad idea. In L.A., Crazy Santa shows up at Lila’s place and Larry’s hand starts to disappear until Pete grabs his wrist. Myka zaps Santa with the Tesla and when they take off his beard, it’s Patrick McGoohan! No, wait, that’s another show. But it is Larry himself under the Santa beard. Santa Larry wakes up, knocks real Larry into the swimming pool, and says he’ll disappear by midnight. (Oh, did I mention, it’s Christmas Eve?) Pete and Myka take Larry home, seal off all the cracks and crevices where the glowing dust ball could infiltrate, and call Artie. He says if Larry is fading, it could be some kind of transfer spell, where the Santa version of Larry supplants the original’s life.
At the boardinghouse, Claudia brings Artie in to see his father, and Artie is … underwhelmed. He’s kinda pissed off, really, so Claudia tells him Izzy is dying (hey it worked the first time). Artie and Izzy have a nice hug, and Claudia’s pretty proud of herself—for the moment. In L.A., Wilkie shows up at Larry’s house with a letter saying Larry has called off the demolition. Wilkie’s pretty happy until Larry tells him he didn’t send the letter. While the door’s open, the glowing ball shows up, dissolves Larry into itself, and flies away. At the boardinghouse, Claudia’s web of lies falls apart pretty fast once Artie and his dad start talking. They go back to arguing, but end up bonding over what a pain-in-the-ass yente Claudia is.
In L.A., Pete and Myka wonder where Santa might be hiding Larry until he makes him disappear at midnight. Myka remembers an ornament on Lila and Kallie’s tree and they head over to take a look. Pete notices the ornament is made from an old shell casing and relates the story of the Christmas Truce in 1914, when opposing sides in World War I stopped fighting and exchanged impromptu gifts. Pete and Myka figure the ornament could’ve been imbued with that Christmas spirit, and ask why Kallie attached a photo or herself and her dad dressed as Santa. She says it was the last Christmas they were all still together and she wished things could go back to the way they were then. Myka and Pete realize that Santa probably took Larry to his first mall, since Larry thinks capitalism represents the spirit of Christmas.
At the mall, Santa tells Larry he’s going to replace him, and be the nice kind of person Larry refuses to be. Larry starts disappearing just as Pete and Myka show up. They remember how Larry stopped disappearing when Pete grabbed him at Lila’s place, so they figure human contact breaks Santa’s transference spell. Myka prepares to bag the artifact and Pete tries to get close enough to Larry to touch him. But Santa animates some toy soldiers, and Pete gets kicked in the nards. Myka bags the artifact, but it doesn’t help, so she tries to reason with Santa—and Larry. She explains that Kallie doesn’t care how much money Larry makes, she just wants her dad to be around. Santa says he’s going to make Larry disappear and become the father Larry should’ve been all along. Kallie shows up and says she wants her real father, even if he isn’t perfect. She hugs him (and Lila joins in as well) which makes Santa fade away and Larry reappear fully.
Back at the boardinghouse, Artie and his dad seem to be getting along fine, and Artie shows him the nocturne he finished. Izzy insists he play it, then criticizes his technique. Pete and Myka are making the best of not going home by spending time with their surrogate family, which thrills Claudia to bits. She gives them their presents, T-shirts with artifact pictures on them (Pete:” Aw, it’s the artifact that almost killed each of us.; how … thoughtful?”); Claudia and Joshua have shirts too and she made ones for Artie and Leena as … you can’t say Claudia’s not thorough. They all have Christmas dinner together and Claudia says grace (in Hebrew), which Artie instantly criticizes. So I guess some things never change.