Stumbled across a theory recently that gives me some hope for a Nuckelavee redemption. I still think my earlier idea of having the horse part have at the very least a poison breath attack would help a lot, but this theory could also ensure that it wouldn't feel lame if another Nuckelavee showed up later. The theory goes like this:
Actually, Nuckles was practically a child. He was recent about ten years ago and has had no modifications like spikes until the RNJR fight.
Let that sink in.
1 point·6 months ago
He destoyed Oniyuri and Kuroyuri ten years ago, I doubt he was born only a few years before that, he seemed to show some intelligence like the 100+ year old Goliaths so I'd put him at at least 45. Not ancient put not a child either.
I'm a Pyrrha now. Unless Ruby gets interesting again.2 points·6 months ago
Possibly, but he's got no mentions of being older than that.
And far more importantly, he had no modifications like spikes or armour on him before the battles with RNJR. He appeared to be a youngling to me.
Two of my biggest gripes with how the Nuckelavee turned out was that it was presented as a old and intelligent Grimm yet still got punked, and that it did a mid fight transformation that seemingly didn't make it stronger or do anything at all. This theory however could fix both those issues. Oobleck mentions that the truly superior and experienced Goliaths are probably hundreds of years old. In comparison the known timeline of 10 years minimum for the Nuckelavee is rather short. If the Nuckelavee was able to cause that much trouble despite being very young and unevolved then a truly ancient and evolved version would be terrifying (especially if the horse does have its own abilities).
One way to indicate it could be to show another Grimm doing a similar transformation, say a larger than normal Beowolf suddenly starts shuddering mid fight and starts growing out extra bones, not a full transformation but it clearly resembles an Alpha a lot more than it did previously. Then have the characters comment on it evolving.
Even without another Nuckelavee showing up it would make it look better via hindsight, as its made clear that the Nuckelavee was on the cusp of evolving into a more advanced and powerful form and that Team RNJR were extremely lucky to face it before it had fully evolved. Also just in general it would be a cool setting detail to show some advanced Grimm types evolving from the adversity of facing the strong and varied opponents of a team of Huntsmen.