Happy! has a lot of things going for it, but one of its best features is the pacing. The first episode hooks us in with its constant action and barrage of frenetic action sequences, then things slow down a bit for two episodes for some character development and actual detective work and now at almost the halfway point of the season, some puzzle pieces are starting to fall into place.
In “Year of the Horse,” Nick and Meredith start on separate trajectories that dovetail nicely as the game changes for the kidnapped children. They’re each tugging on different threads—Nick tracking Very Bad Santa; Meredith and Amanda investigating the missing kids—but they both wind up at VBS’s lair, only to find that the kids are gone. They and we viewers know that the stakes have been raised, though we have a smidge more information in that regard. So, let’s talk about how they each got to the Christmas party from hell.
First off, Meredith and Amanda. They find a couple whose son is missing and this time it’s legit. They lost him at a Sonny Shine concert—dun dun dun. More on that later.
But while the women are at the house, the scooter messenger who delivers the creepy Christmas cards shows up. In a delightful show of badassery, the ladies threaten the guy with some pretty gruesome torture to get him to talk. The messenger actually knows very little about this gig, but he does give Meredith the location of the dead drop, which leads her to the basement of Gimbel’s department store (aka VBS’s lair).
Nick, meanwhile, is following up on a clue found in VBS’s vomit after Santa eats Happy and Happy crawls his way back out of VBS’s gullet. Yes, really. The clue is a fortune from inside a fortune cookie, which they manage to track to a specific restaurant in Chinatown. Tracking a fortune is not the most believable of plot points, but the show obviously takes place in a world where a meth-head Santa can grab and eat an imaginary blue donkey-unicorn thing, so let’s roll with it.
Nick finds a delivery boy who identifies VBS and tells Nick an approximate location of where he takes his food (which he orders in bulk every week). Nick and Happy eventually figure out that Gimbel’s store is right there and Nick finds the lair too.
While all this is happening, the show finally connects the kidnappings to the Scaramucci family. I’ve been wondering if they were going to be connected because while it seems like the show should do that for tight storytelling’s sake, the two plots didn’t necessarily have to have anything to do with one another. It crossed my mind that perhaps Scaramucci and the password would be a jumping off point for a potential season two instead of tying into the kidnappings. I prefer it this way, but I wasn’t sure if that’s how things would go.
Anyway, the man behind the kidnappings is called “The Bug.” He orders Blue to have VBS (real name: Junior Mozell) transfer the children to the “prep phase,” which sounds ominous even before we get a glimpse into the furry sex room next door. Hey, if you’re into furry stuff, do your thing. But The Bug kidnaps children and delivers these “important gifts” to “important people,” so obviously there is nothing good going on here.
But at least we’re getting an idea of who’s behind the kidnappings and now that the kids are in transport, the stakes have been raised considerably. The sense of urgency from the premiere episode is back, which is something this show needs to keep its forward momentum.
There’s also a great tease of something going on with Mike Scaramucci, the dead brother who previously visited the Don. Isabella goes to see an old Italian woman who divines her visions from cigarette smoke and TV snow (amazing). The signora tells Isabella that Mike is not with his brothers—and lo and behold, his body is gone from the morgue.
When Blue first told Smoothie to do a “scrub down,” I assumed he meant something to do with VBS’s lair, but now I’m not so sure. Maybe Smoothie took Mikey’s body to destroy some sensitive evidence pertaining to the password?
- Meredith and Amanda are an unexpectedly enjoyable pairing. Anyone else now totally wishing for a Cagney & Lacey-style spinoff starring Nick’s former flames? They should call it... Meranda Rights.
- The Secrets of My Sussex is just another an awesome detail that makes this show so rich. Having Blue’s sister be a housewife on a faux Real Housewives show is such a perfect touch and Happy! parodies the Bravo franchise expertly. Also, Debi Mazar is awesome and should be in everything.
- Meredith: “How’s your finger feel on that throttle, Ms. Hansen?”
Meredith: “Part of you want to squeeze it just to see what’ll happen?”
Amanda: “A real big part.”
- “Auspicious Dumplings” goes on the short list for band names.
- Nick: “I’m gonna choose my words very carefully... um, I can appreciate in order to sell your dry, flavorless cookies you gotta peddle this story that, frankly, makes you sound like a simple-minded asshole. But there is no such thing as the cosmic order. The universe is a callous, indifferent b*tch and it will f*ck you every chance it gets. And once you think it’s done with you, it will flip you right over and f*ck you from behind.”
- Happy has really taken a back seat these last two episodes, which I like. He was very funny in the premiere and at the poker game, but a little goes a long way when it comes to the goofy sidekick. Keeping him more in the background makes him funnier, rather than Happy wearing out his welcome.
- Does anyone else think Sonny Shine = The Bug? I told you to keep your eye on that guy.
- Bug: “There are Jenners less exposed than this.”
- Nick’s personal Chinatown montage was hilarious, but it also got me wondering if two characters are going to turn out to be related in more than one way, if you know what I mean. If you don’t, go watch Chinatown.
- This show really knows what it’s doing when it comes to choreographing and filming fight scenes, which is much appreciated. The fights are terrific, loved the one with the Triads.
- Speaking of the Triads, did that make anyone else think of the Psych episode “Romeo and Juliet and Juliet”? Just me?
- Nick: “Nick Sax, NYPD... ish. I’m trying to locate a man, eats here, maybe orders in. Big, smelly animal. Looks like Santa Claus if you ran him over with a Mack truck and sprayed him with cat piss.”