It’s no secret that I relished the first season of Happy!. From top to bottom, it was one of the most exhilarating, revolting, inventive, and hysterically funny pieces of television ever created. It didn’t fly off the rails, because it never had rails to begin with. It wasn’t for everyone, which was OK because it was absolutely for me. Still, I’ll admit that I was slightly worried it might lose some of that magic as it entered its second season, having already used up all the source material in Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson’s graphic novel. Could the show stay true to form now that Nick Sax (Christopher Meloni) is a father? Would Easter be as fruitful a holiday to plunder as Christmas? Is there an upper limit to the insanity this show can pack into a single hour of television?
Well, I’ve now seen the first episode of the second season, and let me answer those questions for you: Yes, yes, and NO THERE IS NOT. The second time around, Nick has cleaned up his act in order to be a better father figure for his daughter, Hailey. Or, as he puts it, he’s “clean-ish.” He’s kicked the hard drugs and the alcohol and limits himself to abusing the over-the-counter options instead (cough medicine, breath freshener, aspirin). He’s even got a legit job as a taxi driver, and he knows how to schmooze the moms at Hailey’s school with his slightly salty charms. Still, this is hardly a full evolution for our dear hero, and it’s clear these attempts at normalcy don’t feel comfortable just yet. At one point Nick practically dry-humps a liquor store window before indulging in a wicked fantasy that involves taking a chainsaw to the necks of passing bicyclists. Speaking of wicked fantasies, Nick is still beleaguered by his imaginary flying horse friend, Happy (Patton Oswalt) — a creature that has managed to hold onto his shiny optimism despite sharing mental space with Nick’s darker impulses.
Things are not going so well for Nick’s family, however. Hailey (Bryce Lorenzo) and her mother are still emotionally scarred by the events of last season, though Hailey’s current “anti-authoritarian” outbursts at school may also have something to do with her recent bouts of quality time with Nick. Either way, she gets kicked out and Nick now has to come up with the money to send her to Catholic school instead — a need that just may drive him back to his old criminal ways for quick cash.
And speaking of Catholics, there’s apparently a “war on Easter” afoot, thanks to a sinister plot hatched by the kiddie entertainer Sonny Shine (Christopher Fitzgerald). Sonny has hired a mercenary in a bondage bunny suit to … attack Easter, I guess? The first step involves a bunch of nuns strapped to bomb vests and a detonator hidden in a glowing Easter Egg. One nun makes a break for it, believing that the detonator would only set off the closest vest. But the bunny had lied to her, in fact, the detonator explodes every vest OTHER than the closest — meaning her act of sacrifice ends in her watching her sisters turn into puffs of bloody mist on the streets of NYC. That was bloody geyser number one of the night (while the chainsaw/cyclist massacre was number two, and I’ll get to the third one in a bit).
Sonny is getting Easter in the headlines in order to bolster his very special presentation to the Vatican … on how to “Make Easter Great Again” (MEGA). He dresses up as a spangly Pope in front of the actual Pope and promises them the biggest holiday rebranding ever — and the Pope signs off. But I guess that doesn’t mean the bondage bunny’s job is quite finished, because he’s still out there kidnapping and torturing people at Sonny’s behest. Oh and by the way, the person underneath that bunny gimp mask?
It’s Smoothie (Patrick Fischler), doing what he does best. Apparently, his run-in with Nick last season hasn’t put him off his favorite psychotic pastime.
Other familiar faces have also returned this season. Meredith (Lili Mirojnick) lost her badge, and instead is working in real estate, just like every other person who can’t think of a better way to make money. She still hasn’t lost her instincts, however, and she’s currently turning a yarn-wall into a yarn-room all about Sonny. Mr. Blue (Ritchie Coster) is still in prison, where his nights are split between the tender affections of his bunkmate and his nightmares. Only it turns out his “nightmares” have something to do with the fact that he’s actually possessed by the spirit of an angry god? I’m sure that’s going to go well for him.
But I promised to tell you about that third blood geyser, and let me assure you: it is BEAUTIFUL. Nick is offered a thousand bucks if he can find a woman for his current shady passenger to bring to a party, so Nick introduces one of his prostitute friends. Only the “party” in question turns out to be more of an “illegal organ transplant operation.” Nick has to rush in and save his friend, which he tries to do as calmly and bloodlessly as possible, as befitting that new leaf he’s turned over. What follows is a perfect example of what makes this show so special: a bumbling slapstick fight as Nick tries merely to defend himself, only to accidentally kill EVERYONE. First, he bats someone aside, only for them to be impaled on a forklift. Then he pulls the guy off… only for his entrails to hit the floor (DING DING DING! We have #3!). The rest of the battle proceeds as he and his opponents are slip-sliding on the bloody concrete floor like Looney Tunes, despite the fact that the fight is as well-choreographed and shot as a kung fu movie (shout out to director Brian Taylor!).
It’s that juxtaposition of the silly and surreal with the brutal and bloody that makes this show so fun, and it permeates every aspect — the dialogue, the plot, the shot composition, the set design, and yes, even the performances. Meloni’s Nick Sax hasn’t lost his filthy edge now that he’s a father, and if anything, Meloni himself has ramped up his foul zeal. In any other show, Meloni would be guilty of committing the most egregious scenery-chewing this side of Gary Busey, but here he’s the perfect physical manifestation of the material. His wide-legged strut, his wild hair, his guttural exclamations aren’t too much, because this is a show where “too much” doesn’t exist. There’s only more, and that’s barely enough.
In that context, Meloni is simply embodying the show’s aesthetic to a T, which is why somebody really oughta give that man an award one of these days.
Header Image Source: Syfy