Review: Happy! “The War on Easter”

Hide the drugs, hide the liquor, hide the guns. Nick Sax is back.

Overview (Spoilers Below)

Some time has passed since Nick Sax and his imaginary partner Happy defeated the creepy Santa Claus that was kidnapping kids last Christmas. Now, Nick is trying to live a clean life with…varying degrees of success. No drugs, no hookers, no drinking and, most importantly, no more violence. He does all this for his daughter, Hailey, who he shares custody of with his estranged ex-wife, Amanda Hansen. When he goes to pick up Hailey from school, he finds that Hailey has been having some behavior problems motivated by her trauma from being kidnapped last by Creepy Santa. To remedy this, her teacher recommends Hailey attend a Catholic school for troubled girls. Amanda isn’t opposed to the idea, as she too is concerned for Hailey’s mental health.

Elsewhere in the world, strange and sinister things are afoot. Sonny Shine, the children’s television star turned psychopath is up to some serious evil once again. Working for the Catholic church, Sonny is trying to rebrand Easter to become a popular holiday. To this end, he orchestrates the horrifying explosive deaths of nuns in New York City to drum up some controversy about the holiday. Meanwhile, Francisco Scaramucci, who is now in prison, is possessed by something, not of this world. His estranged wife, Isabella, explains that he’s possessed by an evil spirit that follows the Scaramucci family. Isabella soon meets her end, though, when her mother kills stabs her in the face with a sewing needle to try and end the Scaramucci line so the evil spirit cannot pass on to another.

Later, Nick Sax, who’s working as a cab driver, takes on a job to make some easy money by hooking up one of his passengers with a hooker friend of his. He drives them both to a “party” in a warehouse outside of town but quickly realizes that this “party” isn’t on the up and up. It turns out to be an organ harvesting ring that was about to prey on Nick’s friend. Once he finds this out, the goons there try to kill Nick but end up accidentally killing themselves in hilariously brutal ways.

The episode ends as Sonny Shine meets with a mysterious masked bunny man who perpetrated the attack on the nuns. The man takes his mask off to reveal that he’s Smoothie, the torturer/assassin from season one.

Our Take:

Happy! sure knows how to leave an impression. The psycho-pop, drug trip, ultra-violent titan of a show is back for its second season and looking to make this year’s selection of episodes one to remember. To those already familiar with Happy!‘s particular brand of insanity, this will all be familiar to you, but to those that haven’t seen the first season, you might want to start with the first season to help build yourself up to this kind of organized madness. This season’s opening episode isn’t half bad, capturing the essence of what made the original season of Happy! so enjoyable, but with a few speed bumps preventing from being truly astounding television. While there are plenty of enjoyable moments, especially towards the end of the episode, this episode gets bogged down in lengthy scenes of character exposition that, while necessary, aren’t very exciting to watch.

The good comes in the form of the acting and direction I’ve come to adore from this series. Christopher Meloni, playing Nick Sax, chews on the scenery like a wild hog through a slop trough, serving up an ultra-hammy, completely unique performance. His buddy cop relationship with an imaginary friend, Happy, played by Patton Oswalt, has great back-and-forth that constructs a majority of the dialogue in their scenes. This is accompanied by a camera that is quite simply out-of-control. Happy! wants to make every scene’s direction active and interesting, never relying on a static shot when a wild angle or jump cut will do. The result is a show that looks like nothing else on television, and that’s a great thing to see when it’s done well.

The trouble with this episode is that too much time is spent not getting to the meat of the episode. Nick Sax’s prowess at violence is the engine that fuels the show, and we only get a little bit of that towards the end of the episode. The rest of it is spent catching us up on the returning cast from the last season, setting up the dominoes that are sure to fall once the pain train gets moving. That’s not to say that the “talky” parts are bad, necessarily, just that this isn’t the kind of show that lives and breathes off of it’s writing. Its comedy is somewhat hit-or-miss, and it’s plot straightforward, though strange. However, this is still a respectable opening episode, and it is certainly a pleasure to see Happy! back on the air.

Erich Hau

Erich is a northern California based writer on the front lines of the nerd frontier. When he's not burning the midnight oil he enjoys musicals, smooth jazz, and a good cup of dark roast. Cream and sugar not included.

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