I went into Happy! not knowing what to expect and having low expectations because I’m not a fan of Christopher Meloni. He’s one of the main reasons I gave up on Law and Order: SVU because the writers forgot that all these cases still have to go to trial, so if you have a detective strangling, punching, or attacking suspects, then those suspects just got a get out of prison free card. So no, the ends do not justify the means no matter how badly the writers want to peddle that fantasy.
After two episodes of Happy! I sort of made my own head canon that Detective Nick Sax and Eliot Stabler are actually the same person, and that this is what happens when a cop with anger issues finally goes too far. Nick isn’t just a slightly bad cop at the start of Happy!, though flashbacks in later episodes show he was long before his fall from law and order. (See what I did there?) No, now he’s a hit-man working freelance for the mob in a town where pretty much everyone is a bad cop. He’s an alcoholic and drug addict, looking like a homeless person that collects change fiending for their next fix.
Nick’s life changes when he suffers a heart attack and during the ambulance ride sees the imaginary friend of a kidnapped girl. Happy is a cheerful blue…there’s probably a words for a horse with a horn and wings, but it’s escaping me. It’s not pegasus, and it’s not unicorn…unisus? Pegacorn? Chaka Khan?
Anyway, Happy is concerned with the well being of his friend, Hailey Hansen, who shares a connection to Nick even if Nick spends two episodes avoiding the issue. To be fair, he’s also dealing with the fallout from a hit job that went sideways, with the local mob bosses believing he now possesses a password to an encrypted file that will make the recipient “untouchable.” (It’s a MacGuffin, but I won’t spoil what it really is.) Nick was in fact too busy being a douche to hear the password, so he doesn’t have any idea what anyone is talking about.
Let’s get back to Hailey, who was kidnapped at a live children’s show event by an Evil Santa who manages to make the tattered collection of ornaments and toys attached to his red suit terrifying from the very moment he appears the first time. I never had any issue with jolly old Saint Nick, but this guy could have given me issues if I’d seen this show as a kid. He’s also running closer to the Krampus shtick with his job stealing kids, but later episodes show that he’s actually working for someone else, and that person is also working for someone else, and the higher up the ladder the story gets, the creepier the villains become. I know, you’re thinking “there’s something worse than Evil Santa?” Oh yes, yes there is, and the guy at the top is a real mind fuck.
I’m feeling conflicted about the length of many of these limited series, having seen a few thanks to Netflix. On the one hand, every story is allowed just enough space to breathe without having to add extra padding to fill out a full season of 24 episodes. The results are leaner and more intense, like an expensive liquor consumed neat instead of a cheaper variety mixed with generic cola. On the other hand, coming to the end leaves me wanting more. I know Happy! is go for a second season that will be on SyFY this March, but I live in Italy and we don’t get SyFy. I have to wait until SyFy is willing to sell the season to Netflix, and that likely means waiting until 2020. Which sucks because I want more, and I want MORE NOW.
There’s a whole lot I’m not mentioning in this review because it’s all spoiler, and you want to be pleasantly surprised by every new reveal in this story. It’s trippy, vulgar, and twisted, and an all around a good time for the whole family…or, maybe put the youngest kids to bed, though, unless you want to give them some kind of Santa phobia. I give Happy! 5 stars, and I impatiently await Season 2.