Season 1, Episode 4: “Year of the Horse”
Directed by Wayne Yip
Written by Noelle Valdivia
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “When Christmas Was Christmas” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “White Sauce? Hot Sauce?” – click here
Very Bad Santa (Joseph D. Reitman) has a grip on Happy (Patton Oswalt). And what does he do with him? He eats him, swallowing the little blue unicorn whole. Then he has Nick Sax (Christopher Meloni) at his mercy. Before the meth head can kill the hitman, Happy wiggles himself free from the guy’s throat. Yuck. At least the two of them are alive. The little imaginary dude saved his new buddy. Also, with a bit of vomit, they’ve got a lead.
Francisco Scaramucci aka Mr. Blue (Ritchie Coster) has to deal with his sister Isabella (Debi Mazar) after her boys wind up dead. Makes things even worse to have cameras around, seeing as how Isabella and the Scaramuccis have a reality show following them – The Secrets of My Sussex. Works really well for a gangster. The grieving mom goes in to see her sons bodies, crying while the cameras roll.
Continuing her investigation, Amanda Hansen (Medina Senghore), along with Detective Meredith McCarthy (Lili Mirojnick), visits another family. This time, likely not a family who’ve kidnapped their own child. Then there’s the fact Dt. McCarthy is controlled by the mob, in league with Blue. Outside the house, a man on a bike shows up holding a bright red card.
Tracking down a fortune cookie company from the remnants of the Santa’s stomach, Nick and Happy try finding another clue. He gets talking to the boss, Elizabeth (Jennifer Kim). She checks out the fortune cookie message and he’s hoping she’ll be able to pinpoint where the cookie could’ve been distributed. She does find out it would’ve gone to a tea parlour in Chinatown.
Around the dinner table, Isabella and the Scaramuccis chat about hitmen. Blue is not totally thrilled to be talking about it, having to tell her it was possibly a “revenge killing.” Again, in front of the cameras. Love that we get to hear a mobster pontificate about “historical times,” God, reality TV, then blame his own sister for the death of her sons. What a family!
But Blue gets a car calling on him. He’s taken away to see the one for whom he works; a guy in a fly suit. His master’s not happy with how things are going, Blue on television, the “camp” of the Santa-suited maniac. This is all so surreal, creepy, as well as pretty damn funny. The fly suit is a part of the furry culture, it seems. Freaky shit.
We see more of Smoothie (Patrick Fischler). He’s a sick puppy. He’s also a helpful wellness coach for Dt. McCarthy’s mother. Jack of all trades. It’s all about balance; take care of the old woman, carve up a guy he’s got chained in the shower. Before he can have fun cutting, Blue calls him with a job.
Dt. McCarthy and Amanda do some interrogation on the streets. Great scene. After that, the detective tells the mother to go home. Yes, she’s trying to keep Amanda right where she wants her, right where it’s convenient for her own gain.
Down in Chinatown, Mr. Sax heads for the tea parlour asking about the Santa Claus. He uses Happy to feed him some Mandarin, enough to get a waitress to help him out. Only there are guys who know him, who know he “stole the password.” He gets to talk with a delivery boy, digging out more information on a location.
Before he gets the full details, the Triads are after him hoping to get that password. This starts a wild fight through the restaurant, including deep fried face. Leading to a bigger, funnier, more brutal fight in the street. Sax even pulls a kick in the nuts reminiscent of an Indiana Jones classic move. He makes it out alive, just barely.
Isabella goes to an old woman (Antonia Rey), a sort of gypsy-like lady. She calls out to the spirits, doing a bit of magic. After a moment, the TV pops on, full of static. She sees the Scaramucci boys, at peace. She talks with the spirits, they warn the mother: there’s an enemy in her own house. More than that, the spirits says Mikey (Gus Halper) is not with the other boys. Neither is his corpse in the morgue.
Both Happy and Nick are discouraged. Seems they can’t figure out the location the delivery boy spoke of, not without more specifics. The little unicorn does the “dance of hope,” which pisses Nick off while he’s trying to spark a joint. It’s not long and fate strikes. They figure out where he might be hiding, using the info from Mrs. Claws about creepy Santa’s dead, the old Gimpel store.
At the same time, Dt. McCarthy finds her way into the Santa lair. It’s empty, or so it seems. She slowly searches, finding a burning cigarette in the ashtray. But where’s the meth head hiding? She runs right into Nick, whom she stabs in the leg with a pair of scissors. Nevertheless, they can’t find any trace of the little girl. Not any of the missing kids. They’re all mobile, in a truck with Santa. Just harder and harder to find.
Another great episode. Need more. “White Sauce? Hot Sauce?” is the following instalment, also nominee for best-named episode of television in the 2010s so far.