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Happy Town Recap: ‘I Came to Haplin for the Water’

May 5, 2010
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This is a recap for Happy Town, episode  2, “I Came to Haplin for the Water,” and it will have spoilers in order to discuss plot points.  If you did not see the pilot for Happy Town last week, you can watch it online on the official ABC website.

Now that I have seen the first two episodes of Happy Town, here are a few of my initial thoughts on the series.

  • I enjoyed the second half of both episodes quite a bit more than the first.  I have found it difficult to initially get into the show, but by the end of each episode I have been completely engrossed.
  • I enjoy quirky, but I do not enjoy goofy, and some of the characters are quickly veering into annoying territory (I’m looking at you, Stiviletto brothers.)  I feel like some of these characters are coming across as being badly acted, and it seems to take down the quality of the show a notch. There are still plenty of talented actors on the show, and that might be why some of the weaker ones stand out.
  • I do think the show suffers in the writing department.  I didn’t notice it so much the first episode, when I was trying to keep all the characters and plot-lines straight, but in the second episode I noticed sloppy dialogue and meandering scenes that easily could have been tightened up.
  • That being said, I am fully on board to unravel the mystery, and I am loving the whole “what the…”  moments.  I’ll be your guide for the duration, and I still have a very open mind.  I liked a lot of the visuals in this episode, and once again, the ending left me wanting more.

So,  at the end of the last episode, we learned that Henley is actually Chloe, and I didn’t see that coming at all.  That’s the same name Sheriff Conroy was muttering in a fit of delusion last week, shortly before he took an ax and chopped off his own hand.  This episode picks up with the Sheriff  and his iced down hand being rushed to the hospital.  The good Sheriff still sounds like he is speaking in tongues, and son/deputy Tommy has no idea what he is talking about. Once again, we see the Sheriff’s wedding ring bounce to the ground.  That’s twice now, and he made a big point about how he never takes it off last week.

Chloe is talking on the phone with an unknown person, explaining how extreme the landlady’s orders were regarding the attic.  She is interrupted by the gaggle of elderly women who live in mansion.  In a presumably kind gesture, they bequeath the old shed outside to Chloe, so she can make her candles.  Chloe seems touched.

We next see Chloe at the House of the Ushers store, and she engages in a (flirty?) exchange with Merritt, in which they trade famous lines from Casablanca after she purchases two figurines. The two seem delighted to have a commonality, and Henley leaves with a  coy grin on her face.

Later, when Chloe is back at the mansion, she spies the keys on a table, and while the landlady is changing she rushes out to her shed to make a copy of the key.  I thought she was going to push it into a piece of wax or soap to make an impression, and cast it later, but no, in the amount of time it takes the landlady to change her socks, Henley manages to heat molten liquid and make an honest-to-Christ metal key. Come on.

Did anyone else think that this was laughably ridiculous, and far too convenient?  Henley is about to be caught returning the keys when Merritt whisks the landlady off for a “pre-dinner foxtrot.”  Huh?  Is Haplin stuck in a time warp?  Who foxtrots before dinner? Needless to say, the landlady is giddy from the attention. Merritt’s intervention seemed very fortuitous to me, and I can’t shake the feeling that Merritt and Henley must know one another from before.

Back at the hospital, Tommy is summoned by Mrs. Haplin (played by Six Feet Under’s Frances Conroy.)  It is obvious that you don’t say no to Mrs. Haplin, and Tommy reluctantly leaves his father’s hospital bed.  Mrs. Haplin is going to have a town hall meeting to discuss the recent happenings, and she asks Tommy if he will step in as Sheriff.  After a chilly reception back at the sheriff’s office (particularly by Roger Hobbs, who was in line for the job), Tommy tells Mrs. Haplin that he doesn’t feel comfortable and must turn down the job.  She is understanding, and tells him that is fine.  Then she stands up at the meeting, and announces the new sheriff…Tommy Conroy!  Tommy is visibly flustered and makes a very awkward speech, including a joke about Quint from Jaws that falls flat.

Georgia goes to visit Sheriff Conroy in the hospital, and meets a pleasant man in the cafeteria.  She heads up to the Sheriff’s room, and while she is at his bedside, she starts having visual and auditory hallucinations.  It is a pretty creepy scene, and she staggers to the elevator, where the man she met in the cafeteria starts messing with her.  Later, she wakes up… on the floor of the Stiviletto house.  She flees to Tommy Conroy’s house, and he takes off to confront the Stiviletto brothers. While he is roughing them up, he gets a phone call from forensics.

The flour found at the crime scene contained an odd marker-Fluoride that can only be found in New York.  Uh oh, Big Dave has been bragging about using NYC tap water in his pizza, he even has it shipped in twice a week.  Tommy pays a visit to the house Big Dave shares with his mother, and goes to check out the basement, where he finds a shrine of news clippings about the Magic Man, along with photos of the murdered Mr. Friddle.  Big Dave and Tommy have a confrontation. Basically, Dave doesn’t think he has done anything wrong because he rid the world of the Magic Man, but Tommy believes that Dave murdered an innocent man.

When Tommy goes back to the office, a man shows up to help out with the murder case.  He appears to be the same man from the hospital who might have abducted Georgia.

Chloe is able to get into the attic with her key, and she is searching for something very specific. There are cages with birds in them  all over the attic.  She finds a box and uncovers a (hammer?)  with an animal’s head engraved on the head.  She removes the hammer, and a large bird (eagle or hawk) ascends on the window above and appears to be watching.

Chloe is in a car driving,  she keeps looking at the hammer on the passenger seat beside her. Suddenly, a large bird (appears to be the same one in the window) hurls through her windshield, causing Henley to wreck off the side of an isolated road.  Seriously, what the hell is going on?  What’s with the birds? What about the hammer?  And why the heck did Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” play through a lot of the episode?  I don’t have any inside knowledge, I’m watching this all same as you, so feel free to float your theories or thoughts.

If you would like to read last week’s recap, click here.

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7 Responses to “ Happy Town Recap: ‘I Came to Haplin for the Water’ ”

  1. Colleen Hitchcock on May 5, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    As a fellow writer, I often know what’s coming next. But I love what they’re doing. It’s a fun ride for everyone. Congratulations. Cudos to creators: Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Scott Rosenberg and great casting.

  2. amelia soisson on May 6, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    I thought this was a limited summer series, like Harpers Island.I just don;t know how it can keep going after one season.
    Also, I would swear that Stephen King had something to so with it,. It is so him.magic Man, the Stiviletto brothers, the small town setting. it has his name written all over it

  3. Shannon on May 6, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    @Colleen Yes, I have no clue what is coming next, either. @amelia I read today that they intend to wrap up the mystery by the end of the season, so I don’t know if that means they only signed on for one season or not. And yes, it has a stephen king vibe for sure.

  4. TNL on May 7, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Just a few corrections:
    1) The sheriff isn’t speaking in tongues. If he were we wouldn’t be able to understand the actual words he was saying. Although we don’t understand what he is referring to, we do understand the words he is using.
    2) According to Chloe, the person she is speaking to on the phone is her mother (she called her “mom” last week.)
    3) Chloe’s initial reaction to the shed gift, not noticed by the others, seemed to be annoyance. (Perhaps because it appears she has no intention of staying & making candles.) She quickly hides her annoyance though and fakes being touched/grateful for the old ladies. She clearly didn’t want to spoil her cover.

  5. TNL on May 7, 2010 at 9:37 am

    4) I’m not sure if Haplin is stuck in a time warp but Merritt has made it clear that he loves that older era, so the foxtrot doesn’t seem out of character for him.

    5) Personally I thought the man in the cafeteria was creepy, not pleasant. He is the same man that later says he was sent to help out with the murder case.

    6) The object Chloe uncovers is a hammer & looks as though it may have old blood on it. I’m pretty sure the top of the hammer is a goat’s head.

  6. TNL on May 7, 2010 at 9:43 am

    7) I was actually trying to figure out what type of bird it is that keeps appearing. It is some type of bird of prey, but I’m pretty sure it’s not an eagle. The same one has appeared at least 3 times now, once being when Friddle was killed.

    8) When Chloe was driving she wasn’t on the phone. The call that you’re refering to was actually made right before she got on a bus. She was explaining that she was going a couple towns over to buy a car so that once she revealed who she was, she could “get out of Dodge.”

  7. Shannon on May 7, 2010 at 10:22 am

    @TNL Thanks for your comments 1) I didn’t literally mean he was speaking in tongues, just using it as a figure of speech 2)I did not catch that that was her mom. Interesting to know. 3) Yes, her initial reaction was less than thrilled, but the impression that she gave the ladies is that she was happy 5) I thought he was creepy too, but he acted pleasant to her Also, you are right on the phone call. When I watch the episode, I take notes and go off of those later when I am writing. The phone call note was just before the crash in my notes, so I incorrectly thought it happened in the car. ;)

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