In case you’re new to Copper, here’s a quick tutorial. The show is set in New York City near the end of the Civil War. Our main character is ex-Union soldier turned police officer Kevin Corcoran (Corky) and most of the first season centered around his search for his missing wife and daughter. He works in the Five Points area of the 6th Ward, an especially depraved area of the city, populated almost entirely by immigrants, freed slaves, and various criminal types. He tries to keep things from getting too out of control while he frequents whorehouses and drinks and fights too much. Everyone is still pretty salty about what’s happening with the war and there is plenty of racism and classism to go around.
Where season one left us:
We’re reminded that Elizabeth Haverford is a bitch who had her ward Annie returned to her “husband” against Corcoran’s wishes. (Annie’s a young, horribly abused, slightly crazy, and quite dangerous girl Corky found on the streets last season. Her eyes are all blank, like Rhoda from The Bad Seed.) Richard Morehouse (also an ex-Union soldier) vows to stay by Elizabeth’s side and protect her from Corcoran. Because he doesn’t know she conspired with the Confederates to try to burn down the city. Dr. Matthew Freeman is a talented doctor who also happens to be African-American. He and his wife Sara are hiding out in the country after she watched two of her brothers get hung from a lamppost during the Draft Riots. Corcoran eventually found his wife, Ellen. She’d been hanging out at Bellevue after she slept with his “best friend” Francis Maguire and also accidentally killed their daughter. Francis killed two women I don’t really remember much about and was drugging Ellen to keep her quiet and insane.
Our dastardly villain
A Very Bad Guy named Buzzy Burke is carving his initials into the back of Corcoran’s favorite madam, Eva, with a big knife. Is this where I should warn you how bloody and violent this show is? Corcoran and some other coppers eventually show up and fisticuffs ensue. Eva’s so badass she bites Burke’s ear off but he’s so badass he still gets away.
Later on we catch up with Buzzy again, having some lunch with the dead bodies of a couple he killed because a fella on the run can’t just go into a restaurant and order a burger. He has a silly mustache and I suspect when we see him next he’ll be twirling it near a lady he’s tied to the railroad tracks.
Corcoran arrives home to his wife the next morning (he spent the night taking Eva to Dr. Freeman to get her back fixed up.) Ellen’s brushing her hair and trying to be not-crazy. She mentions that a neighbor popped in to tell her Buzzy Burke is on a rampage. I feel like I’ve missed something? Are we supposed to know who this guy is? That’s not a complaint by the way, that’s one of the reasons I love this show – it jumps right into the plot, skipping all the exposition, and expecting the viewer to be smart enough to keep up.
The Good Doctor
Dr. Freeman’s wife, Sara, is no longer pregnant and I don’t see a baby anywhere. I feel like I’ve either missed an episode or forgotten too much from last season. After stitching up Eva’s back, Dr. Freeman leaves his wife and Eva alone (with an armed copper guarding the door) to go into the city to see his mentor. I think with Eva there they probably don’t need the officer.
Dr. Freeman’s mentor is leaving for the desert and wants him to move back to Five Points and take over his practice. Dr. Freeman isn’t having it, and is pretty sure his wife won’t be having it, either. His mentor asks how Sara is after losing the baby. So she had a miscarriage?
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, err, farm, Eva and Sara bond over the shitty things that have happened to them. Eva gives Sara a lesson on getting over bad shit by telling a pretty awesome story about how she’s going to have Burke’s face painted onto the bottom of her privy. The officer has left the ladies unguarded because it’s cold outside and he’s lazy. Dr. Freeman and his wife are apparently supposed to just take it without saying anything, because after all they’re just black. Only that’s not the word the officer used, earning him a slap from Mrs. Freeman.
Let’s briefly go uptown
Elizabeth Haverford and Richard Morehouse are engaged and engaging in some premarital sex while she bitches him out about still being close with Corcoran who held a knife to her throat and also is an Irish Catholic. She seems more upset about the Irish Catholic part. Also, maybe they would like to discuss this after the sex? Richard apparently agrees with me because he offers her some more opium.
Richard later tells Elizabeth he has great news – the traitor Kennedy has been captured. She acts like she’s pleased but she’s secretly pooping her pants. I can’t really think of a good reason why Kennedy wouldn’t tell on her. She can’t either and puts some opium in her wine and looks at fabric for her wedding dress, because that’s what bored rich ladies do. For some reason I don’t understand, Sara Freeman is helping Elizabeth prepare for her wedding. Maybe she’s a seamstress?
Law and Disorder
Francis Maguire is in jail, presumably for the murders of the two women I don’t remember. He’s got a big scraggly beard and is singing to himself. Honestly, I’m still not clear on why he betrayed Corcoran. He was in love with Ellen? He hates Corcoran? He’s crazy? All of the above?
We meet General Brendan Donovan who is the new boss of the 6th Ward precinct. He’s been keeping up on the news from the 6th Ward and has duly noted it’s a cesspool of drunk immigrants frequenting brothels and fighting. And that’s just the coppers. He doesn’t mind the drinking, fighting, and whores so long as they keep it behind closed doors. He lectures them about how they represent all Irish Catholics in the city, punctuating his lecture with kicks and punches to one of the coppers. They need to start repairing the 6th Ward’s reputation by capturing Buzzy Burke ASAP.
Good copper that he is, Corky obliges Donovan by going home to find Burke holding Ellen in a headlock, but sadly not twirling his mustache. He takes Corky’s gun and points it at his face. Things aren’t looking good for the Corcorans until AnnieRhoda hits Burke in the head with a frying pan. Burke is carted off to jail, where he doesn’t last long, promptly being killed by Maguire. I wonder if Maguire has some history with Burke he’d like to keep quiet. Or if he’s just fond of killing.
Donovan and Corcoran discuss what’s going to happen to Burke’s whorehouses and gaming operations. Donovan notes that Eva seems like a perfect candidate to take over the whorehouses, being the semi-honest businesswoman that she is. Plus she earned it what with the letter carved into her back. We see her addressing her new employees, informing them that all she expects from them is good old honest whoring. No drugging the johns, stealing their wallets, and no “ass work” unless they like that sort of thing. Good to know.
Corcoran heads off to the Courthouse to watch Maguire get what’s coming to him, but evidence has mysteriously gone missing. Maguire is set free, owing someone quite a big favor.
The seemingly random side story that won’t be important until next week
Someone is beating young men to death and leaving their naked bodies lying about the city for starving dogs to chew on.
Next week on Copper:
More bodies are found, and several young men are missing. It looks like there’s a serial killer on the loose. Maguire is seen talking to someone shady. Dr. Freeman and his wife appear to be at odds about returning to the city. The rebel Kennedy arrives in town.
Cathy Elmore is a writer for Sweatpants & Coffee. She also writes for Gridiron Girl when she isn’t chasing after her baby girl.