While the first season of BBC America’s Civil War-era police drama Copper started with child abuse, the second, on Sunday night, starts with a wedding … and a murder. The date is Feb. 5, 1865, and the war is drawing to a close — though, of course, no one knows that.
It is evident that the writers are more comfortable with the time period this season. They entwine the history of New York City and the lower-Manhattan Five Points slum with the changes brought by immigration, particularly of the Irish. The city itself is a character with its brothels, docks and mansions crucial settings for the plot. The dialog is salty and profane, and scenes are graphic with occasional female nudity.
In order to fully enjoy the show’s tangle of plot lines, it’s helpful to have seen the first season. BBC America’s website ( bbcamerica.com) has posted an episode guide, but here’s a synopsis:
Last season, Detective Kevin Corcoran (Tom Weston-Jones) of the Sixth Ward found his missing wife, Ellen (Alex Paxton-Beesley), and discovered that she’d had an affair with his best friend, Francis Maguire (Kevin Ryan), who narrowly escapes Corcoran’s vengeance with his life.
This season, the wealthy Maj. Robert Morehouse (Kyle Schmid) marries the equally rich widow Elizabeth Haverford (Anastasia Griffith), who turns out to have secrets about last season’s near-burning of New York City and her opium consumption.
Their friend Matthew Freeman (Ato Essandoh), an African-American physician, and his wife, Sara (Tessa Thompson), have moved back to the tumultuous Five Points despite the fact that Sara’s brothers had been murdered there during the draft riots. In season one, Sara was haunted by the murders; in the second season, she takes action to conquer her fear.
New characters will include general-turned-Tammany Hall politician Brendan Donovan (Donal Logue) and former slave Hattie Lemaster (Alfre Woodard).
In season premiere, reality immediately strikes. Union Army recruiters are going the extra step by kidnapping boys to provide fresh troops for the front. Or as a grizzled sergeant major (Jim Byrnes, Wiseguy) callously tells former soldier Corcoran, “Perfumed generals don’t win wars, Corporal. Cannon fodder does.”
It’s up to Corcoran to save the missing teens and find out the truth. In doing so, he misses his friend Morehouse’s wedding. Later, Corcoran finds him drunk at the local brothel. Why is Morehouse not home with his new wife? Well, it’s complicated.
Find out Sunday night.