Is it possible for actions to have consequences, especially in matters of life and death? What happens when you’ve crossed one line too many? That’s part of the premise behind the second season of “Tyler Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots,” which had three families struggling to come to terms with one bad decision after another and too many betrayals occurring as a result. Sure, the art of betrayal and getting away with murder have been plot staples on soap operas for years, but this show has taken it to a whole new level for the better in terms of delivery and shock value.
“Tyler Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots” followed how three families were learning that their actions, regardless of their intentions, could come back to haunt them in very different ways. Former maid Hanna Young (Crystal Fox) turned in the man responsible for putting her son Benny (Tyler Lepley) in a coma that he might come out of after Katheryn Cryer (Renee Lawless) moved him to a private hospital to avoid getting taken off life support. Unfortunately, the person that Hanna turned was Katheryn’s son Wyatt (Aaron O’Connell) who was indeed guilty of hitting Benny and killing a little girl as well, while he was high on drugs. Sadly, Katheryn and Hanna’s once strong bond has been shattered to the breaking point. It also didn’t help that Katheryn’s husband Jim (John Schneider) kept threatening Hanna every time they were in the same room together. It also didn’t help that Jim had other problems to contend with as well that included being blackmailed one too many times by Hanna’s estranged daughter Candace (Tika Sumpter). Jim had her kidnapped by some loyal associates after he was finally pushed for the last time and she’s currently being held against her will until she decides to comply with everything Jim wants her to do before she leaves town for good. Meanwhile, Wyatt’s arrest threatened to ruin Jim’s campaign for governor, especially since his best friend David Harrington (Peter Parros) was actively involved in the campaign and the cover-up. What he doesn’t know was what his vengeful wife Veronica (Angela Robinson) was using her son Jeffrey’s (Gavin Houston) car as evidence to make him go back into the closet and pretend that he never came out of it in the first place. With the threat of prison, he had to comply since his car was used by Wyatt in the hit and run accidents. Everyone also had cause for alarm as Jim and Katheryn’s daughter Amanda (Jaclyn Betham) was starting to get frighteningly homicidal as she was growing more and more violent in her desires. Will she carry any of those dark impulses out before she gets the help she needs or will it be too late?
In terms of questions, the biggest one involved how Wyatt’s arrest was going to impact the rest of the season. With the fracturing of Katheryn and Hanna’s friendship, the show is already starting to create genuine tension between the different classes of characters. The first season succeeded in creating a bond between the seemingly mismatched characters and this season was meant to sever it before things got too comfortable. Let’s just hope that this doesn’t mean that Hanna and Katheryn’s friendship can’t be repaired at some point, or evolve into something different. Sure, the show still had some obvious class stereotypes that stemmed from Benny’s stay at the county hospital where the care was bare minimum and the private hospital where everyone went to great lengths to save his life. Another perfect example of bad stereotypes was Robinson’s Veronica who believed that her world and everyone around her had to act accordingly, which was why she blackmailed her gay son into forgetting about coming out of the closet to avoid a jail sentence that he didn’t deserve. Luckily, Robinson managed to make character one that viewers loved to hate even when she crossed some rather immoral lines to get her points across. Her best storyline at the moment involved her plot to get Candace’s old boyfriend out of jail so that he can exact revenge on her for turning him into the police in the first place. She demonstrated Veronica’s maliciousness with a sense of glee that was fascinating to watch. Let’s hope that the show will take a different tact with Sumpter’s Candace who always had the upper hand until now. She seemed to show no signs of fear, but that will likely change as the season progressed. The show’s greatest strength has been the mostly strong female characters that were lethal if you crossed them. Now, it’s time for the male characters to start showing their true colors. The premiere demonstrated signs of this happening with Schneider revealing Jim’s dark side and Parros’ once supportive David getting sick of his wife’s lies. Only time will as to how these stories will unfold.
As for breakout performances, Fox and Sumpter led the pack for very different reasons. Fox's Hanna has evolved from a very grief stricken mother into a hopeful optimist, even though her character burned her only ally by turning in her son for his part of the hit and run accident. Fox embodied Hanna with a sense of hope that wasn't there before. While in the previous season, Fox's Hanna was primarily focused on her grief and her anger over her son fighting for his life. Fox transformed Hanna into someone a lot quieter as she realized that she could never truly be friends with Katheryn, because they came from two very different worlds. Fox had the strongest rapport with both Lawless and Schneider in the premiere as the tension between the three came to a head after Wyatt was arrested. Lawless' Katheryn took a quieter approach, while Schneider's Jim threatened and bullied Hanna into leaving his sight. The tension between the three characters will likely be the driving force for the bulk of the latest batch of episodes. Sumpter, on the other hand, had a much more challenging as her high charging character became the victim instead of the one pushing everyone's buttons. She spent the bulk of the premiere tied to a chair wondering when the next shoe was going to drop. Hopefully, the show will continue to increase the tension to help Sumpter's Candace get a taste of her own medicine. It will also be nice to see how Sumpter's Candace will handle the impending release of her ex that she helped to put in jail in the first place. Future episodes should likely determine sooner or later.
"Tyler Perry's The Haves and the Have Nots" premiered on May 27th and airs Tuesdays at 9:00 PM on Own.
Verdict: The show's premiere set some promising stories involving Candace’s abduction and Wyatt’s arrest, which will lead to some shocking twists along the way when the characters start to choose sides.
TV Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars