Previously on Hap and Leonard, ‘Trudy‘
Starring: James Purefoy, Michael Kenneth Williams, Christina Hendricks, Bill Sage, Jimmi Simpson, PollyAnna McIntosh, Neil Sandilands | Director: Jim Mickle
My God, where to begin.
After becoming acquainted with the resident psychos Soldier and Angel, Hap, Leonard, Trudy and Howard are in dire straits and completely at their mercy. Thanks to Paco’s deception, the gang has returned to Leonard’s home to settle how exactly to part ways. Will the three killers get their money and bail… or give everyone a new hole in their heads before departing? Signs point to the latter, but of course, nothing ever works out as planned on Hap and Leonard.
Ironically, “War” was more of a Trudy episode than last week’s installment that predominately focused on the wayward soul. While her chapter delved into her past with Hap and the selfish decisions that ultimately lead to an unfulfilled life, “War” was aptly named as there were many conflicts engaged at once between and within the characters. Soldier’s sudden, demonstrative presence in the lives of the crew became the catalyst that hastily restructured the dynamic between the remaining four. While Collins and Pine have been friends for so long neither one can imagine leaving the other during such a harrowing scenario, Howard and Trudy are entirely different animals. Leave it to a stylish degenerate like Soldier to motivate friends and lovers to turn against one another.
Viewers would be hard pressed to imagine another actor who is capable of injecting equal parts charisma, puerility and murderous conviction in an odd duck like Soldier other than Jimmi Simpson. To claim that his best known roles involved copious amounts of eccentric and outlandish behavior would be an understatement. Soldier displays these particular qualities sure, but what’s especially insidious about this character is his ability to worm his way inside his victims’ psyches. He could splatter their brains against a wall without hesitation, but what would be the fun in that? Soldier admits that he doesn’t care for anyone save Angel, so picking through people’s brains to discover what they’re willing to do or admit about themselves in order to not eat a bullet is one of the few pleasures he gets from life.
In what feels like the first time after many, many victims, Soldier has found a challenge in the form of Trudy, who picked the absolute wrong time to stiffen up and stay tight-lipped about the location of the money. Soldier is intrigued by her misplaced resolve – protect the money that would promote ‘the cause – but his patience obviously isn’t as indefinite as Trudy’s unwillingness to cooperate. A gun to the head, a handful of cash, even a bit of Draconian torture isn’t enough to make Trudy squeal. What’s especially unnerving about this sequence of events inside the kitchen is when Soldier has to turn on his catchy synth-wave murder music to get into the groove. While everyone is pleading for Trudy to give in – then beg for their own lives – the background music adds a surrealism to the moment. Besides, no one wants to die listening to darkwave (unless you’re a goth).
Quirks aside, we were all witnesses to Christina Hendricks’ underestimated capacity to carry such weighty scenes; her ability to reach deep into her character’s motivations and temperament is a testament to her dedication to flesh out this highly complex woman. The only drawback was Hendricks’ wonderful performance during that graphic scene had the unintended side-effect of making Purefoy, Williams and Sage’s reactions to Trudy’s torture seem paltry and inadequate. Props have to be given to both Hendricks and Simpson for twisting an already disturbing episode into a real horror show.
After all the nailing and headshots and inventive use of frying pans and gas stoves, “War” ends in a not too surprising fashion with Hap and Leonard – far more worse for wear than usual – trapped in a bullet-riddled house and unable to escape a crazed Soldier. The first episode feels like it aired a lifetime ago, but Leonard’s timeless adage still rings quite true: “A stiff dick ain’t got no conscience.” Let this be a lesson to all when an ex shows up out of nowhere to ask a favor. Granted, she may not get you involved in criminal activities, but there’s no need to risk being gutshot. She’s an ex for a reason.
H&L’s season finale “Eskimos” airs Wednesday at 10/9c on SundanceTV!
Hap and Leonard S1E5 = 9.7/10