Previously on Hap and Leonard, “Bad Mojo”
In a stunner of a penultimate episode, our beloved pair of East Texas roughnecks managed to stumble along the oft-tread path of the person responsible for LaBorde’s shamefully ignored blight. Before minds were blown and hearts crushed, Joe R. Lansdale – creator of Hap and Leonard – penned a rousing tale that covered everything we love about the troubled duo: trying to save the day while flying by the seat of their pants.
Even for fans of Lansdale’s series of books that are savvy to this season’s outcome, the second season of Hap and Leonard has been an oddly fulfilling journey in spite of its tremendously dark story line. Between the discovery of B.B., the police department and local pusher Melton’s collusion to frame Leonard, the tragedy of Cooperstown and Beau Otis’ face plastered all over LaBorde, Collins and Pine managed to bring a fair amount of levity and it progressed in their harebrained scheme to find the killer among the carnival employees.
Before we trudge waist deep in the pain and heartache that was “Pie a la Mojo”’s third act, Happy and Len’s undercover investigation at the carnival lead to a pair of hilarious encounters. Firstly we’re given a face (and extremely limber body) to go with the previously mentioned “Crazy” Judy Punch (Bonnie Morgan). The semi-retired dancer took her act on the road and is jonesing to get things going again with Hap, who knows he can’t trust himself around her. To paraphrase Leonard, Hap’s dick is not his friend.
The urgency to prevent a murder won over hormones and Collins even managed to get assistance from Judy to sift through the personnel files Ms. Punch ‘borrowed’ from her boss’ trailer. Meanwhile, Leonard made a new friend in Brick (Owen Harn), who is most definitely a top’s top. Seriously, the man needs to stop eating so much red meat. Poor, randy Brick was quickly dismissed as a suspect once Pine learned his tattooes symbolized each year of his sobriety, and Leonard bounced out of his trailer faster than you can say ‘Gene Autry’. These moments in levity were amusing though seemingly out of place given the pressure to find a child killer. In hindsight, their misadventures across the carnival would be needed to soften the massive blows we’d take later in the episode.
Elsewhere in LaBorde, Florida proved to us that she’s the absolute worst in getting rid of a tail. After Dets. Hanson and Blank tried to get Grange to give up the goods on Hap but managed to keep their client confidentiality intact, despite Florida stating she no longer represented Hap. Still, after their tryst in the auto shop, Grange has the world’s smallest torch lit for Collins as evidenced by her desire to know what he and Leonard are up to. Sadly her rummaging through Uncle Chester’s notes and newspaper clips in Hap and Leonard’s map room (breaking and entering, Florida… really???) gave Hanson and Blank all the evidence to issue an APB on Collins.
Ironically, Leonard and Hap wanted to fill the cops in on their investigation but no one’s gonna pay them any mind when Hanson wants to pin Collins for anything that’ll stick. Although Florida warned Hap in time that all of LaBorde’s finest are coming for him (thanks to her… but she “forgot” to admit that), Collins locked her in the Monkey Maze for good measure. Overall, the entire carnival sequence was a masterful display in drawing tension out of uncertain surroundings. Nearly all the cast were lost among the sea of carnival goers; while Hap was searching for his best pal, Leonard was doing his part to save kids from a still-unknown killer. Unfortunately Ivan (Olaniyan Thurmon) gave in to his impulsive nature and put a kink in Pine’s best laid plan, becoming the latest boy to be snatched and locked away in a makeshift crypt.
When Leonard and Hap evaded the police via horseback (in classic Texas fashion), they made their way back to the Old Hope Church and had the shock of their lives: TJ, Meemaw’s own grandson, kidnapped Ivan to continue “making angels” with his brother, the Reverend Fitzgerald (Dohn Norwood)! What the what! In the most insane reasoning ever, Fitz explained while shotgun trained point blank to Hap’s chest that he was saving the boys from a life of sin. By killing them in their sleep, he’s ensuring they enter Heaven. It culminated in a brief scrap between the four, ending when Hanson and Blank – with Florida and back-up in tow – arrived with guns drawn. Rather than explain his actions to the unworthy, Fitz shotgunned his own face off. Now that was surprising for the sheer visual alone. It’s not something one sees on television every other day.
“Pie a la Mojo” quickly shifts from one distressing moment to another with TJ (Kelvin Brown), shotgun in hand and unable to comprehend what just happened to Fitzgerald, becomes a victim of a ‘justified shooting’ when Det. Blank shoots him prematurely. It’s a disquieting scene that even the characters themselves couldn’t believe just occurred. Yes, TJ was an accomplice in multiple murders but it was clear Fitzgerald used his younger brother’s disability to his advantage. Though a costly end, Hap and Leonard finally had the police off their backs, and the authorities finally turned their attention to the remains of the children who deserve a proper resting place.
After everything we witnessed, the worst was still yet to come. Rather than have Hanson explain what happened to TJ and Fitzgerald last night, Leonard and Hap took the burden off the detective shoulders and relayed the bad news to Meemaw. All season long Irma P. Hall had been the heart of Hap and Leonard, unwavering in her faith that her boys will succeed as God wills it. Though Meemaw was occasionally played to comedic effect, it was her no-nonsense attitude towards others like Beau Otis and Reverend Fitzgerald that made her a character. Yet there was always more to her. Once Meemaw’s traumatic past was unveiled, there was no question she was imbued with a strength no one else on the show could match. After watching her reverend be lynched and her family and friends burned alive, after witnessing her neighborhood that once brimmed with pride and promise turn into, when most of LaBorde gave up on a pair of rogues, Meemaw never gave in and believed the goodness in others.
Witnessing her break down physically and mentally from the news was absolutely tragic. Hall’s portrayal of Jezebel was critical to Hap, Leonard and Ivan’s relationship all season; while she exuded a resolve so few could achieve under her circumstances, Meemaw began to waver knowing her own son and nephew killed so many boys to “save” them. She believed the Devil cursed her since that day at the Old Hope Church and it resulted in Fitz’s twisted personality. Meemaw believed if she could love Fitzgerald hard enough, his increasingly disturbing nature would be cleansed. Never could she have imagined he’d warp her teachings to accommodate his murderous nature.
Nevertheless, Meemaw remained sure that love can guide those into a better path. Chester loved Leonard in his own way, just as Leonard has slowly developed a fondness for Ivan. In turn, Florida is partial to Hap and both managed to rekindle a part in them long abandoned. The damage, however, was done. Overcome with grief, Meemaw slumps over and quietly passes away before Hap and Leonard’s eyes, while news about Beau Otis’ successful re-election for County Judge flashes across the television.
Talk about an absolute downer.
A massive huge question remains! Why did Sheriff Valentine attempt to destroy B.B.’s red shoes? From the look of things for the season finale, Det. Hanson is on the case (which could be a good or bad thing) and the preview alludes to the then-unsolved child murders being a cover for B.B.’s unrelated death. Perhaps there’s more to the Otis family’s history other than Beau’s double manslaughter 30 years back. In any case, there is absolutely no excuse for you to miss the conclusion of an exceptional and emotionally powerful second season of Hap and Leonard!
Hap and Leonard S2E5
"Pie a la Mojo"
Hap and Leonard – S2E5 – Pie a la Mojo | James Purefoy, Michael Kenneth Williams, Tiffany Mack, Cranston Johnson, Brian Dennehy, Irma P. Hall, Dohn Norwood | Writer: Joe R. Lansdale | Director: Tim Southam