Previously on Hap and Leonard, “No Mo’ Mojo”
“The Two Bear Mambo”, the third volume of Sundance TV’s critically lauded (and culturally relevant) hit swiftly and effectively conveyed the level of danger and malice our titular heroes will endure this season. As seen in the final moments of “No Mo’ Mojo”, the presence of the Klu Klux Klan was going to be a prevalent force during the next installment, but no one expected Hap and Leonard to turn so sharply down this dark road during the premiere.
Through a currently nameless and tragically threadbare waif we’re introduced to Grovetown, an isolated hamlet in East Texas with a notoriously vile reputation even among LaBourde’s more disreputable citizens. According to the girl’s recounting, Grovetown’s troubles began in 1931 when a talented vagabond named L.C. Soothe summoned the devil near town limits and promised his soul for a flood of talent. As seen in the opening, Soothe’s luck changed overnight however there was a clause in his deal with Ol’ Scratch: anytime L.C. played, be it live or on record, the devil collected pieces of the listeners’ soul and replaced them with his own. Ultimately, L.C. wasn’t long in the limelight as the hate and viciousness of the Klan grew in number and intensity. Though the legend of L.C. Soothe has long faded into obscurity, Grovetown’s notoriety grew far and wide.
Back in 1989, anyone with a lick of sense knows to steer clear of Grovetown. Unfortunately for our beloved peckerwoods Hap Collins and Leonard Pine, as our humble narrator recounts, the two found out the hard way that Grovetown doesn’t take kindly to outsiders. It’s evident this season will be Hap and Leonard’s darkest yet as our titular characters are already bloodied and traumatized by events that will slowly unfold throughout the season.
A year and change has passed since the boys exposed the killers responsible for LaBorde’s greatest shame and for the most part, life in town appears to be more upbeat. Granted, it is Christmastime and Leonard is up to his usual antics (burning down the latest crack house… which, coincidentally, is the same house next door that he torched last season). While Pine is committing arson for the greater good and Collins is arrested for the simple fact the two seldom do anything alone, everything is eerily lighthearted in tone despite the sombering subject matter of smoking out crack dealers that are selling to children. It’s an odd sense of geniality and Southern charm that surrounds the show like an old blanket, warts and all.
LaBorde is far from an idyllic town yet all seems to be faring well as the nineties are just around the corner. That is until Lt. Hanson (Cranston Johnson) plays the killjoy at the county jail and coerces Hap to search for Florida Grange (Tiffany Mack), who was last seen in Grovetown. Knowing Leonard is facing his third strike, Hanson believed he had his ace in the hole to make his rival do his bidding, but Collins deftly turned the situation in his favor, knowing how desperate Marvin is to find his former lover. Of course Hap is equally concerned for Grange’s well-being, however Hanson and Collins’ continued game of oneupmanship (typically initiated by Hanson) remains an immovable obstacle for what could be a relatively agreeable partnership.
Hanson was never an affable guy during “Mucho Mojo” and doesn’t improve upon his standing during the premiere. In fact, Marvin is surlier than ever since he and Florida broke up. Although he’s reconnected with his wife and children, Hanson has taken to drinking a fifth of bourbon in the dark of Florida’s bedroom. It makes one wonder if how many nights he’d done that before catching Hap snooping around for clues. At any rate, both men agree that Florida is a special woman, and whatever animosity they have for each other pales in the importance of Grange’s role in LaBorde’s future.
Meanwhile, Grovetown looks like heaven on earth, if you enjoy a complete lack of diversity and a share contempt for blackfolk. As Hap states, it’s Mayberry meets The Twilight Zone as the backwoods community willingly secluded itself from the rest of the world, and everyone within the surrounding area of East Texas couldn’t be happier. Within minutes of their arrival, Hap and Leonard quickly discovered the rumors of Grovetown’s disgustingly callous and intolerant reception towards visitors are very true. This may be the time Hap and Leonard finally bit off more than they can chew. Oh yes, the devil did visit Grovetown long ago… and from the looks of it, he never left.