Previously on Hap and Leonard, “Mambo No. 5”
As the third season of Hap and Leonard reaches its stunning conclusion, it once again affirms itself as the hidden gem within a jumble of standard programming. James Purefoy and Michael Kenneth Williams conceived their most vulnerable portrayals of Collins and Pine yet, establishing the tone for their equally talented supporting cast that delved into the better natures of their respective characters through “Two-Bear Mambo”. Certainly, there was plenty for all to ruminate over this season given the looming threat of Truman Brown and the residents of Grovetown. Of course, “Monsoon Mambo” wasn’t going to be a placid finale by any means – yet no one could have anticipated exactly how it would end.
“Life is full of things gonna hurt you on the inside.”
After Pine suffered a revolting experience at the hands of Truman Brown, it was expected our resident badass would need time to recover physically and psychologically from the incident. Of course, Leonard isn’t one to sit idle and though he may have wanted to lie back and let time heal his wounds, his unconscious wasn’t going to allow him to let Brown and his Klan-mates take over Grovetown or his pride, and get away with Florida’s disappearance. Many of season three’s poignant moments were channeled through Leonard’s struggles during his recuperation and clashes with Bacon; it’s fitting in a way that one of the final sequences before Pine’s involved a restored memory of Illium Moon (Wayne Dehart) educating a young Leonard on how to respond to bullies. “Man don’t stand up for what’s his, ain’t no man,” Illium remarked. Recalling those few seconds of Moon was just the motivation Leonard needed to find himself again, however the same cannot be said for his brother holed up on the other side of LaBorde.
After last week’s disturbing attack on Leonard, we know why the pair were under shock during their ride back home in the opening minutes of Two-Bear Mambo. We understand why Leonard was under intense distress and fear for his life, yet Hap appeared to be on a whole other level of desolation given his compulsion to arm himself and his incessant thoughts of violent reprisal. Thankfully and surprisingly, Charlie Blank has been an excellent foil for Collins all season, who’s afflicted with all sorts of emotions.
“You know sometimes you gotta stare your shadows in the eye.”
Charlie, in his special, gruff Charlie way, continued to encourage Hap to see Leonard, seeing as the two haven’t reunited since that slow drive back to LaBorde. Officer Blank may not be the most affable character – and is certainly terrible at shadow puppetry – but no one can claim he isn’t perceptive. Charlie along with most of LaBorde know that if Hap is around, Leonard isn’t far behind and vice versa. Theirs is a bond that until recently, proved unbroken. In spite of their relationship with the police department and their personal gripe with Blank throughout “Mucho Mojo”, it’s been refreshing to watch Douglas M. Griffin add more depth to the beleaguered officer. For as many times as he’s detained Hap and/or Leonard, he’s come to respect them and it shows during his visit to Collins’ shack.
While Griffin provided the set up, James Purefoy put the stamp on the first act during Hap’s sorrowful confession. No longer able to hold it all in, Collins spilled everything he felt after seeing Leonard a bloody mess. While laying there face down in the alley, bruised and broken, Hap admitted that he felt relieved that it was Pine and not him facing Truman Brown as he took a hunting knife to Leonard’s balls. Certain that his best friend saw that weakness in his eyes, Blank assured him matter-of-factly that no one man would have traded places with Pine at that moment. We’re all human, and some of us are real vile assholes… yet we also have the choice to take control over our fears and anxieties.
While Collins seemed to hear Charlie’s words, Detective Hanson didn’t have time for his partner’s plainspoken truths but he got an earful from him anyway. Not only did Hanson hide behind the duties of his badge and recovering marriage to not retrieve Florida, he did put Hap and Leonard in harm’s way and it nearly cost them their lives. Hanson would prefer to bury it all deep down but Charlie has all the charm and civility of a hand grenade. When he’s right, he’s right and eventually those he calls “horseshit” on will admit it to themselves – or become impotent by their own denial.
“This time we go, we gotta go all the way.”
Thankfully Hap took the initiative and mended fences with Leonard, and the boys went back to work on finally uncovering the final moments of Florida’s life. After listening to her recording one more time, the two heard a mechanical sound that may be associated with Brown’s Christmas Tree Farm, the one place Pine and Collins frequented most during their trek around Grovetown’s limits. Still and all, the very thought of Truman Brown and Grovetown was enough to make the two admit their traumas to one another, which is something that seldom, if ever occurred between them. It was a deeply affective scene between Michael Kenneth Williams and Purefoy in which the two spun their respective character’s fear of Brown into the force needed to confront Grovetown’s baddest one final time.
Before they could even step outside the door, the newly minted Chief Reynolds was aching to connect Collins and Pine to Cantuck’s murder, and hold them as material witnesses to flush out Sneed and Bacon. Reynolds managed to step foot in the Pine residence with a FBI Agent in tow – thanks to the Governor, who’s friends with a respectable Grovetown resident “whose opinion he values highly”. The snippet of information affirmed to Hap, Leonard, Hanson and Blank that Truman’s reach is significant and the corruption within the system is worst than they suspected.
In the meantime, Laura Allen had portrayed an especially conniving, vindictive, opportunistic bigot of the highest order for all of “Mucho Mambo”. However she finally experienced a touch of unease when Leonard defended himself against the Chief’s unwarranted attack. The duo proved she doesn’t have the chops to be the big boss man and made their way back to Grovetown and sort it out with Maude (Jane McNeill) and Sonny Knox (Andrew Dice Clay) for the final time. A reckoning was coming and if Collins and Pine weren’t able to follow through, the oncoming monsoon may finally wash Grovetown clean of it filth.
That would be too easy for a show like Hap and Leonard… once the third act began, everything was turned on its head. Truman Brown was still a racist sonuvabitch but not the murderer the brothers suspected. Nevertheless a showdown was in order and it turned out just as viewers expected and more. Perhaps it’s a bit unsavory to claim how satisfying it is to watch a barking mad racist and his “alleged” lynch mob get shot to death during a rainstorm, but it does make for good television. While everything was seemingly tied up in a bow, Hap’s worst fears became reality once the monsoon made its thunderous arrival in Grovetown. Without spoiling the final moments of “Monsoon Mambo” for those who somehow hadn’t seen it yet, it was absolutely heartbreaking. After Hap and Leonard experienced a roller coaster of emotions this season, “Two-Bear Mambo” ended on a somber, soul-wrecking note. While (what’s left of) Grovetown is mostly scum-free, the chief residents of LaBorde may suffer indefinitely after their grave loss.
In another stellar season, Hap and Leonard imbued a uncompromisingly dark narrative with its signature flair and humor, providing a drama unlike anything else on television. Though “Two-Bear Mambo” was a decisively wicked and ugly tale compared to seasons past, hope and brotherhood were steadfast thanks to the show’s dynamic leads. Nevertheless, when (not if) the series is renewed by Sundance, the repercussions from the shootout in Grovetown will likely be felt far and wide due to the briefly mentioned Governor, and a larger conspiracy at play.