SundanceTV’s Hap and Leonard
Season 3, Episode 2: “Ho-Ho Mambo”
Directed by Jim Mickle
Written by Nick Damici
* For a recap & review of the Season 3 premiere, “The Two-Bear Mambo” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “T-Bone Mambo” – click here
Ms. Florida Grange (Tiffany Mack) walks alone at night on the main stretch in Grovetown, just as all the street lights are shutting down for the evening. Then she turns a corner to find a Ku Klux Klan member, hooded, lighting a cross on fire. Behind her are a group of men. A truck revs its engine nearby, and so Florida tries to take her heels and run. She’s chased into an alleyway, but will she be able to get away from these hideous racists? Oh, my.
Bad dreams. In a motel, Hap (James Purefoy) wakes and immediately he’s on edge. He nearly puts a bullet in Dt. Charlie Blank (Douglas M. Griffin). Lucky these two are buddies, or else that could’ve really caused some shit. Hap mentions Sneed (Evan Gamble) was down in Grovetown, too.
When Hap and Leonard (Michael K. Williams) found their car spray painted and beat to shit it was none other than Sneed who showed up on the call. Officer Sneed has Officer Reynolds with him. Neither of them are too concerned with the racist hate on the car. And no matter how bad Hap wants to make it an issue, sadly Leonard knows they should let it go for now.
In Grovetown, things are real nasty. We see an old man called Bacon (Louis Gossett Jr.) called in to work on the dead body of a young black man. They tell the old man he’s “your kind,” and so nobody else wants to work on him. No autopsy done, either. No need, they say. More like they don’t care enough. I enjoy that, aside from Leonard himself, we get some older black perspectives in the series, as it shows us a sort of spectrum in the experiences of various black people at the time Hap and Leonard is set.
“I hate to burst your liberal bubble, Hap, but bad shit still happening to black people.”
There’s also an interesting non-linear timeline happening in Season 3 so far. We’re seeing the aftermath of what happened in Grovetown, as well as the beginnings of whatever shit our boys got into down there. We see mentions that Hap claims he “met the devil” in Grovetown. We also see the boys met up with Chief Cantuck (Corbin Bernsen) down there. The man’s got a “twisted nut” about to burst “like Hiroshima.” He’s a nasty one. The Chief makes some disgusting comments about Florida, which nearly starts a fist fight. But the boys manage to talk with the man without killing him. Funny – Cantuck’s against the KKK, claiming the “patriotic pervert” is a recurring problem in their town, yet he’s just another old white racist, too.
At a local radio station, Sonny Knox (Andrew Dice Clay) hosts his show and rambles to his listeners. He gets a visit from Hap and Leonard inquiring about Ms. Grange. Florida had come down to work on a deal with the grandson of L.C. Soothe (Curtis Harding), Bobby Joe; the young lad found a “long lost” recording Soothe. However, Bobby Joe turned up hanged from a bridge, and Florida hasn’t been seen since. Oh, and that house that burned down where the boys met the Chief? That was Sonny’s place.
“Startin‘ to get that Twilight Zone feel again”
If it weren’t for Hap’s quick talk there might be more trouble at the diner when they stop to eat. He manages to convince people at the counter that he and Leonard are actually exterminators, and Leonard’s name is “Dr. Macumba.” Hilarious moment as they both play along.
After the diner, the boys find their little bike’s being dragged behind a truck. They hop into the back. But soon the men inside stop and attack. Hap and Leonard are able to kick a good deal of ass instead of being shotgunned or beaten to death with a baseball bat. Merry Christmas, assholes!
Note: There’s great commentary on liberal racism in this episode, something we see often today. People who believe they’re not racist can often say incredibly foolish, racist things. Such as the Chief, or the guy they talk to who mentions he doesn’t care if you’re “purple or got bones through your nose holes” and offers Leonard some pig feet. So despite there being many worse racists in Grovetown, our boys come across plenty of so-called liberals who are quite casually racist.
“Is it too late for me to stay home?”
In the ratty place where Hap and Leonard stay they find evidence Florida stayed there recently. The owner of the shitty motel tells them she was there for a single night. Elsewhere, the boy Bacon worked on – Bobby Joe – is laid to rest in the cemetery, under cover of darkness, unfortunately. Grovetown is so wildly racist, even in the ’80s, that again, many liberal would probably be shocked to realise this is true to life. Officer Reynolds is a particularly ugly racist. Although it seems that there may be coming a genuine change in Officer Sneed, whose ideology could be due for a shift.
And back in their shitty little room, Hap and Leonard discover a napkin with a chilling note written on it (no surprise: racist hillbillies can’t spell). The Klan rides strong in Grovetown. Our boys are on a collision course with those violent racists, one way or another.
Man, I love this show! Season 3’s poised to be the best yet, and certainly the book from Joe Lansdale is awesome; read it if you haven’t yet, read them all. “T-Bone Mambo” is next time. Expect more awesomness, more ass kicking, and maybe a few Dr. Pepper.