SundanceTV’s Hap and Leonard
Season 3, Episode 4: “Senorita Mambo”
Directed by Abe Sylvia
Written by John Wirth & Ione Lloyd
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “T-Bone Mambo” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Mambo No. 5” – click here
Ms. Belinda (Sydney Wease) – she’s a mysterious character who’s been on our periphery right from the start of Season 3. I wonder, will she provide much needed info? She knows everything that goes on in town, supposedly, she’s always watching. But did she something? And will she say anything even if she did? More than that, she’s obviously troubled, for whatever reason.
We see a couple of the white supremacist rednecks try raping her, before a young black man runs from the field to fight them off. They run, screaming “You’re dead, boy.”
And who was it? Bobby Joe Soothe (Curtis Harding). He carried her out of the woods, only to run into Officers Sneed (Evan Gamble) and Reynolds (Laura Allen). Not exactly a saving grace.
They go back to the police station, and the cops automatically assume it was Soothe who attacked her. There’s a sweetness buried inside Sneed; deep, deep down, under a lot of racist bullshit. But he’s not a good man, yet. I’m wondering if he’ll find redemption. Meanwhile, Bobby Joe’s left dealing with Reynolds, whose racism is even more overt, and twice as ugly. Best thing about Reynolds is she’s this superficially pretty blonde lady – one we know too well in 2018 – and underneath she is a rotten, hideous white supremacist. She, and others like her, are proof the nastiest things come in pretty pleasant packaging.
“A belt‘s a good way of putting an end to all this, is what I‘m saying.”
Out in the woods at the present moment in time, Hap (James Purefoy) and Leonard (Michael K. Williams) are fumbling around in the woods. They’ve run up on the Brown farm, in typically hilarious fashion for the lads. Not a great place to be, y’know, considering Truman (Pat Healy) is the head of the Ku Klux Klan in Grovetown. They head on out, then tumble into a ravine. It’s there they find Florida’s car covered in leaves, hidden away. Not a good sign.
They find her purse, and inside is a tape recorder; its contents don’t point to anything positive. It’s more than likely, sadly, Florida was killed. Still, Hap and Leonard push on, listening to more of the tape.
A nice cut takes us to Florida herself – finally! She’s over to see Sonny Knox (Andrew Dice Clay) about the Soothe recordings. They’re waiting for Bobby, who’ll likely not turn up because he’s being hanged. In the meantime, Sonny thinks he’s doing well with Florida, even after referring to “CP time” (a.k.a coloured people time; Christ almighty) and then talking about being an “endangered species” as a Jew in the South as compared to a black woman in the South. A crack up of a scene, for all the wrong reasons. I love how the writing for this adaptation of Hap and Leonard really keeps true to Joe Lansdale’s work, including how it points out there’s really no difference between casual racism and outright hateful racism: it’s all racist. And even some people who aren’t racist are still prejudiced in ways simply because they’ve been ingrained as such.
Later, Florida calls Dt. Hanson (Cranston Johnson), asking if he’ll contact the Grovetown PD in case something’s happened to young Soothe. He warns her about how things are down there, and asks her to leave. Of course, she refuses. She sits for a cup of coffee in the diner just as Truman shows up as disgusting as ever. This is right about the time Bobby Joe’s found hanging from the bridge.
“You’re a strong black woman. Can I say that?”
“You just did”
Florida goes to the scene, telling the cops this is a “federal case” seeing as how a black man’s been strung up. You can bet that Chief Cantuck (Corbin Bernsen) doesn’t have much time for her. She keeps pressing, knowing he didn’t commit suicide. Bobby Joe’s body is beaten, he was clearly tied up, and it’s obvious there was foul play. Beyond obvious. Cantuck clearly lied to Hap and Leonard concerning what he knew about Florida. With the pair now listening to Florida’s secret tapes, they’re discovering more and more.
Jump back again. Florida goes over to see Tim Garner (Cullen Moss), so she can see Bobby Joe’s room, and get her own for the evening. She has a look through Soothe’s things, finding the L.C. recordings gone. Over at the diner, she runs into Belinda, where she gives the girl her lipstick. She also runs into Truman, too. He tries to casually run her out of there, and Florida stands her ground as a lawyer and a black woman. Afterwards, she’s literally driven to the edge of town by the cops, as well as Cantuck. An official escort out of town. She also lets the Chief know she knows it was him who took the tapes from Bobby Joe’s room.
So, if Florida left town, what happened? She didn’t leave, she turned right around and went back into Grovetown. She had Tim drive her around in his truck, undercover. She’s waiting to see if someone will try selling the recordings to Knox. When she goes over to the radio station, it’s a mess, and Sonny’s had the shit kicked out of him. Cleavon (Romen L. McPherson) from Blind Tillie’s was there looking for the tapes, because he’s owed money by Soothe. Tillie herself knows exactly “what killed Bobby Joe.” Any black person in Grovetown knows.
On the road Florida sees a truck behind her. The Klan is coming.
We see a brief glimpse of someone later carrying Florida, putting her in the trunk of a car. Whose car? Lord, it’s killing me. Can’t wait for the next episode. The mystery-thriller aspects of this season are perfect, the tension is fantastic. “Mambo No. 5” – perfectly named – is next.