SundanceTV’s Hap and Leonard
Season 3, Episode 6: “Monsoon Mambo”
Directed by Michael Katleman
Written by Nick Damici & Jim Mickle
* For a recap & review of the penultimate episode, “Mambo No. 5” – click here
* Tell Sundance you want a Season 4! WE WANT SEASON 4! WE NEED IT!
Chief Cantuck (Corbin Bernsen) is dead, after Officer Reynolds (Laura Allen) shot him in the head. Now she’s taking over duties, which only means the Ku Klux Klan have even more leeway than they did before. Things are gonna get even worse in Grovetown. At least there’s one bit of good news: she might be stashed in a junkyard, in the trunk of an old car, but Ms. Florida Grange (Tiffany Mack) is alive after all.
We see Leonard (Michael K. Williams) flashback to a moment when he was a boy, Illum Moon (Wayne Dehart) lecturing him about the ways of the difficult world, after Leonard had been robbed by some other boys. Illum instilled in him a sense of pride that – if necessary – involved getting rough. Even more so if racism is involved.
“Cryin’ ain’t buyin’ in this world”
Dt. Charlie Blank (Douglas M. Griffin) goes to see Hap (James Purefoy), wondering how he’s doing. He also urges Hap to go see Leonard. Seems the whole attack really did poor Hap’s head in, and he likely feels responsible to some degree. Blank talks about “postpartum–style depression.” He knows when terrible things happen, such as like when men go to war in various ways, they can find it hard to be around one another afterwards. Hap says he loves his friend, but admits he felt glad it wasn’t him in that alley about to be mutilated, which makes him feel horrible. It’s a horrific thing to have experienced, though Leonard, obviously, was in the most danger. Mentally it’s fucked them both up.
Dt. Marvin Hanson (Cranston Johnson) has tried to keep up hope. Facing the realities, Blank doesn’t mince words about what he believes is the reality. We know the truth after seeing Ms. Grange in that trunk. Still, Hanson and Blank are a bit at odds. Because Charlie blames his partner for sending Hap out to Grovetown.
Meanwhile, Leonard and Hap finally face each other. Leonard thanks his pal for putting his dick away in the alley, then after a brief chuckle they’re back to normal. They listen to the tape recorder found in Florida’s purse after Hap thinks there’s a new clue: a “big machine” running in the background, likely a wood chipper. They’re sure Truman Brown (Pat Healy) is to blame, now more than ever. Except Leonard worries what seeing Brown again might do to him mentally. He and Hap are both suffering from PTSD, though it’s saddest for him due to the fact he’s already had to face the Vietnam War.
But you know our boys aren’t going to let that stop them. Plus, they’ve got Clinton (Dedric Dec Colbert) and Leon (Lionel Boyce) to provide the gun power. Well, first they’ve got to explain themselves to the FBI – new Officer Reynolds, with her “head up the Klan‘s ass,” is trying to pin Cantuck’s assassination on Hap and Leonard. Reynolds has the FBI convinced there’s foul play. Maybe my FAVOURITE MOMENT of the season comes when Reynolds tries slapping Leonard across the face – he stops her quick, and responds: “Not in my house.” After all’s said and done, Agent Glen (Gary Weeks) from the FBI orders Hap and Leonard to a lax form of house arrest, as he tries to sort the situation out.
“That woman oughta rattle before she bites”
“She make me glad I’m gay”
We all know our boys aren’t going to stay put. They head out – with Agent Glen and Officer Reynolds on their ass. Only it’s not them, just a Leon and Clinton distraction! ‘Cause Hap and Leonard are going back towards Grovetown, for a final showdown with the KKK. Nearly shit myself laughing at them getting caught in the throes of the car’s hydraulics, seeing as how the ride belongs to Leon and Clinton it isn’t surprising. I love how Texas Leonard is, he can’t stand hip hop. That’s why his character, from Joe Lansdale’s books to the screen, is so compelling and keeps me coming back for more. He’s not a stereotype, in any sense – he isn’t a stereotypical black man or gay man or Vietnam veteran. He defies all expectations. Including how Williams portrays him, too.
The lads have arrived in Grovetown right as a storm’s bearing down and the KKK have fully consolidated power. A perfect metaphor. They head over to Sonny Knox’s (Andrew Dice Clay) radio station, and he puts the word out for Brown to let him know where they’ll be waiting for him. One hell of a violent finale is about to get down. At the same time, Florida’s somewhere out there in that trunk, in the rain, trying to get herself free.
When Hap and Leonard go to the trailer motel, they hear the familiar sound from the tape. So Tim (Cullen Moss) tells them what he knows. See, he found the Soothe tapes, and he wanted to cut a deal for the profits. When Florida refused, Tim got violent. She managed to knock his ass out, though. However, she likewise got knocked out after a faulty sign in Tim’s garage fell off and hit her in the head. He figured it was best to stash her in a trunk.
Luckily this leads our boys to the junkyard out back, where they soon find Florida and get her out.
“Things can be fixed. People can’t.”
The Klan turned up for a fight after all, with Reynolds as backup. This puts Hap and Leonard in a nasty position. But Sneed (Evan Gamble) and Bacon (Louis Gossett Jr.) are there, as well. This begins a shootout in which Tim gets a bullet, Reynolds takes a headshot, and Bacon puts a shot right through Truman’s mouth.
And as it finishes, a monsoon rears up over the trees, forcing everyone to pile into a vehicle. The water comes, washing everything away in its tide. Grovetown takes it hard. Everyone manages to survive the storm.
That is, everyone but Florida. After so much devastating and work to save her, the monsoon killed her anyway. I’m shattered to pieces, just like poor Hap.
“Hate makes you blind. Love sets you free. And hope breaks your heart.”
Something this season of Hap and Leonard has proved is that, in the face of a resurgence in neo-Nazism, white supremacy, white nationalism(etc), we’ve got to learn from our heroes: the dangerous powers of whiteness must be actively resisted, and us white people, like Hap, have to be part of that resistance, too. We can’t sit back and let people be racist under the guise of free speech/tolerance of ‘other perspectives’ because that’s bullshit. Whiteness + its racism can/does cause real world violence, oppression, and, yes, death. So, like Cantuck and Tim and others in Grovetown who weren’t openly racist but casually perpetuating the racial hatred of their town, if you’re not actively resisting racism, you’re part of the problem.
Bless Joe Lansdale for these characters and stories. Bless Jim Mickle and Nick Damici for their excellent work adapting Lansdale’s books to the screen. We need a Season 4! If Sundance doesn’t give us one, I’ll find the rest of the fans, and we will riot. We need more of these characters, we need to see how Hap and Leonard move on from here. This show is also a necessary one, in a day and age of toxic masculinity and racism abound, there’s a need for male characters with positive friendships based on a positive sense of masculinity + love, as well as stories which tackle racism in various ways. Hap and Leonard is one of my favourite shows, I hope to see more.