This Hap and Leonard review contains spoilers.
Hap and Leonard Season 2 Episode 5
Hap and Leonard’s twist-filled “Pie a la Mojo” feels so much like the season finale that it makes me wonder what’s in store for next week’s actual season-ender. Seeing Hap and Leonard atop a white steed as they outrun the law is both fun and immediately gratifying. The boys deserve this heroic moment. But “Pie” also includes what feels like a contrived moment between Hap and Florida that rang false. It’s not enough to sink “Pie”—far from it—but it was enough to almost take me out of the episode. But more on what went down in the Monkey Maze in a bit.
One might argue that Hap and Leonard plays its last card an hour too soon, that to do so suggests a problem with the show’s pacing. One could say the same thing about last season’s finale, “Eskimos,” which seemingly resolved everything within the episode’s first 15 minutes. And yet, there was still so much story left to tell. An explosive finale, replete with the requisite character deaths, is all well and good. But sometimes creators need to let their creations breathe, to exist within environs that have been built up carefully and consistently over the course of a season. Again, I realize “Pie” is not the finale, but it really felt that way.
Case in point—Hap and Leonard discover that Reverend Fitzgerald is behind all of those child murders. This is shocking, yes, but it’s not too surprising if you’ve been paying close attention to Dohn Norwood this season. When we first meet the pastor, he’s bristly and territorial. He takes this to the next level with Hap in the boxing ring. My issue isn’t that Fitzgerald is behind the murders so much as it is his rationale for doing so. There’s a whiff of Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, this idea of doling out justice before an actual crime is committed. I wish we could have built up to this moment a little more. Instead, it felt rushed. And before we know it, Reverend Fitzgerald is dead.
Maybe it’s because of this that TJ’s death is actually more shocking and unsettling. He’s been a sympathetic character, which makes his involvement in these murders so heartbreaking. He’s been led to believe he’s been doing the Lord’s work by creating angels. To him, these are acts of kindness. In reality, he’s just one more victim. Hap and Leonard doubles down on this tragedy by felling TJ with an officer’s bullet. The show hasn’t shied away from matters of race.
That the officer in question is Detective Blank casts a whole new light on his casual racism. To say that Douglas M. Griffin’s Blank is simply a product of his environment is not good enough. And I realize that “casual racism” is still “racism.” The show understands this, too. Which is why TJ’s death is so tragic, because in that heated moment, when he picks up the rifle, and when he refuses Hap and Leonard’s pleas to drop it, it’s not too hard to understand why an officer might fear for his safety. But it’s also impossible not to consider the Trayvon Martins and Michael Browns of the world, because they’re lost boys, too.
There’s more to this episode, of course. We get an important insight into what’s driving Hap. This investigation is, in his own words, “probably the most important thing I’ve ever done in my life.” This is an epiphany to Hap, who’s spent a long time kidding himself about the person he was, is, and might be. He knows this investigation is big—bigger than him, bigger than Leonard. Which is probably why he doesn’t want to just hand the reins over to Detective Hanson. I understand Hanson hasn’t gone out of his way to endear himself to Hap or Leonard. The same could be said for the entirety of Laborde’s police force. But if this case truly is too big for two civilians, what other choice does Hap have? Is this something he’s seeing through to the end because he truly believes there’s no time to explain or defend himself, or is this about finally getting that lone checkmark in the Hap Collins WIN column?
Ivan’s going to the carnival is likewise annoying, partially because kids his age are prone to bad decisions, but mostly because it was all but preordained that Ivan would disobey Leonard. That he nearly winds up Fitzgerald’s newest victim seems too obvious a way to go. At this point, does it really matter which boy is next to die?
If it sounds like I dislike this episode, I don’t. There are some truly inspired moments, specifically with Brick, who comes on strong to Leonard. And then there’s Judy the contortionist, who was mentioned in passing in “Holy Mojo.” It’s a small part, but Bonnie Morgan does a lot with the role.
But it’s the episode’s closing moments that truly stuck with me. All the credit goes to Irma P. Hall’s MeMaw, who feels that she’s to blame for the missing children, that her love wasn’t enough to beat back the evil she saw in Fitzgerald’s parents. Surrounded by angels, as the faces of the living and the dead look on from her wall of remembrance, MeMaw is overcome by waves of grief and regret and sadness. She drowns in these emotions until she draws her last breath. Rest in peace, MeMaw.
As for BB, his murder is still unsolved. How Sheriff Valentine is tied to BB is likewise still a mystery. So while tonight feels like the end, there’s still a lot of ground to cover. Where does Hap stand with Florida? What will become of Leonard and Ivan? With only one hour left this season, I have faith that next week’s finale will not disappoint.