This Hap and Leonard review contains spoilers.
Hap and Leonard Season 3 Episode 4
While it may be true that Hap and Leonard owes so much of its success to the chemistry between its titular heroes, “Señorita Mambo” proves to be an excellent showcase for the show’s supporting cast. We get more of Evan Gamble’s Sneed, for example. In a town filled with hard, edgy types, seeing Sneed’s small acts of kindness go a long way toward humanizing him. And despite my better judgment, I’m actually starting to believe he’s a changed man.
We get more of Andrew Dice Clay’s DJ, Sonny Knox, too. And wouldn’t you know it, ADC manages to win me over, again despite my better judgment. He’s a bit of a huckster and also a pitiable would-be lothario, but ADC manages to find Knox’s vulnerability as the man goes down in flames. In other words, he’s just likable enough.
Sydney Wease’s mysterious, mute Belinda likewise gets more screen time this week. We still know so little about her, and yet she’s compelling to watch. Whatever thoughts she’s harboring behind those glasses can’t be good. Is she a harbinger of even worse things to come?
I could easily go on and on—about Tim the mechanic, or Officer Peg, or about Blind Tillie. They’re all quirky characters, fleshing out a very believable, lived-in reality. You get the sense that they exist even when they’re not on screen, going about their strange lives wholly apart from Hap and Leonard’s dangerous escapades. The same can certainly be said for Florida Grange. Indeed, this hour really belongs to Tiffany Mack, who handily carries the episode. So much so that I almost didn’t miss Purefoy and Williams. Almost.
We already know Florida can handle herself, but “Señorita” is a nice reminder of just how well. Not only does she go toe-to-toe with Chief Cantuck, she puts Truman Brown in his place not just once, but twice. And she does so both times without breaking a sweat. She’s not just fierce, she’s fearless. She’s patient, too, in the face of unwanted flirting and awkward innuendos. One gets the sense that this is a daily occurrence for her, deflecting clumsy advances from smitten, slack-jawed men. But Hap and Leonard isn’t banking on Florida’s looks, instead leaning in quite hard on her resilience, resourcefulness, and intellect.
We certainly see this when she confronts Chief Cantuck in the morgue. She won’t be cowed by him, simply because they’re on his home turf. Given that he’s the type for whom doing the bare minimum qualifies him for a paycheck, Cantuck’s inaction is in itself criminal. He may not have murdered Bobby Joe Soothe, but the boy’s blood is on the chief’s hands all the same. Which is why Florida is so quick to escalate things to the FBI’s local office. In the end, all this does is win her a police escort to the town line. Which means Cantuck was being honest when he told Hap that Florida had left town. Go figure.
As much as “Señorita” fills in the blanks of what happened (or didn’t happen) to Florida in Grovetown, the mystery behind her disappearance—and Soothe’s murder—only deepens. Who really killed Soothe? Pinning it on the Klan seems almost too obvious. Officer Reynolds, too, seems a bit obvious. Which is why I think it’s one of two people.
Cullen Moss’s mechanic, Tim, for one. He has the easiest access to Soothe’s trailer, making it easy to steal the tapes. And we know Florida takes him into her confidence, sharing her theories behind Soothe’s murder.
Then there’s Bacon. Yes, Bacon. But this is more of a hunch (and one hell of a limb). For all we know, he’s not happy about outsiders coming into Grovetown and riling up the Klan. Plus Blind Tillie went out of her way to tell Florida that the killer was no bass player. If you’ll recall, last week we saw Bacon playing electric guitar in a church band. Whoever killed Soothe is also behind Florida’s disappearance.
But who knows. This is all pure speculation on my part. With only two episodes left in the season, we’ll find out soon enough who the guilty parties are. Meanwhile, the devil will continue to be just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the action.
Some closing thoughts:
It’s amazing how quickly the tone can shift within a single episode, as “Señorita” demonstrates in its opening moments. As enigmatic as Belinda is, she’s still just a child, given to simple pleasures, like playing alone in a sun-drenched field. In this scene, it’s easy to forget we’re still in such a horrible place like Grovetown. But “Señorita” is quick to remind us of the town’s cruelty.
This episode is also wont to remind us that no good deed goes unpunished on Hap and Leonard. Sneed standing up to Reynolds on Soothe’s behalf seems to be the worst thing that could have happened to the accused. In the end, for Soothe it comes down to his belt or the terrible promise of conditional freedom. Either way, he was going to hang.