This Hap and Leonard review contains spoilers.
Hap and Leonard Season 3 Episode 6
As we say goodbye to Hap and Leonard for another season, who would have thought there’d be so much to say about Charlie Blank and Officer Reynolds? Or that we’d be raising a glass to Sneed, of all people? And who thought we would be mourning the loss of Miss Florida Grange? She was the Schrödinger’s Cat of “The Two-Bear Mambo,” after all. Until she was found, she was simultaneously alive and dead. Even when her would-be rescuers succumbed to their worst fears (even Hap, the eternal optimist), it was easy to believe her dead. But Hap and Leonard is cannier than that. Florida Grange is too smart, too resourceful, to ever be anything more (or less) than the “woman in the fridge” trope. In any other show, we wouldn’t have seen Florida at her best, holding her own against Grovetown’s institutionalized racism. She might have been a voice on a recording, nothing more. That being said, I wish she survived. Not so she could fall back into Hap Collins’s arms, or to set Marvin Hanson’s mind at ease. No, I wanted her to survive because Florida Grange, who really only existed in flashbacks the entire season, was still such a well-defined character, a force of nature unto herself. Tiffany Mack made her unforgettable, a bright, bright-eyed specter haunting hearts and minds all season.
Douglas M. Griffin also had a memorable turn this season, albeit on the margins. But that all changes in “Monsoon Mambo,” in which he truly shines as Charlie Blank. While he certainly knows how to turn a phrase, in “Monsoon” we get to see a more thoughtful, grounded side to the man. This is Charlie Blank as peacemaker, a wistful armchair philosopher. This is exactly what Hap needs, as it turns out. He’s not just hiding from the Klan, he’s hiding from his best friend, too.
James Purefoy shines again as Hap struggles with the pain of surviving. Charlie is a perfect sounding board for Hap’s confession—that he was secretly glad not to be at the other end of Truman Brown’s knife. As emotional and as real as this conversation gets, it’s hard not to smile at Charlie’s take on Hap and Leonard’s estrangement, calling it “Post-Partum Scary Event Syndrome.”
Pitting Charlie against Hanson is likewise effective. His defense of Hap and Leonard is not only powerful, it’s deeply satisfying. Once again, Charlie is saying what needs to be said, spouting uncomfortable truths in a firm, plainspoken manner that’s hard to ignore. And when Officer Peg has your back, you know you’ve struck a nerve. (Ironically, even Hap and Leonard hate it when Charlie is right—a nice touch, that.)
The boys’ reconciliation is uncomplicated but honest. It’s also an emotional high point of the season. These two have been through the wringer together, finding themselves at the wrong end of one too many beatings. And yet they’re still standing, together, men at once so completely different from one another and yet still of one mind. They understand they may have survived the alley, but their fight isn’t over yet. Worse than their wounds is the fear that remains. Leonard has struggled the most with this, staring down the uglier moments from his past. It all comes to a head in “Monsoon,” when he admits to Hap that he cries at night, that his nightmares persist in his waking life. Michael Kenneth Williams is unafraid to show us Leonard Pine at his weakest. Strip away the bravado and the wisecracks, and what’s left is someone who has lost the will to fight. Truman Brown is just one bigot in a world teeming with them. Grovetown isn’t just a place on a map, it’s a state of mind. Hap may understand this, but he’s not living it—not the way Leonard does.
So it’s only fitting that Reynolds not only brings the fight to LaBorde, but right to Leonard’s doorstep. This confrontation isn’t just intimate, it’s claustrophobic. Reynolds is just as dangerous as ever, hiding her racism behind a badge instead of a hood. While “Oh, my brother” was last week’s most memorable line, this time it’s “Not in my house.” This is a rousing, incendiary line, a rebuke against the bigotry Leonard’s endured not only this season, but throughout the entirety of his life.
By the time we get to the Showdown At The Rocket Garage, we the viewers have been put through the wringer, too. We know Florida is still alive. We also know a storm of epic proportions is brewing, even as the Klan closes in on our heroes. This is Hap and Leonard firing on all cylinders, wrapping up a riveting season with equal parts tension, suspense, and humor. In the end, “Monsoon” isn’t about revenge; it’s about justice. Why else would it be Sneed that takes out Reynolds, or Bacon’s bullet that silences Truman Brown for good? And Tim the mechanic is more than just collateral damage in this gunfight. Were it not for him, Florida would never have wound up in that junkyard. He wasn’t a bad person, per se. But he was far from being a good one.
So what we’re left with is a bittersweet finale, one that doesn’t hint at new mysteries, as the last two finales did. We’re left with a kind of closure, should this be Hap and Leonard’s final season. Hope may break your heart, just as Belinda suggests in the episode’s closing moments. But here’s to hoping that SundanceTV understands that Hap and Leonard truly is a show for and of its time, a balm for our troubled hearts and addled minds. Maude herself sums up this country’s endemic racism best when she says, “If that’s what America’s supposed to be, I don’t wanna live here no more.”
With that in mind, to the powers-that-be at SundanceTV, as both fan and critic, I implore you: Please, renew this show. Please, deliver Hap Colllins and Leonard Pine to us for another season. Hope springs eternal.