The Hap and Leonard season 2 premiere came into airing on SundanceTV in an interesting place. The first season ended with three episodes that, in succession, brought you the television equivalent of a Grindhouse movie in terms of action and intensity. They were incredibly entertaining, but also not ripe with major character development beyond what happened with Angel and Soldier. Oh, and of course the death of Trudy.
Having the season 2 premiere on Wednesday night feature Trudy both near the beginning and end was a smart move. Yet, it wasn’t Christina Hendricks in the flesh; it was her ashes instead. Hap picked them up, and wondered for some time what he was going to do with them. By the end of the hour, we saw her go out formally in a way that was signature Trudy: Messy and unexpected. First, a bird managed to get vengeance on Trudy’s ashes by causing them to be dumped in the water. That bird killed Hap’s moments just like Trudy killed her bird after Hap defected and found himself locked away in prison. Then, Hap jumped in the water and clumsily threw around some of the ashes with him. Trudy was all around him. Then, eventually, he would clean himself off and go on with his life. There’s nothing left for him to do.
Of course with Hap, we’re sure that he imagined that the first stretch of time without his former love would be a little more peaceful than what it was. Thank the bones underneath Uncle Chester’s house wholeheartedly for that. He and Leonard discovered them in the early part of the episode, and in trying to do the right thing, they still found themselves in further trouble.
Specifically, we had Leonard arrested in the closing minutes, and all of a sudden, the foundation of his new life in Chester’s house is crumbling. The same goes for Hap’s, since he is still in the process of getting his life together. Of course, we don’t see Leonard is guilty of such a thing as killing a child, but he’s having to deal with a situation where his back is against a wall, let alone confronting racism and matters that are far bigger than himself.
Meet some new faces
Given that just about everyone from the first season died, it made sense for Hap and Leonard to bring an array of new characters into the mix. This included a wide array of people from Uncle Chester’s community, the attorney Florida, and also Ivan, a young delinquent who Leonard ended up taking in to ensure that he didn’t end up in the system. It’s hard to tell how that’s going to work out now.
What made this episode so effective mostly was the opportunity to take such a deep dive into this new world, one that allowed the show to take on a fantastic flavor that felt true to East Texas and to the time period. There was some great humor (TJ and the bunk bed was a great scene for physical comedy), but there were also some soft moments of poignancy as we saw Leonard try so hard to be a good person and continued to be punished for it.
Hap and Leonard was a great show the first season. One episode in, and it’s upped the game to being a wonderful show that is subtle and makes you think of male friendship in a whole new light. Plus, the cliffhanger made it clear that we’ve got a new adversary out there who could be causing trouble moving forward. Grade: A-.
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What was your taken on the Hap and Leonard season 2 premiere? Share your thoughts in the comment. (Photo: SundanceTV.)