Is there hope to be found in Hap and Leonard season 2 episode 5, or is there only tragedy? Where do you find the glimmer in pain, and how do you define justice?
Wednesday night’s “Pie a la Mojo,” despite sounding like something super-tasty that you’d find in a local danger, is the most chilling episode of the entire series. We say that in the context of a show that featured the antics of Soldier and Angel last year, mostly because we’re talking opponents on a micro and macro scale. Last year, Hap and Leonard took on two psychopaths with a specific agenda. When they were gone, they were gone. The blood behind could be cleaned.
There is no way to clean the aftermath of the missing boys. They’re all gone. There is no justice that comes from shooting the Reverend in a moment when, arguably, he didn’t have to die. The same goes for his accomplice TJ, who didn’t know the weight of his own actions and was largely convinced by a man poisoning his mind that such killings were the act of God. You can argue that like Angel and Soldier, the Reverend was a psychopath in his own way. Rather than a bull in a china chop, he was a slow, meticulous poison drip drawing out pain and suffering in East Texas. Every October, he would go to the carnival and remove a potential sinner from the world, taking them before Satan could allegedly do so himself.
The victory comes in that no more boys will be taken. The tragedy comes in everything else. There was no resolution from this or attempt for anything to change. Two black men died and the police can utter that they did the job and move on; but, the next time a child disappears, will they be there? Will it take the efforts of another Hap and Leonard, who are willing to tow the lines of the law, in order to get them to take things seriously? Judge Otis’ election victory proves further that despite all of the power and the outrage, apathy still prevailed.
We don’t want to diminish that there were funny moments within the episode, such as Hap meeting an ex-stripper turned contortionist with quite a thing for him at the carnival or some of the rapport between him and Leonard along the way. Visually, the show also accomplished a great deal, including a tremendous walk-through sequence of the carnival where you can see where Ivan, Florida, and many other characters were in the process of a manhunt for the responsible parties. At the time, the police were after Hap, whereas Hap was after the killer to such an extent that he was willing to lock up Florida for the time being.
Yet, almost every moment is overshadowed by the foreboding sense of loss, and the notion that despite the ending to the case, nothing is repaired. As a matter of fact, one final life was seemingly lost in the midst of all the devastation: MeMaw, one of the few beating hearts remaining in the neighborhood. She heard the news, only to then join the crying community of the dead.
This was a sensational episode — real, visceral, haunting, and dark beyond measure. It may also be the best work of Hap and Leonard through two seasons. There is no way to wipe away the blood here; there are only ghosts, and they’ll continue to haunt both the town and us as a viewer. Grade: A.
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Meanwhile, head over here to acquire some further news on the subject of the show, including a preview for what lies ahead. (Photo: SundanceTV.)