Most of our attention has been on the trouble Hap Collins (James Purefoy) and Leonard Pine (Michael Kenneth Williams) keep getting themselves into on “Hap and Leonard” — but “Bad Mojo” (April 5) gives us a closer look at Sheriff Valentine Otis (Brian Dennehy) — whose good-guy facade is beginning to crack.
It’s clear the police are still out to put Leonard away for a long time — his skin color and sexual orientation haven’t at all done him any favors. But this week we’re invited to question Sheriff Otis’s motives. He’s the leader of the town’s police department and his son is running for County Judge — that sort of absolute power can lead a weak person to act outside the law. And it’s clear here that Valentine’s hiding something.
Detectives Hanson (Cranston Johnson) and Blank (Douglas M. Griffin) witness Valentine return shoes to the dead boy’s remains in the morgue — immediately putting in the order for cremation: Why did the Sheriff have those shoes, and why is he out to get rid of the evidence?
Is Valentine the killer Hap and Leonard are looking for? We don’t think so — that would be too cut-and-dry. But it does feel like Sheriff Valentine is protecting the one behind the killings. And this makes the whole “us vs. them” reality of living in this community even more messed up.
Class privilege, homophobia and misogyny, racial inequality: They’re all issues central to “Hap and Leonard.” From Leonard’s attorney Florida (Tiffany Mack) to Meemaw (Irma P. Hall) to the beauty salon women our heroes recently befriended, the town’s women are the ones who have Hap and Leonard’s backs. The ways our heroes diverge from the default — they don’t look like the Sheriff, they don’t live like the Sheriff; most importantly they don’t have the power of the Sheriff — means finding ways to survive and prosper that these have been learning and evolving their whole lives.
22 boys have gone missing and the show has invested a decent amount of time exploring that loss. The impact on this unrepresented community of mothers, sisters and daughters add a whole new layer to the bleakness of this southern-fried tale.
Our heroes are getting closer to finding young “B.B’s” killer — and we have a feeling the murderer’s identity is someone with deep connections to the town. Amid all this injustice, it feels like the crooked police department may very well be linked to the KKK attack Meemaw survived as a young girl, as we saw when she guided Hap and Leonard to the church linked to that old rusty gate.
As the mystery gets deeper — we’re two episodes from the end of this taut, tense season — our eyes will remain fixed on Sheriff Valentine’s every move. He may be the child murderer, he may not — but he’s up to no good. The community of LaBorde, Texas has had the cards stacked against it for decades — now’s the time its under-represented citizens of take a stand, and get the justice and world that they so desperately deserve.
“Hap and Leonard: Mucho Mojo” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SundanceTV. The Season 2 finale airs April 19.