Hap and Leonard – Framed!

James Purefoy as Hap Collins and Michael Kenneth Williams as Leonard Pine- Hap and Leonard Photo Credit: James Minchin/SundanceTV

The second episode of Hap and Leonard: Mucho Mojo (SundanceTV, Wednesdays, 10/9C) finds Leonard in jail and his lawyer, Florida and Hap trying to get him out.

Ticking Mojo maintains the slow burn build of the mystery behind the body found under the floorboards of Leonard’s (Michael Kenneth Williams) house; presents a possible killer and suggests the possibility that Leonard’s late Uncle Chester was involved with a series of missing children over the years.

Ticking Mojo opens with Ivan – the albino kid Leonard saved from death by overdose) – waking up to the sound of someone prowling in Leonard’s home. Meanwhile, Leonard is identified in a police lineup as the man the witness saw helping Chester Pine move a child’s body into his house two years before. A reflection in the window in the police side of the one-way glass shows that the witness is the guy whom Leonard chastised for pissing on his rose last week.

Cranston Johnson as Det. Marvin Hanson, Michael K Williams as Leonard Pine – Hap and Leonard _ Season 2, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/SundanceTV

It’s enough to get Leonard into an interrogation with a real cracker of a cop and probably not the late time Leonard will undergo some humiliating and physically challenging experiences.

After visiting Leonard in jail, Hap (James Purefoy) and Florida Grange (Tiffany Mack) are out trying to find out more about the boy – several mothers of missing boys are in the police station trying to find out more.

The conversation with the mothers makes it seem possible that Uncle Chester might have been involved.

In the face of Leonard being denied bail, Hap confronts the judge, Beau Otis (John ‘Spud’ McConnell), about a secret that only three men know – Hap, Leonard and the judge.

While in jail, Leonard is offered a book by a volunteer – but it’s a little different than he’s expecting.

Wayne DeHart as Illium Moon – Hap and Leonard _ Season 2, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/SundanceTV

When Hap and Florida learn about the book man, she identifies him as Illium Moon – an eccentric old man who delivers books to prisoners on Tuesdays and helps with the children at church on Sundays.

The second season of Hap and Leonard is shaping up to be a more assured and deeper round of storytelling and, following an extremely good first season, that’s saying something.

This week we meet Sheriff Valentine Otis (Brian Dennehy), an aging power broker who speaks like a courtly southern gentleman while radiating menace. Judge Beau Otis, who is simply mean, is his son.

Douglas M. Griffin as Det. Charlie Blank, Brian Dennehy as Valentine Otis – Hap and Leonard _ Season 2, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/SundanceTV

Ticking Mojo sets up a look at racial prejudice by placing both Hap and Leonard in situations where they are the subject of it – but, even as white trash, Hap’s lack of welcome when he hesitantly attends a black church doesn’t even register on the scale next to what Leonard suffers.

Don’t get me wrong, the show isn’t going out its way to make a point – it doesn’t have to. By just acknowledging the way things were (and are becoming again), it says plenty.

What makes Hap and Leonard remarkable is that in just telling the story of two men who are, for all intents and purposes brothers (when Hap wants the plain bald truth, he asks Leonard ‘brother to brother’), it addresses the wrongs of society while showing how things could be if we only interacted more on a one-to-one basis and less from a kind of mob mentality.

Ticking Mojo is one of the best hours of TV so far this year.

Final Grade: A+