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Exploring the complex male relationships of ‘Hap and Leonard’

It was just a matter of time before Hap Collins (James Purefoy) and Leonard Pine (Micheal Kenneth Williams) went all-in on the murderous conspiracy unfolding in this East Texas town. “Holy Mojo” (March 29) didn’t just give our heroes a few leads on where the missing boys may be — we got a closer look at the childhood trauma guiding Hap and Leonard down this dangerous (and destructive) path.

Unfortunately for the men, Illium’s (Wayne DeHart) death — if you’ll recall, he accidentally drove his car into the lake — puts them back at square one. That is, until they happened across an old gate in the water: The same gate that child’s body was strapped to in the opening moments of Season 2. With the remains of the boy’s hands still attached to the wrought iron, our intrepid heroes found themselves a new lead: Hunt down the building this gate belonged to.

hap and leonard 203 james purefoy michael k williams 1 Exploring the complex male relationships of Hap and Leonard

It was Ivan (Olaniyan Thurmon), of all people, who helps point them in the right direction. A displaced youth himself, we’ve watched the young albino boy become close with Leonard over the course of the past few episodes — their odd father/son bond adding a new layer to the ongoing theme of unique male relationships at “Hap and Leonard’s” core.

RELATED: Childhood trauma leads ‘Hap and Leonard’ down an unexpected rabbit hole

While the boy doesn’t exactly have the answers Hap and Leonard need, they do find themselves in a cul-de-sac confrontation with an armed gang of housewives and mothers. Two strange men, walking around these back-alleys with a young boy, understandably has set off all sorts of red flags. But once Hap and Leonard are brought to the leader of this crew — a quirky salon owner named Stella — they get their answers after all: All it takes is an old photograph to paint a clearer picture of their destination: The unnamed church that gate came from.

In this continued investigation, it’s become clear how affected the men are by the skeleton Leonard found underneath Chester’s house. The boy — still only known as “B.B.” — has opened up old wounds… But nothing like the fact that, as we learn, Leonard’s case is being handled by Judge Beau Otis (John McConnell): The same drunk driver who, 40 years ago, killed Hap and Leonard’s fathers.

Leonard’s old friend and new attorney Florida Grange (Tiffany Mack) does her best to reason with the judge — but her attempts to get his recusal lead to a dark chain of events, as Hap finds himself in the position to get justice on his own. Kidnapping Judge Otis isn’t a well-thought-out plan, but between the trauma of his past and the struggle of the present, it was never going to be. Hap takes Otis out into the woods, and only a sudden moment of clarity keeps him from beating Beau senseless with a crowbar: This violence wouldn’t bring his dad back, and in no way could it possibly affect Leonard’s case positively.

RELATED: James Purefoy previews ‘Hap and Leonard’s’ political new direction

As Hap comes to this revelation, Leonard’s troubles are just getting worse: Ivan is suddenly missing. Leonard heads to Officer Sneed’s (Evan Gamble) house, to hold an impromptu interrogation with the corrupt cop right in his sudsy tub.

hap and leonard 203 michael k williams olaniyan thurman Exploring the complex male relationships of Hap and Leonard

A little bit of payback never hurt — especially since Sneed’s the officer who tried to beat a confession out of Leonard to begin with. Sneed points Leonard to Melton (Sedale Threatt Jr.), bringing this whole thing full-circle: From day one, Leonard’s faced nothing but trouble from his drug-dealing neighbor. Now it seems Melton and Sneed are colluding to put Leonard away for good — and placing young Ivan back in that awful house.

Not thinking entirely clearly, Leonard storms right into Melton’s house, shotgun at the ready, rescues the kid, and sets the fire to the whole place: This not only guarantees some jailtime, but Leonard’s also unknowingly destroyed the evidence Ivan was supposed to plant in Leonard’s house. It’s going to end up being Melton and Sneed’s word against his own.

From Hap’s drive for revenge to Leonard’s ballsy rescue of Ivan, it’s clear the hunt for the town’s lost boys have tapped into something deep and dark in our heroes. Without one another, Hap and Leonard would themselves be lost boys — without a clear direction in this world. It’s this deep stuff that pushes Leonard to act as a father to Ivan, and the trauma that’s still pulling Hap off his own path.

hap and leonard 203 michael k williams irma p hall Exploring the complex male relationships of Hap and Leonard

And while we still hold out hope for everyone involved, it’s a pretty chilling end to the episode when — as Ivan finds safety in Meemaw’s (Irma P. Hall) house — we pan to an old photo of people standing in front of a church — the same church that creepy gate belonged to. For a case that started with bodies under Leonard’s uncle’s house, it would be a vicious twist to find out the child murderer is even closer to home.

“Hap and Leonard: Mucho Mojo” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Sundance TV.

Category: TelevisionTV Shows: Hap and LeonardCelebrities: James PurefoyTV Network: Sundance

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