I only ever discover new TV shows because people recommend them to me. Usually, the person who recommends them is P (although, it must be said that he does so with care because he knows that if I like the show I’m going to seriously slow down the rate at which he’ll get to watch it). I could get recommendations from Netflix or Amazon or whatever, but honestly, they recommend so much stuff that it’s a little overwhelming. Anyway, P recommended Hap and Leonard and after a couple of episodes, I was hooked.
Hap (played by James Purefoy) and Leonard (played by Michael Kenneth Williams who is, incidentally, fast becoming one of my favourite actors) are best friends, they have been since they were kids, and this example of genuine male friendship (no, not bromance, thank you very much) is probably one of the best and most realistic examples I can think of in basically any TV I’ve ever watched. They are Good friends. The kind you’d quite like to be allowed to hang out with too, even though you know you wouldn’t get all the in-jokes.
Unfortunately, being rich in friends doesn’t mean you’re rich in cash and the duo are hard up when the show starts. They’re picking roses for money. Hap’s ex Trudy (Christina Hendricks at her best) shows up, seduces Hap and convinces him to join a plan to retrieve a cash of money from where it sits in waterproof boxes in the boot of the get-away vehicle at the bottom of a river where it crashed. The car was never found and as such the money has long since been abandoned – if Hap and Leonard can find it, it’s theirs. And Trudy’s obviously…. Oh, and Trudy’s hippy boyfriend, Howard’s too (Howard is played by Bill Sage). It’s only fair. Right?
Hap’s a lovely guy, but he’s also kind of an idiot and Trudy quickly has him wrapped around her little finger, in spite of the existance of the hippy boyfriend. Hap drags Leonard along. When they arrive at hippy boyfriend’s place they discover that the cash is also getting divided among extra team members; the terrifying and heavily scarred Paco, and the slow but loveable Chub. Even with my lack of TV-watching experience, I immediately started to fear the worse for Chub.
So the mission begins. Of course, all the double-crossing you might expect should be expected and absolutely everyone is duplicitous, the only loyalty that counts for anything existing between the long-standing besties (although Trudy goes some way to redeeming herself on occasion).
Meanwhile, romantically involved psychopaths Soldier (Jimmi Simpson, another current favourite of mine) and Angel (Pollyanna McIntosh) are tearing across America, destroying everything and everyone in their path. When they eventually collide with the rag-tag gang of treasure hunters, everything starts to kick off, resulting in some incredibly tense scenes that, at times, were hard to watch. They were much harder to not watch, of course.
Gret acting, great storytelling and the aforesaid fantastically portrayed friendships make this one for me, with highlights in the form of vicious action scenes and moving flashbacks to Hap and Leonard’s respective childhoods. Thank goodness Season 2 exists.