Californication: “Perverts & Whores”
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Californication: “Perverts & Whores”

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Californication

“Perverts & Whores”

Season 5, Episode 10

There might be no honor among thieves, but as “Perverts & Whores” mostly illustrates (despite its title), there can be decency between Hollywood agents and clients, old friends and former lovers. And Hank, God bless him, can grow. Not necessarily change, since we’ve learned that he’s always had the potential to repress his impish instincts, but actually evolve into the man he always wanted to be. At episode’s end, sitting in Karen’s kitchen and waxing nostalgic, Hank muses about how she and Bates’ picket-fence life could have been theirs. It’s a typically sentimental exchange between the chronically passing ships, but one that also acknowledges that nearly every episode this season has wrapped up with some kind of domestic closure or accord. Hank’s fairytale sitcom life might yet happen—but right now it’s all fuzzy sketches.

That will all become more nebulous now that Bates is headed back from rehab. But given Karen’s already confessed to occasionally pining for what she and Hank had and could recapture, it seems just a matter of time. As many of you have pointed out in comments over the past couple months, Karen is often marginalized as her ex’s muse and doesn’t drive the series past their dynamic. 

It’s also been discussed that Becca hasn’t had much function lately outside her relationship with Tyler and how his douchey activity affects her, and in turn, how her well-being affects Hank. It is very much Hank’s world, and his favorite ladies have just been living in it—not to mention grappling daily with the id-driven morons they’ve selected, who together make half a Hank.

This continues in “Perverts & Whores.” Becca arrives during her parents’ third-act reminiscence, sobbing after Tyler broke her heart yet again. It can get frustrating to watch this series’ finely drawn ensemble characters weaken just so Hank can gain strength, and it will be long overdue and awfully sweet to see Becca finally give Tyler his comeuppance.

Of course, Becca can’t hold a candle to Charlie when it comes to recent Californication victimhood. Somehow, he sank even further tonight, continuing to ignore the signs of Lizzie’s manipulation, even after Stu admits she blew him for a part in Santa Monica Cop. (I’d only offer a handjob for SMC, but that’s just me.) His naïveté throughout their affair has left viewers and Runkle fans (I among them) incredulous, and with good reason. Charlie can be a sap and a puppy dog, and has been desperate for someone to love, but even he’s not this stupid or believably, blindly gaga over Lizzie. But it’s starting to feel like Charlie—who also has yet to persuade Hank into forgiving him—needed to hit bottom in order for his star client to gain the confidence to manage his own career. 

Naturally, that endeavor isn’t going spectacularly well, thanks to Hank’s disastrous meeting with potential new agent Larry (Daniel Benzali) and eccentric director Lars (the improbably named Clement Von Franckenstein, doing what one assumes is a Lars Von Trier sendup, à la the late Maury Chakin’s fiery riff on Harvey Weinstein in Entourage). What starts out as a simple afternoon of hookers and booze somehow ends in fisticuffs rather than fornication.

This was probably the funniest and best-constructed overall scene—with Hank and Charlie’s opening poolside banter right behind it—thanks largely to a reappearance of Judy Greer as savvy escort Trixie (her cooing to Hank about how “shit’s gonna happen” and “sparks will fly” was goosebump-inducing), Hank’s valiant actions and Von Franckenstein’s gameness for running around with little besides a flaccid penis and humiliated libido. Also, did I mention his name is Von Franckenstein?

As for where things end, it was a rush to see Hank push Tyler around about not only cheating on his daughter, but risking his own life by messing around with Kali, who he met after replacing Hank on SMC. This whole episode was, after all, about Hank reclaiming some sense of dignity and order in his life, even if he has to punch and shove his way through a city of creeps and sellouts.

Whether it’s a stretch that Kali would go for Tyler, or unfortunate that she too has been reduced to a cliché maneater, is something that will take a week to process. And will depend on how this all comes to a head. My best guess is that both Hank and Tyler will find themselves in Samurai’s crosshairs and have no choice but to find a way out of it together. Then, finally, he and/or Becca can deliver the sendoff he truly deserves. And chances are that Stu, Bates, and all the rest of this season’s role players will fall out of whatever remaining good graces welcomed them, and we might just find Hank, Karen, Becca, Charlie, and Marcy finally, truly living like one big, happy family at the outset of season six. As still-MIA guest star Rob Lowe might say, that would literally be amazing.

Stray observations:

  • All the bittersweet “muthafuuuucckkkaaa” quips with Hank and Charlie were laugh-out-loud funny and, strangely, effectively poignant.
  • I did ultimately appreciate that Charlie didn’t break Marcy’s heart. But, still, why the fuck did Stu even tell Charlie?
  • Charlie dives into the pool with his suit on, but Hank assures Karen he’s fine because, “He’s like a beluga. He’s got a blowhole.”
  • I love seeing classic L.A. networking spots like The Palm on Californication.
  • Hank’s sexual fantasy involves a “three-breasted midget with labial piercings.” Something about the word “labial” just charmed me.
  • I loved the pathetic way Charlie sighed, “Hank” at The Palm.
  • For the most part, no Samurai, Kalie or Eddie Nero, no problem. Still, it wouldn’t hurt…