Eastbound & Down: "Chapter 24"
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Eastbound & Down: "Chapter 24"

Kenny Powers handles his newfound television stardom about as well as most of us probably expected in the strangest episode of the season so far. Having purchased an $80,000 car in the previous episode, he continues to spend money on extravagances ranging from a pet wolf for his 5-year old son to a gift basket for Guy Young (into which Kenny tucks a copy of his 450-page autobiographical screenplay) to a water park visit for the entire family and his extended entourage.

It's this last expenditure that takes Eastbound & Down into weird territory reminiscent of Spring Breakers, but even before we get there, it's clear that success has gone to Kenny's head in all the ways he promised it wouldn't. Buying a dancing robot from the Skymall catalogue is the least of it; after all, who among us wouldn't do the same in his circumstances? But Kenny also tries to use his newfound success to paper over his previous bad behavior, dropping in on brother Dustin (John Hawkes) and his family to try to "squish our beef" with free passes to the Congo Canyon resort. But although Cassie (Jennifer Irwin) seems happy to go along with that plan, Dustin sticks by his guns, refusing to forgive Kenny so easily.

Of course, the one person who will always forgive Kenny is Stevie. After their brief spat last week, Stevie is back in hero-worshipping mode, and "Chapter 24" is a vivid showcase for all the things that make the character both funny and very, very icky. I'm just going to put this out there: I don't need to know anything more about Stevie's penis. I don't need to hear him talk about it, I don't need to see him attempting to utilize it on his wife... I just don't need to be thinking about Stevie's penis at all. Maybe that's just me. But aside from that, Steve Little continues to be capable of some inspired lunacy, whether making hideously inappropriate comments about April's vagina or reacting to punching his fist through a car window. He's a one-of-a-kind character to be sure, but sometimes a bit too genuinely disturbing for my liking.

It's at the seemingly innocuous water park where bad behavior begins to bubble over on seemingly every front. April gets completely shitfaced, her friend Dixie continues to needle Kenny by insinuating that the perks of his new gig are somewhat less than impressive, and Stevie, of course, talks about his dick. By comparison, Kenny seems almost restrained, smoking a little weed and eyeing girls in bikinis, but basically staying out of trouble.

That all changes when he leaves the kids with a passed-out April and heads down to the bar, where he, Stevie, and neighbors Gene and Tel are invited to a party by a fan named Shawnsee and his bizarre family. Soon enough, Kenny is snorting coke and being fed bananas by old ladies while his straitlaced neighbors look on in dismay. Shawnsee informs Kenny that his twin sister Jessie would like to perform oral favors on him, presenting our hero with a moral dilemma. Can this reformed family man resist the allure of dick-sucking?

Well, yes and no. At first, Kenny summons all his inner resources to resist Jessie's advances after the partygoers have sneaked back into the closed water park. He returns to April's side in their hotel room, but under the watchful gaze of his suspicious son, he slips back out again. He is saved from his worst impulses only by Jessie herself, who has decided she can resist the Powers mystique after all. He takes the walk of shame back to his room, potential disaster averted through no real effort of his own.

This was an odd episode. I can't say I laughed much throughout, but the second half exerted a strange sort of a fascination. It was a different kind of texture for this show, and I wouldn't have minded spending a little more time with the weird family. It remains to be seen whether the averted blow job will be a catalyst for Kenny's personal growth or just another bump in the road on the way to unbridled megalomania.

Stray observations:

  • We didn't spend much time with Guy and Sports Sesh this week. Just long enough for Guy to set Kenny straight on the ratings issue. (They're fine. The ratings are good.)
  • Just as I don't need to hear Stevie talk about his penis anymore, I didn't really need to see Shawnsee's junk jiggle as he ran down the hall. When I saw the nudity warning at the beginning of the episode, this isn't what I'd envisioned.
  • Guy: "Is this your fuck buddy?" Stevie: "I wish!"

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