Eastbound & Down: "Chapter 8" 
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Eastbound & Down: "Chapter 8" 

Kenny left it all behind when he fled God’s own United States in shame to start life new as a badass Mexican baseball bandito but there was one element of his past that stubbornly refuses to go away, a rogue operative that misses Kenny Powers like a phantom limb. For this sad soul, life without Kenny Powers is like the world without sunshine, rainbows or the music of Howard Jones.

This gentleman, of course, is Stevie. Without Kenny, Stevie is as lost as Oates without Garfunkle and Andrew Ridgeley minus George Michael. So he’s not about to be discouraged from his quest to reunite with Kenny by anything as minor or inconsequential as his ostensible best friend absconding with his credit cards and stealing his identity.

“Chapter 8” opens with Stevie, of all people, fucking an African-American prostitute who does nothing to hide her disgust and disdain for him. Yes, Kenny warped Stevie’s mind pretty dramatically in season one, or rather Stevie actively campaigned to have Kenny warp his fragile psyche, so it’s not as out of character as it might have once been.

Ah, but Stevie isn’t fucking the prostitute for his own sake. No, by fucking a prostitute who had fucked Kenny he was fucking Kenny by proxy. He was traversing the same well-worn territory as his hero. For Stevie, paying for Kenny’s sloppy seconds represents nothing short of a triumph. Stevie’s life’s goal is to be Kenny fucking Powers so it’s only fitting that he emulates him in word and deed the way Christians are taught to try to be like that carpenter guy who walks on water.

Stevie tracks down Kenny and sneaks into his home, where he is promptly shot in the leg by a spooked Kenny for his trouble. There are two echoing scenes that separately and collectively say a great deal about Kenny and Stevie without the help of even a single line of dialogue.

In one, Stevie stumbles through the wreckage of Kenny’s life and home and gazes reverently at everything that defines Kenny: the blow-up sex doll in the bed, Magnum condoms, a red bong and the other assorted accessories of a life of sin, debauchery and excess.

Kenny, meanwhile, learns everything he needs to know about Stevie, or already knows, when he picks up Stevie's cell phone and not surprisingly sees a wallpaper of him giving the thumbs up, then an increasingly pathetic series of photos of Stevie emulating Kenny's body language that ends, horrifyingly enough, with Stevie giving the thumbs up on the toilet.

But tonight’s wasn’t solely about Stevie and his tragicomic unrequited homosexual crush on Kenny. It was also about Kenny’s surprisingly successful attempts to kick-start his latest comeback attempt for a team owned by Sebastian Cisneros, a wealthy eccentric played by Michael Pena, who you might remember from his hilarious supporting role as a deranged colleague of Seth Rogen in Observe & Report, which, like tonight’s episode, was directed by Jody Hill and costarred Danny McBride.

Cisneros is a narcissistic enough lunatic to see a whole lot of himself in Kenny Powers. As a deeply superficial man, he’s impressed and attracted to the tawdry glamour of Kenny’s fading fame so he’s happy to acquiesce when Kenny demands that his return to professional baseball be accompanied by a gaudy spectacle that comes off like a cross between the opening ceremonies at the Olympics, the 4th of July and Mardi Gras.

Powers favors the crowd with a crazy rooster dance while cloaked in American flag though the ridiculous display of egregious bad taste and misplaced patriotism seems to please no one but Powers’ ridiculous ego and Cisneros. Kenny learns from Stevie that April has gotten married so his athletic triumphs are sure to ring a little hollow. What does it profit a man to gain the world but lose his big-breasted soulmate?

Kenny is so despondent that he even perks up at the reappearance of Stevie, who he previously tried to smuggle over the border against his will. Kenny finally gives up and accepts Stevie’s friendship. For Kenny needs Stevie just as much as Stevie needs him: he needs to be worshipped, adored, treated like a rock star. Kenny officially welcomes Stevie back into the fold with a line that rivals Kenny’s line about transcending race as my favorite of the season: "welcome to the resistance." Damn straight. Welcome to the resistance, friends. Strap yourselves in for what’s sure to be a bumpy and eventful ride.

  

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