Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Californication: "...And Justice For All"

Illustration for article titled Californication: "...And Justice For All"

Hank should have drowned in that pool.

I’ve come to love Mr. Moody, whom I’ve always basically seen as Larry David with actual charm and good looks. But I would have really been thrown for a loop (and moved and impressed) had Californication creator/head scribe Tom Kapinos pulled the rug out from under us just as quickly as the surface of Stu’s grown-up wading pool slipped out from beneath Hank’s feet. I wasn’t exactly disappointed when Karen’s suave new paramour Ben (the mostly ornamental Michael Ealy) saved our self-destructing hero from a truly unglamorous death. And the rescue at least gave us Hank’s blurry vision of his ex’s hunky lover as a bohemian black Jesus, which hilariously resembled all the dreadlocked hippies I associated with in college—and Adam Duritz. Still, there was a serious “wow” factor when he initially floated to the bottom, even if it would have put an inerasable fine point on the series.

Alas, Hank still has a chance to redeem himself after being convicted of statutory rape and breaking Karen and Becca’s hearts yet again. And season five might also treat us to the spectacle of Marcy and Charlie raising an infant together, which has spinoff potential written all over it. In addition to, of course, more impossibly nubile breasts and gangbusters featured guest-starring turns.

Season four’s standout recurring ensemble player was Rob Lowe, in the role of none-too-subtly Brad Pitt-like megastar Eddie Nero, who’s signed up to portray Hank in the film adaption of Fucking and Punching (what will the actual theatrical title wind up being, anyway?). Eddie is among the guests at what amounts to a second “Last Supper,” this time to celebrate Hank’s avoiding jail time, at the home of aforementioned Stu Baggs (a consistently pitch-perfect Stephen Tobolowsky), Marcy’s current lover and supposed father of her unborn child. Becca is absent from this occasion, but in her stead are Charlie’s nymph-Tourette's victim girlfriend, Peggy (a ballsy and very funny Melissa Stephens); Ben; Eddie’s Fucking co-star and Hank’s sex-fling, Sasha (the well-cast but wooden Addison Timlin); and Hank’s lawyer-cum-lover, Abby (the sorely under-written and under-utilized Carla Gugino). Basically, it’s an AA meeting disguised as a formal dinner function.

I loved almost everything about this scene, most of all that it constituted the majority of the episode’s run-time. Everyone was funny, anything that needed to come out in the open was lurched forward, and relationships that had become tediously ambiguous were re-defined. I’d be lying if I said Lowe’s cartoonish performance didn’t feel a bit out of place during a fairly raw and revelatory several minutes. And Jon Kasdan (son of Lawrence and director of the insufferable In the Land of Women), as the film’s director, was there for continuity more than anything, although he did contribute some memorable projectile vomit.

Who wants to nitpick, though, when you’ve got Peggy lamenting that she and Charlie aren’t finger-banging under the kids' table before stabbing him in the web of his fingers out of jealousy, Charlie conceding to Peggy that he and Marcy “never got around to playing brother and sister Holocaust survivors in the sack,” Stu waxing poetic about Marcy’s vaginal secretions and challenging Runkel to a duel in a possible callback to season three’s classic joust between Hank and Dean Koons, and Eddie articulating the wonders of Karen’s “hindquarters”? It was as if Kapinos saved up every climactic one-liner these nutcases could possibly fling at each other like monkey-dung for one last primal, hysterical cleansing.

It was smart to bookend this remarkable, highly entertaining chain of events with a humiliating scene of Hank fainting while his sentencing is being read in court and later pow-wowing with Becca before taking a nostalgic fantasy tour through the Fucking movie set (complete with a trailer-shagging of its lead actress, whom he mentally sublimated for Karen in a pretty queasy and unnecessary final act of selfishness). Those choices made for a clean, accomplished finale, even if devout Californication haters will protest that Hank’s life remains one of only self-imposed consequence. Either way, I still say he should have died.


Stray observations:

  • I was kind of taken aback by the “F” word having been scripted in when it was for Tobolowsky. Seemed a bit harsh.
  • One thing I will confess to never liking about Hank’s character is his constant, unexplainable invoking of urban patois. Makes me wince every time.
  • I’ve always contested that Hank’s relationship with Becca is this show’s core and saving grace and appreciated that she was the last person he spent meaningful time with in the finale. But shouldn’t he have gone out with her for pizza or something after the sentencing, rather than going home to fuck his lawyer?
  • “Just a little oral. And some anal. Hard to get the robe up.”
  • Where do I start with Peggy in this episode, who's like a randy answer to Myra on Episodes? Oh, how about, “Cherry poppin’ daddy needs to earn his red wings.”
  • Or, “This bloody little girl scout needs to plug herself up.” That little popping sound that Stephens made after delivering this line will haunt me for weeks.
  • Hank: “You’re clearly the better man.” Ben: “Like that was ever up for debate.” Touche, Black Jesus. Touche.
  • Not sure what was more ridiculous: Hank’s metaphorical drive into the movie set’s nighttime backdrop and out onto the actual freeway or the Porsche driver in the gas station also happening to wear Hank’s signature black tee and sunglasses. Like Stu  inside Marcy though, I’m willing to let it slide.
  • Ew.