A Look at Californication- Season 7 Premiere: “Levon”

And so it’s come to this: the final season of Californication.  It’s been a long ride, but here we are at the ending and wow do we get some changes right off the bat.  Remember, Becca’s gone abroad, Charlie and Marcy decided to re-tie the knot and Hank made his way to Karen in hopes of winning her back to his side.

Levon- Hank shows up at Karen's door in dream sequence

The season immediately picks up with Hank at Karen’s door.  Surprisingly, she answers.  She wasn’t expecting him there, given how he was last with a rock and roll band, but hey, he gave it all up for her.  Isn’t that sweet?  They share a long kiss before Hank wakes up from his dream to realize that Karen isn’t even home.

Levon- Hank meets Chris and Karen at coffee shop

No.  Karen’s at a coffee shop, so Hank tries the line again.  He couldn’t be out with some rock and roll band while she remained in California, getting older.  The two are interrupted by the arrival of Chris, played by Roger Howarth, who is in Karen’s yoga class.  Hank, as expected, comes off as a dick to Chris.  Karen apologizes, but Chris is fine, saying that they’ll reconvene another time.

This isn’t going as Hank had hoped.

Levon- Hank and Charlie drink at bar

Runkle finds Hank drinking away at a bar that night.  While Hank could go on about his bad night, he’d prefer to hear about Charlie and Marcy’s honeymoon.  Before that, however, Charlie has news of a different sort: Atticus fired Charlie and Hank.  Hank’s absence meant that Atticus could develop an interest in a suddenly available Aaron Sorkin, bringing Hank’s Broadway career to a screeching halt.

But this time, Charlie doesn’t have an offer for Hank.  Not entirely true, as some kid has been emailing Charlie about wanting to interview Hank for his college newspaper, but Hank needs a job and fast.  He can’t present himself as an adult male to Karen if he doesn’t have a job.

There are no jobs for Hank, though, because he’s crapped on every single person who has ever given him an offer.  Whether books, movies or theater, Hank’s crapped on it all.  There’s still television.  Even though Hank doesn’t watch television, he’s confident he could still write for it.  Tonight, however, they drink.  Tomorrow, phone calls galore.

Now onto that honeymoon: Charlie didn’t deliver for Marcy.  How so?  Time for Dr. Moody to listen as Runkle prepares to spill his heart.

Levon- Hanks plays Dr. Moody for Marcy and Charlie

Next thing, Dr. Moody is carrying Runkle home.  Out walks Marcy in one sexy as hell outfit- my God, Pamela Adlon can make anything look good- and isn’t pleased, but she’s not expecting Charlie to perform with his little limp weenie, anyway.

Dr. Moody brings the two in for a powwow: he came back for the love of his life and got rejected, which bums him out, but even more so because Charlie and Marcy got their shit together before he did.  Marcy has the magic vagina, so respect and take care of that.

Levon- Levon arrives to interview Hank

The next morning, Charlie gets a knock at the door from a young man named Levon, played by Oliver Cooper, the college student who has been emailing Charlie about interviewing Hank.  Charlie acts as if he has no idea what Levon is talking about, but Levon knows he has the right person: Charlie Runkle, the Masturbating Agent.

Hank strolling into the kitchen in a kimono certainly doesn’t help, either.  Charlie gets a phone call, so Levon starts the interview by asking a few routine questions.  All right, one routine question: where Hank was born and raised- the Bronx.  The questions turn to how many girlfriends he’s had, any significant relationships, does his daughter think he’s a good father, how many hearts he’s broken.  You know, normal and perfectly acceptable questions to ask on the first interview.

All right, that’s enough.  Hank interrupts the questioning, but Charlie arrives with good news: there’s an offer in the waiting.

At a studio lot, Charlie advises Hank to not come off as a pretentions prick who looks down on television.  Now, Hank hates the script for the program- Santa Monica Cop– calling it a colonoscopy of the mind, but if asked, it’s the best thing he’s written.

Levon- Stu regales everyone with his comeback story

In the waiting room, Stu- who is suddenly there- recounts to everyone how he and Marcy’s sex organs were fused for 10 days straight on their honeymoon.  But no time to dwell on the past.  Even though he’s no longer with Marcy, he picked himself up, dusted himself off and sold the late term abortion that was Santa Monica Cop the movie as Santa Monica Cop the TV pilot.  Why?  Because that’s what a good producer does.

Levon- Enter Rick Rath

Enter Rick Rath, played by Michael Imperioli, who wants complete quiet.  Apparently writers talk about you once you leave the room, so he wants to know who he won’t pick up when the time comes.  After making his enemies’ list, Rath wants everyone out except for Hank, who he tells, point blank, that he doesn’t intend to hire him.  Stu asked him to sit down with Hank, and though Rath was intrigued, he did his homework.  Every single person he reached out to that dealt with Hank said he was an absolute nightmare.  He doesn’t want to deal with a toxic personality, but Hank correctly points out that Rath does need someone who can actually write.

Hank’s turn.  In the next room are a bunch of amateur writers who will say what they need to in order to keep Rath happy and their pockets filled, but Hank has the writing experience and prowess that they don’t have.  He’s screwed up in the past, he admits, and he could blame it on fear and loathing in Los Angeles, but now he wants to grow up for once.  He’s out to reclaim his glory and it starts with having a job.

Rath likes a good comeback story, but he’s still suspicious of Hank’s motives.  Hank admits that this is all for a girl, but before he can go further, Rath’s assistant, Melanie, played by Tara Holt, enters and lets Rath know that Rosenberg is doing an impression of him and wants to start a coup.  Hank may have a secure seat in the next 45 seconds.

Levon- Marcy and Charlie give sex another try

So Charlie and Marcy give the sex another try.  They’re confused, but things happen so quickly between them.  No time to surrender, though.  They get in the heat of the moment, but Charlie doesn’t want to move too fast.  Marcy slips beneath the sheets, so time to let Mommy do the work.  But Charlie shouldn’t call Marcy by that name.

Oh, if only Libby Masters could follow this sort of advice.

Anyway, Charlie isn’t rising to the occasion and takes his anger out on their- yes- penis with his fist.  He insists that he go down on her, which he does.  It’s here that we get probably my favorite line of the episode when Marcy tells Charlie that if he’s going to eat her out, he can’t cry.  He gets back to work while Marcy reaches for her tablet.

The next day at the coffee shot, Karen is the one to visit Hank this time.  She tells him that he’s not involved with anyone, but he’s not there to talk relationships.  He’s meeting with Levon.  The two make small talk and apologize, Karen telling him that his return was a lot to process all at once.  But they’re a couple of good timers with exceptionally bad timing.

Levon- Levon's second interview with Hank

Levon arrives and isn’t up for pleasantries with Karen.  He’s just there for the interview, but hasn’t improved the interview process at all, but he does want to know about his relationship with Karen.  Levon doesn’t want to be a writer because it seems difficult.  He wants to be an actor instead.  It sounds fun: you show up, people like you and your work, you sleep with all the beautiful women and then move onto another project to repeat the process.

When Levon asks if Hank has slept with his fair share of women, Hank wants to know why the questions are becoming so personal.  Hank didn’t sleep with Levon’s girlfriend, yes, but he did sleep with Levon’s mother.  When?  About nine months before Levon was born.

Now that’s a way to kick off the final season.  At least the mother wasn’t Mia.  That’s probably the best thing to come out of this revelation, but that aside, the stage has been set for Hank: he’s jobless and squanders away opportunities because of his personality.  He’s well aware how much of a dick he is, but he also wants to prove his worth not just to Karen, but to himself as well.

He doesn’t have Becca around to give him pep talks or snap him back to reality when no one else would.  So Hank can’t fall back on the partying and drugs.  With Becca gone, he and Karen are back to basics.  He has a chance to start over and show that he’s worth something to her, and, as stated, that begins with actually having a job.

Levon- Hank tells Rick Rath why he really needs the writing job

I like how Hank’s toxicity has been such an issue for him throughout the series, yet it’s caught up to him here.  In the past, people have taken a chance on him.  Here, Rath is hesitant from the start and has no problem telling Hank how much of a screw-up he is.  Again, with Becca not there, others will have to fill the role of voice of reason.  Luckily, Hank has never been the boastful type.  He never takes himself too seriously and doesn’t think he’s the hottest writer in town.

At the same time, Hank does have the writing experience necessary for television, even if he’s not a fan of the medium.  For all his disdain for writers and entertainment as a whole, Hank Moody is still known in this world as a talented writer, so Rath would be remiss to not at least give Hank a chance.  He does, but not without his reservations.  And luckily, there’s no instant connection Hank forms with some woman at his new occupation, as has been the case in previous seasons.

Levon- Hank and Karen at coffee shop

David Duchovny and Natasha McElhone, as usual, have amazing chemistry and it’s nice to see them have casual conversations without ripping off each other’s heads.  Karen seems genuinely interested in Hank’s desire to turn his life around and since she didn’t immediately shoot him down when he returned, she’s open to them starting over.  Good.  Let them have some form of happiness for once, or at least a solid friendship.

Levon- Charlie and Marcy trying to get Charlie hard

Oh, and then there’s Charlie and Marcy, who I love to death.  These two always bring the funny and this time is no exception.  I’m surprised that Charlie is underperforming, given his ability to perform so well in previous seasons.  Did Marcy’s time with Stu turn his tool into a toy?  That’s not even a good metaphor.  I did like Hank’s pep talk, highlighting the fact that even though they screwed up, they are much further in their relationship now than Hank and Karen, so time to put the bickering aside and make sweet, loud love.

If only Charlie could get it up.  Oh, and Marcy had the line of the episode when she told Charlie that he couldn’t cry while going down on her.  That’s great writing.  This show has made me laugh at sex jokes before and always finds a way to keep the humor fresh.

Levon- Levon talks about Hank sleeping with his mother nine months before he was born

While Levon is a bit odd and awkward- and I’m not one to talk- I’m interested in where the show will take him.  It’s a sort of wild card to throw him in there during the last season, almost as if he’d been an afterthought this entire time.  But given how long ago this must have happened, chances are Levon’s mother was an afterthought in Hank’s mind.

As a journalist major, though, I really wish he worked on his interview style.  I get that he wanted to ask particular questions, but come on, kid, phrasing!  Don’t jump straight into the questions about relationship history and whether the interviewee is loved by his child.  That sort of crap would end an actual interview in a heartbeat.  You ease into those types of questions.

Overall, this was a pretty good start to the season and the beginning of the end for Californication.  The great dialogue and chemistry remains unchanged, but Hank’s desire to grow up is a sign that he wants to change for better.  After so many years of just wandering from one job to the next just to stay afloat, Hank wants to make something for himself not just for the job, but to show Karen that he’s a changed man for the better.  I hope he stays this course.

And while Madeleine Martin’s presence is missed, Becca being out of the picture will give Hank and Karen an opportunity to reconnect, as Becca was often the glue that held them together.

Time to put down the drugs, lay off the hardcore sex and quit procrastinating.  Californication is having Hank Moody put on his big boy pants and get a job.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s