You know, fatherhood for Hank was easy when it was just Becca. She understood her father and knew just what to say in order to keep him in line, even when he teetered on brink of sexual madness. With “Like Father, Like Son,” Hank goes through the difficulty of trying to be a father to Levon on his first day as a production assistant, but maintain his composure when the two clash. The results? Well, mixed.
The episode begins following the reveal of Julia to Karen, who is just baffled and lets Hank know as such. He has another family even though the three of them had always been number one. Forget everything that happened before. This may drop the bottom out of their relationship. Yet Karen isn’t as angry as she could be. Rather, she’s a bit jealous. Hank impregnated Julia first. Julia was baby mama number one, and even worse, she’s played by the incredibly hot Heather Graham. Yeah, I can see how Karen would be jealous. She just says it’s a miracle that more kids haven’t looked for him. Right?
Hank refutes that. He used protection whenever he had sex. Most of the time.
Karen brings up another cause for concern: what will Becca think when she finds out that she has a brother she never knew about? My best guess is she probably won’t think much of it, but hey, we won’t know that unless Madeleine Martin returns.
Eager to get the day started, Hank heads to Julia’s to pick up Levon, who isn’t ready for work, as he said he would. He’s tired from playing Xbox all night, which is a bad start for the first day on the job, but hey, Xbox and pot help Levon with his anxiety. Besides, in Levon’s mind, the entertainment world starts later than the real world. Too bad it’s already 11 am.
While Levon gets ready, Hank heads for the bathroom, only to open it and find Julia sitting on the toilet and brushing her teeth, which is probably one of the greatest visuals ever of anything of all time. The two make small talk before Julia reminds Hank that, you know, she’s kind of needs her privacy. Who sits down to brush their teeth, I wonder? Multitasking to save time?
Hank leaves as Levon emerges with a warning: he doesn’t want Hank and Julia to hit on each other. The only reason Levon had friends was because they wanted to screw Julia. Well, yeah, she is played by Heather Graham.
Julia asks to have some private time with Hank, in which she inquires about how Karen is taking the news. She blames herself for it a bit, but hey, Karen thinks Julia is much hotter, so that’s at least a consolation prize. She asks Hank to watch Levon’s behavior, as he can be very weird in social situations. For example, Levon did go through a phase where he used to yank it out and expose himself to girls in order to appropriately express his sexuality. Appropriate in what way, Julia?
At the roundtable discussion, Rath tells Hugh that he will be writing episode three of Santa Monica Cop, so Hugh gives his pitch: Danko- who I’m assuming is the protagonist- roller blades his way strand. Why is he wearing roller blades, Rath inquires. Because he wants to meet girls. I never got that memo. Anyway, he meets a pretty girl who he equates to Rihanna crossed with someone hotter than Rihanna. So…Heather Graham? Anyway, Danko beds the girl, but she’s missing the next day. When Danko shows up at work the next day, turns out that roller girl is the new captain.
Yeah, Rath now rewards Hank with the duty of writing episode three. Terry, as expected, is not happy, and neither is Hank when Rath asks him on the spot for a pitch. Hank, as we’ve seen, prefers to explore before sitting down and putting pen to paper, but he still needs something: there’s a serial rapist run amok in Santa Monica who targets roller-bladers. This means that Danko must lace up and hit the strand. Rath, somehow, loves the idea because it’s a fish out of water pitch with the Black guy doing the stupid White guy thing.
Speaking of, in comes Levon with lunch. But something’s amiss with Rath’s salad: it’s not chopped or tossed and there’s no extra dressing on the side. You don’t miss key details like that when fetching food for your coworkers. Rath throws his lunch at the window and storms out the room in a huff. Hugh suggests Levon bring in donuts, and lucky day, the donut shop has peanut butter mocha fudge today.
Hank finds Levon stewing outside, ready to throw in the towel, but Hank tells him to just dust himself off and try it again. Levon thinks Rath’s behavior was uncalled for, but hey, Rath didn’t fire him, hit him or stick his fingers up Levon’s ass and make him sniff it. What Levon needs is to go by Hank’s life philosophy: do better tomorrow.
That’s fine and all, but Levon has another issue: he has the hots for Melanie. Someone like Levon would be too overbearing, but Hank advises that he play it cool by ignoring her completely.
Rath comes back and apologizes for his behavior, telling Levon that it was just a rite of passage. He then invites Hank to watch some casting auditions for a crack whore on the show, but not before sending Levon to fetch an iced half-caf, one pump sugar free caramel, two pumps sugar free vanilla, nonfat caramel Macchiato. Maybe Levon should just consult with Melanie. And have a pen.
The first woman up to audition is Christy from House of Lies, better known as Milana Vayntrub. I guess this is where Christy ended up after she stabbed Monica. The audition is a bit flat and awkward, but not terrible. Rath shares a secret: he thinks that she’s more talented than she lets on. She knows the price she paid.
Rath tells Hank that the whole ‘price she paid’ is a line he heard a director he used to work with say, so he decided to add it into his patter. Melanie comes in and informs the two that she has the network, which is eager to make an offer to Eddie Nero.
Rath leaves as the next woman to audition, played by…
…not Courtney Cox, yet sort of bears a resemblance, enters. Anyway, the actress playing her is Nishi Munshi. The woman tells Hank, the only one left, that she really wants the part and even offer to suck and fuck Hank for the role.
Whoops! Major boob malfunction.
Whoops! Major hand between the leg malfunction!
Whoops! In one of those all too inconvenient, awkward television and movie encounters, Terry enters at the wrong time.
Levon and Melanie watch some of their favorite YouTube videos, with one of Tara’s being a young Asian girl saying “big Black clock,” but her pronunciation sounds more like “cock.” And now, since she showed hers, it’s time for Levon to show his. Though it may not be appropriate for the workplace.
Rath discusses the boob slip actress with Hank: he has to hire her. If not, she can claim that something inappropriate happened. Given Hank’s track record, no one would take his side. Melanie enters and looks quite shaken.
So now Levon’s in the room to explain what he made Melanie watch: a huge prison yard looking man having anal sex with a cute porno chick. That’s not the cool part. At a key point, he pulled out of her and shoved his entire goody bag into her. Like a gym bag full of basketballs, Levon says. But that’s not the cool part. After all this, he pulls out and yelled ‘Boo yah!’ While Levon may think it’s funny, Rath sees it being interpreted as sexual harassment. It doesn’t help that Levon started to give her a backrub. Bad touch. He sends the two out, but the two are not fired. I mean, look at Rath’s writing staff.
Outside, Hank admonishes Levon about his behavior, not seeing the irony in this. Levon heads home, apologizing to Hank for looking him up in the first place, but Hank tells him to get through this. Like Levon, Hank is trying to make the most out of a fucked-up situation. And if Levon is serious about becoming an actor, he better get some thicker skin and be able to rough out more than just one day as a lowly production assistant.
Levon still leaves, leaving Hank to arm wrestling Terry and losing. Despite this, Rath still does not let Terry write the episode.
Julia and Levon enter, though Levon is the one who starts the talking: he apologizes to Melanie for creating a hostile work environment and admits that he got carried away with trying to make her laugh. Julia, again, takes some of the blame, saying that she had a liberal attitude about Levon and pornography. Melanie concedes that she did like when the guy pulled out of the girl’s butt. Also, his breath stinks. Apparently Levon didn’t brush this morning or floss last night. Shouldn’t have spent so much time on the Xbox, kid.
After being buttered up by Rath, Julia has a few choice words for Hank: he came down way too hard and needs to give Levon some time before tearing into him. He should be patient. This I have a problem with, but I’ll get to it later.
Rath inquires into whether Julia has acted before, which she has. He offers to show her around.
At a bar that night, Charlie and Hank drink away their sorrows. Charlie’s still having erection problems and Hank is hung up on how this second family has affected his relationship with Karen. Charlie lets Hank know that if Karen could get over him fooling around with Mia- and you remember how nasty that got- she can get past this. Granted, Karen just barely got over that, but it still counts. Charlie gets a text from Marcy: “Come home and fuck your wife. She’s stoned and horny and wants some daddy dick. If it doesn’t work, you can eat me out and use the verb. Stop at the store. We need milk.” Verb is apparently short for vibrator. I’ve never heard anyone say that.
Still in his funk, Hank calls Karen. She’s clearly not in the mood to talk, so she just listens. Hank apologizes because he hasn’t taken the time to realize how crazy this situation would be for her. He acknowledges that, unlike before, he can’t talk his way out of this mess or wait for it to blow over, but he appreciates that this is a big deal for her. He’s still a halfway decent paternal-type person.
Karen correctly guesses that Hank wants his ego stroked, and she doesn’t stroke it. Instead, she lets him know that shit has been flung his way before. Hell, it flings everyone’s way. You’re not defined by how much shit comes your way, but how you deal with it. You don’t get bonus points for wallowing in your own pity. Levon may hit a raw nerve and this will indeed change Julia’s life, but Hank has enough on his plate without worrying about himself or how Karen’s doing. He simply asks her to not give up on him. He’s still him and they’re still them. They wish each other good night as the episode comes to a close.
Parenthood is hard. Work is hard. The real world can be cold, cruel and lonely, but like Karen said, you don’t get extra points for feeling sorry for yourself. This episode focused on commitment no matter how tough things become. It explored how far two people can and will go to maintain a relationship, regardless of how toxic it can be at times. Such is the lives of many characters on Californication, especially if they cross Hank Moody.
Hank has good intentions, but I do like the progression he’s shown this season. If this had been earlier in the show’s run, he wouldn’t own up to his responsibilities and accept that he’s a screw-up. He’d act cool and try to talk his way out of a situation. Granted, the Mia fiasco was an exception, but for the most part, Hank has been able to get out of most situations due to his wit and humor. Not so for a bombshell this big, so I appreciate that he isn’t trying to weasel his way out of committing to the job, to Levon and Julia, and especially to Karen. He loves them all and would do anything for them and this season so far shows that he’s taking ownership for the crappy things that resulted due to his behavior.
That doesn’t mean Hank is all super serious. I like the slow growth of his relationship with Levon. It’s the little things, like giving Levon his cigarette after saying he wouldn’t give him one or advising him against inappropriate behavior at the work place- something Hank knows plenty about. I don’t expect Hank to have the same bond with Levon that he does with Becca since she understands him on a deeper level, but I’m glad he’s sharing some of his life lessons with a guy who doesn’t know how to talk to girls or even relate to people without saying the wrong thing.
Despite how difficult Levon can be, Hank wants him to succeed, which is why he’s so hard on him. Like Hank said, if Levon can’t take one day as a production assistant, he’ll melt into a puddle when he’s handed rejection after rejection while pursuing his acting career. You want a parent who cares and is honest with their kid, but you don’t want that parent to be overprotective and shelter them from the harsh realities of the real world.
And this is what I think Julia still does. She acknowledged last week that she didn’t want Levon and Hank to bond because of her mother bear instincts. Fair enough. Hank showing up out of nowhere so many years after their first fling would make Julia raise her defenses. She’s still playful with him, but she’s also still a mother with a firm rule, as witnessed when she ordered Levon to apologize.
My problem is how she reacted to Hank. Yes, Hank should give Levon more time before chewing him out, but I don’t think she really gave Hank a fair chance to explain himself. I mean, Levon said he was sorry he looked up Hank, which prompted Hank to warn Levon about saying things he can’t take back. As is, Julia seemed to just give Levon a slap on the wrist and chalk it up to him being odd.
Sure, Levon is naïve, but he’s also stuck-up and has these expectations about Hank that can’t be fulfilled overnight. Levon needs to give Hank time to process this revelation. That’s why I found Julia ranting at Hank contradictory to her behavior last week when she thanked him for ignoring her advice to stay away from Levon. Wouldn’t she want Levon to have a father figure that can be as serious as she is? I know I’m looking too much into what’s a very minor moment in a larger episode, but it stuck out to me because I found Julia’s tone to be too accusatory, as if Hank was the only one in the wrong.
I honestly don’t know how Rath hasn’t fired most of his team by now, but I like his friendship with Hank. The way they talk back and forth makes it seem as if they’ve been friends for a very long time. They both understand how the entertainment industry works and Rath is all too familiar with Hank’s habits. Sure, it’s strange how willing he is to let Hank write an episode, but like Rath indicated last week, Hank was able to get him to crack a smile. He’s not into himself or his food like everyone else. He brings something fresh to the table, which is what you want as opposed to someone who will either be too complacent or too much of a dick.
The phone call between Hank and Karen was a great way to end the episode and probably my favorite scene because it speaks to the strength of their bond: they have weathered everything the world has thrown at them, but their willingness to tough it out is what defines them. We don’t define Hank and Karen by all of their bad moments, but how they’ve been able to rise above them and keep moving forward. And the rapport between Duchovny and McElhone that’s lasted for seven seasons is so strong that I can’t see any other two actors playing these roles as well as they do.
“Like Father, Like Son” was a well done episode that served as an example of how the people on this show have dealt with life’s many obstacles: instead of drinking their sorrows away forever, they pick themselves up and try again tomorrow. They may screw up royally, but they live to fight another day. They don’t throw in the towel. Sure, they’ll have their low moments, but whether it’s Levon getting in trouble for his harassment, Hank and the second girl from the audition or even Charlie and his many attempts to get it up, but their low moments are learning experiences. They gain wisdom from them that they can share to others. And for Hank and Levon, there’s plenty for them both to learn.