A Look at Californication- Season 7, Episode 5: “Getting the Poison Out”

“Getting the Poison Out” delivers the laughs, but is a step backward for Hank’s character development this season as he embarks to turn Levon into a real man, by any means necessary.  Oh, and also with Marcy’s help in the form of a hooker with a shaved vagina.  Sounds enticing.

Getting the Poison Out- Rath tells Hank that he's going out on a date with Julia

The episode begins with Hank arriving to meet Rath, who has a big announcement: he’s going on a date with Julia.  As before, Hank is cool with it, but the question is whether Levon is.

Getting the Poison Out- Levon talks with Rath about his Aunt Jesse

Well, Levon strolls right in and is already fully aware of his mother’s intentions: as mother and son, they tell each other everything, like this one time when Levon’s aunt, Jesse, came to visit.  This was around the time that Levon discovered masturbation, so one time, he took a pair of Aunt Jesse’s panties and sniffed them.  Really enhanced the orgasms, he says.  But then Levon felt guilty and told Julia, who was totally cool with it.  Levon just has one piece of advice for Rath: don’t be a dick.  Anyone can be a dick, but he should be a gentleman.  Huh.  How about that?

Getting the Poison Out- Marcy waxes her client, Nikki, played by Brigette Davidovici

Elsewhere, Marcy waxes away at the nethers of her client, Nikki, played by Brigette Davidovici.  They’re interrupted by the arrival of Stuart, who doesn’t like the fact that Nikki’s hairless vagina looks like a big, pink walnut.  Now there’s a description I’ve never heard before.  Probably not one I should start using, either.  Marcy inquires how Nikki found out about her and the answer is a familiar name: Stu Beggs.  Yep.  Stu is into prostitutes, but is still in love with Marcy to the point that he calls out her name during sex.

Getting the Poison Out- Hank and Levon discuss relationships at bar

At a bar later on, Hank and Levon drink, as father and son should.  More so Levon because of what he sees as a serious issue: Levon has never had a serious girlfriend.  He’s had relationships through texting, but they would end with him saying something inappropriate, so the girl would go silent.  Rather than let it go and move on, Levon would badger the girl over and over until the girl’s parents called Julia, which led to lectures on cyber-bullying.  Scary as it may be, Levon will need practice with a living female with lady parts and everything.

Getting the Poison Out- One of Hank's students from his class recognizes him

He gets his chance when a woman sits down next to him, so he gets her attention the way anyone would: by patting her just above her breasts!  Hey, it’s a conversation starter, at least.  Before Levon can even get far, the woman recognizes Hank from his days as a writing professor.  More important, she remembers all of his sexual exploits with the girl who turned out to be a stripper, the teacher’s assistant, the dean’s wife, Hank’s sampled from a variety of women.

Getting the Poison Out- Goldie tells Charlie how Rath humiliated her

Goldie has been on a drinking binge, as Charlie learns when he pays her a visit.  She wants out of Santa Monica Cop because Rath humiliated her.  How?  Well, he didn’t hit her- he just rewrote her entire script.  Didn’t even leave a single punctuation mark intact.  Goldie wants Rath killed.  Good luck with that.  Charlie isn’t keen on that idea, but Goldie just goes on about wanting a manager who gives a shit about her.  Therefore, Charlie promises to at least talk to Rath.  But first, he has to take an obviously intoxicated Goldie home.

Getting the Poison Out- Marcy and Hank discuss how to pop Levon's cherry

At House Runkle, Levon bonds with Stuart while Marcy and Hank discuss ways to pop Levon’s cherry.  As horny as Marcy is, she’s convinced that Levon wouldn’t last with her.  However, there is the matter of the hooker Marcy performed on earlier.  It sounds so wrong, they both agree, but at this point, what’s right and wrong anymore?

Getting the Poison Out- Nikki shows up with her manager, Jim, played by Jim Florentine

Nikki arrives with her pimp, Jim, played by Jim Florentine.  Oh, I’m sorry, not pimp, since that language sounds like it came from a blaxploitation movie.  Jim prefers manager.

Getting the Poison Out- Karen shows up to confront Hank about him ducking her's and Becca's calls

To make this situation even more awkward, Karen shows up to confront Hank about him ducking not just her calls, but Becca’s as well.  Speaking of Becca, she’s slated to return in a few weeks.  Hey, maybe she’ll be around just in time for the series finale.  But Hank doesn’t want to discuss Levon to Becca over the phone.  He’d prefer doing it in person where he can have Karen back him up, but she’s not going to play along with that game.

Karen’s attention is soon drawn to the woman with the sex toy in the background.  By itself, this would just be more misadventures with Hank and Marcy.  But when Levon comes out of Stuart’s bedroom- he finally got him to sleep- the situation goes from bad to worse.

Getting the Poison Out- Karen tries to reason with Levon about having sex with a hooker

However, Levon is ecstatic about the possibility of losing his virginity to a hooker and thanks Hank for it.  It’s exactly what he thought having a father would be like.  But that’s not the reaction Karen had hoped for!  She plays her role as the voice of reason and someone who should represent Julia’s interests, which Levon just thinks is weird.  Karen correctly guesses that Levon is a virgin and tells him that his first time should be with someone special, or someone he at least likes, not someone he paid.

Karen’s not helping her case when she tells Levon to think about his mother at a time like now.  Levon is genuinely interested in Nikki based on first impressions and he wants to go through with this.

Getting the Poison Out- Goldie doesn't want to be driven home in Charlie's car

So let’s go to someone who isn’t so happy: Charlie.  He helps a sloshed Goldie into his car and at this point, I’m just waiting for the moment when she throws up, because you know it’s coming.  Goldie objects to being driven home in Charlie’s car.  She wants to go home in her car, which leaves Charlie with no way to get home, but Goldie doesn’t care about that.  The priority is to get Goldie home as safe as possible, but she then thinks that Charlie would take advantage of her.  Charlie refutes that, to which Goldie claims that she isn’t hot enough.

She does manage to ask why Charlie threw away his career for a few masturbation sessions.  His answer?  He’s ready to burn down at a moment’s notice.  In her drunken stupor, Goldie suggests getting tattoos, but Charlie advises it on the grounds that getting a tattoo while drunk can lead to a butterfly tramp stamp.  Just when the two start getting close…

Getting the Poison Out- Goldie pukes in Charlie's lap

…yup, there it is!

Back at House Runkle, Marcy recounts her first, and very awkward, sexual encounter with a guy who was scared out of his wits.

Getting the Poison Out- Karen trying to make sense of the night

As Karen makes her way out, she can’t tell what’s worse: what’s happening tonight or that she just doesn’t know who Hank is anymore.  Hank doesn’t find that fair and claims that if the two of them did have a son, they’d probably have the same conversation.  Karen wouldn’t let this sort of thing happen, though.  She sees it as Hank teaching Levon to degrade and objectify women, who are just there to satisfy his urges, but sex comes from a meaningful connection.  While Hank agrees, he argues that there are different types of and ways to have sex.  Someone like Levon doesn’t have to make sweet, passionate love on his first go.

Getting the Poison Out- Nikki disrobes in front of Hank and Levon, ready to go

Speaking of, Nikki calls Hank into the bedroom, where he sees a very nervous Levon still shaky about this whole thing.  He’s ready to give it up, and Hank wouldn’t be disappointed in him, but Nikki loves the bond the two men show.  So much so that she disrobes right in front of them and Levon is suddenly ready to go.

Getting the Poison Out- Levon thanks Hank for the amazing night

As things wrap up for the night, Charlie returns just as Jim and Nikki prepare to leave.  An excited Levon emerges without his V-card and feels amazing, as if he could now solve all of the world’s biggest problems.  This sensation will only last for seven minutes.

Oh, and no telling Mom.

This episode helped expand Hank and Levon’s challenging relationship with the seasoned, extroverted father wanting to help the lowly, introverted son cross that point of no return.  It showed to what depths Hank will go to help make Levon happy, damn the consequences.  This is in sharp contrast to Hank’s relationship with Becca, where he did everything in his power to protect her, even though she was more than prepared to take on the big, scary world.

Getting the Poison Out- Hank giving Levon a confidence booster

It’s safe to assume that Hank wants both Levon and Julia to be happy, but he runs the danger of getting too close and sliding back on the growth he promised to show Karen.  He wanted to prove he was grown up.  He’s not the oversexed Hank we’ve always known him to be, but he’s in danger of passing on those same traits to Levon, a man who desperately needs a morale boost.  So, as Hank and Marcy ponder, is what they’re doing wrong?  I don’t think there’s a clear answer.

Getting the Poison Out- Hank is reminded of his sexual past as a professor

Hank can never escape his sexual exploits.  They’re a major part of who he is and are responsible for what’s led him to this point.  He and Karen have weathered these storms, no matter how bad they’ve been, but for her to see Hank turning Levon into a miniature version of him, using women to please him.  Karen is being a bit harsh to judge Hank thusly, but she’s not entirely off.  By doing this, Hank is showing that he hasn’t changed as much as he believes if he still views sex as a game.  Neither Karen nor Hank is completely right.  The first time doesn’t have to be some memorable experience with a person you love, but it also doesn’t have to be mindless or paid with money.

Getting the Poison Out- Karen tells Levon to think about Julia

Karen has always been the moral conscience, and she lays it on a bit too think when absolutely no one around her is interested.  Maybe Hank, but that’s expected.  From how she reacts to Levon’s excitement about having sex with a hooker, she can’t believe that these are the people she associates with.  Sure, Hank and Levon are still getting a feel for each other’s character, but as Karen hasn’t had many opportunities to see the two interact, this is the wrong way for her to stumble upon their father-son bonding.  Her reactions are, by all means, appropriate, but misguided.

She’s placing her expectations on a man she barely knows.  And placing herself in Julia’s role just makes the situation even more awkward.   Like Julia, Karen puts up her mama bear defense when she feels her young is in danger, but in this case, the young is someone she doesn’t know, so I feel she shouldn’t try to step in and be the voice of reason.  Though I do hope her pep talk helps put things in perspective for Hank, who will have some explaining to do.  I mean, come on, something this big happens, there’s no way that Julia won’t find out.

Getting the Poison Out- Levon wants Hank out of the room, pronto

I guess as long as Levon’s happy, that’s what matters for the time being, but he’ll also have some explaining to do to Mom.  I’m enjoying his arc, but maybe Hank moved a bit too fast to just buy him a hooker just to pop his cherry.  It made for great comedy and his initial reaction to having sex, where he felt practically invincible, was indicative of how repressed he’s felt all this time.  Now that he’s tasted that sexual liberation, the next best thing would be to actually develop a satisfying relationship based on love and trust, as both Julia and Karen would want.

Getting the Poison Out- Goldie and Charlie about to hug

Charlie and Goldie make for an odd pairing.  She has the hots for him, but this puts Charlie in an already awkward position between him and Marcy.  Side-note, if he’s able to get it up, has he satisfied with her?  Sure, that’s between the two of them, but if he’s finally able to give it to his wife again, the only reason I can see him sticking with someone as wacky as Goldie is because he needs a job and she needs a good manager.  But really, you could smell a throw-up scene coming a mile away the moment the very drunk Goldie got into Runkle’s car.  I wonder if that’s a trope.

“Getting the Poison Out” was an eye-opener type of episode.  It brought Levon out of his shell and exposed him to a world filled with excitement, breasts and temporary invincibility.  However, it slid Hank back as far as his character arc this season and set him off course toward being the responsible adult he set out to be.  The already present friction between him and Karen will only increase, and Julia certainly won’t be happy when she heard how her baby boy was deflowered by a hooker.  That’s not to say this episode was all serious, as there were plenty of great lines, such as Stuart calling Nikki’s hairless vagina a big, pink walnut, Marcy talking about having sex for the first time or Levon’s odd habits involving his aunt’s panties.  So, another good episode, but Hank needs to start prioritizing if he still wants to prove he’s grown up.


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