A Look at Californication- Series Finale: “Grace”

And so it’s come to this: seven seasons of flings, heartbreaks, memorable nights and awkward mornings. We arrive at the series finale of Californication, which tries to wrap up a lot of loose ends and provide a feeling of finality for as many characters as possible. And while, of course, the finale to a series can never fully satisfy everyone, I did find a lot to like here. From the beginning of the season, Hank made it clear to Karen that he wanted to grow up. However, since Levon and Julia entered his life, he’s slid backwards and caused headaches for those around him. Time to see if he’s finally learned anything.

Grace- Hank talks to Becca in dream sequence

The episode begins with Hank trying to bribe Becca out of her marriage. We’re off to a good start. Hank admits that he can’t help his behavior. He’s just an asshole who loves his daughter and wants what’s best for her, so it’s hard for him to get excited about his little girl getting married. But it turns out that Becca isn’t so excited anymore. There’s no point in getting married. Ever. Hank agrees. Better to wait until you’re 30 or 35, he says. Becca is convinced that she can’t have a successful relationship due to her father. After all, he never had one. He might love Becca and Karen, but Hank has only managed to let them down, over and over again. With that, Becca bids farewell to the cruel world and lets herself fall into the water below.

Grace- Hank and Charlie in bed

Time to wake up, Hank. Next to him is Charlie, who is in the middle of a quarrel with Marcy, who is set to bed Stu tomorrow.

Grace- Hank heads to talk with Karen about Becca

Following this, Hank heads to Karen’s, but Becca has already left for New York to meet Roscoe’s parents. The ceremony will take place on the upcoming weekend. Try as he might, Hank can’t convince Karen to see thing his way. Hank doesn’t see this as a normal step for Becca, but Karen looks at her own life with Karen: they didn’t get married because they felt they were too cool and Bohemian for that shit. And look where that’s gotten them. Does Hank really want that same fate for Becca? Karen refuses to let Hank drag her mood down and she won’t drag him kicking and screaming into doing the right thing. As Karen continues preparing to leave, Hank receives a phone call from Julia.

Grace- Marcy and Charlie talk on Marcy's big day

Marcy’s big day has arrived. As she gets ready, Charlie does a poor job of hiding his sarcasm and contempt for what his wife is about to do, which is why Marcy didn’t want him in the house while she prepared. Charlie is still free to fuck who he pleases, as long as it’s not in the house. And Charlie doesn’t want Marcy having any orgasms, either.

Grace- Julia and Hank bail Levon out

At the police department, Hank and a disappointed Julia leave with a free Levon, who now has a criminal record and owes Hank a lot of money due to finding comfort in the arms of a streetwalker. I would think California had massage parlors or strip clubs where Levon could take out his sexual frustration, but I guess not. I dunno. I’ve never been to California. But Levon didn’t think such behavior was illegal. He figured cops looked the other way. Only during Spring Break, my friend.

Julia would like nothing more than to send Levon back to his therapist, Dr. Lawson, who Levon stopped seeing because he healed himself. Whatever all this nonsense is, Hank promises to put a stop to it.

Grace- Krull arrives with Hope and Love

Back at House Runkle, Krull arrives with a lovely pair of ladies: a blonde named Love, played by Diana Terranova, and a black haired pretty young thing named Hope, played by Kelen Coleman. Love is for Krull. Hope will give Charlie a good ass licking if he would like, which is apparently even better after exercise. Bleh.

Grace- Hank and Levon discuss real life relationships

So Hank takes Levon to a bar and demands that he stop with the hookers. What Levon needs is, and run with me on this, something close to a real human relationship. He can’t keep paying for body parts. But Levon believes his looks are the problem. Girls don’t like clammy hands on their tits, he says, and that’s a fact. I did not know this.

Grace- Hank and Levon run into Tara

Across the bar, the two again spot Tara. Levon doesn’t think she’s his type, but Hank insists that he not have a type. Just be bold, funny and charming.

So it goes as well as you would expect: Levon brings up a girl he went to school with named Sara, who was retarded. He didn’t make fun of her because he had his own issues. What he’s certain of is that Tara is uniquely pretty and that there’s probably no other girl in the world who looks exactly like her. Plus, Tara makes Levon feel good, but not in a creepy, his wiener feels weird kind of way. Yeah, Levon needs to stop talking right now.

Somehow, Tara agrees to have a drink with Levon, so I guess we’ll give him a point for that. She just needs to make a quick stop to the ladies’ room, first. Hank bids his farewell, but not before giving Levon some cash just so he can enjoy Tara’s company. No sex.

Grace- Hank updates Julia on Levon

After this, Hank heads to Julia’s with the good news of Levon’s slow, but steady progress. The two have a tender moment with Hank admitting that Julia and Levon have been the most pleasant surprise of his adult life. Before they can get hot and heavy, Hank would prefer to take Julia to dinner later that evening.

Grace- Hank walks in on Krull and Love

He then heads to House Runkle and makes his way past Krull and Love making…well, love, and finds Charlie and Hope in his bed.  Hank is a bit miffed, despite the fact that he doesn’t live there in the first place. Charlie didn’t want to bone in his marital bed. Things didn’t go well, anyway. According to Hope, trying to suck Charlie off was like nibbling on a piece of string cheese. Californication never ceases to amaze me with its metaphors.

Anyway, Hank encourages Hope to pursue her dream of going back to law school, as well as tells Charlie to fix this mess with Stu.

Grace- Stu and Marcy have done everything but have sex

Speaking of Stu, we learn that he and Marcy swam, played tennis, meditated, did yoga, had massages, everything under the sun except for have sex. Marcy’s just feeling weird, that’s all. Before the two begin, Marcy wants to make sure the money has been transferred.

Grace- Marcy finds the fuck doll

While Stu goes to take a leak- which is apparently hard to do with an erection- Marcy finds Stu’s very expensive fuck doll. Marcy, like any sensible person would be, is aghast at what Stu calls a loving tribute to her.

Marcy tries to leave, but Stu gets her on the bed. While this technically could be called rape, Stu and Marcy apparently used to play rape games in the past, at Marcy’s request. The hell is wrong with these people?

Grace- Stu, Marcy and Charlice sort of reconcile

But Charlie enters and clocks Stu with one of his awards. Luckily, his wife couldn’t go through with the idea. Stu admits what he and everyone else has probably known all along: this was a terrible idea. He also apologizes for messing with their marriage. Charlie retorts that he could leak a story about a washed-up producer who is into prostitutes and sex dolls. Stu, however, is glad that Charlie’s growing some balls. He’s not glad when Charlie decides to keep the money, though.

Grace- Julia and Rath both surprised

Julia awaits her dinner date, and she’s met not by Hank, but Rath, who also expected to see someone else.

Grace- Hank goes over his letter

In his Porsche, Hank goes over to his letter to Karen. The car doesn’t start, so he bids his beauty farewell and runs to the airport as fast as he can.

Grace- Hank reads his letter to Karen

Having purchased a ticket for a flight that’s about to depart in a few minutes, Hank finds Karen. The woman next to her, played by Sharon Angela, refuses to leave, so Hank just hands Karen his letter. She doesn’t read it at that moment, so he reads it aloud. He admits that each time he opens his mouth, something stupid comes out. Their life has never been perfect. Through the ups, downs and all-arounds, Hank is still a sucker for happy endings. He is a writer, after all. Whatever he and Karen have will never end as long as there’s her, him, hope and grace.

Grace- Woman offers her seat

A woman sitting across from Karen, played by Dana Delorenzo, solves the seat debacle, which gives Hank a chance to sit next to Karen one more time. His declaration hasn’t won Karen over, but it’s still something.

As Elton John’s Rocket Man kicks in, we get a montage:

Grace- Levon and Tara take a selfie

Tara and Levon enjoy their date, but also take a selfie, which automatically makes them horrible people in my book.

Grace- Rath and Julia after their date

As do Rath and Julia…

Grace- Stu dines with his doll

Stu enjoys dinner with his fuck doll just because…

Grace- Marcy and Charlie

Marcy and Charlie find their spark again…

Grace- Hank and Karen kiss

And as Hank Moody looks back on his life, he and Karen kiss, united again and headed to watch their daughter wed.

And that was Californication, folks.

Californication delivers its final episode, packaged in a neat box, bow tied to perfection and everything in place. It wraps up continuing story arcs from this season and, as any series finale tries to do, gives viewers a sense of finality. The season began as a chance for Hank to right some of his many wrongs and man up. As the season progressed, things slowly became worse and his relationships suffered as a result. The man has struggled to do the growing up he promised Karen that he would do.

The season threw curveballs at us, such as Karen’s car accident or the introduction of Levon and Julia, but one of the overall messages has been about acceptance and taking responsibility for our actions. Characters have realized that no matter how fucked up a situation becomes, pity will get them nowhere. You take what life throws at you and make the most of it. That included accepting character flaws, and though folks like Charlie and Marcy did come to terms with how screwed-up they are, it took awhile for them to actually do anything about it. They just continued living the best way they knew how. That’s fine, but with so much talk of growing up, it shouldn’t take until the series finale to begin making a change.

Grace- Holding hands

Happy endings can and have been very cliché: everything can feel too neat and routine just for the purpose of giving the audience a final farewell to a series they stuck by. Karen herself doubted whether she and Hank could live happily ever after. She knew all along that the two were not a perfect fit. In contrast, Hank never accepted that, despite the wreckage his past and present have caused. It showed his stubborn belief that he and Karen, despite all the odds they face, will always find a way to work things out. The future is never promised for any of us, but Hank, it will be bright as long as he’s with Karen.

Grace- Stu, Marcy and the fuck doll

Temptation was rampant this season, particularly this episode with Marcy grappling with Stu’s deal, Hank’s brief encounter with Hope, and Levon’s constant love of prostitutes. Though Levon gives in, we’ve seen characters give into their lustful desires, even when it drags them down even further. That doesn’t help their situations- just gives them some temporary pleasure. I’m reminded of a quote from True Blood by Jason Stackhouse: Sometimes the right thing is to do the wrong thing. Indeed, a bit of pleasure is nice, but in the long run, it showed the characters’ inability to make good decisions.

Grace- Hope and Charlie

Our heroes tried hard to prove that they had grown up. The real world is scary, though. If it’s not what we want, we act like it’s not true or we try to change what’s in front of us. Karen refused to drag Hank into doing the right thing when he wanted to pretend that their daughter wasn’t growing up without them. Levon wanted to keep fooling with prostitutes even though he didn’t have a job. Heck, even the folks on Santa Monica Cop though they were safe until their show got the axe. Granted, the characters did do some growing up and took responsibility for their actions, but I wish this all came sooner. Doing it now just seems like a forced way to tie up loose ends.

Grace- Charlie and Marcy decide to keep Stu's money

Though we did get some resolution for Charlie and Marcy after so much ‘will they, won’t they.’ Marcy’s sudden shift felt a bit too quick, but from the start, despite how much she wanted the money, she’s had doubts and second thoughts about having sex with Stu for a million dollars. I don’t fully get why she chose to back out, especially considering how tame sex would be compared to the games she and Stu apparently used to play

But I guess seeing a fuck doll in your likeness could have something to do with that. Not sure why the doll was there, considering we saw it in a separate room last time.

Charlie standing up for himself would be a bigger deal if he hadn’t already done it twice already. He already told Stu he wouldn’t be disrespected, but here it was again. However, I am glad that he and Marcy admitted just how terrible they are. And I suppose their money woes are over for now.

Grace- Julia considers sending Levon back to his therapist

Levon and Julia were a welcome distraction since they provided some drama and humor to Hank’s life. We’ve watched Levon slowly develop a spine in his own, awkward way. He still has self-doubt and confidence issues, no doubt. Given his reckless behavior this season, I can’t say I blame him for wanting to tread carefully, but I wish he was more charming and less prone to saying stupid things. He lacks the control and confidence factor, as well as way with words, which seem to come naturally for Hank.

Grace- Julia smiles

And really, all the nice things I’ve had to say about Heather Graham have already been said. The woman is sunshine in human form and while Julia could be a bit overprotective, she had her reasons and did soften up to Hank’s approach.

Grace- Rath runs into Julia

I also enjoyed Rath’s sort of mentor-like relationship with Hank, as Rath seems like the type of person Hank could be if he spent more time focusing on his work.

Grace- Karen talks to Hank about Becca

To be honest, not much changed with Karen this season. She’s been resolute in her stance on not fully letting Hank back into her life. She loves him, but cannot be with him. She won’t pity him when he’s down. She knows Hank better than most women and, like Becca, doesn’t mince her words. Was it too easy for her to just accept him at the end? Not necessarily since she said his letter didn’t win her over, but maybe she’s more willing to take a chance.

Another chance, I mean.

Grace- Hank in dream sequence with Becca

From the onset of the season, Hank has wanted to prove to everyone that he can grow up and do the right thing. He wanted to move past the sex crazed hound that he’s been known as and tries to influence those around him to grow up as well. He became the problem solver of the episode. This I didn’t really like because it felt like such an abrupt turn. I can buy his pep talks with Levon since he’s been trying to help the boy grow a pair all along, but why lecture Charlie and Hope on the importance of doing the right thing? They’re both…well, Charlie’s not really a responsible adult, so I guess I can only assume Hope is since she considered going back to school.

Grace- Hank Moody tells Charlie and Hope to be responsible

I just don’t get Hank’s motive to suddenly become Mr. Responsible. He’s still not on board with Becca’s marriage. Karen didn’t tell him anything new that she hasn’t said before. And what’s more, he still came off as petulant when he still expressed anger at Becca’s marriage. I can’t help but wonder if the dream sequence at the beginning of the episode was part of what he would like to happen, with Becca realizing that she’s not ready for marriage. But Becca isn’t under his control.

Grace- Becca

Side-note, I actually think the episode worked better by not having Becca in it, outside of the dream sequence. Not that I would have been against having her, but she said exactly what she needed to say about Hank and his toxic behavior. Having her here again wouldn’t have done added anything that we didn’t already know.

No doubt Hank wants the storybook ending. In a sense, he got it. He has always had a way with words. His letter ready was a very open and heartfelt moment, but just a prettier way of him saying what he thinks, feels and has expressed to Karen for years.

Grace- Public letter reading

So why this public approach? If Hank wanted to be direct, he could have told Karen all of this at the start, even though Karen wouldn’t change her position on Becca. Was it for the spectacle? Because Hank bought a ticket on the day of a flight, which couldn’t have been cheap, so maybe he always intended to go to New York, regardless, but just wanted to be on Karen’s good side. It felt like a last ditch effort of the guy trying to get the girl. The only thing that would have made this even more cliché is if the episode included a scene of Hank running through the airport and confessing that if he doesn’t board the plane, he may never seen her again. Pretty sure Not Another Teen Movie made fun of that worn out cliché.

And let’s not forget the feel good montage.

Look, I’m not saying Californication had to end on a downer. In fact, I’d say this finale is in stark contrast to the ending of Season Three. Maybe a bit of the first season as well because, although it had the happy ending, it also reminded us that you can’t always get what you want.

Grace- Season Three finale

Let’s look back at the end to Season Three, as it also made great use of Elton John’s Rocket Man. At the end of that season, Hank’s world crumbled around him. He confessed to Karen that he had slept with Mia, then an underage girl who had formed a strong bond with Karen and Becca. Hank and Karen’s confrontation spilled into the streets until the police arrived. The season came to a close with Hank Moody hauled away in handcuffs, his life in shambles while his lady and daughter could only watch.

Grace- Happy ending

Big turnaround here, as the song is used again here to show that people can get what they want. The future looks bright for our characters. In the end, even though Hank hasn’t fully won Karen over, we have no idea how the two will end up. Does that matter at this point, so long as Hank is sitting next to Karen and holding her hand? Do they indeed have the happily ever after ending? I can only assume that the writers wanted to give Hank exactly what he wanted: real happiness with the one woman he’d do anything for. In the process, he betters the lives of Rath, Julia, Levon, Charlie and Marcy. Does it seem practical for Hank to solve so many issues when he’s spent the bulk of the season just causing more? Seems too quick of a change for me.

Look, at the end of the day, I wasn’t disappointed with what I saw. I didn’t know what to expect with this finale. It was good and did its job, but not great or up to the writing caliber we’ve come to expect from Californication. Looking back, the series has given us a man who has a great gift of writing, but he focused too much on women and repairing his damaged relationships. We watched life throw him plenty of surprises, not the least of which includes a son he never knew about, and he’s grappled with growing up while realizing that he can’t stop his daughter from wanting to grow up.

As cliché as “Grace” is, I am going to miss Californication and given all of the shit everyone’s been through this season, at least they got a bit of happiness. For a season that’s felt so uneven, this show’s biggest strength, to me, has always been its writing. The most average of Californication still provides great lines and sexual metaphors I find myself quoting and laughing at. To sum up the season as a whole, it’s growth. It took quite a long time to get there and there was some flip-flopping along the way, the characters got what they wanted.

For a show that’s been about the impossibility of the happily ever after ending, Californication delivered just that. Was it the safe route? Possibly. Was it the most realistic ending or strongest send-off for the series? Probably not. There’s much to enjoy in “Grace” and the series as a whole. It can be brutally honest in how much life sucks and how we can’t always get what we want, but should we be complacent or fight to ensure ourselves a happy ending?

So long, Californication.

A Look at Californication- Season 7, Episode 11: “Daughter”

I suppose it was only a matter of time. We get a sort of surprise confrontation and family drama all centered around Hank’s past. The issue of having two families stems from something he either said or did, but little is actually resolved. Other events help push the plot forward a bit, but not by much. Like last week, the episode comprised of shenanigans we’re used to from Californication, but at least the writers had the restraint to keep the cast size to a minimum.

Daughter- Levon and Julia watch Santa Monica Cop while Hank sleeps

The episode begins with Hank, Levon and Julia watching the pilot for Santa Monica Cop. Well, Levon and Julia are watching it. Hank’s asleep. He wakes up just in time for the ending, and neither Levon nor Julia are fans. Maybe the episode Hank wrote will be better. Levon decides to call it a night, leaving Julia to advance on Hank since they haven’t been alone together in a long time. Well, maybe if Julia hadn’t randomly popped by last week, there would have been time for that later.

Daughter- Levon wants to sleep in the annex

But the two head to Julia’s room. Before things can get steamy, Levon enters with his blanket. He’s worried about his future since he believes the show will be axed. To alleviate his fears, he asks his mother if he can sleep in the annex. Where is this annex?

Daughter- Levon sleeps in annex, which is right next to Julia's bed

It’s right next to the bed. So no sex tonight, Hank. Probably for the best.

Daughter- Rath tells the crew that Santa Monica Cop has been canceled

The next morning, on the Santa Monica Cop set, Rath assembles the team with some bad news: they’ve been canceled. Technically, they’re only being asked to shut down production and go on hiatus, which is just the nice way of saying canceled, let’s just admit that. While production has been a pain in the ass, at least it’s been a short pain in the ass. Savor the little things, you know. But Rath tells everyone to appreciate what you have while you have it. He’ll be in his office drinking if people want to stop by and say goodbye.

Daughter- Charlie and Marcy talk about Stu's offer before they decide to bone

Charlie receives the bad news from Hank, but he remembers that Marcy still has to fuck Stu. As the man of the house, Charlie is upset that he can’t provide for his family. However, it’s Marcy’s turn to provide, even if that means spreading her legs. Marcy has a proposition: if she has to fuck Stu, Charlie should be able to go out and fuck any woman that he wants, as long as Marcy doesn’t know about it. Soon, Charlie is hard and Marcy is wet. It goes without saying that they’re sick people, but they take advantage of this opportunity and bone.

Daughter- Rath and Hank talk about their respective futures

Hank enters Rath’s office to find his boss strumming a guitar. Rath isn’t too bummed out about the cancelation. Television is what he does best. He figures the studio will make a deal where he’ll be asked to help save another disaster or write another pilot. But he doesn’t think Hank should work on another show since it’d be a waste of his ability. No. Rath thinks that Hank should write his own show about his life, family and the women he’s encountered. Getting very meta, Californication.

Daughter- Charlie shows Lisa his moves

Charlie sets Marcy’s idea into motion to bone a random woman. He finds a pretty young thing by the name of Lisa, played by Cerina Vincent, better known as Mya from Power Rangers Lost Galaxy. Charlie’s nervousness goes away when the two start drinking together. Despite wearing a wedding ring, Charlie tells Lisa that he has an arrangement. As a liaison, he would do many things to Lisa in a hotel room.

No kissing, though. Lisa doesn’t think that’s hot. Instead, Charlie will start with fondling in order to get a sense of her ass. After that, he’d stick his cock in her mouth. Good, since Lisa likes it dirty. After that, Charlie may even wrap the phone cord around Lisa’s neck. For a public demonstration, Charlie pulls Lisa toward him and demonstrates how he would go in circles, which keeps him in the game longer.

Daughter- Lisa's boyfriend, Mark, shows up

So when Lisa’s boyfriend, Mark, played by Scott Anthony Leet, returns, he shows Charlie what he would do to him in a hotel room: punch him in the face. You could’ve warned him, Krull!

Daughter- Levon shows up for pizza and movie night

At House Runkle, Levon arrives for pizza and movie night. Hank, emerging from the shower, should probably just have this night at Levon’s own place instead of a place where he doesn’t even live. Whatever. He does have some good news: Rath plans to keep Levon on for as long as he can. After that, he’ll have to find a job on his own. He can’t just luck into one. When Hank goes to get ready, Levon accidentally knocks over a glass. Before he can contend to it, the doorbell rings. Thinking it’s his mother, Levon rushes to answer it, but surprise-surprise.

Daughter- Becca has returned

Becca has returned. Needless to say she’s thrown by the fact this stranger knows so much about her, yet she’s never seen or heard of him at all. It also doesn’t help that Levon thinks that Becca is much hotter than the pictures. Please don’t whip out your cock, Levon. Karen’s parking the car, so you can already sense a fun conversation approaching.

Daughter- Hank and Becca reunite

Hank emerges and enjoys the reunion with his daughter, who lets him know that she’s got big news. Good to know, so does Hank! And that’s the perfect time for Julia to enter and tell Becca that she should be excited to meet her brother. Gonna be a long night.

Daughter- Marcy signs Stu's contract

Marcy arrives at Stu’s, and both he and Irma are more excited about this endeavor than Marcy will ever be. Stu lets Marcy know that the offer still stands, so she signs a contract that she doesn’t bother to fully read and the deal is done. Why does no one ever read the contract? So Marcy wants to just get it over with, but Stu’s head isn’t in the game. He needs time to prepare. Marcy won’t wax him, so that window is closed.

When Marcy leaves, we see that Stu has a mannequin that he uses for practice. Can’t say I’m surprised. I mean, Irma seems available, and I can’t imagine Stu not wanting to have sex with his maid.

Daughter- Becca learns about Levon and Julia

Back at the Runkle household, Becca learns that her father impregnated a woman right before he met Karen, who he them impregnated. She’s not too surprised, given the story of her life. Karen and Julia speculate whether Hank slept with both of them at the same time. That’s not impossible. Oh, Becca isn’t a fan of Levon referring to Hank as his father.

Daughter- Awkward family time

Hank, caught between two sides, leans toward Becca, prompting Levon to call himself and Julia the dirty one-night stand of families. Well, you both did just appear.

But onto Becca’s good news. Her trip was amazing, but more than that, she’s getting married! Roscoe popped the question and Becca accepted.

Hank doesn’t accept that. And now, being the protective father, he tells Becca that it won’t happen. Smooth move, Hank. The night comes to a close with Becca wanting to go home, wherever that is.

Daughter- Becca and Hank talk

Later on, Hank heads to Karen’s and joins Becca on the roof. Becca isn’t angry about Levon. She’d like to get to know him and is glad she’s no longer an only child. A mature way to handle this, as Hank correctly points out that Becca has always been the mature one in the family. Becca wants no condescension. After all, she’s not giving him any about his long list of chronic fuck-ups.

Hank insists that the marriage is a bad idea because Becca is young, but honestly, can he say he’s happy that he never got married? But what if Becca doesn’t know what she’s getting into? What if Roscoe turns out to be the one? Becca isn’t concerned about that. After all, Hank loves to talk about how he got it right with Karen. Becca is just going with her gut. Hank, in good conscience, cannot endorse Becca’s big move, which is pretty fucked up, considering everything Becca has had to swallow. Her good news has been wrecked by his past coming up to haunt him.

At this point, Hank doesn’t know what to say. He says he’s sorry, but Becca just tells her father that the marriage will be in New York and he can be a part of it, if he wants to be. But damn it, she came with good news and she won’t allow him to make her miserable.

End episode.

To sum up this episode, it dealt with going after your true desires in spite of the potential consequences. We saw this play out with Charlie and Becca, above all others. More than that, the episode acknowledged how unprepared we are for what could be life changing decisions. These characters have been asked to swallow and stomach so much misfortune, so they may feel they deserve a bit of happiness. In Becca’s case, she feels she’s ready to take on more responsibility.

Daughter- Hank hears that his wreckage has ruined Becca's good news

Hank’s line about how a morning of awkwardness is far better than a night of loneliness sums up his life to a tee. But I’m better a night of loneliness would have been preferable to the awkward situation he found himself in with this episode. Despite one fucked up circumstance, we can still emerge from it as a better person because we took the plunge and decided to act on our gut instinct, something that Hank knows all about. And not only has it caught up to him, it spoiled his daughter’s good news.

Daughter- Rath suggests that Hank write his own show

Rath had it right when he told Hank that he should write his own show. Throughout the series, we’ve heard characters say that Hank has untapped potential, but he squanders it. Hank can’t just focus on one thing, as we see through his two families. But, as Karen points out, he doesn’t get to wallow in his own pity.

Daughter- Becca asks Hank if he's happy that he never got married

I feel Hank is being very unfair to Becca. It’s ridiculous of him to pass judgment on her decision to get married, considering all that she’s had to endure. For Hank’s talk about wanting to prove he’s grown up, this felt like a step backwards for him. He’s tried to worm his way out of so many situations, but he did seem to have real regret in his voice when Becca called him out for all of his crap.

Daughter- Becca asks Levon how he knows about Karen

And I am glad to see Becca back. While Hank believes that Karen centers him, I believe that Becca grounds him. She’s more willing to call him out on his crap than Karen, I think, because Karen eventually is charmed over by Hank trying to woo her. But Hank’s not trying to woo Becca. Her reaction to Julia and Levon was what I expected. It’s almost as if she’s become numb to her father’s actions, but she handles it with maturity. She never raises her voice, loses her temper or becomes unreasonable. She behaves like a rational adult, and that shows through Madeleine Martin’s performance.

I like how Becca has never been afraid to call out her own father because of the bad example he’s continued to set. And she has a good point: she’s had to put up with her mother and father’s bickering for years. Becca has seen some pretty sick shit. Let’s not forget the naked woman with no hair on her vagina that she found in Hank’s bed. Stuff like that you can’t just ignore. And Becca couldn’t- it’s been right in front of her.

Daughter- Becca reveals that she's getting married

She deserves a shot at happiness and it’s not asking Hank much of anything to have some faith in her. Becca has matured into a young woman who is ready to take on the real world and fend without the help of her parents, and she’s not showing any signs of hesitation. It may be foolish and reckless, but that will be her decision. If you ask me, Becca earned this chance a long time ago.

Daughter- Charlie and Marcy bone

There were some moments in this episode, most of which come from Charlie and Marcy trying their luck with different partners. Charlie probably shouldn’t have been so open with a woman that he just met, but hey, any woman that’s not Goldie is an upgrade in my book.

Daughter- Stu fucks a mannequin

And Stu fucking a mannequin? Yeah, not too surprised by that one.

If I could define this episode in a word, it would be “awkward.” We got some uncomfortable situations with the characters realizing that their actions don’t produce the desired reaction. What should have been a joyous occasion had been dampened by Hank Moody’s past yet again. Becca going with her gut was a good move for her, and I’m happy she’s not allowing her father to guilt or talk her out of it. Once again, the characters acknowledge how flawed they are, which is fine. However, this is something we’ve known for a long time. After so many years, and with only one episode left, I’d like to see them grow up.

A Look at Californication- Season 7, Episode 10: “Dinner with Friends”

“Dinner with Friends: Or How Almost Every Character from this Season Struggled for Screen Time.”  To be frank, this episode was all over the place.  What started off as a night between Hank and Karen turned into a haphazard mess with so many characters brought in to contribute something to the overall episode.  Like “Faith, Hope, Love,” this felt cliché and too coincidental at times to have certain events play out the way that they did.  As we approach the series finale, Karen pops the question that we’ve been wondering for the longest time; when will Hank let her go?  Can he?

Dinner with Friends- Hank propositions Karen with dinner

The episode begins with Hank paying Karen a visit.  Karen is making dinner, but Hank suggests that the two go out instead to a new pop-up restaurant: Abbot Kinney.  Hank’s making it hard for Karen to say no, but she concedes.

Dinner with Friends- Dinner at Charlie and Marcy's place

The two end up at House Runkle.  Not the ritziest locale for dinner, but it’s something.  Charlie and Marcy are out having dinner at Abbot Kinney.  Hank figured that a home cooked meal would be more charming.  Karen still won’t sleep with Hank, which wasn’t even in his mind.  That’s what he says, anyway.  But Hank admits that he’s been adrift: ever since Levon and Julia rocked his world.  He’s been down roads that have led him to back alleys- I guess those are deleted scenes- but he kept his eye on the prize.

Karen asks why Hank doesn’t want to start with someone else.  Good question.  Hank is aghast at the idea.  Why should he pursue a new life before perfecting the old one?  That’s not a good question, Hank.  It is what it is, but Hank doesn’t agree with Karen’s sentiment.  Despite all of the craziness that he’s endured, all he’s ever wanted was her.  However, as Karen points out, their rocky history should be a clear indication that they are just not compatible.  Correct!  Points to Karen!

Maybe they should just eat.  Karen is actually impressed with the dinner, which is great, because Hank didn’t make it.  He opted for some high-end takeout.  But she’s at least a bit charmed by his failed attempt to charm her.

Dinner with Friends- Julia shows up

Knock number one at the door and in enters Julia.  She felt bad and wanted to see how Hank was doing.  When Karen spots Julia, she insists that she stay, much to Hank’s chagrin.  After all, Karen insists, the two need to bond since their paths will cross.

Dinner with Friends- Marcy meets Julia

Marcy barges in an angry huff.  During dinner, every credit card was declined.  Charlie got angry, which led to the restaurant calling the cops.  Charlie enters soon after, while Marcy seeks outside counsel.  She finally mentions Stu’s offer to Karen, who is initially intrigued by the idea, but still shoots it down.  Though Stu has a pretty huge cock, Julia says that she prefers a pretty penis, sort of like Hank’s.  Marcy can so testify.  After all, she did tug on it back in Season Four.  By accident, mind you, but still.

Dinner with Friends- Krull has arrived

Knock number two at the door and Krull enters with pages for his rock and roll memoir, including a salacious instance where he walked in on Atticus blowing himself.  Well, there’s one guy who could do it!

Dinner with Friends- Levon brings in prostitute, Mi, played by Hana Mae Lee

And then Levon just walks in, accompanied by a woman who isn’t Nikki.  No, he’s with a pretty young Asian thing named Mi, played by Hana Mae Lee from Pitch Perfect– a movie I know very little about, but that’s beside the point.  And wow, does she embody a lot of stereotypes from her mannerisms and speech.  Mi has been around.  She knows Krull from the time he rubbed one out on her.

Levon met Mi at a comic book store on Sunset and owes more money than he has.  He’s done everything to Mi, in the butt and all.  But she did make him wear a condom, even though that made it harder for him to climax.

Julia wants Levon to lay off the hookers.  Again, she wants him to lay off the hookers.

Dinner with Friends- Rath arrives to speak with Hank

Knock number three and Rath enters to speak with Hank.  Why?

Dinner with Friends- Rob Lowe returns as Eddie Nero

Because Rob Lowe is back!  Eddie Nero enters in a police uniform and riding a wheelchair.  He’s moist and getting into character for a role he’ll have on Santa Monica Cop.  He figures it could land him an Emmy nomination since a lot of big name celebrities are coming to television.  Truer words were never spoken, Nero.  But right now, he needs Hank to write hi a killer monologue.  While Nero likes Rath, he finds him terse.  Hank, however, can provide a golden shower of verbiage.  He said it, not me.

Just to show how into character he is, Nero whacks Charlie on the knee with his nightstick before he also recognizes Mi, from the Sunset and Gardner.  He apparently pooped on her.

Dinner with Friends- Levon is glad that Rath isn't talking to Julia

So when all the craziness has calmed for the moment, Levon goes over to Hank, ecstatic that Rath is talking to Karen, if only because he’s not talking to his mother.  Nero is, however, and Levon’s stink finger is powerless against him.

Dinner with Friends- Hank slides in on Rath and Karen's conversation

So Hank decides to squeeze his way into Rath and Karen’s conversation.  He laments that his dinner has been thrown off, but Karen- who points out that she and Hank aren’t together- wants to keep talking with Rath.  After all, she can catch up with Hank anytime.  Less so with Rath.

Dinner with Friends- Stu enters with money, contract and love for Marcy

Knock number four and Stu enters.  He brushes past Leon- Levon’s a hard name to remember- to talk with Charlie and Marcy about their deal.  Well, more like he’s ready to put his money where his mouth is, as he presents a suitcase filled with cash.  Marcy is enticed, despite Charlie’s warning to resist.  Nero asks why Stu wants Marcy, of all people.  Truth be told, Stu has never felt more alive than when inside of Marcy.  It was like walking into the most wonderful candy store in the world.

Dinner with Friends- Stu and Charlie's amazing slap fight

Marcy thinks that Stu has lost his mind, but Stu goes further: he offers 10 percent upfront for Charlie and Marcy to do as they please.  Charlie, still wanting to go forth with Krull’s book and tired of being insulted in his own home, strikes Stu with Nero’s nightstick.  This leads to the most amazing slap fight ever before the two are broken up when Nero fires his gun- a real gun, which Rath did not expect.

Dinner with Friends- Eddie Nero confesses that he didn't make love to Karen

Nero believes that men should not fight like this.  Last time he was in a fight, it was with Hank over Karen.  A fight that he lost.  However, Nero admits that he did not have sexual relations with Karen.  He did prematurely ejaculate, but Karen just made it seem like they made love.  She didn’t want to betray Eddie’s confidence, after all.  Nero wants a second chance, but Karen’s not in the mood.

So he turns to Julia, who we learn once dated a paraplegic until Levon scared him off by threatening to push him into traffic.  The man was good at oral, though.

Dinner with Friends- Mi holds everyone hostage

And then, out of nowhere, Mi grabs Nero’s gun and demands that everyone hand over their valuables.  When Nero gives pursuit, Mi pushes him over the balcony.

Well, that was a scene.

Dinner with Friends- Hank walks Karen home

In the aftermath, Hank takes Karen home.  She’s not pleased at his sexual exploits- when is she ever?- but she accepts that it’s his life.  She believes that Hank thrives on chaos and needs to be in the middle of a mess that he created.  Bonus points to Karen!  She believes this makes him attractive, but also impossible to live with.  Karen loves Hank, but cannot be with him.  Hank cannot accept that.  That’s also what makes him attractive.  As Karen bids him good night, Hank lights up a cigarette as the episode comes to a close.

Dinner with Friends- Hank, Julia, Charlie, Marcy and Karen shooting the shit

This episode felt too formulaic for my liking.  The focal point of this could have been just Hank and Karen’s relationship, but maybe the writers opted to include more people since the two got so much screen time last week, even though it was mostly through flashbacks.  But maybe due to the so-called drama of the previous episode, this one felt like it needed to cheer people up by making us laugh.  In doing so, the episode felt overstuffed and tried to assign tasks or memorable lines to as many characters as possible.  Californication has been able to juggle multiple characters and balance out development before, but here, it came off as a jumbled mess.

“Dinner with Friends” also suffers from repetition.  Levon still has daddy issues and is into prostitutes.  Julia questions Levon’s morals.

Dinner with Friends- Marcy and Charlie talk about Stu's offer

Charlie and Marcy grapple with Stu’s offer.  We’ve seen these characters go through these trials already.  The episode tried to put a spin on things by having Levon hook up with a new prostitute or having Stu and Charlie fight, but this doesn’t change the fact that we’ve crossed these bridges before.

Dinner with Friends- Levon tells Hank that Julia is emotionally vulnerable

Also, Levon first didn’t want Hank and Julia to fool around.  But then on the set of Santa Monica Cop, he was thrilled about the idea of them reconnecting.  Now he doesn’t want them messing around again?  Pick a side and stick with it, man!  I hesitate to call this a filler episode since we do get some plot progression, but it came through clumsy execution.

Dinner with Friends- Hank confesses that he didn't cook dinner

Hank is as stubborn as he is charming.  Somehow he’s always able to charm any woman that comes his way, but Karen centers him.  He’s living in his own world and won’t accept the reality of his situation.  Karen has no desire to be with him, but he thinks that he can still charm her.  He sees them living the happily ever after ending teased at the end of Season One.  That’s not out of character for Hank, but I want to see him do some of the growing up that he spoke about.  If Hank doesn’t believe in anything else, he believes that he and Karen are destined to be together.

But seven seasons of ‘Will they, won’t they’ should be enough of a sign that the two just can’t work.  Heroic gestures don’t work with Karen because she’s known Hank long enough to see how he operates.  He’s the architect of his own destruction and drags everyone else down with him.

Dinner with Friends- Hank intervenes

And this includes his mentality of keeping Karen away from any other man, as seen when he interrupts Karen’s conversation with Rath and denying that Rath is his boss.

Dinner with Friends- Karen tells Hank that she can't be with him

Karen, however, spells everything out a bit too clearly.  In fact, it’s as if the show has become self-referential in that she says everything that the audience is thinking.  She’s ready to move on and deserves better than Hank, but allows him to rope her back in.  Not that Karen can just go on with her life without interruption.  Hank will always be there to try and win her back.

Dinner with Friends- Marcy and Karen are not pleased

And what specifically is Karen so upset about?  She seems to be at the point of acceptance with Hank’s sexual misadventures, but then she’s always angry at him.  Given the laundry list of Hank’s deeds, I’m surprised she even gives him the time of day.

I’m surprised at how little Karen’s car accident is referenced.  The show built it up to be a big, dramatic deal, but really, you could probably walk into this episode having not seen “Faith, Hope, Love” and think nothing happened to Karen at all.  And if Julia felt bad for Hank and wanted to see how Karen was doing, then why wasn’t she also at the hospital during “Faith, Hope, Love?”

Dinner with Friends- Marcy and Charlie after Stu confesses how much he wants to be inside of Marcy again

And the whole ‘will they, won’t they’ is just as lazy with Charlie and Marcy.  We know they have money woes and that they’re grappling with whether to accept Stu’s offer.  We’ve also seen Charlie and Stu come to blows, so having Stu here to show off his money just seemed like an excuse to have Charlie fight him again.

Though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like Marcy’s acknowledgement of the one time she touched Hank’s cock back in the fourth season.

Dinner with Friends- Eddie Nero knows that he pooped on Mi

And if the series is ending soon, I am glad to see Rob Lowe again, if only because Eddie Nero is a very memorable character in my eyes.  Plus, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen Lowe on television since he left Parks and Recreation.  Talk about two different characters that are worlds apart.

Dinner with Friends- Mi with Eddie Nero

Oh, and what the hell was up with Mi?  Maybe Levon should just stick to Nikki.

Look, I know it seems like I’m bashing the episode, but I did laugh at moments like Stu and Charlie’s fight, the return of Eddie Nero and, Hank trying to woo Karen with dinner he didn’t even prepare.  As always, the writing and performances are spot-on, but “Dinner with Friends” felt like more of the same.  It’s like the writers know they’re retreading old territory.  To me, the backbone of the show has been the enduring strength of Hank and Karen’s relationship.  After seven seasons, though, Karen is ready to call it quits and tells Hank this right to his face.  But he won’t accept that.  He believes they can work, but considering their past, Karen doesn’t think that’s possible.  At this point, the ‘will they, won’t they’ speculation grows worn and tired.  Shoving in as many characters as possible doesn’t help, either.



A Look at Californication- Season 7, Episode 9: “Faith, Hope, Love”

There are times to laughs and times to stop and think.  When the pain of loss is great, it leads to characters taking time to look back at their lives.  Television shows often rely on flashbacks when doing this, such as in “So It’s Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show” on The Simpsons when Bart pulls a prank that lands Homer in the hospital and the family reminisces about what makes Homer so great and memorable.  Sometimes television turns this trope on its head, such as in Community’s “Paradigms of Human Memory,” which was all about parodying flashbacks and clip shows by flashing back to previous episodes, but with entirely new scenes.

Like “30 Minutes or Less,” “Faith, Hope, Love” has some dramatic moments that feel more tense than natural, but also felt like an attempt to throw winks and nods to what we know will happen to these characters as the series progresses.  There aren’t as many laughs to be had here, but the dialogue is great nonetheless.  The episode just tries too hard to pull at your heartstrings.

Faith, Hope, Love- Marcy and Hank at hospital when Charlie arrives

The episode begins with Hank arriving at the hospital, where he meets up with Marcy.  Hank gets in his feelings and blames himself for not being on time, but Marcy won’t have Hank beat himself up.  Soon enough, a sweaty and tearful Charlie arrives and Marcy briefs him on the situation: the drunk driver that hit Karen has sent her in and out of consciousness, as well as caused some internal bleeding.

Faith, Hope, Love- Charlie and Hank donate blood

Charlie and Hank do their part by donating blood, though Charlie is woozier than Hank, as is always the case when he donates blood.

Faith, Hope, Love- Flashback, Hank and Karen argue before going to counselor

We then flash back to Hank and Karen getting ready to leave their home.  And they take their sweet time arguing about how Hank is trying to be the opposite of an asshole, while Karen insists he’s being just that.  The two have an appointment with a counselor- an appointment that Hank doesn’t want to attend and one that Karen has had to reschedule many times.  Almost as many times as Hank has punched holes into walls.  Yup.  Apparently Hank liked to punch walls way back when.

Faith, Hope, Love- Marcy, Charlie and Hank look back at their lives

Back in the present, Hank asks Marcy and Charlie if he’s always been an asshole, and they tell him that he has, but to varying degrees.  The three are in a slump.  They used to be so happy and went out to dinner on a regular basis.  Now Hank’s messing around with Heather Graham, while Marcy and Charlie are considering a million dollar sex deal.

Yeah, Marcy’s not a fan of the fact that Charlie told Hank about Stu’s deal, but Charlie counters that he needed to open up to someone.  Only reason that Marcy didn’t tell Karen is because she knew that Karen would frown upon it.  When you’re right, you’re right.  Karen, Hank says, was the sanest out of all of them.  She centered all of them.  He fears that he may not have time to make up all of the bad things he’s done, but he then goes after Marcy and tells her that he will never get over taking Stu’s offer.  Some things you shouldn’t do.  I doubt Hank considered this before or after he decided to get Levon a prostitute.

Faith, Hope, Love- Flashback, Hank and Karen meet with counselor

We flash back to Hank and Karen’s meeting with the counselor, played by Christian Clemenson.  Hank believes that Karen is having an affair, which the counselor says is symbolic of a deeper problem.  Karen concedes that she’s considered making love to a man named Bill, and chances are that would be better than the infrequent, nonexistent sex life she currently has with Hank.  Karen calls Bill an emotional friend, which doesn’t make Hank feel any better, as he believes that Bill only pretends to get along with Karen just to get into her pants.

Karen, however, finds no satisfaction in a relationship with a drinker as frequent as Hank.  The counselor asks Hank what he’s willing to change, which puts him on the defensive.  As Karen notes, Hank isn’t a talker.  He buries himself into his work, goes out to drink, flirts with anything that has a vagina and barely has time for his daughter.  But Hank is very focused on his upcoming film, so he needs to devote his energy to that.  And yeah, he might be into wanting the women that he sees, but that’s just called being a guy.  Hey, his words, not mine.  Hank, feeling a lot of pent up anger, doesn’t want to punch himself in the dick, so he finds the nearest wall.

Faith, Hope, Love- Hank gets a pep talk

And with that, we return to the present where we find Hank fighting a vending machine.  He’s losing.  A man, played by Jeris Poindexter, approaches him and offers Hank a dollar.  The man is there because his wife is in surgery for cancer, so he’s seen the hospital many times.  He asks Hank if he’s married, and of course, he’s not.  They’ve just had a lot of on and off time.  The man, however, has been married for 44 years.   Marriage hasn’t always been easy, but just because he and his wife aren’t on the best of terms all the time doesn’t mean the end of the world.  Once you get past all of the bullshit, it’s all about being friends and having someone to hold you while life kicks you in the ass until you realize that your body is only on loan.

If life was easy, the man says, people wouldn’t fuck up as often as they do and they’d have no regrets.  The magical sage man heads off, while Hank calls Becca.

Faith, Hope, Love- Flashback, Hank and young Becca talk

We then flash back to Hank speaking to 11-year-old Becca, played by Aubrey Miller, about a boy who called who called her weird.  Becca, however, thinks the boy is cute, and since boys and girls make the world go round, she’s at least got her eyes already set on someone.  Becca asks if Hank and Karen will get a divorce, which they won’t since they aren’t married, but the point is Becca wishes the two didn’t fight so often.  They aren’t like the couples on television and movies where life always ends happily ever after.

Faith, Hope, Love- Marcy and Charlie reflect

In the present, Charlie and Marcy reflect: they’ve been obsessing over all the wrong stuff.  What matters to Charlie is that Marcy is healthy and next to him.  Still, Marcy argues, they need money.  Charlie insists that there must be a better way, prompting him to wonder why they make such a big, fucking deal out of sex.  If Charlie was hospitalized, Marcy would just care that he’s okay.

She admits that she now better understands his kinky desires and why he did what he did with Dani.  Dani was hot and wanted to be spanked, so Charlie obliged.  Charlie hates that Marcy is being so rational, but he’s also not so happy when Marcy admits that if she saw a picture of Stu’s cock, she’d get wet, but only out of reflex.  That matters.  The two just need to acknowledge their triggers as normal so they can move on with their lives.

Faith, Hope, Love- Receiving bad news

Hank returns and notices the man from before, now speaking with a doctor.  We don’t hear their conversation, but from the man’s reaction, the news is not good.

Faith, Hope, Love- Flashback, Hank drives directly into traffic and almost causes an accident

With that, we flash back to Hank and Karen on the road after their session.  The two are still arguing, with Karen insisting that Hank not put her in a box and telling him to grow up.  Get used to that, Karen.  She calls Hank selfish.  He just wants to live out his life, while everyone around him is just a supporting character.  I feel like that’s as close to leaning on the fourth wall as this show’s going to get.

Hank drives straight into traffic, unaware of the crazy move he makes until four cars come from different directions and almost cause a collision.  When the two arrive home, they are much calmer due to the fact that, you know, they almost died.  Hank feels their argument seems so silly now, but also wonders where the two went wrong.  They used to be perfect, but Karen is more realistic: Hank just wants the two of them to be the love story of the ages, which Hank believes they are.  They just need a little work.  It’s been a long time since their fiery sex sessions.

Faith, Hope, Love- Flashback, Hank and Karen find the spark

Soon enough, the two find their spark and make up.

Faith, Hope, Love- Hank with woman in hospital chapel

In the present, Hank enters the hospital chapel.  As he approaches the altar, a nun, played by Gia Crovatin, grabs his attention.  However, Hank insists that he’s not a religious person.  As a writer, he believes in sitting down, shutting his eyes and hoping for the best.  Beyond that, he’s a blasphemer, and after telling the woman that he’s not married to Karen, she agrees.

Faith, Hope, Love- Flashback, Hank and Karen after making love

We flash back again to later that day, after Hank and Karen’s fiery sex session.  They made love, a phrase that Hank hates saying, so it must mean something.  Karen asks if it’s possible for them to live happily ever after.  Hank says it’s feasible, so long as they bottle their feelings and bust them out when things get cloudy.  But Karen believes that even couples that have great sex don’t always make it to the finish line.

We return to the present when the doctor, played by Ping Wu, approaches and tells Hank, Charlie and Marcy that Karen had a concussion, but there’s no internal bleeding.  She’ll be there for a couple of days.

Faith, Hope, Love- Karen awakens

Hank heads into the room and gives a very bruised Karen a kiss on the forehead.  Slowly, but surely, she awakens, insisting that the accident doesn’t change anything and she’s still pissed at him.  Hank, with a smile, replies that he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Faith, Hope, Love- Flashback, Hank, Karen, Marcy and Charlie at dinner

We flash back one more time to Hank and Karen arriving at Hal’s Bar & Grill to meet Charlie and Marcy.  Charlie is interviewing for a new assistant since his last one got caught looking at porn.  The company was afraid that he masturbated at work.  So Charlie may have a potential keeper: blonde, female and tattoos.  All right, show, we get it.  You can stop dropping hints about Season One.

Marcy wonders why Hank and Karen are in such a good mood, so they spill on the sex.  And it sounds like the Runkles could use a kick in their own sex life.  As the four talk, they wonder if they’ll be doing this years from now.  Hank insists that they’re not done taking the town by storm.  Plus the show hadn’t actually begun at this point, so there’s still time.  We come to a close as the four toast to hard cocks, wet pussies, bald heads, Smurfs and weathering the storm.


Again, this episode was much slower-paced than previous ones and allowed the characters to reflect on their lives.  They realize just how well their lives and had so much optimism as they discussed their futures.

There are some decent, if not obligatory, lines about how life isn’t as easy as we may think, but regardless of how hard it is, we find a way to get through it.  This spoke to Karen’s line to Hank in “Like Father, Like Son,” when she told him that he didn’t get bonus points for pitying himself, but for how he got through nasty situations.

My problem is that these are all things we already know about these characters, both through this most recent season and every season leading up to it.  They’ve even questioned how screwed up some of the situations they find themselves in are, but still go forward with them anyway.  It felt like the show had been obligated to make them reflect on things that they already understand.

Faith, Hope, Love- Flashback, Toasting to toast to hard cocks, wet pussies, bald heads, Smurfs and weathering the storm

If the show had to rely upon flashbacks to fill up time, they should have taught us something new about these characters.  As is, they just reinforce that Hank and Karen will always have a tumultuous relationship and Becca is the glue that holds them together.  We’ve had seven seasons to learn that and these flashbacks don’t reveal something that, we as an audience, haven’t already watched play out.

Faith, Hope, Love- Flashback, Hank and Karen with counselor

Instead, they felt more like ways to reference the events of Season One, such as Charlie interviewing a female assistant and how his former assistant had been caught looking at porn while at work.  Californication is so above having to rely on tired-old tropes just to fill up time.  At least the flashbacks in question were all new material instead of actual flashbacks to previous episodes.  That would have just been lazy.  However, I still it lazy to fall back on flashbacks to have Hank, Marcy and Charlie look back at their lives because they’ve been doing that all along.  I’d go as far to say that this season has been the most reflective because of how they’ve been reexamining some of their bad decisions.

Faith, Hope, Love- Flashback, Hank with Becca

There are some nods that did work.  Hank entering the hospital chapel was a direct nod to speaking to a nun in the series’ very first scene.  Hank and Becca discussing boys and girls on the bridge felt reminiscent of the moment where Becca would later tell her father that she was no longer a virgin.

Californication has stressed that no one always gets what they want because life isn’t that simple.  Or fair.  Hank was so confident that he and Karen would live happily ever after as a couple for the ages, only based on his love for her.  But like Hank stressed during therapy, he’s a guy and he’ll want to bone any attractive female that comes in his sights.

Season 1 ending

The show itself teased the idea of a happily ever after ending.  If Californication had ended after its first season, where Karen flees her wedding and heads off into the world with Hank and Becca, it would have been the perfect storybook ending: girl leaves boy, boy fights to get girl back, girl prepares to go through with new life, but has second thoughts and rejoins her first true love.

If it were that simple.

Faith, Hope, Love- Hank in chapel

While I enjoyed some parts of Hank’s reflection, it didn’t feel genuine.  It shouldn’t take a near death experience to have him try and talk some sense into Marcy, the same way it shouldn’t have taken a near death experience to relight the spark under his relationship with Karen.  Hank got a prostitute for Levon, has had on-set flings with Amy and Julia, and punched out a dentist in a public place, among other things.

Faith, Hope, Love- Charlie cops a feel

And Marcy and Charlie aren’t in a position to judge, given how they’re still open to Stu’s deal.  Sure, by episode’s end, it feels like they shoot it down, but the preview for next week says different.  In fact, I’ll go as far to say that Marcy and Charlie were probably my favorite part of the episode.  In a way, they’re more screwed up than Hank and Karen, who are at least grounded and have Becca to center them.  Marcy and Charlie, while lacking that, do at least confront all of the sexual misadventures they’ve had throughout the series’ run and I did laugh when Marcy told Charlie that his kink was just one of many adventures in the big, sexual jungle.

Faith, Hope, Love- Marcy talks about the rules of the jungle

Marcy’s right: if they just acknowledged their triggers and insecurities, they could just keep moving forward instead of being stuck.  By the end of the episode, it felt like this experience had matured them.  Not by much, mind you, as Charlie still wanted to try and cop a feel on Marcy’s ass after their heart-to-heart.

So does Hank learn anything by the end when he speaks with Karen?  Well, he’s not going to try and stop her from being angry at him, so I guess that’s a slight step in the right direction.  To be clear, I’m not saying “Faith, Hope, Love” is a bad episode by any means.  Even in a decent episode of Californication, the dialogue still shines.  It traded in constant laughs for drama and let the characters realize just how tight of a bond they have and how it’s kept them together.  It was nice seeing them happy and optimistic before entering the world that was this show.  Where the episode suffered was in repacking and rehashing messages and themes that we’ve had seven seasons to learn.  Drama should come by going through the motions, not just for soap opera situations.  This show is much better than that.

A Look at Californication- Season 7, Episode 8: “30 Minutes or Less”

Life in the entertainment industry is fast-paced, unfair and full of surprises.  One slip-up can create a domino effect.  Hollywood isn’t as cracked up as some would hope.  Granted, Californication has shown us that throughout its entire run, but we get an even closer look as we watch Hank’s first day producing an episode of Santa Monica Cop.  As is often the case, he’s sidetracked by many issues, but they make for one entertaining viewing.

30 Minutes or Less- Hank and director on set of Santa Monica Cop

The episode begins on the set of Santa Monica Cop, where Hashtag discusses kissing his on-screen bitches, Julia and Amy.  As in he actually refers to them as such, much to their chagrin.  Amy isn’t into making out with Hashtag, but Hashtag wants to be bold.

Hank isn’t as up to date on television rules as others, but according to the director, the idea should be to milk the sexual tension as long as possible.  Hashtag wants that rule changed.  Either way, Rath makes the final call, but Rath isn’t there because he finds the set a huge waste of time.  So Hashtag has a second suggestion: kiss Amy in order to make Julia jealous.  Sounds perfect.  When Julia asks Hashtag to stop referring to the women as bitches, Hashtag becomes defensive- he likes to be expressive, so people should let him be free with his language.  It’s a fair argument, since Amy and Julia can always quit and let Hashtag have all of the screen time, but then we’d probably be left with him kissing his mirror image.

But I digress.  The director considers Hashtag’s proposal: network television is on its deathbed.  What?  Has this not been paying attention to the last few years-oh, forget it.  However, in confidence with Hank, he hates the idea.  However, he needs to play nice with Hashtag or the crew will be in for a long season.  Hank just thinks Rath will reject the idea, but the director assures him that things will work out for the best.  Sometimes it’s best to indulge children.  I thought that’s what us viewers did with this show every week.

30 Minutes or Less- Amy wants Hank in her trailer

Off the set, Hank meets up with Amy, who would rather kiss him than anyone else.  The director has made a few advances on her, including sending a picture of his penis.  How sweet.  In response, she asked where the rest of it was.  I feel like I’ve watched a conversation like this before.

Where's the rest of it

There it is.  Don’t ask.

Anyway, since then, the director has backed off.  Amy wants Hank in her trailer to discuss and probably to see his cock, but Hank wants to be a good boy this week.  That’s very funny, Hank.  Amy sees no fun in being on your best behavior.  Besides, Hank already has to meet with Rath, so Amy wants him in her trailer after that.

30 Minutes or Less- Hank tells Rath about Hashtag wanting rewrites

Suddenly Rath!  Hank gives details of the on-set nonsense, but Rath reminds Hank that he put him in charge for a reason- it’s his call as long as he’s on the set.  Oh, and he warns Hank to stay away from the infamous man-eater that is Amy Taylor Walsh.  Now there’s a backstory we didn’t get during her introduction.  He also wants to know how to get back into Amy’s good graces.  Hank advises Rath to either let it go for now or wait until production on the show has finished.  Or when it’s canceled.  Whichever comes first.  Rath cuts their conversation short when he remembers he has to meet with Eddie Nero.  The network is desperate for stunt casting, so Nero may be right for the show.

30 Minutes or Less- Hank and Julia have a moment

Before Hank can get on with his day, Julia calls him to her trailer, where she has flowers from Rath.  Her one note for Hank- shut up and fuck her.  Sonja said something similar, and we remember how that ended.  Before the two can get hot and heavy, Levon the cock-blocker arrives to save the day.

Indeed, the spawn of Julia comes in and senses some weird energy.  He’s here to ask Hank to sit in on his audition.  He thinks the casting director is only doing this as a favor, which it is, but Levon would still like Hank to say positive things to Rath about his audition since Julia probably will not.

30 Minutes or Less- Levon's audition

In the office, Hank evades Hashtag for the moment.  He and Levon head to the casting room where Levon makes it perfectly clear that he’s fine with nudity.  The casting director, played by Rebecca Metz, tells Levon that nudity won’t be necessary at all.  He just wanted to make it known.  Sensible, I guess, if not excessive.  It goes as well as you’d expect.  His nervous tummy causes him to let one rip.  And scene!

30 Minutes or Less- Jade hits on Hank

Hashtag didn’t believe Hank’s ruse that he was on-set, so Hank just goes to meet him.  In the process, he ducks into another room.  This, I feel, is our proper introduction to the character of Jade, played by Jade Catta-Preta, because although we’ve seen her before during the writers’ meetings and she’s had a few lines, this is when we get to learn a bit about her.  And what do we learn?  She’s got the hots for Hank and thinks that he brings more fun to the job than someone like Hugh would.  She’s totally into an interoffice romance, but Hank tries to deflect her advances by reminding her that a moment on the lips means a lifetime on the hips.

The hell does that mean?

Jade still wants the sex since she considers herself the hottest woman on the staff.  She is pretty banging, I must admit.  In enters Hugh to tell Hank that his manager is there to see him.  For some reason, Hugh follows Hank just to tell him how much he wants to ask Jade out instead of doing exactly what Hank suggests: asking her out.

30 Minutes or Less- Charlie tells Hank about Stu's million dollar proposal

Charlie arrives to support Hank on his first produced episode, but Hank correctly guesses that he’s there for more than that and it has to do with him.  He’s right.  Charlie brings up Stu’s deal to Hank, who can’t even imagine Karen being subjected to such a thing, even after putting up with Bates having sex with her.  And despite how horrific the deal sounds, Charlie can’t help but get turned on by the possibility.  Hank believes that Charlie thinks, deep down, he doesn’t deserve to be happy, but Charlie needs to tell his dick that he can.

30 Minutes or Less- Stu attaches a deadline to his indecent proposal

Suddenly, Stu!  He’s not there to help out with production.  He’s a hands-off executive producer, meaning he’s every executive producer ever.  He’s hands-on when it comes to money, which brings him to Charlie.  His offer does have an expiration him, but Charlie says nuts to this and punches Stu.  That’ll show him, even though Marcy is still open to the offer.

30 Minutes or Less- Hashtag discusses superstardom and rewrites with Hank

Terry arrives to tell Hank that, to no one’s surprise, Hashtag wants to see him.  At least Hank doesn’t have to go very far, as Hashtag is standing right behind him.  Though Hank is in no mood to talk, he’s not really in a position to say no at this point, so the two chat and blaze.  Hashtag levels with Hank.  He’s unsure now whether he can handle superstardom.  Mate, if you could handle being on Tropic Thunder, I think you handle anything at this point.  Hashtag is worried that if the show flops, it could hurt his reputation since he’s on billboards promoting the show.  How does this show have billboards already?  It hasn’t even finished production.

Anyway, Hashtag wants a scene written where he gets to make out with Amy since things are very complicated with Julia.  Huh.  He brings in two other writers to spice up a scene that Hank wrote and is about to shoot.  Hank didn’t want to write that scene anyway, so chances are Hashtag would have found others to do it.

30 Minutes or Less- Hank sees Amy's new wardrobe

But now Amy wants Hank’s attention again.  This time, she needs his opinion of her wardrobe, which consists of a bra and jeans.  I think the wardrobe is fabulous.  Actually, she just wanted Hank to see her in her undergarments.  Mission Accomplished on that front.  The two kiss and…that’s it.  After all, Amy didn’t think it was right that Hank went down on her first and they hadn’t even kissed.  At least Amy knows a thing or two about etiquette.  Before Amy can return the favor, Hank brings her up.  He doesn’t think is a good idea.

30 Minutes or Less- Hashtag bursts into Amy's dressing room and catches her with Hank

You know who else doesn’t?  Hashtag, who bursts into the dressing room.  I guess knocking isn’t a thing on the Santa Monica Cop set.  Amy wasn’t expecting visitors.  Well, other visitors, anyway.  Despite Hashtag proclaiming himself as top dog, Amy still won’t fuck him.  She suggests he go fuck an extra instead.  After all, that’s what they’re for.  Hashtag leaves in a huff as Amy proclaims she can’t believe how unprofessional people can be.  Seriously!  Why can’t Hashtag just go fuck an extra like a sensible person instead of barging into unlocked dressing rooms?

Well, he barges in again just to call out Hank’s betrayal, but a set PA pops in to let everyone know that they’re ready on set.  Time to make some television.

En route to the set, Hank calls Karen, who is on her way for their meeting.  Karen isn’t looking forward to what may be an unpleasant conversation, but the two need to discuss how and when Hank will tell Becca about his new life.

30 Minutes or Less- Chaos on the Santa Monica Cop set

On the set, Rath returns from his meeting with Eddie Nero, and it went about as bad as expected.  Oh, come on!  Quit teasing Rob Lowe and just show him already!

Hashtag goes off script, to no one’s surprise.  He uses this opportunity to point out Hank fooling around with Amy, which kicks off a domino effect that leads to Julia being upset about Hank fooling around with Amy while inside of Julia.  He never got that far in the trailer, Julia.

Amy herself isn’t pleased with having to play second fiddle to Julia, and Julia doesn’t think that’s very nice at all.  Heather Graham, you can be meaner than that.

The director goes off on everyone and even goes as far as firing Levon, but Rath steps in and shuts him down, reminding him that he calls the final shots.  Anyone looking to be fired has to go through him.

Hank isn’t sorry about fooling around, but he comes to Julia’s defense.  Who she screws is her business and she doesn’t exist to service men.

Heather Graham as stripper in The Hangover

Well, there was that one time she was a stripper, so that’s not entirely true.

Regardless, Julia can’t get upset at Hank after defending her honor.

30 Minutes or Less- Marcy calls Hank to tell him about Karen's car accident

Hank leaves the set to take when he gets a phone call from Karen.  To his surprise, it’s Marcy’s voice on the other line.  She’s at the hospital and Karen has been in an off-screen car accident.

Like “Kickoff,” “30 Minutes or Less” gives no one a moment’s rest for some private time.  Not for long, anyway.  Like Hashtag going off the cuff during rehearsals, each event felt like an unscripted event.  Nothing goes according to plan.  But Californication would be pretty dull if everything occurred without a few bumps in the road since most of what happens this week is a distraction from something else.

30 Minutes or Less- Hank sits in on audition

For Hank, we see him trying to do the right thing again.  And we see him get tempted again.  And he gets caught in compromising situations again.  And he’s got problems on multiple fronts again.  It’s funny, but I want to see Hank actually try to grow up and say no.  As is, he still succumbs to the power of the pussy.  Maybe he just needs a chastity device.

Also, like on “Kickoff,” Hank is the problem solver and man in charge.  But as Rath points out, his toxic personality infects everyone around him and keeps him from setting a good example.

30 Minutes or Less- Hank defends Julia's honor

And yet, he’s still witty and charming- a testament to the sharp writing of this show.  I liked his line to Rath about Julia choosing to do what she likes instead of succumbing to his every whim.  This doesn’t excuse Hank fooling around with Amy or Julia, but it shows that he’s not some sex crazed brute.

In addition, he’s still supportive when he sits in on Levon’s audition or tells Charlie to man up.  Hank should be an adult more often, but he’s still a kid growing up and adjusting to the real world.  He can’t take control of a situation and be the responsible adult, like Rath does on set.

30 Minutes or Less- Levon the cock-blocker returns

I’m getting mixed signals from Julia and Levon.  With Julia, she and Hank both said that hooking up and rekindling their romance was a bad idea, yet here she’s pursuing him.  Maybe that’s a result of spending so much time with him, but she should still prioritize.

And Levon, who didn’t want Hank fooling around with Julia, is suddenly ecstatic about the possibility of them getting back together, even though that would inevitably mean they’re going to fool around.

30 Minutes or Less- Charlie punches Stu

And is Charlie saying no to Stu’s deal?  Because I can’t imagine Marcy will just go along with that, given how much she’s open to the proposition.

As for Karen’s off-screen car crash, it felt like a way for the show to create easy drama and leave the episode on a cliffhanger to entice viewers to keep watching.

30 Minutes or Less- Becca and Pearl after Porsche car crash in Season 4

It’s also the second time, I believe, that we’ve had a Moody in a car crash, as was the case with Becca and Pearl took the Porsche for a ride and crashed it in Season 4, so it felt a bit too familiar.  The tone shift was radical and, in my mind, came off as a last minute addition.

There’s a lot wrapped into this episode.  Hank and Charlie need to take ownership of their respective situations and not be tempted by an enticing, but morally wrong decision.  But if characters had their sex drives under control, I say again, this show would not be nearly as fun as it is.  The episode suffers from a somewhat forced ending designed to tug at our emotional heartstrings, but felt more like a way to give Hank another problem.  Sure, the stakes are much higher this time, but did they need to be?

Any questions, comments, concerns, issues, complaints? If so, would like to hear them.

A Look at Californication- Season 7, Episode 7: “Smile”

Last week ended with Hank reminding Charlie that, no matter what they’ve been through, they find a way to weather the gloomy storms that come their way.  “Smile” has them weathering smaller storms this week, but preparing for larger ones that are forming as a result of their actions.

Smile- Hank walks in on Chris working on Karen's back

The episode begins with Hank walking in on a man bending Karen over and giving it right to her.  Actually, Chris is just working on Karen’s back, but Hank is still none too pleased.  He shares the news of Julia’s reaction, but also brings by his first paycheck for his writing gig.  He figured Karen could use the financial support, despite the fact that she has a house and he doesn’t.  Karen tears the check, telling Hank that he cannot buy her forgiveness.

She wants him out, but Hank won’t.  So when Chris insists, Hank responds by kicking Chris, who responds with what looks like a painful sucker punch to the face.  Hank resorts to the only tactic he has left: pouring hot coffee all over Chris.  Take that!

The bad day is just starting.  The Santa Monica Cop staff is a bit thin: Levon called off and Rath is eating in his office, which he doesn’t do unless he’s super-pissed.

Smile- Staff meeting on Hank's script

And in pops a pissed Rath, ready for the page one rewrite of Hank’s script.  While he’s still pissed, he won’t allow his anger to influence the table read.  While Hank’s writing is fine- if not a bit smart-alecky, some changes can still be made.  Also, Rath just got off the phone with Julia.  She doesn’t want the part anymore, but there’s no time to recast the role.  Hence, everyone needs to cancel their plans for the night because they’re staying in!

Smile- Hank pays Julia a visit at the dentist's office

So Hank heads to the dentist’s office, where Julia is hard at work with a patient.  Hank tries to talk her back into the role, but Julia doesn’t regret her decision.  In fact, she wants to minimize her anger by not being around the likes of Hank, Rath and Hashtag.

Smile- Hank speaks with Dr. Daniel Allen, DDS, played by Dan Bakkedahl

The discussion is interrupted by the arrival of Dr. Daniel Allen, DDS, played by Dan Bakkedahl, who brings Hank into his office.  Dr. Allen makes it clear that he won’t allow a valuable employee like Julia to be turned down the wrong road by the likes of Hank.  The actual reason is that Dr. Allen has a thing for Julia.  He never wanted to be an astronaut or play for the Yankees.  He just wanted to marry a busty, blonde hygienist.

Very specific desires you have there, sir.  Julia doesn’t know this, but Allen thinks he’s in a good position already since he and Julia get along.  After all, a relationship should be about teamwork.  Well, according to Hank’s grandmother, a relationship is about laughter, hot sex and the occasional Dutch oven, which sounds much more interesting, I will admit.  Point is- Allen doesn’t want Hank to get Julia’s hopes up about acting.  Also, stay away from the office.

Smile- Krull at the bar with Charlie, talking about his potential rock and roll butler memoir

Charlie drinks his lunch for the day when who should show up behind the bar but Krull.  Yup, rather than continue touring with Atticus, Krull decided to stay put after bringing back Hank.  Since the love of Krull’s life is dead, his focus will go to working on motorbikes and potential memoirs as a rock and roll butler.  When you roll with the likes of Atticus, Bowie, Rolling Stones, Bad Company, Hendrix, McCartney, Ringo, Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, the Pistols, Motorhead, Motley Crue, Clapton, Black Sabbath and Ozzy, I imagine you’ve got to have at least one interesting story.  Krull has some things written up, but he doesn’t fancy himself as a writer.  Nonetheless, a now excited Charlie would love to see what Krull has to offer.

Smile- Levon and Hank blaze

Hank meets up with Levon, who decides to spend his day off by blazing.  Not a bad idea, but he could better manage his time.  Anyway, Levon lets Hank know that Julia wants to move back to New York and thinks her son has lost his morals.  Please, Julia.  Levon liked to whip out his cock and you thought he had morals?  But Julia finds show business corrupt and fucked up, which it is, so she shouldn’t be too surprised.

Levon shares Hank’s dislike of Dr. Allen, whom he refers to as Dr. Dick.  Heh.  The two conspire to deal with Allen.  It all starts with Levon’s supposed and very well-timed toothache.

Smile- Marcy hears Stu's $1 million proposal

Marcy meets with Stu and demands to know why he would turn to prostitution.  Stu isn’t exactly having fun with the women.  Their blowjobs are rough and toothy, not silky like Marcy’s.  Additionally, the orgasms are as painful as coming into a broken beer bottle.  I cannot un-see that sort of visual.  But hey, Stu’s gotta get the toxins out of him somehow after Marcy broke his heart…when he cheated on her.

But Stu asks what drew Marcy there.  After talking with Charlie, she had planned to ask him for a loan, but turns out that Stu doesn’t do loans.  He would pay her, and he brings up the same offer he made to Charlie: $1 million for one more night.  And hey, she’s a high value target, so consider your options wisely, Marcy.

Smile- Hank and Levon arrive at the dentist's office to speak with Julia

Hank and Levon head to the dentist’s office, and do a poor job of hiding the fact that they’ve been blazing.  Julia’s at least understanding, though she still thinks Hank is an amoral prick.  Hank insists his heart is in the right place, and tells Julia that she shouldn’t be surprised that she works in places where people want to fuck her.  Yeah, seriously, lady, you’re Heather Graham!  Men will want to fuck you no matter what.

Smile- Dr. Daniel Allen proposes to Julia

Including Dr. Allen, who owns up to his desires when Hank calls him out on it.  He pulls out a ring, even though he and Julia have never been on a single date.  Despite that, he promises to be a positive male role model for Levon, who responds by swiftly kneeing Allen in the crotch.  Hank follows that up with a punch to the face that ends up knocking out one of Allen’s teeth.  Father-son bonding!

Smile- Hank tells Rath that Levon would like to audition for a role on Santa Monica Cop

And so it was, Hank returned Julia to Santa Monica Cop, where she tells Rath that she’s on board.  Rath is excited, though less thrilled when Levon lets him know that he wants to audition for a small part.  Rath’s still pissed about Levon having sex in his pool, but it turned out to be on his bucket list.  How high on the list was it?

Smile- Marcy and Charlie discuss Stu's proposal

At House Runkle, Charlie reads some of Krull’s work when Marcy enters.  She takes Charlie to their room to discuss Stu’s proposal, the proposal that Charlie already knew about, but never told Marcy because, you know, they’re supposed to be good people.  Marcy insists that if a client gets an offer, you bring it to the patient, but Charlie is insulted that Marcy would insinuate that her husband is also her pimp.  Sure, Marcy was pissed about the offer, but she took some time to think about it.

Charlie is just concerned that Marcy would enjoy the sex, but she confesses that she never loved Stu.  She may have loved his monster cock, but not the man.  And if she’s been fucked by him before, what’s the big deal?

Well, the big deal is that all this talk of illicit sex is making Charlie quite the randy man, so Marcy presents herself and the two screw.  When they’re both done, they both agree that this is one fucked-up situation, but sort of hot.

Smile- Krull watches Charlie and Marcy bone

Krull also agrees.

Hank, Levon and Julia enjoy a monster movie while blazing.  Well, Levon doesn’t get to since Mom’s around, but he heads to bed anyway.  When Levon leaves, Julia thanks Hank for, again, not taking ‘no’ for an answer.

Smile- Hank and Julia after whiskey and weed

Though Hank is ready to leave, he’s got enough whiskey and weed in him to stun a horse, so Julia insists that he stay.  In their moment together, Julia tells Hank that she was never afraid of acting, but that she would develop feelings for Hank all over again.  Seeing Levon happy has made her happy.

The two look deep into each other’s eyes and…have another tickle fight!

Just kidding, that doesn’t last long.  Yeah, they kiss, and despite once agreeing that going down this path was a bad idea, they continue.

“Smile” was another example of our lovable characters going against the grain.  I’m reminded of a line by Jason Stackhouse on True Blood: “Sometimes the right thing is to do is to do the wrong thing.”  Indeed, there are very few right choices on Californication that don’t come with some type of repercussion.  Like last week, we see the consequences of bad decisions.  More than that, we see how uncertain these people are about their futures.  Their vision of a happy life falls apart due to their own decisions, particularly with the likes of Krull, Dr. Allen, and even Charlie and Marcy.

Smile- Charlie and Marcy head to Fucky Town

In fact, I’ll start with the Runkles.  We get a good idea of where Charlie and Marcy’s morals stand when it comes to their financial security.  While I’m sure most people would be offended at the idea of offering their significant other up as a sex object in exchange for a great amount of money, Charlie and Marcy are in a desperate situation.  They want a secure future, but lack the funds.  Of course, both express disgust at Stu for the idea and they know it’s wrong, but to them, $1 million is probably the most amount of money they’d expect to see in quite some time.

Smile- Charlie tells Marcy that he's not her fucking pimp

And I enjoyed just how angry Charlie was for a second when Marcy was upset at him for not discussing Stu’s offer to her first.  We see just how much Charlie loves Marcy.  He wants to keep her…well, pure isn’t the word, but at least with some dignity.  But the whole idea of sticking to your morals gets turned on its side not just when Marcy considers Stu’s suggestion, but when it leads to Charlie getting a stiffy.  They both acknowledge that this is a completely screwy situation, but the humor of this show has always come from characters trying to get out of morally irresponsible situations that they put themselves in.

Smile- Krull enjoys what he sees

I’m also glad to see Krull back, as his involvement ties directly to the events of the previous season for some more continuity.  And given the laundry list of stars he’s traveled with, I’m also interested in his memoir.

Smile- Hank and Levon discuss Dr. Allen

Hank’s heart is in the right place, yes, but he has some misguided actions, such as, you know, getting a prostitute to deflower his virgin son or giving money to Karen.  We know he wants to do the right thing, and in his own way, he is.  Hank doesn’t typically listen to reason, which is why Julia thanked him for not listening to her instructions.  Again, I like the growing bond Hank has with Levon, even if their bonding does involve smoking weed and getting into a fight with the dentist.  Gotta start someplace, I guess.

Trying to control Hank is damn near impossible.  He’s going to do and say the uncomfortable things that people don’t like, such as when he tells Julia about the nature of the entertainment industry.  She’s a beautiful woman and Heather Graham- men are going to want to do very strange things to her, so she needs to accept that.  Doesn’t mean she shouldn’t put up a fight.

Smile- Karen rips Hank's paycheck

But Karen is that one woman who won’t just fall head over heels for Hank’s antics.  She knows how he thinks and won’t make it easy or beat around the bush when it comes to his crap, which is what makes Hank trying to win back her affection all the more important.

Smile- Hank and Julia about to kiss

Also, given how Hank and Julia acknowledged before that kissing was a bad idea, they’re sliding backwards at the end of the episode.  Maybe it’s all the whiskey and weed, but it’s still a bad decision.

There are smiles to be had with this episode, but also time to stop and consider the future.  Whether it’s potentially offering your wife up for sex or having an affair with the woman who you just learned had a son you didn’t know about, Californication doesn’t give characters easy options.  You hope they learn from their errors and do the right, but if they did, the show wouldn’t be as fun or interesting to watch.

A Look at Californication- Season 7, Episode 6: “Kickoff”

Lot of favors, lot of do’s and don’ts, a lot of hard, messy lessons learned, and an unfortunate incident in a pool.  Only at Rick Rath’s.

Kickoff- Hashtag Black, played by Brandon T. Jackson, discusses his potential role on Santa Monica Cop

The episode begins with actor Hashtag Black, played by Brandon T. Jackson, discussing his potential role on Santa Monica Cop.  Hashtag brings the funny and isn’t interested in delivering lines that only serve as exposition.  He wants a banging script, damn it!  And not the pitch that Goldie doesn’t get a chance to deliver.  Oh, and he makes Hank his set-bitch.  Well, it at least sounds more interesting of a title than writer.  Anyway, the crux of this episode takes place at Rath’s, who is throwing a kickoff party.  Just one vital rule: no fucking in the pool.

Kickoff- Charlie, Julia, Levon and Hank arrive at party

Hank and Charlie arrive at Rath’s swinging mansion just seconds before Levon and Julia get there.  Levon’s ready to meet some banging women, prompting his mother to remind him that she’s not afraid to spank him in a room full of strangers, which…I’ll be frank, if Heather Graham threatened to spank me, I can’t say I’d consider that a bad thing.  Levon and Charlie head inside while Julia pulls Hank aside to discuss their son: something’s different about him.  He feels more confident and relaxed, as if he’s got a spring in his step.  Julia’s not used to it, but regardless, she’s just glad Hank’s been there so he could bond with Levon.  Oh, Julia, there’s more to it than that.  Her date with Rath went well, though.  Too well, as if he tried too hard to be a gentleman instead of just himself.

Kickoff- Hashtag Black notices Julia while talking with Hank

Inside, Hashtag speaks with Hank in confidence: he doesn’t like the way Rath is writing his character, but Rath is too stubborn to hear him out.  Rath is more about drama, but Hashtag wants to do comedy.  He needs Hank’s help since Hank is good with wit, but he soon sets his eyes on Julia.

Kickoff- Rath asks Hank if Julia talked about their date

Which leads Rath to come and ask Hank about what, if at all, Julia said about their date.  Rath clearly likes Julia, but he doesn’t want to potentially screw things up, so he’s taking it easy.

He leaves when Levon enters due to an urgent need: he needs money because he wants to bone Nikki, even though she’s attending the party with Stu.  Also, such a score won’t be cheap.  After having sex the first time, Levon feels that sensation again.  Hank suggests that he just go pound one out in one of Rath’s many bathrooms, but Levon finds masturbation so lame after getting his dick wet for the first time.  Um, no, Levon.  Hank assures Levon that masturbation will most definitely still be a part of his life since women don’t just hurl themselves at you.

Kickoff- Charlie again talks with Goldie and she tells him that she's allergic to semen

And not sure why he’s still trying to win her favor after last week, but Charlie is again meeting with Goldie, who is again drinking, which means that she will probably again throw up.  Calling it.  We do learn one interesting tidbit about Goldie: she can’t swallow or spit because she’s allergic to semen.  That’s a thing, apparently.  True story, it burns the back of her throat and once made her break out in hives and blotches.  Blowing a load on her is like throwing holy water on Linda Blair.  Where do these writers come up with these lines?

Goldie believes that Rath let Hashtag humiliate her during the meeting, but when Rath shows up, both play it totally nice.  Well, Rath doesn’t to Charlie, whom he calls a degenerate lunatic.

Kickoff- Hank meets new actress Amy Taylor Walsh, played by Mercedes Masöhn

Upstairs, Hank runs into some of the writing staff.  Hugh is failing to put the moves on the new female lead, Amy Taylor Walsh, played by Mercedes Masöhn.  The two head into a room and Walsh admits that she knows quite a bit about Hank, not the least of which includes his involvement on Fucking and Punching.  Now she wants to confide in Hank about something: she doesn’t like how Rath is writing her character and thinks that he’s blowing her off.  Amy has a proposition for Hank and promises to make it worth his while.

Kickoff- Stu tells Charlie about how much he misses Marcy

Stu envies Charlie’s remarriage to Marcy and makes it known.  As hard as it is to move on, he’s not there just to focus on the past.  He has an indecent proposition for Charlie: he will pay the both of them $1 million if he can have Marcy again for one night.

Kickoff- Hank and Amy bond over pot, drinks and their pasts

Amy indeed made it worth Hank’s while with some impressive weed.  The two talk about how people with their abilities ended up on such a television show: Hank needed to grow up, but Amy just needed a job.  She’s not so interested in growing up.  Hell, she’s not so interested in the show, either.  She’d been given an offer for a fancy program on the BBC, but her agent talked her into Santa Monica Cop instead.  Sounds like a terrible agent.  She wants Hank to ask Rath to kill off her character.

Onto Hank’s life, though, Amy is familiar with Sasha Bingham, who is the star of Fucking and Punching.  Rumor has it that Hank is great at cunnilingus.  How?  Hank treats the woman the same way he’d treat a woman- important.  And as a writer must show, not tell, Hank offers to show her.

Kickoff- Julia walks in on Hank going down on Amy

In another television convenient oops moment, Julia walks in before Hank can show very much.  Julia isn’t really peeved since it’s none of her business and she’s not Karen.  Hashtag wants her to ride with him in his Bentley, which Hank thinks is a bad idea.  It also doesn’t help that Rath is jealous of Hashtag hitting on Julia.  Stressed by it all, Julia thought having a job would be fun, but it comes with these attachments.

Kickoff- Rath and Hashtag Black walk in on Hank and Julia's tickle fight

The two wind up on the bed in an actual tickle fight before another convenience: both Rath and Hashtag enter.  What, were they both looking for Julia or something?  Julia shuts them both down: she’s not won over by his image and while she’s grateful to Rath for a job, it shouldn’t have strings attached.  When Julia leaves, Hashtag wants Hank fired even though he a. isn’t in charge and b. has no real reason to outside of anger.

Hugh comes in with the worst news of the night: there’s fucking in the pool.

Kickoff- Levon and Nikki get caught fucking in the pool

And wouldn’t you know it?  It’s Levon and Nikki having a quick one in the pool.  When the crowd arrives, Nikki explains to Stu that she wanted to make some extra cash.  Levon tells Julia that Hank would take care of it.  Luckily, Nikki gets tested all the time, so she’s straight.  That’s good to know, I suppose.  When Levon almost admits to his mother that he lost his virginity to a hooker, he then does just that by admitting that this isn’t the first time he’s had sex.  Levon just can’t lie to his mother.  Admirable.  Stupid, but admirable.  Hank thought he did the right thing, but he earns himself a slap in the face from Julia for trying to be a good father.

So yeah, the party is turning into a disaster and Goldie takes this opportunity to tell off Rath.  Charlie doesn’t back her, which prompts her to insult him.  Hashtag finds this funny, but given how he insulted Goldie earlier, she’s not pleased.  So she swings a bottle in his direction and misses.  She then tries the same thing with Charlie and also misses.  What the actual hell is wrong with this woman?  Uh-oh, she’s stumbling toward the pool and…

Kickoff- Goldie pukes in the pool

…oh, come the fuck on, woman.

Meanwhile, Hank and Charlie, fucked as they are, prepare to bear through it all because they’ve been fucked before and still came out on top.  That’s the kind of men they are.

Things just sucked for almost everyone this week, didn’t they?  If “Getting the Poison Out” was about not knowing anymore whether the choices we make are right or wrong, “Kickoff” focused on acknowledging that, yes, some of the decisions we make are indeed wrong and shows the consequences of poor judgment.  It also showed the consequences of trying to do the right thing when our priorities are not in order, as was the case last week with Hank and continues this week.  Not just with Hank, but other characters like Charlie and Levon as well.

Kickoff- Levon tells Julia that he's glad that Hank bought him a prostitute

What I like about the characters of Californication is that they’re willing to admit when they screwed up, it takes a lot for them to start changing.  Or when they do, they meet massive resistance.  And Karen’s not here to be the moral compass, so we don’t have a voice of reason this week.

Kickoff- Hank explains to Amy how he gives such good cunnilingus

The episode also focused not just on taking responsibility for your actions, but also having to shoulder the blame.  Hank mostly saddles responsibility this week and has to be the catalyst that gets things happening.  He doesn’t do that, but whether dealing with Rath, Hashtag or Amy, Hank has to be the ear that will hear people out since they don’t have the fortitude to handle their problems on their own.  Hank is seen as a problem solver, and he is, though his solutions aren’t all that great, as we see with Levon.

Kickoff- Hank literally caught between Amy's legs

As was the case last week with the student, Hank cannot escape his sexual escapades from way back when.  What he did back then wasn’t the right thing to do, and now he’s trying to make up for his mistakes.  So it feels like a step backwards when he’s caught in compromising positions, whether between a woman’s legs or having to explain to the mother of your newly discovered son that you paid a hooker to take away his virginity.

Kickoff- Levon wishes he was still a virgin

Again, I get that Levon doesn’t want to lie to his mother, but really, kid, could you have picked a worse time to explain how you popped your cherry?  Levon’s naïveté really comes out here in stark contrast to the cool confidence he displayed earlier in the episode.  That wasn’t going to last long.  Levon’s had a taste of the non-virgin life and he wants more of it, but since that doesn’t just readily come at a moment’s notice, he’s become antsy and unable to keep his urges buried until the right time comes.

Kickoff- Nikki after Levon admits that he may be in love with her

It was quite ridiculous of him and Nikki to try and boink in the pool when there were nine perfectly good bathrooms to choose from.  Maybe they thought being in the water would reduce the chances of diseases.  I dunno.  What I do know is Levon needs to restrain himself or he may end up showing his cock to another woman besides Melanie.  Also, a little over the top of him to wish he was still a virgin so wouldn’t have had a glimpse of the promised land.  Man, Nikki must have had one hell of a vagina.

Kickoff- Julia slaps Hank after learning he brought Levon a prostitute

Julia’s reaction wasn’t as over the top as I expected.  Hell, her rant to Hank in the studio felt more extreme than the simple slap in the face he got.  But she’s got to understand that she can’t keep Levon tethered to her forever.  Like Karen, Julia wants Levon to make the right choices that don’t compromise his character.  Levon is changing.  He’s not going to remain an introvert who is afraid to talk to girls in person.  Now that he’s lost his virginity, that sensation will return every now and then and unless Julia wants to lock him in a chastity device, she better prepare for more poolside encounters.

Kickoff- Charlie talks with Goldie

And when it comes to Charlie and Goldie…I honestly don’t know what the hell to make of this.  If last week wasn’t enough of an indication to let things go, Charlie really needs to let Goldie go not because she’s batshit insane, but completely paranoid.  I honestly don’t think Rath is as out for her as she claims.

We’ve yet to learn about Goldie’s writing prowess outside of learning from Charlie that she wrote an episode of Dawson’s Creek, so I can’t understand why she thinks she’s so great.  We’re not given any indication of it since, as far as I know, she hasn’t been slated to write any episodes of Santa Monica Cop.  She thinks the world is out to get her, but I think she’s just not as great as she would like Charlie to believe.  At least we learn she can’t spit or swallow.

I don’t think he’ll agree to Stu’s proposal, despite telling Hank about his money woes.  He and Marcy hopefully have more integrity than that.

Kickoff- Goldie, that's nasty

Oh, and Goldie throwing up in the pool?  Not only is that just a disgusting image- not unlike the scene in Porky’s 2 when Wendy fake vomited into a pristine looking fountain- but come on!  She was surrounded by plenty of grass and could have just puked on the lawn.  Heading to the pool, like the barf scene last week in Charlie’s car, just felt predictable, but this one was just way too over the top.

Kickoff- Woe is Charlie

“Kickoff” was another example of Californication showing how messy of a world these people live in, but still find a way to weather through it.  Hank’s line to Charlie rings true about a constant throughout the show’s run: they’ve been fucked so hard by the world before and still come out on top.  Despite being in a low place yet again, they always find a way to bounce back.

Any thoughts, questions, comments, concerns, issues? Would appreciate them if you have any.  Thanks.