Episode Title: "Another Perfect Day"
Writers: Tom Kapinos & Gabe Roth
Director: Michael Lehmann
Previously on "Californication":
While awaiting trial for statutory rape, Hank Moody (David Duchovny) had a fling with Sasha Bingham (Addison Timlin) and her mother (Callie Thorne), which caused both women to turn on him. Meanwhile, his former girlfriend Karen (Natascha McElhone) was falling hard for Ben (Michael Ealy) and Hank’s daughter Becca (Madeleline Martin) seemed increasingly despondent over their family situation.
At the same time, human salt lick Charlie Runkle (Evan Handler) discovered that his real estate agent, Peggy was even more sexually depraved than he was. His soon-to-be ex-wife Marcy (Pamela Adlon) also struggled to come to terms with her pregnancy with Charlie’s baby. But when she tried to reveal the truth to her new boyfriend, Stu Beggs (Stephen Tobolowsky), he assumed that child was his and celebrated hysterically.
Abby (Carla Gugino) briefs Hank the Friday before his trial and playfully refuses his sexual advances. Hank seems in good spirits until he finds that his hotel room lock has been changed and that he can’t get back in until he pays off the $25,000 room bill. With nowhere else to turn, he sleeps in his car outside of Karen’s house, where Becca finds him the next day. Humbled by his latest fall, he eagerly takes them up on their offer to come inside. Elsewhere, disgusting and vile naked Charlie gets it on with Peggy, who insists that they role play as incestuous siblings. Their f***fest is only broken by Marcy’s telephone invite to dinner.
At Karen’s place, Hank charms his way back into their good graces. The family even goes out together to help Becca learn how to drive. When they get back, Karen allows Hank to stay with them for the entire weekend. But when he suggests spending some time alone together, she tells him that she already has plans with Ben. When Ben arrives with his daughter, Hank greets him relatively warmly and says that he will watch the girls. But as soon as he passes out, the girls steal his car keys.
Charlie and Peggy arrive at Stu’s house, where Marcy puts off telling him the news about her pregnancy. She even starts to take a big glass of wine until Stu dramatically knocks it out of her hand and reveals the news himself. Charlie is stunned and can barely offer a convincing congratulations. Outside, Peggy confronts Charlie for still having feelings for Marcy and he admits that he kind of wants a baby of his own. After angrily burning him with a cigarette lighter, Peggy goes down on Charlie just in time for the maid to catch them in the act.
Hank awakens to a call from the police. He goes out and finds that the girls have wrecked his classic car. Ben and Karen arrive, and Ben is quick to blame Hank for the girl’s misbehavior. But Karen actually stands up for Hank, even if she doesn’t admit to defending him. Later, Becca tells Hank that she’s scared that he will be going to jail. And when he finally sits down for a frank talk with Marcy, she reminds him of how he courted her. Then she throws his shortcomings in his face by reminding him that he’s on trial for "raping a teenager."
"Californication" has essentially become two shows: a semi-serious comedy starring Hank and the poor man’s Cinemax After Dark starring Charlie. I really like the Hank half of the story and I wish we could banish Charlie to the nether realm from which he sprang.
Someone pointed out to me that this was one of the rare episodes in which Hank didn’t hook up with anyone. It still works, because we’ve come to care about Hank. And the way he uses his bad jokes and good attitude to briefly reconcile with his family is probably our best look at the Hank Moody that Karen fell in love with years ago. That’s the decent guy who’s been under the gun from the ramifications of sleeping with Mia. The thing that bothered me about Marcy being so harsh with him about the charges he’s facing is that it’s pretty common knowledge that Mia basically entrapped him. But the way Karen puts it, makes it sound like Hank forced himself on her.
None of that excuses what Hank did. He’s a Lothario, no question. He also seems to be unable to maintain a healthy, monogamous relationship with any woman. As one of Hank’s conquests from last week put it, he’s running out of chances romantically and should find someone while he can. I’d like to see more of Hank with Abby, but even there he doesn’t seem serious about pursuing her.
The parts of this episode that really work deal with the almost sad tone of Hank being forced to face the consequences of what he’s done. Even a night in watching the girls backfires on him, which doesn’t speak highly of his parenting skills. But he really does love Becca and Karen, which seems to be his most redeeming quality.
As for the naked Charlie chronicles… barf. Seriously, enough already. In just two episodes, I’ve already come to detest Peggy just as much as Charlie. And her fetishes are even more disgusting than his. I don’t know why the show keeps pushing this angle. Charlie works best when he displays a more vulnerable side. His reaction to Karen’s pregnancy was actually effective and made me feel sorry for him for at least a few moments. But his moments of real humanity are few and far between.
The other downside is that "Californication" is starting to fall into the "Entourage" trap. Which is to say that comedy is becoming an endangered species on this show. It needs to be funny again! There’s only so much mopey Hank I can take.
Crave Online Rating: 6.5 out of 10.
Episode Title: "Another Perfect Day"