Episode Title: "The Recused"
Writer: Tom Kapinos
Director: Michael Weaver
Previously on "Californication":
Fed up with Hank Moody (David Duchovny) and his antics, hotshot lawyer Abby (Carla Gugino) angrily resigned as his attorney, leaving him to face statutory rape charges on his own. Hank’s sidekick/agent, Charlie Runkle (Evan Handler) then dragged him out for a night on the town with psychotic actor, Eddie Nero (Rob Lowe) who wanted to play Hank in the movie based on "F***ing and Punching." When Hank’s daughter Becca (Madeleline Martin) called him to come bail her out at a tattoo parlor, Nero pulled a gun on the store owner.
To defuse the situation, Hank punched out Nero. But that only convinced Nero that he wanted to bring Hank to life on the big screen. Meanwhile, Charlie’s soon-to-be ex-wife Marcy (Pamela Adlon) was finally lured to the home of producer Stu Beggs (Stephen Tobolowsky) and she found that she actually liked him. Elsewhere, Hank’s ex-girlfriend Karen (Natascha McElhone) visited Abby on Hank’s behalf to convince her to take Hank’s case again. And it must have worked, since Abby not only took Hank back, she took him to bed.
Hank awakens in bed to find Abby staring at him intently. They tease each other lovingly, but she tells him that she has to resign as his attorney again since it’s an ethical breach to sleep with her client. Hank tries to dissuade her from that line of reasoning and she offers him a choice. He can sleep with her again or she can still be his lawyer. Of course, Hank picks sex with her over anything. In a very good mood, Hank visits Karen and finds Ben (Michael Ealy) already there dropping off a painting. Hank can’t seem to stand up to Ben’s unyielding coolness and friendliness, so he departs after a few sharp words for Karen.
Elsewhere, Stu and Marcy come to Charlie with the worst idea ever. No, not a threesome. (Although that would also be terrifying). The idea is to pitch a TV series based on Marcy’s life as "waxer to the stars." And Charlie seems to agree with them that it can sell, although his enthusiasm seems a little forced. At the same time, Abby introduces Hank to her boss, Lloyd Alan Phillips Jr. (Alan Dale) as a potential replacement for herself. Hank immediately doesn’t like him, but Lloyd insists upon Abby and Hank joining him for a round of golf.
Outside the pitch meeting with Showtime, Stu has to keep running to the toilet while Charlie demonstrates a remarkable acceptance and support for Marcy. Seriously, it’s like the Charlie of the last six weeks was replaced by a pod person… or a Terminator. In the meeting itself, Stu bails yet again after an unimpressive opening, leaving Marcy stammering for words. But Charlie steps up yet again with an impressive save and tells the network executives a funny story about Marcy’s career and sells the series to them. Although Marcy softens towards Charlie after this, she still goes home with Stu to celebrate while Charlie hooks up with a girl introducing herself as "number 21."
On the golf course, Hank is a complete ass and he even urinates in the sand trap, which sends Lloyd into a fury. The two men briefly scuffle before Abby defuses the situation and agrees to be Hank’s lawyer again. They later have sex again, but Abby says that it has to be the last time before the end of his legal case. And even then, she says it will be "interesting" to see what Hank really wants. Sometime after that, Hank goes to see Becca and her band play and he meets up with Ben. The two more or less make peace over Karen, though both hold her hands when the music starts. And she seems to be favoring Hank…
First off, let me say thank you to whoever decided to spare us the sight of Charlie shagging "number 21." Again, anything involving Evan Handler in any state of undress or any remotely sexual situation is just stomach churning at this point.
But this week was the most compelling Charlie has been this season. So much so, that he seemed like another person entirely. When he had nothing but kind words for Marcy and made the save in the pitch meeting, he was actually… likeable. Of course, to pull that off Stu had to get thrown under the bus after a charming turn in last week’s episode. I still think Stu’s an easier character to watch, but his chickensh** antics this week definitely hurt his appeal.
Speaking of likeability, Ben’s almost too perfect. But as with Hank, it’s hard not to like him as well. Michael Ealy is kind of supernaturally calm in the role and he may be the one person we’ve met so far who Hank hasn’t been able to incite to violence. Hank even seems to accept him as a worthy companion for Karen, even if he did try to undercut him by holding hands with her under the table.
However, Hank’s relationship with Abby is much more entertaining than the one he had with Karen. Part of it comes in the writing, but Carla Gugino also plays Abby like she’s her own main character and not one of Hank’s castaway girlfriends. She’s the first woman with long term possibilities with him to come up in a while. I didn’t initially recognize who played her boss, Lloyd until the credits. Of course it was Alan Dale, Charles Widmore from "Lost." For a stuffed up lawyer, he was pretty funny. And his sandtrap fight with Hank was really amusing.
And only on "Californication" can two men be brought together after a fight through their strange fascination with anal fissures as Hank and Lloyd were. Thankfully, we didn’t have to see the pictures that Lloyd kept in his phone.
Now that the second half of the season is underway, "Californication" seems to have found its creative footing again.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.