Review: Californication - Mia Culpa
by Danny Gallagher, posted Dec 14th 2009 5:42PM
(S03E12) "That's the thing about secrets, Hank. They have a funny way of coming out." - Mia Cross
If last night's episode was the first episode of Californication you have ever seen, it might have left you more than a little confused. Your friends who gab about it around the office water cooler have always been telling you how its the raucous and dirty sitcom of the decade, a show that takes the wit of Robert Benchley and combines it with the out-of-control plot of those Spring Break party movies that used to play late at night on the USA Network.
You're tired of feeling like you're missing out on something awesome, so you finally decide to tune in and instead what you find is a rather heavy and deep emotional look at the effects of a life spent partying, boozing and philandering.
You didn't laugh at all. Don't fret and don't even consider crossing those friends of your entertainment recommendation list. If you had followed the season all the way through, you would have been treated to a deep and very enduring episode, which is damn good considering its from a raunchy sitcom.
Mia Cross makes a very surprising appearance as the book she stole from him goes into paperback printing and brings her to the Golden State on a book tour. This, of course, gives an opportunity for Hank to do some more squirming for the audience's amusement, only this time she seems to be wanting something more from him and using their little tryst as unholy leverage.
I've always said that Hank is the kind of guy who deserves a good ass-kicking because at times, it seems like the only way to get him to realize just how happy he can be if he stops punishing himself for whatever reason he keeps punishing himself. But even an uber-douche like Hank doesn't deserve to be dragged through the mud like this.
And for what? Collateral to keep a hack writer from being dragged through the mud herself by anyone who ever recommended her stolen diatribes for their required reading list? I kept hoping Dexter Morgan might suddenly show up in some bizarre TV time-and-space cross-riff and take out the agent "Trinity Killer style".
I'll admit I wasn't crazy about Sue Collini at the beginning of the season because she seemed so single-minded and one-dimensional, but she's actually become the most interesting character on the show and I'm glad/hope she'll be around for season four, especially since Charlie learns that Marcy has decided she wants a divorce after all. Just please, no more coke scenes between Charlie and Sue. If you watched this season, you'll know why. Let's just say there isn't a long enough straw in the world for... whatever.
The final minutes of the episode made for excellent viewing. Any heavy moment in real life always seems to be accompanied in our memory banks by that same deafening silence, like our minds are trying to spare us from the pain of having to hear a loved one sound completely destroyed by the secret we've told them or the truth that's hurt them.
In fact, the whole episode accomplished its goal of carrying the same weight of heaviness from Hank's mysterious dream sequences in the swimming pool to Becca's revelation to Hank that she's no longer a virgin and despite all of his faults, she truly does love and appreciate him.
Even the show's twangy and upbeat opening credit sequence was removed for fear of making the show seem too light. The true shocker wasn't the fact that Hank finally opened up to Karen about MIa. It was that a show that prides itself and sets itself apart by not taking anything seriously can be just as dramatic and serious and unafraid to venture into new territory from the expectations you may or may not have of it.