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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.

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carlos sandoval

overall I thought the season finale was awesome. This season was starting to scare me because the wit and the charm of the show was going away. However, I have to say the finale redeemed the season. On the issue of Hank being an "uber-douche" I don't feel that he is a douche but more a broken an lost soul. Its his battle between who he wants to become and allowing himself to be sucked in by his punishment that keeps bringing us back to the character. Overall Hank cares and even though he tries to be the asshole who can just drink himself to oblivion and use women he ultimately wakes up and sees the monster...I hope season 4 brings some better characters and some better writing into play and I hope we see some more depth to Hank's world.

December 26 2009 at 7:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This was by far the best episode of the season! Californication has finally returned to some of its former glory! This episode was artistic, insightful and dealt with real human emotion. I'm just not sure if it was a departure from the rest of the season, or if the ludicrous playfulness of the rest of the season is what made this profundity possible!

I was also happy that they brought back Sue Collini (with the hint that she might return for season 4) - she was one of the best aspects of season 3!

to read more about Cali, check out our blog at http://themothchase.wordpress.com

December 15 2009 at 9:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This was a bad season topped by the worst finale I've ever seen. Hank Moody acted so stupidly and irrationally that it doesn't even make sense. There are some things people just don't do. I'm not watching this show anymore, I'm done with it.

December 15 2009 at 2:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to bruce's comment

I agree with Bruce about this the worst season, however I think the finale made up for it. Most of the season had me down on the show, but the finale has me wanting more. I would have prefererred to hear what she was saying to Hank in the end, but I guess one can figure it out.

December 15 2009 at 9:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Put me down as a DIDN'T LIKE on this season. Did one of the key writers leave the show? The dialogue for this season has been terrible. It's like the show is a knockoff of itself. I despised the ending. First of all I wanted to hear the conversation between Hank & Karen and how he explained the whole Mia thing, not Elton John singing. It didn't work on me. It felt like a cop out. Also I don't believe Karen would have acted as she did. What is there to get mad at? Disgusted maybe, but not screaming kicking him out mad. The fact is she was living with Mia's father at the time Mia went after Hank, who was easy prey. Very disappointed after such previously good seasons.

December 17 2009 at 5:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It was a GREAT season finale. Perfectly handled what we all knew some day was going to bite Hank in the ass [Mia/F*cking & Punching]. A real dose of reality for the season, which was flying high with all the women Hank was with and now comes to an abrupt end.

I take exception to the 'uber-douche' comment about Hank. I think it points to my continued contention that the blog writer Danny Gallagher doesn't get this show or its characters and seems to hate it and LA.

Let's hope that TV Squad finds someone other than Danny Gallagher to review Californication next season. Someone who actually likes the show.

December 14 2009 at 11:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Tool's comment
Danny Gallagher

When did I ever say that I didn't like the show? I gave it a good review. And just because I call the character an "uber-douche" for his behavior doesn't mean I don't like him. The way things are wrapped up now, his self-destructive quality has finally come back to haunt him and now it can be fully explored in the next season. Whether you believe it or not, I've enjoyed watching and covering this season for the most part and I'm really looking forward to watching and covering the next season.

December 14 2009 at 11:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Danny I don't think that you dislike the show, however the overall tone of your reviews has carried a degree of disdain for Hank that I, and I'm sure many others, personally don't agree with.

The only difference between Hank's character and a million other people out there is that his decadent flaws are prominently displayed for everyone to judge and not hidden discreetly in his cable bill or web browsing history. But just like the rest of us he's struggling to find and maintain happiness, which is bloody hell courageous considering the obstacles he's facing.

December 15 2009 at 11:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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