'Californication' Season 4, Episode 2 Recap
by Dr. Ryan Vaughan, PhD (no, seriously), posted Jan 17th 2011 6:30AM
['Californication' - 'Suicide Solution']
Hank Moody is a lot like another cad that I have written extensively about: The same sense of the world owing them something, the same blatant disregard for candor and social contracts, the same penchant for the lady-folk, and the same flair for the shockingly vulgar as Kenny Powers ... only with a firm grasp -- one might say "a stranglehold" -- on the English language.
Hank knows how to use his words to get what he wants, and to manipulate those less acquainted with the ways of the pen, while Kenny banged away at his words with a utilitarian bent that approached grunting. Yes, it's words that separate Hank Moody from the sea of cads of his ilk, and it's time to see if they can save him from himself.
Marcie woke up to a "little Hank" lurking in the sheets as Runkle barged in wielding a cricket bat in her defense. It's cute how Runkle still carries a torch for Marcie. Hank has no place to go, and Marcie and Runkle are left to put Hanky Dumpty together again. If that means some accidental tug jobs here and there, so be it. Once it was all sorted out, Runkle floated the prospect of a three-way, an idea that got as far as Marcie puking at the mere mention of it. This arrangement clearly cannot last.
Runkle was in a pretty tough spot as both Hank's agent and best friend. On one hand, he knew he needed to show compassion for his buddy's plight, but he also needed to light a fire under his lackadaisical ass. Hank was outside Karen's trying to start his old Porsche when she came out and promptly blew him off. This didn't stop Hank from talking. He never stops talking, and somehow his desperation is both pitiable and admirable. He was looking for any way back into her and Becca's lives.
All this made him late for a meeting at Abby's office, and he caught her on her way to another meeting. Such is Hank's life, always too late to change people's minds, but not late enough to plead his case. He will be looking at three years for rape if he doesn't get serious, and she means business. "You're just another entitled smart-ass who thinks it's OK to f*** a teenager," and with a DA looking to make an example of him, he needed to behave himself until the preliminary hearing. Oh, and consider the preliminary groundwork laid (pun, almost too easy) for the two of them bumping into each other, naked.
As torn as Runkle was over how to handle Hank, Marcie had the unwelcome task of trying to get Hank out of her house without appearing sympathetic toward him in front of Karen. Also, Marcie made it abundantly clear that she can trade blows (pun, almost embarrassing) of vulgarity with even a drunk and horny Hank.
Runkle then found Hank sleeping in his office, and the delicate balance of support and nagging kicked in once again. Turned out the rape charge had Hank down, and Runkle invoked the likes of other successful alleged pedophiles like Roman Polansky and R. Kelly in the hopes of bringing Hank back from the doldrums. Just as Hank was considering this rather grim company he was now keeping, Karen called with the foot-in-the-door opportunity he had been looking for.
Becca was, needless to say, keeping her distance, and Hank was looking for any thread to cling to with what really separates him from all the other legendary male TV failures. The fact that Hank has a daughter that he truly cares about, but more importantly, who reflects everything he does back onto himself, separates him from every other TV scoundrel.
They went to get guitar strings together. It wasn't much, but Hank would take bullets to the scrotum if Becca wanted him to right now. At the guitar store, he commented that "It doesn't have to be this hard," but Becca disagreed. He tried to buy her back with an expensive guitar, only to have his pride eviscerated: "Save your money for a lawyer," from Becca, and from the guitar dude, "Sorry, your card was declined."
They're setting Becca up to fit into a classic trope: The childhood of turmoil could either be the catalyst for success and weathered wisdom in spite of all the pain, or the scapegoat for a life of misery and self-loathing. As Bukowski said, "what matters most is how well you walk through the fire."
Runkle and Hank went to a meeting with Eddie Nero (Rob Lowe), the actor interested in playing Hank. Nero was not one to mince his words, coming right out and saying he liked Hank because he's handsome. "Most writers ... are usually pale, sun-starved, man-titted little weaklings. Always whining about the words." After I finally stopped gently sobbing under a blanket for an hour, the words hitting so close to home, I returned to find Nero and Moody begrudgingly hitting it off. Nero dropped some, albeit askew, knowledge, but represented everything Hank hates. Then the toast, "To hard cocks and handsome men," hooked both myself and Hank. Lowe's Nero is a whirlwind of celebrity smoke and mirrors, but highly entertaining nonetheless. Evidenced by his exit line, "Excuse me, I see a girl that I defecated on in Palm Springs once."
With that, Sasha showed up. They discussed Nero's possibilities, but it was all just a prelude to the inevitable. She flirted, and he ended up back in her room, snagging dinner off a discarded room service cart. Hank tried to turn her down, but everything he does turns women on, even raping them, apparently. Hank is nothing if not continually aware of his current situation, and he even said "It's probably not the best time for me to be getting involved with the actress who's going to be playing the girl I raped ... allegedly." But no matter where Hank Moody started, he always ends up naked under a sex cloud.
Hank then retreated to what can ultimately either kill him or save him: Words. He used the one thing that means something to him to describe his feelings about the other thing that means something to him, writing about Becca and the tumult inside him, until he was left lying motionless in the surf.
'Californication' airs Sundays, 9PM ET on Showtime.
Dr. Vaughan teaches English/Media/Humor courses at Binghamton University in upstate New York, and his dogs are barking. No serioulsy. They won't shut up. You can also check out his blog at drvtv.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/pages/Ryan-Vaughan/21931402981