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April 17, 2014

'Californication' Season 4, Episode 10 Recap

by Dr. Ryan Vaughan, PhD (no, seriously), posted Mar 14th 2011 6:30AM
'Californication' S04/E10['Californication' - 'The Trial']

The last trial I watched on television was the 'Seinfeld' finale, so I was looking forward to seeing how everything would play out for Hank. Getting dressed for the trial, Hank stated that "I look like an FBI agent" in a not-so-subtle nod to Duchovny's most famous role, Fox Mulder from 'The X-Files'.

For the first time through all his 'Californication,' Hank was scared, but what was he scared of, exactly, was left open to interpretation. After a pep talk from Karen -- statutory rape trial pep talks aren't in the pep talk handbook, either -- Hank took a few seconds of personal time to reflect, fix his hair, and barf. It would be easy, if not irresponsible, to assume he was puking about the trial, but considering what had been said, he was sick over the thought of losing Karen and Becca.



I don't think prison scares Hank nearly as much as being alone. Prison would most likely agree with him on many levels: Lots of smoking, reading, writing and sexual experimentation, which I'm sure he could trade for all the booze in Ireland. A life without his family, however, would not end well for Hank. He has already tried to slowly kill himself over them, and losing them for good would only expedite that process of slow suicide.

"Get in there. Be a man. Deal with your s**t. Whatever happens." Karen seemed ready to have everything behind them, and Hank just wanted to run, and never more than when he ran into Bill (Mia's dad and Karen's ex) outside the courthouse where Bill related to him the pain he was going through by asking Hank to imagine if he had slept with Becca. Touché.

The trial got underway and it was clear that everyone's character was going to be called into question, establishing the kind of moral relativism that Hank would need if he was to stand any chance.

Mia: Painted as a confused and emotionally unstable teenager dealing with her mother's death and rebelling against her father and Karen, even as she testified to victimizing Hank.

Hank: Abby did her best to establish that, yes, Hank was an epic a-hole who made poor decisions. This is not a punishable offense, however, and the ignorance card was played generously. That was, until it came out -- via Bill's testimony -- that Hank had met Mia before their violently sexy encounter.

The prosecution sought to illustrate that Hank engaged in vigilante sex, using it as a weapon to hurt his enemies. This, combined with the sketchy meeting with Mia made it look like he had some motive to come after Bill the only way he knew how. After all, according to Hank, "Revenge is a dish best served with my dick."

Charlie: While he did his best to help his best friend, the pressure of the courtroom turned Charlie into a giddy teenage girl at a slumber party, spilling all the gory details as if he was braiding someone's hair on a sleeping bag. Not only did he come off as vulnerable and unstable, his tales of Hankdom tarnished much of what Abby set out to clean up, especially Hank's penchant for sexual vengeance.

We did find out how Charlie defined friendship, as a result. Friendship is: Reluctantly having a threesome because if you don't, your friend will just end up masturbating into a pizza box again.

Karen: Through most of the season, Karen has come out of everything looking like the angel. It's kind of hard not to when Hank is the moral and ethical measuring stick. On the stand, however, Abby very succinctly dressed Karen down, implying that she was as much a player in this convoluted game as anyone. When Karen's actions throughout the series were laid out before us, she sounded as messed-up as Hank, especially given the fact that she left Bill at the altar for him.

The use of flashbacks made this episode and all of the back story come to life. They showed us a different Hank than the series itself has fleshed out. Flashback Hank was far more destitute and desperate than any episode ever depicted him. I suppose that was necessary for the sake of the trial, but it certainly wasn't consistent. Maybe because the series represents the reality, and the flashbacks represent specific memories of that reality? Either way, Hank didn't fare too well as a result.

The flashbacks did, however, break new and game-changing ground, marking a personal TV highlight for me. In a scene where Hank takes a dump on the hood of Bill's car out of spite, we actually got to see the s**t go down. Literally. Just when I thought they would cut away, they showed the turd, clinging for life to Hank's sphincter, before plummeting with a thud/splat onto the car. Bravo, Showtime! Bravo! Here's to hoping this leads to more televised, public, revenge s**ts!

The news about Hank and Mia's prior meeting threw a wrench into Abby's well-oiled machine of a defense. Now the jury had some doubt. But no one's doubt mattered more to Hank than Karen's. Now she believed that he knew what he was doing all along, and Karen's trust is something Hank should be careful not to s**t on.

'Californication' airs Sundays, 9PM ET on Showtime.

Dr. Vaughan teaches English/Media/Humor courses at Binghamton University in upstate New York, and you can count him in. You can also check out his blog at drvtv.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/pages/Ryan-Vaughan/21931402981

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