Powered by i.TV
August 1, 2014

'Californication' Season 4, Episode 12 (Season Finale) Recap

by Dr. Ryan Vaughan, PhD (no, seriously), posted Mar 28th 2011 4:42AM
'Californication' S04/E12['Californication' - 'And Justice For All']

The title of the season finale of 'Californication' suggested a sort of closure that it could never possibly deliver. There would be justice, for sure, but for "all?" Certainly Hank would feel the cold hand of justice probing him in unwanted zones, but would Becca have a real father? Would Charlie learn that he has a child in the making and end up back with Marcy? Would Karen have something -- anything -- to rely on? Would Mia die in a tragic sex-related explosion? That would be pure justice.

The notion of "justice for all" may be misleading and idealistic, conjured up to give people a false sense of hope and to keep them believing in a truth or purity that doesn't exist. Is there justice for us all? It's difficult to imagine, and I don't think Hank Moody will bring us any closer to knowing.



It was finally over, and Hank would end up serving three years. Assuming the worst, and not waiting to hear the rest, he fainted in front of everybody, assuming the three years would be followed by "in prison" rather than "probation."

In the end, the judge had some sympathy for such a "tragic disappointment" whose "true crime is that you seem committed to squandering your gifts and wasting what appears to be a rewarding life." I think that's how we all feel about Hank: That, as maligned as he is, he's somehow hapless at the same time, powerless to stop the inertia of his own misguided love.

All things considered, he was off scott free, and we were all left to ponder the same, seemingly redundant question: Will this finally change Hank? But maybe the obsession with changing someone so purely flawed is the genesis of the problem altogether. It's not a matter of Hank changing his actions, it's a matter of Hank changing the way he thinks.

Drinking, sexing, writing and the occasional offensive tirade is Hank Moody to the core, the things that make him the character he is, loved and tolerated. Change or remove those things and he exists in name only. He needed to forget about changing the physical and focus on the mental; let go of the idyllic notions of family that he would never obtain with Karen and Becca. He yearned for the Cleavers when he needed to settle for the Bundys.

Worlds collided at a dinner party at Stu's house commemorating the start of production on 'F**king & Punching.' All of the big four (Hank, Karen, Marcy, Charlie) were there with their respective new interests (Abby, Ben, Stu, Peggy) and what unfolded was an uncomfortable contest mediated and facilitated by Eddie Nero. With everyone trying to make everyone else either angry, jealous, or disgusted, we got to see into some of the psychology of these relationships.

Charlie's love for Marcy and the news that her baby was his ended with a knife through his hand and Marcy pummeling Peggy on the floor. While Eddie, looking to get inside Karen's head to give some depth to her relationship with Hank for the role, acted as de facto therapist, guiding both Hank and Karen toward their true feelings and concerns. As always, Hank tried to play everything like he didn't care, when caring had never been the problem -- the problem's always been believing that it would someday all be back to "normal."

Abby recognized that fact, and acknowledged Hank's inability to leave the past and focus on the future that she could possibly represent. He was scared that Ben might be better for Karen and Becca, that Abby might be perfect for him, and that Eddie was going to play him "like a cross between Bruce Springsteen meets Mickey Rourke, in a gay bar."

The dinner party scene was aptly emblematic of the entire show as a whole. It was hilariously blunt, and tragically honest with a graphic twist. The show has always been about marrying comedy and tragedy, with Hank the ultimate arbiter of that sensibility, always cracking wise when his life seems most grim.

With the news of Ben and Karen taking the girls on a road trip, Hank was back in his classic "woe is me" mode. It's a mode that would be a lot less damaging if he would just let go of that handful of good days he seems to have constructed his notion of family around. Distraught and hammered, he fell into the pool, only to be saved by Ben, who came to him as black Jesus.

Becca stopped by the next morning to say good-bye to her father, and to be the voice of reason and optimism. Becca seemed to be the first, if not the only, one to embrace the changes and the excitement of new relationships and shifting roles. "Chapters end. Sometimes you gotta shake things up." Hank had spent a lifetime shaking things up, but never the right things.

It was then that the Rolling Stones 'You Can't Always Get What You Want' began to play, further enforcing what the episode was trying to say all along. There was a widening gap between what Hank wanted (his family) and what he needed, and the only way to bridge that gap was to make those two things one. He needed to want something else.

As his daughter and lover set off on a journey without him, Hank went to the set to seek solace in his makeshift family, walking pensively through a Hollywood version of his own life. Not many of us have the luxury of stepping outside ourselves to gain a perspective on who we are. Interacting with his fake home and a fake Karen and Becca would force Hank to rethink a lot of what got him to that point. It gave him an odd feeling of a do-over mixed with a bleak reminder of what led to this.

The final shot of Hank hitting the open road hinted at a man finally seizing the opportunity to figure out who he is, what he wants and what he ultimately needs -- and that might be the easiest path toward "justice for all."

Dr. Vaughan teaches English/Media/Humor courses at Binghamton University in upstate New York, and he has over 1,000 t-shirts. You can also check out his blog at drvtv.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/pages/Ryan-Vaughan/21931402981

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

1 Comment

Filter by:
Stacie

Very nice recap. I thought last night's episode was also a perfect blend of what has made the show good all of these years. The mix of the past, with the scariness of the future and Hank's unwillingness to let go of the former. I honestly thought that Hank was going to go away to prison, but it seems that being on the outside and dealing with his life might be even tougher for Hank than jail itself.

Also, I am glad that Charlie and Marcy will be at least be back together in one sense. I think they are the most perfect couple on the show. Karen and Hank are great, but Charlie and Marcy just fit.

They really could go anywhere when the new season starts next year. I feel (no spoilers, just speculation) that they might do at least a somewhat significant time jump. I think that they should at least jump until after the movie is completed, possibly a little after Marcy and Charlie's baby is born, so maybe a year. This would put distance between the trial and all of these other tribulations, and refocus the series for the next chapter.

March 28 2011 at 1:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Follow Us

From Our Partners