"Morning Sunshine. The first day of the rest of your life. Rise and shine."
S4E3: Last week's Californication ended on a sour note. Hank was, once again, self-medicating (this time using a nice combination of sleeping pills and alcohol) and writing a letter to his daughter, apologizing for everything that he'd done. The result? He wakes up in a hospital bed and learns that his stomach was pumped. In typical Hank fashion, he gives the doctor who saved his life (played by Jonah Hill-knockoff Josh Gab) some smartass remarks about his overdose. At this point, it's clear that Hank really doesn't understand the gravity of the situation. But that's the way Hank lives, right? Everything's a joke; and like always, it takes seeing the reaction from his loved ones to understand the actual impact of his decisions.
"Karen thinks I tried to kill myself."
Karen invites Hank back home, out of a combination of love and sympathy. Then we quickly learn that Karen, along with the rest of the world, thinks that Hank tried to kill himself. Even though that's not true at all, Hank embraces it. Who could blame him? So far this season (well, in two episodes), Californication has focused on the initial reaction to Hank's statutory rape charges. Karen's pissed. Becca's pissed. Pretty much everyone other than Charlie is pissed. So now, finally, things have changed and Hank is no longer the evil dude that everyone blames for, well, everything. Unfortunately, like most good things in Californication, this sudden embrace of Hank doesn't last too long. As the audience, we're aware that Hank didn't try to kill himself, he just overdosed. And it's only a short while before that truth comes out.
"So you wouldn't mind if I asked [your soon-to-be ex-wife] out?"
"In theory, no."
-Stu and Runkle
Meanwhile, there are actually other plots that happen in Californication that don't have to do with Hank Moody's self-loathing, fake suicide attempt, and rape. Runkle's been dodging Stu, the producer of the film adaptation of Fucking and Punching, mainly because Hank hasn't written the script yet. They finally meet up, but the conversation isn't quite what Runkle expects. Earlier in the episode, while looking for Runkle, Stu ran into Marcy, Runkle's soon-to-be ex-wife, and was immediately taken by her. She didn't like him, but that didn't stop Stu's sudden infatuation with her. So as he meets with Runkle, they talk about the movie briefly, but the focus of the conversation is on whether or not it's okay for Stu to ask Marcy out. Runkle gives him the go-ahead, even though it's obvious he really doesn't want it to happen. This all seems like an interesting direction for the show because the writers have created situations that are so large, they won't allow the relationships between the characters to return to "the good old days" of earlier seasons. I think that's a healthy decision, too, because as viewers, we don't want to watch a bunch of characters who just reminisce about how things used to be.
"What do you guys call yourselves?"
"Queens of Downtown."
-Becca and Girl on the boardwalk
Now we come to the worst part of the episode -- and really, a problem that the writers need to figure out quickly. In the show's three seasons, we've seen Becca grow up from an innocent girl to a rebellious teenager. Unfortunately, the writers don't really know how to write for rebellious teenagers. Becca's always been forced to be older than her age, mainly because her dad is a complete idiot, and she's had quite a few moments of greatness in previous seasons (last season's scene where she pleads with her father to let her "be the kid for once" comes to mind). Anyway, Becca is out playing her guitar in public when a group of girls steal her money, so she's forced to run them down and take it back. She gets the cash, and we learn that these girls are in a band called Queens of Downtown, and they want her to audition. She gives them a maybe, then the girls laugh and run away.
Now, maybe it was poor acting, maybe it was poor writing, but damn, this scene sucked. The group of girls were about as non-realistic as you could get, feeling more like the Jets from West Side Story than an actual threat to Becca. Yeah, most kids would probably act out if they were in Becca's position, and I do agree with giving her a group of friends to act out with, but damn. This scene and the characters could not have been more cliche.
"Are you sorry for being such a fucking coward?"
Back to Hank. Remember how I said that the sympathy for his "suicide" didn't last too long? Well, we're to that point. As awful as Madeleine Martin played Becca with the group of girls, she showcased some pretty talented acting skills as she confronted her father about the truth of the overdose. Becca's always had a keen sense of how her father's mind works, and she knows that he would never get to the point of wanting to kill himself. He's too prideful. So she does the smart thing and attacks his pride, calling him a coward until he admits the truth: he just fucked up, again. Then Becca forces him to tell Karen, and after everyone knows, once again, Hank is thrown out. But this time, he doesn't turn to pills and alcohol. He takes his frustration with the situation and uses it to finally write the script of Fucking and Punching.
Was this Californication's best episode? Eh, not really. But it packed a few solid scenes and the writers gave us a much-needed break from everyone just being upset with Hank.