S4E6: For Californication to be successful, it relies on one thing: Hank Moody. Sure, there are often funny and sweet moments with supporting characters of the show, but ultimately we're not watching to see Charlie Runkle's next screw up or listen to Marcy's next gross comment. We're watching to see how Hank Moody deals with the world. David Duchovny plays Hank as both lovable and hatable. We can't understand why he does the things he does, yet at the same time, we care so much when life doesn't go his way. Mix in a little wackiness from the supporting characters (specifically, Rob Lowe's Eddie Nero) and last night's "Lawyers, Guns and Money" serves up a quintessential episode of the show at its finest, resulting in one of its best episodes in a long, long time.
"Nice work, asshole. Deal's off." -Abby
At the tail end of last week's episode, we saw some dude in a fedora snap a photo of Hank Moody in a compromising position with the two women that he really should not be in a compromising position with: Sasha and Mia. Turns out, Mr. Fedora sent this picture to all his friends and the photo spread across the internet like wildfire. Abby had been working on a plea deal with the DA, but as soon as this photo hits the internet -- despite the reality being that Hank stopped the situation before anything happened -- the deal is off. The DA is running for governor and doesn't want to look like he's soft on statutory rape (a fair concern, I'd say). This leads to Abby quitting, unable to deal with the Hank -- the most frustrating client she's ever dealt with. But she's not the only one who quits. Sasha shows up at Hank's door to reveal that she's dropping out of the movie due to the bad press.
"I stay, I wax. Take it or leave it." -Marcy
"Alright then. The full-Kardashian it is." -Stu
Meanwhile in the b-plot, Stu still wants Marcy -- badly. So badly, in fact, that he called Marcy's business and scheduled a fake bikini wax at his house. She shows up and immediately is furious when she realizes Stu tricked her, so Stu's only choice is to take the bikini wax. It's apparent that even though Marcy is very annoyed by Stu, ultimately, she thinks he's really sweet. And he is sweet. There's something charming about his desperation. He's clearly a lonely man (who we learn has been married three times) who dedicated his life to his career. With the past couple episodes, the writers have done a nice job molding Stu's obsession with Marcy from creepy to charming. Stu's a romantic, and right now, he's caught up in the "honeymoon" feeling, where the only thing in the world that matters is how he feels about Marcy. It's almost as if he's a little kid with a big crush, and fitting a genuinely sweet and innocent feelings of love into Californication is a nice change in tone from the typical in-your-face, over-the-top antics that usually come with the show's relationships. Honestly, it works quite well.
"I think we should kill someone tonight. I mean, like a hobo or something." -Eddie Nero
Despite Sasha dropping out of the movie, there's still hope for Fucking and Punching. Eddie Nero is interested in the role as it's "keeping him up at night." But before he commits, he wants to go out with Hank to get a feel of the character. And boy-oh-boy, I wish we could get a little Eddie Nero every week. Played brilliantly by Rob Lowe, Nero is a method actor (and rumors are that because of his Brad Pitt-esque goatee and eccentric tendencies, he's based on Mr. Pitt in real life) who only commits to roles that he can embody to the fullest. As Hank, Charlie and Eddie sit in the lounge, we learn what Eddie puts himself through to prepare for roles. In the case of his Academy Award-winning performance in John, a story about a "gay hitman," he "took a man in the mouth" and "played his skin like Kenny G." And, well, things just kept getting weirder. By the end of Nero's monologue, he was kissing Runkle and suggesting that they all "kill someone tonight." But before any murder happens, Hank's phone rings. It's Becca and all three of them go to find her. Turns out, she's got a tattoo and can't pay for it, but before anyone can resolve the situation, Eddie pulls out a gun. So what does Hank do? Punches him.
This scene was very well-paced, and frankly, even though Eddie pulling out a gun does not surprise me one bit because it's completely within the realm of his character's craziness, Eddie pulling out a gun still surprised the hell out of me. It was exactly what this scene needed to push it over the edge. Plus, the craziness made the sweetness that followed a bit more moving. After everyone calmed down, Nero revealed to Hank that he decided to do the movie because he finally knew what it was about -- a guy "trying to keep it together." (I'd also like to note that Rob Lowe is such a quality actor. His moments of switching between absurdity and seriousness are always well-done, because everything he does, no matter what, literally feels genuine.)
"You're my lawyer again?" -Hank
"Maybe. Tomorrow's another day." -Abby
Within the last few minutes of the episode, Abby is waiting at the hotel bar for Hank. Earlier, Karen had stopped by her office to plead with her to not drop Hank. This was a nice moment, because we got to see really how similar Karen and Abby are, and why Hank is so attracted to both of them. Despite Abby and Hank's relationship being completely professional, Karen speaks to Abby as any ex-girlfriend would speak to a current girlfriend. And it works. Abby clearly feels something more for Hank, because she goes to the hotel to meet him at the bar. Then, the inevitable happens. We end the episode with a mashed up montage of Abby and Hank finally sleeping together.
All in all, "Lawyers, Guns and Money" was a terrific episode of Californication. It carried just enough crazy to have me belly laughing at times, but yet managed to sneak in enough heart to feel genuine.