CALIFORNICATION 4.01 ‘Exile On Main Street’

Hank Moody gets out of jail and finds a movie deal waiting for him, along with beautiful women and more legal problems.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

CALIFORNICATION 4.01 'Exile On Main Street'

Episode Title: "Exile On Main Street"

Writer: Tom Kapinos

Director: David Von Ancken

Previously on "Californication":

Hank Moody (David Duchovny) was a struggling novelist who seemingly never met a woman he couldn’t seduce or didn’t want to sleep with. Case in point, he once picked up a girl named Mia Cross (Madeline Zima), who was the daughter of his ex-girlfriend Karen’s (Natascha McElhone) fiance. Mia was also only 16 years old at the time, and when Hank found out the truth, she blackmailed him into writing several stories for her which she eventually released as a book, "F***ing and Punching."

More recently, Mia’s new boyfriend came to Hank with a way to bring out his secret relatively gracefully, but Hank refused because of the effect the truth would have on his relationship with Karen (whom he had reconciled with) and with his daughter Becca (Madeleline Martin). After fighting with Mia’s boyfriend, Hank raced home to tell Karen before the news could be released. She didn’t take it well and the police arrived to breakup their public argument. In his rage, Hank struck one of the police officers and was taken to jail.

Story:

72 hours later, Hank’s friend Charlie Runkle (Evan Handler) arrives to bail him out of jail, but he tells Hank that Karen doesn’t want him to come home. A quick stop to a local bookstore reveals that the truth that Hank has been hiding for so long is finally out in the open. Everyone knows that he slept with Mia and he gets credit for writing a great novel. But despite his newfound acclaim, Hank just wants to go home. But first, Charlie takes him to see Abby Rhoads (Carla Gugino), a powerful defense attorney who reluctantly takes Hank’s case.

After Hank finally insists upon going home, he finds Karen is not only still furious at him, but she tells him that he should leave before his daughter gets back. Becca still believes in her father and insists that he was set up. If Hank stays, he has to tell her the truth and destroy her image of him. Hank leaves in disgrace, but he is once again whisked away by Charlie to an agency meeting in which a director (Jonathan Kasdan) and a producer (Stephen Tobolowsky) want to make "F***ing & Punching" into a film.

Hank is initially dismissive of the idea, but the interest of rising actress, Sasha Bingham (Addison Timlin) catches his attention when she flashes her breasts to everyone in the room to prove her commitment to the part. Charlie also brokers a deal with the agency to regain his old position if Hank agrees to rewrite the screenplay. Later, at a hotel, Hank and Charlie commiserate over the women in their lives. Charlie presses Hank about how many women he slept with, but Hank refuses to put a number on it and tells Charlie that his goal of sleeping with 100 women won’t make him any happier.

Charlie then brings Hank to see Sasha at her hotel suite, where he goes over script notes with her. Despite his admission that he just wants his family back, she seduces and sleeps with him. She even recreates the infamous bed punch, after a few tries. While asleep, Hank has a dream about Karen and Becca’s reaction to the news which leaves him heartbroken. Charlie then picks him up to meet Abby at the courthouse. She has good news for him: the assault charges against him were dropped. But the bad news is that he’s being charged with statutory rape, which Abby explains as Hank is led away in handcuffs.

Breakdown:

Remember when "Entourage" was still funny? That’s basically what "Californication" is now. It’s also the best Cinemax series currently on Showtime.

Even at his lowest point, Hank Moody just can’t seem to stop sleeping with multiple women. As soon as Sasha approached him, I knew that Hank was going to hook up with her, I just expected it to be within a few episodes and not in this one. Ditto for Carla Gugino’s Abby Rhoads (really?! that’s her name?). Gugino’s had some great turns on TV as "Karen Sisco" and during her brief "Entourage" tenure as Vince’s lover/agent. So I hope she’ll be sticking around "Californication" for a while.

This episode actually went a long way towards making Hank seem really vulnerable again. His reaction to the dream sequence was affecting and even his conversation with Charlie about the number of women that he’s slept with added some layers to Hank. His point to Charlie was that after Marcie (Charlie’s ex-wife, who he still has feelings for) nobody else is going to match up, no matter how many women that he sleeps with. And it’s probably true for Hank and Karen as well. He clearly wants her forgiveness, but he wants his daughter’s love back more than anything.
 
Getting back to the "Entourage" comparison for a second, it’s Hank’s real feelings of regret and sorrow that separate him from the relatively cardboard Vincent Chase. Hank Moody actually has conflicted emotions and a desire to change if not the ability. This guy is not done failing on a grand scale, but he’s not such a jerk that you can’t root for him any more. Although, he was pretty rude and crude in his first meeting with Abby and the agency meeting, but that’s kind of just Hank being Hank.

If the movie subplot actually plays out over the season, I’m curious as to who would play Hank’s character in the "F***ing & Punching" movie. I know that Rob Lowe is supposed to be playing that actor, but I’d like to see if he’s someone who can out-Hank, Hank.

Ultimately, the first new "Californication" of the year was entertaining, if not spectacular. But the season is off to a promising start.

Crave Online Rating: 7 out of 10.