Episode Title: "Lights. Camera. A**hole"
Writer: Tom Kapinos
Director: Adam Bernstein
Previously on "Californication":
Hank Moody (David Duchovny) finally slept with his hotshot lawyer Abby (Carla Gugino), who loved having sex with him but felt morally obligated to recuse herself as his lawyer in his upcoming statutory rape case. She tried to give his case to her deranged boss, Lloyd Alan Phillips Jr. (Alan Dale), but Hank’s lewd and disrespectful antics on a golf course led to an angry confrontation between the two men. Abby soothed things over by taking Hank back as her client and the two men bonded over their fascination with anal fissures. But to maintain her integrity, Abby broke off her romantic relationship with Hank until the end of his case.
At the same time, Hank continued his pursuit of his ex-girlfriend, Karen (Natascha McElhone), who seemed to be falling hard for Ben (Michael Ealy). Charlie Runkle (Evan Handler) also had his first moments as a human being when he offered his soon-to-be ex-wife Marcy (Pamela Adlon) support for her relationship with producer Stu Beggs (Stephen Tobolowsky) and when he saved Marcy from being humiliated during a pitch meeting with Showtime and helped her sell a TV series about her life.
Charlie tells Hank that Sasha Bingham (Addison Timlin) has rejoined the "F***ing & Punching" adaptation thanks to Eddie Nero’s participation. He also tells Hank that he’s landed him a $100,000 one-week gig on the set of Sasha’s latest movie as a script doctor; which even Hank can’t pass up. Sasha’s movie appears to some kind zombie flick. She holds up production to sneak Hank back to her trailer, where she attempts to get intimate with him. But when his daughter, Becca (Madeleline Martin) calls, he handcuffs Sasha to a post and races out to see her.
Hank finds Becca drunk and despondent over the course of her life and lamenting that she can’t even get a guy interested in a blowjob. Hank tries to console her, but he is clearly unnerved by her frankness. Later that night, Hank meets a woman (Callie Thorne) his age at the hotel bar and proceeds to take her to bed for the night. The next morning, Sasha comes by his room with script notes and we learn that the woman was Ms. Bingham, Sasha’s mother. Neither Bingham is pleased by the revelation, with Sasha kicking Hank in the balls and Ms. Bingham slapping the hell out of him.
Meanwhile, in by far the grossest subplot of the week, Charlie’s realtor catches him masturbating to porn and then gets him to screw her as well. Meanwhile, Marcy considers terminating her pregnancy but reconsiders. When she tries to tell Stu why’s she been distant, he misunderstands and thinks that she’s breaking up with him. But when she tells him that she’s pregnant, he thinks he’s the father and won’t hear her out for the full truth. Back to Hank, he visits Sasha back on the set and she refuses to come out of her trailer.
Hank finally gets her to let him inside and she leaves him almost completely naked and handcuffed, just as he left her. Much later, back at the hotel, Hank meets up with Ms. Bingham and witnesses her reconciliation with Sasha. Hank and Sasha forgive each other and once Sasha goes back to her room, Ms. Bingham warns Hank to keep his hands off her daughter. She also gives him some good romantic advice and essentially tells him that he should settle down before it’s too late. Then, bizarrely, Tommy Lee is at the piano in the hotel bar singing an old Mötley Crüe song. WTF?!
Okay Tom Kapinos, you’re clearly the creative force behind this series, so I’ll address this question directly to you: What the f*** is up with your obsession with putting Evan Handler in sex scenes or anything that involves him taking his clothes off? The entire sequence with Charlie and his realtor was even more stomach churning than the infamous "manscaping" accident a few episodes ago. It’s a really unwelcome intrusion into what was otherwise a fairly decent episode.
And the worst part is that the sypathetic and almost human Charlie from last week was gone and replaced by his usual vile self. I can watch the misadventures of that guy. But the exploits of naked Charlie can go to f***ing hell.
The Marcy and Stu storyline has also made the transition from being cute and endearing to being very tiresome. In the course of two episodes, Stu has gone from a version of Charlie that worked as a character to a spineless, emotionally needy nutbag that makes Charlie look good by comparison. I didn’t care for last week’s meta approach of Marcy selling Showtime a series about her life, but that was easier to take in than this dreck. It’s becoming more and more clear that "Californication" doesn’t work unless it’s focusing directly on Hank. His supporting cast is just not very interesting by themselves.
Case in point, Becca. Her rock band story arc has been a dud from day one and her brief scene with Hank seemed forced and tacked on. I thought Madeleline Martin was a good actress, but her performances of late have me reconsidering that opinion.
For his part, David Duchovny is still a lot of fun as Hank. Although, it was really obvious that was Sasha’s mom almost immediately. I did enjoy seeing both women take out their anger on Hank with physical attacks. He definitely earned it. The only downside was that Abby was entirely absent from this episode, and she’s been my favorite companion for Hank this season. The narrative of the show seems to be suggesting that Hank’s almost ready to be monogamous, but I suspect that it’s also leading him back to Karen. Between the two, I’d much rather see more of Hank with Abby. Carla Gugino was greatly missed here and hopefully she’ll stay prominent in the remaining episodes of the season.
Crave Online Rating: 6 out of 10.