Saturday, 8 October 2011

Californication 4.1 'Exile on Main St.'

“…You smell like you’ve just walked out of a fisting contest.” – Abby

It was kind of hard to believe when Hank sauntered out of jail at the start of ‘Exile on Main St.’ that only seventy-hours had passed since those gut-wrenching events at the end of the season three premiere.

It’s been over a year since UK viewers last saw Hank Moody, and with so little time having passed on the show in the break between seasons, the lengthy ‘previously on Californication…’ montage at the start was a welcome, and probably necessary, inclusion.

Much like the finale that preceded it, ‘Exile on Main St.’ – the show’s fourth season premiere, began with no title sequence, hinting that perhaps what was to follow was going to be more serious in tone than we’ve come to expect from the show.

Unlike last season’s finale, that didn’t transpire to be the case though and although Hank had some serious music-facing to do in this episode, there was still some of Californication’s hilarious bawdy humour and one-liners on display throughout.

‘Exile on Main St.’ began with Hank being released from jail following his assault on Mia’s scumbag manager/lover at the end of last season.

It had been unclear when season three ended whether the cops who Hank ended up brawling with were coming for him because of the assault or because his tryst with an underage Mia had finally become public knowledge.

I’d speculated at the time that it seemed too soon for anything to have happened over the statutory rape so it seemed likely they were only there due to the brawl and thus Hank would no doubt be out soon and that was exactly what happened.

As Charlie greeted Hank outside the jail, it was made to look like Hank had been inside years, so when the revelation he’d only done a weekend inside came out it seemed a bit surprising. This is coming from someone who has never been in jail though, and has no intention of going, because if I did I’d probably last all of five minutes.

Hank being Hank of course wanted to go home and face Becca and Karen but Charlie was under strict instructions not to take him home, under duress though Runkle crumbled like we all knew he would, but not before showing Hank that the word was well and truly out now about who really wrote ‘Fucking & Punching’ – “a lot can change in a weekend”.

Karen predictably wanted nothing to do with Hank and insisted he leave before Becca got back. Marcy immediately warming back up to Hank after he turned on the charm seemed to suggest that the world hasn’t completely turned on him in light of these unsavoury revelations though.

However Hank’s next stop on his post-jail tour proved that quite a few people do think he’s a “piece of shit” as his sexy (what else?) lawyer Abby put it.

Abby apparently had no time for Hank’s witticisms and juvenile behaviour – even enquiring whether he was “retarded” at one point, which clearly means that by mid-way through the season she’ll be sleeping with him.

Abby is played by the impossibly sexy Carla Gugino, who just gets better with age and she’s going to be a very welcome addition to the cast this season.

With Hank effectively now homeless, his day was spent being dragged round with Charlie – who next had a meeting with a team about production of a ‘Fucking & Punching’ movie.

The whole meeting scene was great, if a little ridiculous, and ended with Hank being coerced into rewriting the script that had already been doing the rounds that “America’s sweetheart” actress Sasha Bingham wanted to make but only with Hank’s stamp on the script.

Bingham as a character was somewhat of a contradiction, in the one breath we’re being told how popular she is with the general public and that she won’t be doing any “gratuitous nudity” and the next minute she’s whacking her “bodacious ta-tas” out at the table.

Of course this inevitably meant Hank ended up sleeping with her within a couple of hours, in spite of her early protestations. There’s got to come a point where Hank isn’t able to literally seduce everyone woman that he even looks at. Yes, that is part of Californication’s charm but in the state he was in it’s too unbelievable that a sexy young actress like Sasha would be unable to resist a man that as Abby fantastically summarised smelt like he’d “just walked out of a fisting contest”.

Addison Timlin who plays Sasha is no doubt going to be this season’s Eva Amurri – a gorgeous young actress who consistently ends up naked, not that I’m complaining but part of me wonders how much of her casting was down to her looks rather than her talents.

Hank and Sasha spent the night re-enacting that infamous night with Mia in Sasha’s hotel room, with Hank clearly subjecting himself to punishment on purpose as he feels he deserves it.

He had such a tortured look on his face as he insisted Sasha punch him harder whilst they had sex it was quite tough to watch, as this young girl clearly seemed oblivious to the internal struggle this man was going through.

Bodacious ta-tas aside, it was probably the most powerful scene of the episode.

The episode ended with Hank getting the good news that the assault charges had been dropped, only to then get the cuffs slapped on him as he was being prosecuted for statutory rape. To paraphrase Abby in that moment, things are about to get “a lot more interesting” for Hank Moody.

A Hail of Bullets:

- Any hope of Charlie getting a half-serious arc this season has now been dashed by his decision to pursue triple digit figures in his list of women with whom he has slept.

Given that he’s currently only on eleven (twelve by the episode’s close) I’m guessing this will mean that we are going to witness him in several embarrassing sex scenes as has become the norm for poor Evan Handler.

- Stephen Tobolowsky didn’t get much to say during that meeting about the ‘Fucking & Punching’ movie but hopefully he’ll be more prominent as the project develops and we’ll get to see proper use made of the great man.

- Hank’s dream scene in which he imagined Karen & Becca reacting to his misdemeanours wasn’t quite as creepy as some of last season’s eerie dream sequences but was still pretty heart-breaking stuff.

Obviously it wasn’t actually happening, but just the fact that Hank’s subconscious can craft such an accurate depiction of how he makes his family feel is sad, because he not only knows deep down how awful his actions make his loved ones feel but he seems incapable of stopping it and has to live with that burden.

Californication Season 4 continues in the UK Thursday @ 10pm on 5*


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