Any time all of the major Californication players get in one big room together (or sit at one big dinner table), the sexual antics/frustration plus festering drama always equals gold. These people know each other so well, and have for so long, that episodes like the aptly named "The Party" are guaranteed to have charming interactions, such as the one Hank (David Duchovny) and Marcy (Pamela Adlon) share after a season spent mostly apart, or Hank and Karen's (Natascha McElhone) great, brief role-switch on the beach. But this show being what it is, confrontation is always around the corner. Because, you know, your baby mother's sexually ambiguous new husband might be getting a hummer from his sponsor in the back room.
Bon Voyage, Hank (?)
We know better, but Hank's friends and family have fooled themselves into thinking he's finally going to make his mythical flight to New York, so a going-away party is in order. The result is a night where a series of horny, bad decisions enables all of the season's long simmering showdowns to boil over. First things first, thank God someone remembered to invite Samurai Apocalypse (RZA). RZA has integrated into the show's universe seamlessly, and moments like when he and Stu (Stephen Tobolowsky) explaining what a "minivan" is will always be entertaining.
Professionally, Hank's at a bit of a standstill, but personally he's about as content as he can be at this point in life, save his continuing beef with Charlie (Evan Handler). He's ready to leave and he's finally set his familial standing on somewhat solid ground. That is, until he realizes he'll be leaving his girls in the hands of two absolute douchebags.
First he walks in on Bates (Jason Beghe) and his sponsor, Gabriel (Patrick Fischler), in a very compromising situation. Bates still hasn't recovered from falling off of the wagon, and his weird orientation pendulum is swinging all over the place now. Despite having the gall to tell Hank not to fool around with Karen, Hank sticks to he and Charlie's current moral code and covers for his ex's new man. The restraint isn't so successful when he finds a less remorseful Tyler (Scott Michael Foster) in the bathroom with Kali (Megan Good); based off of what we know about her past, plus the trysts with Sam, Hank, and now Tyler, it's safe to label Kali as simply Bad News.) After months of needling and blatant disrespect, Hank's patience finally evaporates and he beats the shit out of the little creep for all to see. That solid ground with Becca (Madeleine Martin) just got shaky.
Charlie Tries To Make An Honest Woman Out Of Lizzie
Poor Runkle just refuses to see what couldn't be anything less than crystal clear at this point: Lizzie is out for self, and nobody else. Did he really think the hot, young, socially thirsty au pair would sign an exclusive contract with him? She's a dime, so it was probably hard for him to hear, but it was hilarious for us to watch. Stu and Lizzie's constant, matter-of-fact referrals to sexual favors as Hollywood norm were great, and Charlie's facial reaction to a line like "blowjobs are like handshakes" (horrified, emasculated, and yet embarrassed that he's out of the loop) were even better.
Still, Runkle is willing to take the emasculation on the chin if Lizzie will just agree to "go steady" from here on out. A proposal that she flatly shrugs off, before twisting the knife with an offhand remark about how her jaw hurts (from "shaking" Stu's hand earlier). Forgot Kali, a hell-spawn like Tyler deserves an ice queen like Lizzie; Californication has officially embraced the "Big Bad" story structure this season. Which brings us to the great final image of a shell-shocked Charlie and an enraged Hank watching Iron Giant with little Stuart. When life gets in the way, these two have nowhere else to go but to toward each other.
So what will next week's season finale bring? A definitive end to Tyler and Becca (please, God)? A definitive end to Bates and Karen? Drama for Marcy, who's starting to suspect Stu? The return of Mia? We'll find out next week.
The Episode's Best Lines
"You're gonna have to tie me up like Kathy Bates in Misery. Only instead of hobbling me you're going to have to rape me." - Hank
"Karinnana, do you have a tampon. I just started bleeding in my prannies." - Marcy
"[Sniffs.] Ambrosia! I love a woman on her period!" - Bates
"The sun got nine planets—I can have nine baby mamas." - Sam
"Oh, I see, so how does your character feel about having his dick in your mouth?" - Charlie
"What's the difference between one blowjob and two?" - Lizzie