It wouldn't be a Californication season finale if it didn't begin and end with a trippy, thematically significant Hank Moody (David Duchovny) dream sequence. The one that opens this episode is promising, featuring a Lew Ashby (Callum Keith Rennie) cameo and a lot of dark metaphors and prophecies. Are Hank and Tyler (Scott Michael Foster) doomed to meet the wrath of the Samurai (RZA)?
After last week's hilarious penultimate episode, we were geared up for a finale that met Season Four's closer's epic proportions. What we got was a half-hour of serendipitously happy resolutions, capped off by a random and suddenly sharp turn into decidedly darker territory. Let's get into it.
Bates Checks Out
The first of many extremely simple resolutions to the season's conflicts: Bates (Jason Beghe) and Karen (Natascha McElhone) break up. After a season's worth of second-guessing, public nude shows, and secret hetero and homosexual dalliances, the split is largely mutual. They're kaput for about five seconds before Hank and Karen pick up where they left off, with Bates' blessing, of course. At least Karen calls Hank out on his run-away-to-New-York bullshit and challenges him to try and build their mythical happy ending right there in California. Just how much money did Hank blow on unused airplane tickets?
Meanwhile, the Becca (Madeleine Martin) and Tyler dynamic takes a turn from revolting to downright absurd as she reveals during a classic Hank & Becca Lakeside Serious Conversation Scene that in just one night she has forgiven Tyler for cheating, again, and has accepted his...marriage proposal?! Improbable, unrealistic plot developments are pretty much a standard on this show, and yet, we're still surprised when Tom Kapinos decides to go as left as he does in instances like this.
Charlie Takes A Bullet For Hank
Of course the Charlie (Evan Handler) and Hank feud was going to come to an end, but did we need more than last week's silent final scene to know it was over? Did Charlie really have to literally take a bullet for Hank? Talk about heavy-handed storytelling.
Let's back-track to how Charlie ended up on the receiving end of a cap. He and Marcy (Pamela Adlon) have just arrived on the set of Santa Monica Cop after hilariously commiserating over the foulness of Lizzie and Stu (Stephen Tobolowsky), at the exact same time that Samurai Apocalypse is losing his shit over finding out that Kali (Megan Good) was spread like mustard. He's got a loaded, humongous gun aimed at Hank and Tyler, for a whole open set of people to see, as well as the paparazzi. And he actually fires. That's right, Sam tries to shoot Hank in the head, Charlie takes it in the shoulder, Sam apologizes, Kali is turned on that he would kill for her, Hank, Sam and Tyler let bygones be bygones, and (we think) Tyler agrees to release his death grip on Becca. Writing it out makes it sound even more ridiculous than it actually was. If we condoned the use of the over-said phrase "jump the shark," then this would be the perfect time to put it out there.
In other news, Marcy is divorcing Stu, Lizzie could care less about any of this, and little Stuart's first word is, inevitably, "blowjob." The lack of a classic Marcy blackout on Lizzie was perhaps the episode's biggest flaw, but at least this could lead to a Marcy-Runkle reunion. Last night proved that together they are easily the comedy MVPs of the series.
Carrie Pulls A Mags Bennet On Hank
Hank and Karen's rare moments of happiness only exist so that the rug can be brutally ripped out from under them. But restarting their un-wedded bliss only to ruin it within, like, ten minutes has to be a series record.
On the way to see Karen, Hank stops at Charlie's house to find none other than a wistful Carrie (Natalie Zea) waiting for him. She's as wacky and depressingly clingy as ever, with no job, and facing a Hank that is finally content, without her. She asks for one last fuck but settles for one last drink. In what we can only assume is a nod to Natalie Zea's coexistence on Justified, she has laced the drink, but with a fistful of anti-depressants in place of lethal moonshine. She wants out of this cruel world, and she's taking Hank with her. Safe to say, he's not making it to Karen's tonight.
Is A Sixth Season Really Necessary?
Shit, was Season Five, for that matter? Now that we've seen it top to bottom, the answer is, sadly, no. Californication is never unwatchable, and there were some very entertaining moments and episodes over the last couple of months, but this season did nothing to validate the decision to continue after Season Four's fantastic, series-finale-worthy ending. It was great to meet Samurai Apocalypse, and we'd be hard-pressed to find a reason to complain about weekly sightings of Kali and Lizzie, but by and large it was all pointless. Is this ending really supposed to shock us? We'd bet a winning Mega Millions ticket that Hank doesn't die, so where's the tension? Is Karen really going to give him shit for being practically date raped?
With Dexter, Weeds and now this, Showtime is quickly developing a reputation for cuffing series that should have ended years ago. We can only hope that Tom Kapinos makes the right decision and ends this flabby series next year, or at the very least, makes it more than just a passable half hour of sex-related debauchery and rich people problems. But hey, at least the Santa Monica Cop scenes we got to see lived up to their awesomely awful potential.
Season Grade: C+
Best lines of the night
"If you missed me, you could have called, or sexted" - Hank
"I'm having a good day, putting out fires left and right." - Hank
"Yeah, just twice. Twice, right?" - Hank
"My head's all fucked up, man. Pussy do that to a motherfucker." - Samurai