Californication – Episode 3-2 Review

Well, that was interesting.

The second episode of Californication‘s third season was darkly funny, as are most of the episodes, but with a special emphasis on dark. All this talk of rape fantasies, suicide attempts, daddy-daughter strife had me a little down, I have to say. This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy the episode, though.

First of all, We were thrown right into the firestorm that is Hank Moody as a college professor. It lived up to the hype more than I could ever imagined. He was detached, scathing in his criticism, funny, honest, all the things that any of my college professors never were. And even though he was completely out of his element, it sort of seemed to suit him didn’t it? Given his new position it seemed only a matter of time before he start having students come onto him. But the show threw us a little curveball by making the student in question a male.

That male was Chris, better known as “Balt”, brought to life by Gossip Girl’s Ed Westwick. The vampire-loving, would-be Stephanie Meyer laid it all on the line for Hank, wanting to know if he was a good writer. Before I go on, I’ll share that a friend of mine who saw this episode on the internet before it aired let it slip that there was some Twilight nonsense in this episode, which bummed me out. But, I was pleasantly surprised to see it was included in the episode for the express purpose of allowing Hank to tear into it. Good stuff, particularly when he referred to the books as “bound toilet paper”. Of course, in the process, he also dashed poor Balt’s dreams, leading to that aforementioned suicide attempt.

After a meeting Felicia and Dean Koons (still a funny joke to me) which resulted in some serious wrist-slapping, Hank made nice at the hospital with Balt and made it clear that he was genuinely sorry. I enjoyed the scene because it forced Hank to deal with that harsh, devil-may-care manner in which he treats other people. He comforted him by borrowing Runkle’s “gay experience” story, earning the assist on Westwick’s perfectly delivered line, “That sounds pretty fucking gay to me.” Overall, a nice little arc. And I hope we see more of Westwick. he’s talented and this role is right in his wheelhouse. In other news, how many episode until Hank beds Balt’s robust stripper roommate Jackie? I’ll set the over/under at 2.5.

Elsewhere, Charlie Runkle’s world continues to be in violent upheaval. He seemed content to be co-habitating with his estranged wife again, confident he would wear her down over time and win her back. That is, until, a strapping black man came to pick up Marcie for a date. The shenanigan reached new heights when Marcie returned home and Runkle proceeded to save her from being date-raped, only to figure out that it was a fantasy. Sidebar; did you hear Marcie say, “Get that purple thing away from me!”? I had to pause the DVR for a second to let the laughter subside.

Runkle’s bewilderment led to a particularly odd exchange with his boss, Sue. I’ll go ahead and say it: Kathleen Turner freaks me right the hell out. I don’t know if it’s the way she’s looking these days, or that voice of hers, or just the effed-up stuff that the writers are having her say, but her presence is so overbearing it takes me out of the action sometimes because I’m so disturbed. In other disturbing news, after this discussion, Runkle took a cue from his boss’s pep talk and decided to rape Marcie in her sleep. Yeah, read that again. This is pretty much where I went from uncomfortably intrigued to all-out perplexed. Runkle has always been something of a half-wit, but are we really to believe that he thought this would be a good idea? Luckily, Marcie’s reaction completely justified my own.

We were left with a gut-punching Hank/Becca exchange, seemingly out of nowhere. But, when you think about it, we’ve sort of been set up that way. Through the first two eps, we haven’t seen much of Becca, and when we have, she’s been with friends or idly texting away. She wanted to go out, but Hank wouldn’t have it. This led to a heated argument in which both parties dropped the “I hate you” bomb. Damn. I suspect some people might color this as a jump the shark type of moment, but it really does make a lot of sense. Throughout the entirety of the series, the relationship between Hank and Becca has been constant part of the show’s charm. Hanks’ manner with his daughter was his atonement for the way he treats everyone else in the world, and now that is in jeopardy, which I think is interesting to watch. Also, this is something that happens to all teenagers anyway, so why would Becca be any exception?

So, what did you think? Kind of a downer right? But, things are definitely moving forward, which is important. How did you like the Ed Westwick appearance? Is Kathleen Turner weirding you out, too? Sound off below or shoot me an email!

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